July 21, 2013
People want to elevate Ed Snowden and his revelations to mythological status. Be my guest. I’ll write the dinner speech and lay out the silverware. It’ll be fun.
I won’t bother recapping all the holes and questions in Snowden’s back-story. I’ve done it several times already. (see the Spygate  section on this blog).
Instead, I’ll focus on one point. What is the NSA?
Are they the geniuses who spy on everybody all the time, who can read the labels on the clothes in your closet?
Or are they just another bunch of tired government morons who can’t find their asses with both hands?
In his latest mea culpa, which rings about as true as a late-night infomercial, General Keith Alexander, the NSA director, said the Agency had given too much power to individual analysts:
NSA had allowed analysts to climb through the towers of Agency data without any checks whatsoever. Alexander will correct this gaping Grand Canyon flaw, and stop future thieves, by requiring two analysts to sign off before anyone can penetrate highly classified areas.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Two, two, not one.
Never seriously considered doing that before. Never implemented it. Never deployed security-stops within the body of secrets. Never compartmentalized those secrets. No.
But…the NSA can spy on everybody everywhere all the time. They’re that good and that smart and that specific and that devious and that clever.
Pardon me for bursting a few bubbles, but it’s very hard to have it both ways.
This isn’t like a brilliant absent-minded professor failing to put on matching socks in the morning. It’s like Margaret Mead not knowing where Samoa is.
Two possible conclusions. Either NSA has been conning us all along, pretending to spy on whatever moves when they really can’t find the moon on a clear night, or…
NSA really does have lockdown knockout internal security chopped up into small segments, each of which requires some serious disclosure before entry. And entries are reviewed swiftly and accurately.
Dumb as a rock or smart as a whip.
If it’s smart as a whip, Snowden didn’t waltz into work with a thumb drive and steal the farm. Never happened. Somebody else did, over a period of time, and then handed him the documents as part of an operation.
I’ve spelled out that scenario and thesis before.
The NSA built a Tower of Babel piercing the sky and then they forgot that one lowly employee could hold a mirror up to it and capture it all? I’ll take that question for 400, Alex. Send all the other contestants home. They’re wrapped up in a dream.
I’m basically a typist with a computer, and yet I could sketch out the parameters of a system that would partition off and protect NSA data far better than what those NSA boys have designed…if we believe their bumbling-fumbling story.
But why on earth believe it?
Far more likely: NSA has quite good internal security. Snowden didn’t stroll into work and steal the holy grail. He would have been caught.
Nevertheless, is it a good thing that NSA is coming under fire? Of course.
Will this result in significant reining in of the Agency and the overall Surveillance State?
The answer to that question rests on the practice of redundancy. NSA and its related partners have been cooking multiple ways of spying for a long, long time. This isn’t just because everybody wants to feast on the money pie.
It’s also because if one light goes out three more lights are going on.
If some piece of the FISA court is hamstrung, if one back door is closed off, there are other ways of accomplishing the same objectives.
If intercepting satellite transmissions doesn’t work as well anymore, they can use submarines and cut into cables. If the submarines are too expensive, they can lay in splitters in tech-company offices. If that avenue is partially blocked, they can dream up another way in.
These guys may be crazy criminals, but they aren’t stupid.
Which is my whole point.
And by the way, they’re from the intelligence community. In case you’ve forgotten, that means they’re required to lie to the press, public, and other parts of the government. They have special machines that tally up the numbers of lies employees tell. If the employees don’t reach their monthly quotas, they’re dumped into universities and think-tanks, where the requirements are slightly less stringent.
So when NSA people say, “Gee, we forgot to install any sort of reasonable internal security,” what makes you think they’re not simply padding their monthly falsehood-numbers?
You feel better by helping old ladies cross the street. They feel better by getting over. Over and over.
While I’m at it, here is another indicator that the “surveillance community” isn’t suffering too badly from Snowden’s disclosures and will come out smelling like a rose. Take a look at Booz Allen Hamilton’s stock chart.
In the early autumn of 2012, the stock price was riding at about 19. In September, it dove suddenly to 12, and then began a long march back to 18, which it achieved in the spring of 2013. During the initial Snowden crisis, it dipped to 17, but at the latest close it sits at 18.79.
Well-managed manipulation, no problem.
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED  and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX , Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails atwww.nomorefakenews.com