The NSA and their political allies have been making angry faces and expressing self-righteous indignation that Edward Snowden dared to search and find the spy agency’s private information and share it with the world. Obviously a moral person only steals secrets from other people, not the NSA.
One of the mantras of this affair is that we are all safer with the NSA spying on us because they are only trying to protect us and they don’t abuse the information they have on us. Obviously, all unconstitutional spying is done under strict oversight and—in the parlance of “democratic” totalitarianism—“internal controls.”
Except that the NSA has, up till now, admitted they had no idea what Edward Snowden did in order to get his information. The “audits” that prevented abuse, have proven to be convenient fictions. Snowden, as one of about a thousand “administrators” at the NSA, had no oversight at all as far as we can tell. The NSA could not even predict what secrets he was going to reveal because they had no idea what he had been looking at while he worked there.
Now, four months later, the NSA has changed their spin. They now say they have “an extremely good idea” what Snowden looked at. To have the NSA’s chief technology officer making this claim is a tacit admission that they are still guessing. But even more amazing: they are demeaning Snowden by saying he “wasn’t that clever” in gaining all that documentary evidence.
Yes, the spying agency of a world superpower that wants us to trust them as they violate our privacy is boasting that they hire people as administrators who are not “that clever” and that such a person was able to ransack their secrets.
Doesn’t this make you feel safe?
The NSA’s explanation now is that Edward Snowden’s links were “masked by his job duties.” As Mike Masnick at the Techdirt blog writes,
“It shows that the NSA’s audits were basically non-existent for a very large number of people. It shows that the NSA has almost no legitimate way to go back and see if there were widespread abuses among others with similar “job duties.” If it was his “job” to do these kinds of things, and there was no real way to track him without many months of work (and even then, only to the degree that the NSA has a “good idea” of what he did), then there’s no real accountability there at all. At this point, it seems reasonable to use this to assume that the NSA’s systems aren’t even remotely secure, and have regularly been abused, without anyone at the NSA even knowing about it.”
Yet this is the agency that built its own starship bridge for a command center. It projects a glittering image while inside it is filled with lawlessness. The agency literally doesn’t know what it is doing.