Friday, December 27, 2013

Slippery Slope

The covert community is all over the news these days; especially with Edward Snowden disseminating stolen, sensitive material. It has also been the fodder of too many novels to even begin to count. I find myself torn and conflicted about the wholesale assault on our espionage community. On the surface their activities seem intrusive and even unconstitutional at times. What mucks it up even more is the explosive growth of personal communication devices and the social community on the internet. I grew up living in countries where daily life as an American or foreigner put you at risk. We have even had folks we knew struck down by terrorists. Before all this unrest in the Mid East, South America suffered from a scourge of terrorism and attacks. Actually, it still does. The Shining Path in Peru, the Tupamaros of Uruguay and FARC in Colombia all have contributed to unrest through out South America. Add in the narco dollars from cartels and you have the potential for violence all over South and Central America. I haven't even mentioned Europe, the Middle East and who knows how many other back water countries. Spies have been around since the dawn of time and there always has been a covert war raging somewhere. Unbeknownst to most folks is that a cat and mouse game (with potentially serious consequences) goes on between us and the members of the diplomatic community both here and abroad. All those attaches that belong to the embassy staff are involved in covert activities in one form or another, He or she may have the title of Agricultural Attach√© or supposedly belong to the Agency for International Development (AID) or some other title; but they are all spies. The intelligence gathering is so rife that our country has had to abandon new construction of some diplomatic outposts because of all the bugs embedded in the building. The embassy and consulate staff have to undertake extreme measures to avoid being listened in on. At some of our posts, the staff is paid extra for working in an environment under constant bombardment from microwave and other intrusive devices. Each country keeps a strict count on how many people comprise the staff of each Embassy or Consulate and this goes on throughout the world. This is just scratching the surface because you also have to deal with each countries intelligence agencies; like M I 5 and 6 in Great Britain, our CIA and NSA or the KGB in Russia. I'll throw in moles, too. Agents embedded in our communities and workplace(s) snooping about and doing who knows what. Anyway, after nine eleven our government thought it prudent to throw out a wide net to try and quash any potential acts of terror and perhaps identify the perpetrators. With all that was going on they figured the American people wouldn't mind. This involved tracking phone calls with key phrases and words both from here and abroad. Conspiracists must have rejoiced when Snowden made all this public. For what it's worth, I don't think the NSA, CIA or whoever was and is involved meant any malice toward the average Joe. As I have written previously, I believe this whole personal privacy thing is overrated. Sadly the cow is out the barn on that deal. Unless you know a way to erase your public persona and can drop completely off the grid, forget about it. Back to my being torn and conflicted. I think Edward Snowden did a disservice to this country and should be treated as a traitor. Apparently he is fishing around for an amnesty deal and is tired of being a guest of Mother Russia. I say bring him home and hang him in public. As far as the activities he exposed, I reluctantly think they are a necessary evil. The problem is; and has been for ages, who is watching the watchers?


  1. Mark,
    Illegally spying on American citizens stinks of Stasi and is never acceptable. Our Constitutional rights were violated by our own Government. It is not a 'necessary evil'. Personal privacy is NOT overrated. Replace privacy with liberty = same same.

  2. Sorry Andy, this is the 21st century with 313 million people in the US. Personal privacy may be a "right" if you never interact with the world but (somewhat sadly) it's a thing of the past. Welcome to reality.