Now that we know the NSA and other government agencies are gathering and storing data in massive quantities, we have to ask ourselves what purpose it could possibly serve. The government tells us they are protecting us from enemies who would seek to harm us, the enemy within as well as the enemy without.
First the Obama administration and the intelligence community said there was no program gathering Americans’ data. Then they said the government was only gathering focused bits of data and only on foreign targets. Then we were told that large volumes of data on American citizens were being swept up in these attempts to target terrorists, and this data was being stored but never examined or utilized.
Then they admitted intelligence operatives were gathering large amounts of data on purpose, rather than “accidentally”, but not accessing it unless a court first gave the OK (which they do 100% of the time). Now it appears there are thousands of times each year when the data of Americans, not suspected of having anything to do with terrorism, are gathered and used in investigations of other domestic crimes (drugs, money laundering, etc,) by agencies other than the NSA, CIA and FBI.
What does the NSA and other government agencies do with all this data? Well that’s the million dollar question, now isn’t it. We know that they use the PRISM program to search for keywords that indicate a person’s “foreignness” and could warrant further observation. That sounds all great and high-techy until you actually look at the words that the NSA is using to determine if you are a suspect. Some of my favorites are:dictionary, military intelligence, Scully. secret service, White House, Bubba (also Bubba the Love Sponge), LaCrosse, artichoke, Playboy, Speakeasy, Pixar, and speedbump. Obviously only foreigners would use weird words like these. A full list of the words is located here. Does this even look like they’re trying to be serious?
What IS obvious is that the NSA is collecting and storing HUGE amounts of our personal data and communications. More than they can competantly sift through in a timely manner to catch a terrorist BEFORE they terrorize. I maintain this information is being kept for AFTER the person who has pissed the government off (for whatever reason) has been caught.
Let’s use Edward Snowden for our first example. The government found themselves in the position of not being able to deny the allegations Snowden made, because Snowden released too much evidence. So if you can’t make the troublemaker look like a liar, then make him look like a fool. This is where a treasure trove of Snowden’s personal data could really come in handy. Suddenly we are hearing about how he isn’t a whistleblower, because he took his NSA contractors job with the sole purpose of revealing what the NSA is up to. How do they know this? Because of Snowden’s personal communications with friends. Not enough? Then let’s humiliate him by showing videos of his girlfriend on a stripper pole. And just to be sure…let’s release his resume and insist he lied about his qualifications. Wow. Makes you wonder how this guy got hired in the first place, doesn’t it? BUT HE DID. All that info they already had on him, but they HIRED HIM ANYWAY. That’s because the real value of all this data is to use it to do exactly what they are doing to Edward Snowden, discredit him AFTER he has come to their attention.
This isn’t an isolated incident. As Bradley Manning was being court martialed and eventually cleared on charges of “aiding the enemy”, suddenly pictures of him dressing as a woman are making the rounds along with the theory that Manning’s “gender confusion” is what led him to release all of the information that he did. Along with the pictures were the personal emails of Manning discussing the anguish he was living in. Isn’t it convenient that all this information, meant to embarrass and humiliate Manning, was released at just the perfect time.
This isn’t a new strategy. This is the playbook used by corporations and governments to silence whistleblowers since the beginning of corporations, governments and whistleblowers. Humiliation, destroy reputations, and when all else fails…murder. Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers was humiliated for seeking medical care for his depression, Jeffrey Wigand and the tobacco companies lived under constant threat, Julian Assange and the trumped-up rape charges and hints of his “treason”, Frank Serpico was shot and left without back-up for blowing the whistle on his corrupt police department, Karen SIlkwood was killed in a very suspicious car wreck after blowing the whistle on the nuclear power plant she worked in. The list goes on and on and on.
The only difference now is that the government has an endless supply of ammunition in all this data, and a public willing to eat up anything that seems lascivious and scandalous. And THAT is why the NSA is more interested in stripper poles and drag queens than they are in catching terrorists with all this data.
The only defense we have against this subversive form of manipulation is to THINK. Ask the NEXT question. Question where this information comes from. Question it’s context and veracity. We have reached an age where it is easy to believe the worst about people, and the government and corporations are perfectly willing to use that bias to fool us and keep us in line. And to subtly remind us all that if WE rock the boat, all of our little secrets will be blown up and exploited too.
ALWAYS QUESTION AUTHORITY. ALWAYS.
Now the fun should start since I have used so many words on the PRISM list in this post. So let me just close by saying this: BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE EATS ARTICHOKES AT THE SPEAKEASY WHILE PLAYING LACROSSE, READING PLAYBOY AND WATCHING PIXAR MOVIES. If that doesn’t get me black-bagged, I don’t know what will.
Peace and love, yall.