“Spoke with Mr. K about the war and why it should seem so dreamlike – because we had been so fed on lies. I looked back with disgust on the teeming lies of recent years – lies about wealth, lies about poverty, lies about strength, lies about weakness, hopeful lies and despairing lies, all lying, in spoken as well as in written words, in thoughts even, as many and as varied lies as there were slimy things with legs crawling about the Ancient Mariner’s slimy sea. And now there is no longer the possibility of lying because there is no truth left, no means of detecting or estimating lies. When currency inflation goes beyond a certain point there ceases to be any currency; only soaring figures. So with lying. Perhaps the war has never taken place, perhaps it will never end; its beginning was announced without it being begun; its end may be announced without it being ended. There is no possibility of knowing anything about it; begotten and conducted on lies, it will end in lies.” (“Like It Was: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge,” William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1982; excerpt of April 24-26, 1942)
Like most evil, the National Security Agency’s domestic espionage rampage began with the best of intentions. Why burden Americans with worrying about terrorism? We can use technology to protect them. And so they did.
Back in the day when America had a real enemy, with enough nukes to erase our existence, the NSA played a key part in seeing that didn’t happen. It had a black budget (maybe $40 billion a year) buried in the various military budgets. It monitored diplomatic and military communications around the world. And it denied that it existed. No Such Agency.
As the Soviet Union went belly up, that grand experiment having reached the condition that Malcolm Muggeridge describes above, the NSA faced its biggest-ever crisis. “How do we maintain and grow our bureaucracy and espionage capabilities in the face of a diminishing threat from our enemies?” (No bureaucracy is even capable of asking the question, “Are we still necessary?”)
The Internet, created by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for academics to exchange information among themselves and DARPA, proved promising. If we view the Internet as the root structure and technology as the plant it sustains, we get an idea of how pervasive the Internet has become to modern life. It has its roots into all of heads, sucking information out like a plant does water and nourishment from the soil.
For NSA, it was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up. Not only would they know what the enemy was doing, they would know what everyone, everywhere was doing. Armed with this knowledge, they would be able to find the enemy before he struck. Their political masters were very pleased, indeed, and rewarded them with even more money. For in an age that has abandoned God, it is our political masters who tell us what is right and what is wrong, based on what suits their interests.
The “war on terror” proved a catchy enough phrase that most of Congress decided the Patriot Act – simply a law passed by Congress authorizing a secret court, secret hearings, secret evidence and secret findings – trumped the Constitution’s limits on federal power. Companies could be coerced to provide information about their customers and prosecuted if they revealed the coercion. Everything was secret. So who would know? Those few who did could be sworn to secrecy and prosecuted for violating their oath. The Constitution? Well, the secret court would interpret that. What could possibly go wrong?
With the introduction of thought-crime, all that remained was an administration willing to redefine which thoughts were criminal. The new criminals became those who thought the Constitution still defined limits to federal power, as well as those who opposed the administration’s plan for “fundamental change.” Intellectual opposition became a crime against the federal government. The FBI and Secret Service were deemed inadequate to the job of enforcement, and Homeland Security was born.
My guess is the infrastructure for domestic espionage and thought-crime detection began in earnest under Bush I. He was, after all, Carter’s CIA director following the Church Committee uprisings, and saved the agency. He became Reagan’s vice president and would have had eight years and the connections to shift NSA’s focus as they lost the Soviets as their primary enemy. He subsequently became president.
The Clintons interrupted the Bush dynasty. Perhaps you remember Hillary “finding” those missing 1,400 FBI files in the White House residence one day. They contained detailed FBI interviews with opposition politicians, their aids, judges and other political enemies the Clintons wanted silenced. The Clintons had planned on a return to power in 2008, but despite Bill crediting himself as “America’s first black president,” his wife just wasn’t black enough to win against Obama.
Bush I was followed by Bush II. The latter no doubt found a well-oiled machine in his father’s domestic spying apparatus. His primary contribution was probably more money for the program and an attempt at legal legitimacy through the Patriot Act, passed on the heels of 9/11.
None of this apparatus would have been passed up by Obama, who learned the hard way about Chicago politics. Today it is being used to intimidate the media, whistleblowers and likely at least one U.S. Supreme Court justice. It was good old reliable Maxine Waters who spoke in February about a database that Obama had built for Democrats that was unlike anything you can imagine. It knows everything about everybody. Yup. it’s amazing what an unlisted budget of $80 billion a year for a couple of decades can buy. An entire nation, it would seem.
Congress alone holds the remedy. They can stop the money tomorrow. They can pull the plug on the Utah data center. But who knows how many congressmen and aides are already being blackmailed over petty nonsense.
So shut off the money. Figure it out. And fix it. And don’t turn the money or the electricity back on until you have fixed it. That is our only hope. The road to hell really is paved with good intentions. We have finally arrived.