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Does the NSA actually know WTF they are doing?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Anonymous, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Anonymous Member

    For some reason the whole NSA thing has reminded me of a trainwreck movie called ‘Cube’. It’s pretty terrible. The basic plot is that random folks were kidnapped and placed into a ‘cube’, a structure composed of many cube-shaped rooms with booby traps and death and whatnot. The explanation alluded to for this bizarre structure was a government bureaucracy that had gotten out of hand.

    A film that bad should never be used to substantiate any debate point, but it did make wonder if the NSA actually knows what it is they are doing. It is not inconceivable for a bureaucratic structure, when it grows to a large size, to lose track of some of its operations. A classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, but greatly amplified with the layers of secrecy and classifying on information that seems to infest the NSA operations.

    From the documents that have been leaked thus far, and judging from comments from NSA spokespeople, former NSA employees, the chief FISC judge, congressional members and their staff, white house spokespeople, etc., etc., I’m starting to wonder if some of the misleading comments (and only some) are not products of lying but rather products of ignorance. Is it possible that even the ‘leaders’ of the NSA don’t actually know WTF is going on there??? This is speculative, but as a model it does seem to me to help make sense of some of the comments being made by those who are supposed to know about this shit – maybe there is lots of shit they simply don’t know?

    The scary truth is, and this is clear from the leaks so far, is that if these ‘leaders’ and white house officials were in the dark about NSA activities then there is little chance of them being able to find out. It doesn’t seem a stretch for me to imagine how, over a prolonged period of time, a lack of meaningful oversight combined with highly intelligent capable technicians/programmers/mathematicians and unlimited budget could have creeped far beyond what the ‘leaders’ are aware of. The layers of secrecy in combination with the NSA having their own internal meanings for common words could have fostered a disconnect between those internal activities and what the ‘leaders’ believed was going on.

    None of this is intended to absolve any ‘leaders’ or lying rat-bag spokespeople. It is just that, after having these thoughts, a lot of the statements I’m seeing from white house officials, and from folks like Clapper, Litt and Alexander, seem to make a little bit more sense.

    Bullshit? Tinfoil? Unrealistic?
  2. I think NSA is no diferent from a lot of other superfluous government agencies: they get a big budget and have to justify it, so they cook shit up and hatch plots all the time. Can't have a war without an enemy, and what better enemy than EVERYONE?

    none dare call it conspiracy
  3. Anonymous Member

    Hey, I really like that movie.
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  4. Anonymous Member

    I think not. Gen. Alexander may know what NSA is doing but didn't know one of his subcontractors had an employee that had a conscience and the strength to act on it.
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  5. Anonymous Member

    @ OP, yes the government is too big to understand, but from the government's point of view, that's not a bug it's a feature. It's much easier to hide their true nature when no one can see the big picture.
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  6. If the world population all goes "V for Vendetta" soon, governments have only themselves to blame for their fail power play. People are waking up and those who pretend to rule don't like it.
  7. Anonymous Member

    I think we are the government. So it's down to us to sort this out.

    Our transactions are digital and are stored by the banks and vendors we do business with. It seems a trivial step, linking all those records together into a master database. Of course a network of spies would want to do that.

    But there are ways to keep our info relatively fragmented --at least for a few more years until we better understand the consequences of so much information in the hands of so few. Fragmentation should make it much harder for nasty people to fuck with particular individuals.

    Beneath this NSA problem is another: expertise. We now live in a world of enormous complexity. There aren't enough years in a human lifetime to master what is known in a given field of study, let alone all the fields of study relevant to serious political decisions. So we're going to have to trust experts. I think that is only possible if we develop ways to monitor communities of experts to see if they're healthy or fucked up in some way.
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  8. Anonymous Member

    I always, perhaps naively, thought that the ‘expertise’ would be a sufficient protection against abuses. Those who tend to have the needed expertise in terms of computer skills also tend to gravitate toward the support of free speech and for privacy rights. A four star general can have whatever masterplan in mind, but since to implement such a plan would require the geeks I, again rather naively, though said geeks would act the role of whistleblower.

    IF the people with the real knowledge and expertise of the technology behind the spying industry, AND those people had a natural gravitation towards free speech and privacy rights, THEN whistleblowing and civil disobedience and what not would help keep such abuses in check.

    But, in my naivety, I underestimated two crucial things.

    Firstly, my rather simple model assumes that such geeks would possess a sufficient overview of the spying industry to recognise that there was a problem. Strategic division of labour seems to be quite effective at preventing any one geek getting to learned of the operations in sufficient totality to recognise the problem, and the issues I described in the OP are another barrier.

    A given geek may be working on one specific program and be aware of ‘restrictions’ on what data can be mined and how – and be utterly unaware that the data they believe in protected under this program is actually being violated by other NSA programs. An individual program may not seem so bad if one is utterly unaware of how these different programs combine to produce the largest violation of privacy in human history.

    Secondly, my rather simple model underestimated how effective word-play and misguided notions of patriotism, combined with carefully crafted propaganda, can help reduce the likelihood of geeks take actions in the public interest. I should have realised this aspect from our experiences with Scientology, but it can often transpire that one fails to apply knowledge learned in one area to other areas it also has application.

    Snowden’s leaks have, imo, given us all insights into not just how the NSA abuses occur and their extent – but have also given us valuable insights into how people within the spying industry are, in essence, being duped and mislead to keep them involved in the commission of those abuses.

    This all has me thinking on something that I wrote on a GCHQ thread a while back, but hadn’t fully grasped the potential significance of. In Chanology, the tailoring of messages for public Scientologists has proven to be highly effective. I’ll reiterate that. By crafting messages and ‘zingers’ that take into account some of the controlling mechanisms used by the cult, Chanology has been successful in cultivating leaks and sources within the cult. Mostly this has involved people leaving the cult, but there have been instances of people ‘staying’ in the cult (due to family or other issues) who have been valuable sources of information.

    My thinking goes like this – it should be possible to craft messages that are aimed at the geeks within the spying industry, messages that incorporate what we know about the internal nomenclature and the typical talking points used to justify this shit. Appealing to the geeks as Americans, as geeks and as people who respect freedom of speech and privacy – in much the same way Chanology has successfully appealed to those within the cult. The mechanisms to leak material safely have been pioneered and refined, and it should not be difficult to communicate the use of such methods to an audience who are already tech-savvy.

    I’ve started a lot of shit threads on WWP over the years, and mostly for myself to aid developing my thoughts. Most threads I recognise as being shit or navel-gazing or pointless and I generally start those in the dome. You can blame Consensus for being the inspiration behind those. But I don’t think the present thread, and the key idea behind it, is shit.

    Appealing to Congress and to policy makers is certainly good, and sufficient public pressure will bring changes. But whether the current leaks will prove enough to generate that ‘sufficient public pressure’ is hard to say. One congressman wrote that if the American people knew of what the intelligence agencies were doing it would shock them. Snowden’s leaks are just a snapshot – given the impact these leaks have had it is not beyond reason to imagine that more such leaks laying out the NSA abuses would garner greater public impact.

    Reaching the geeks who make the spying apparatus possible and ncouraging further leaks is, imo, more likely to generate the kind of chance needed that what is currently out there. The abuses only exist in a culture of secrecy within the NSA. Chanology has, imo, created a plausible framework and developed the tools and means for successfully encouraging the geeks in the spying industry to puncture that culture of secrecy.

    The truth is that, with the information now publically available on the spying industry and the outsourcing and privatisation of services that currently prop it up, it is unlikely that the financial incentives and inertia to preserve the status quo can be overcome solely on the basis of Snowden’s leaks and the reaction they have garnered. Much more is needed to effect change. The illusion of trust that currently exists between the American people and the intelligence agencies (including those who defend the NSA spying), that misplaced trust that is allowing those agencies to continue their privacy abuses, must be destroyed utterly. Only when all pretences of being trustworthy, and all pretences of adhering to constitutional values, have been proven to be completely and utterly false within the public sphere can those abuses be reined in and the financial aspect and inertia can be overcome. The information needed to achieve this exists within the NSA – and will only come to light if the right people can within the NSA can be reached with a persuasive and reasoned message.

    TLDR:
    If Snowden’s leaks have had this large of an impact, think of the impact a further series of wholesale leaks would have on the spying industries reputation. The spying machine requires geeks and those who love technology. They are our /b/rothers and /s/isters, and it is not inconceivable that there are those among them who share the values of free speech and personal privacy. If messages targeting those people, appealing to their values and conscience to encourage them to act in the public interest, then maybe (just maybe) enough leaks will come out sufficient to bring down the abuses of the intelligence industry. These /b/rothers and /s/isters need to be part of the target audience, not just the media and those in power.
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  9. Yeah. Have you been paying attention the last couple hundred (thousand?) years? The governments of Earth could give a fuck what their people think, and feed on terror, blood, and power. Wake the fuck up.
  10. Consensus Member

    <3
  11. PresidentShaw Member

    Fuck you, Cube was a great trilogy
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  12. Anonymous Member

    You're fucking joking? They made not one, but two sequels to that trainwreck?? Sersiously?
  13. Anonymous Member

    • Like Like x 2
  14. Anonymous Member

    Thank you. I never liked his stand-up particularly but I came out of the recent 'Tempest' unscathed save for Russell who, as a Shakesperian grotesque, stole the show.

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