Reports seem to tell us that the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s electronic communications spy agency, basically gathers up, stores and processes much if not all the electronic message traffic in the world and invades and eavesdrops on computers around the world too. We don’t know that it is watching this being written, but that seems supposedly, the way to bet.
Edward Snowden outed this industrialized, electronic Peeping Tom and is now forced to live in Russian while America’s spies would love to kill him. President Obama has informed us that he is curtailing the more egregious activities while the White House claims that he didn’t know of the worst of the recent revelations. He likely doesn’t know his wife’s clothing sizes or correct age, either. Wise man…
The President’s rather general remarks put him firmly in favor of good and against evil, but commit him to nothing in particular. But he has to placate the media and us somehow, and then those foreign leaders reacting against his NSA’s reading their mail. All without, of course, reducing the efficacy of the NSA’s spying.
While the media are enjoying their fuss, let’s consider this in a boring, factual fashion. Two facts leap at us right away: The U.S. Constitution clearly forbids most of this, which is why telephone taps and such have long required court orders to permit necessary exceptions. The NSA is subject to a ‘secret court’ of a few judges who privately authorize or deny its activities with nobody else knowing. That’s assigning a big GM shareholder to monitor GM’s honesty in advertising.
Nobody wants his mail read by the Postal Service, and it mostly doesn’t, without a court order…But it does image and store at least the front of a lot of envelopes. And few want their electronic communications and computers monitored, least of all by the government. But the first little-discussed question is, how do you stop it? Say you legislate; that coulld if not stop, at least put a crimp in government but what of all the others with an interest in that? Including lots of other governments…
German and French leaders have been complaining loudly about Obama’s NSA peering over their shoulders but those and other countries do the same thing. They have their own versions of NSA and they are definitely no holier than thou or the Prez. And we know that big retailers spend a lot on monitoring their customers. It’s just so cheap and easy to do now.
It seems to us that’s the bottom line. We heartily disapprove of eavesdroppers but we now live in a building wherein the doors have all been removed by technology. That puts everybody on the honor system, like that or not. And when big bucks and human lives are involved, you know what kind of security that provides. And the hypocrites in our media and governments know it too.
So it seems to us most likely that our and other leaders will speak sternly about restraining this NSA outrage until the media finds something else to rail about, after which everything will go on, perhaps better camouflaged, as before. Our technological progress gives us much with much more to come, but it isn’t free… And before all is said and done, Edward Snowden may pay more than the rest of us. No good deed goes unpunished..