Forget about Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden for a few minutes. Well, forget about questioning their loyalty or patriotism. To me, the question is probably just misdirection because it helps to distract us from the real question everyone should be asking: is the National Security Agency evil or just plain incompetent?
Let’s start with incompetent. The argument for this is simple: do you really expect us to believe that they have to collect all of that data for the simple purpose of identifying terrorists? Let’s be honest about Islamic terrorism: it barely ever happens in the United States. Yes, there have been some serious incidents. Yes lots of people have been killed by Islamic terrorism. But let’s be honest about it: you are more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than a Islamic terrorist.
The sheer volume of data that the NSA is collecting in order to combat terrorism really just highlights how clueless they really are. If they have trouble identifying the bad guys without clogging up Internet bandwidth, then they must completely lost as to who and where the enemy is, right? There are simpler ways to go about identifying people with ties to terrorism. Hell, even the supposed perpetrators of the recent Boston bombing were on watch lists long before they allegedly carried pressure cooker bombs there (I say allegedly because the official story has so many holes, it makes their documentation look like Swiss cheese. And I hate Swiss cheese).
In fact, I would argue that because just about every American terrorist attack has been perpetrated by people that the Federal government has been watching at some point before the act, it seems like this whole argument of safety and protecting us is nothing but bunk. It’s like if you were a child who was attacked by a dog and then in the hospital as you lay there gasping for air through your crushed ribs, your mommy or daddy told you that he or she knew the dog had rabies but decided to go get coffee instead of warning you. That is how incompetent the NSA is if they are going to claim that they need this level of surveillance.
On the other hand, they could just be run by a bunch of evil bastards. The kind who like to look through your XBox Kinect cameras and jack off to you jacking off to that porn game you got (yes, they do exist). Or maybe the like watching your children dance. Your underage children. Or maybe they just want to know where you are so they can kill you.
Maybe I’m just exaggerating a bit, but in all seriousness, there has to be a larger use for this level of data gathering. Considering that the warrants obtained under the USA PATRIOT Act are more likely to be used in Federal drug investigations than in actual terrorism cases, it is not a far-fetched assumption.
Why did Chief Justice John Roberts suddenly change his mind about Obamacare? How did David Pretraeus’s private emails get leaked so easily? With the NSA rooting through all of our online garbage, it looks like a no-brainer to me.
Usually in fiction, when you encounter a total surveillance state, it is usually some dystopic society. Most of the time, the ideas of Big Brother watching you are portrayed as evil. And yet here it is really happening and the prospect of the United States government being filled with evil assholes doesn’t seem to cross anyone’s mind.
So which is it really? Are they evil or incompetent. Either way, the U.S. Federal government is well beyond its Constitutional limitations and should be completely abolished, its assets seized by the American people, and its leaders exiled to Nigeria.
Or Siberia. Or the upper atmosphere. Whichever is easier.