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But who will manage the systems that are managing the systems? I'm sure this will work out brilliantly for them when systems crash, or hackers start exfiltrating their data, and there's no one left to analyze the logs and discover and fix the holes.

The problem at the NSA isn't that there are too many sysadmins, although apparently that plays well with tech illiterate politicians. The problem is too many morally unconscionable programs which lead to a growing revulsion in the ranks.

Mr. Alexander defends his agency's conduct and claims the press is distorting the facts. "No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies," he said. "There were no mistakes like that at all." Except we know that even FISA says that's not true, in a report so damning apparently even elected members of congress can't read it.

I have news for you Keith, blanket collection of the "meta-data" of every call on Verizon's network is ex vi termini, invasion of privacy and civil liberty. DEA's SOD (Special Operations Division) handing off your clandestine intercepts to civilian law enforcement is just the latest, but not the last, sickening revelation. The leaks won't stop until you stop, and I hope your hubris continues to blind you to how close the political tides are to turning against you. It seems to me that your 'ends justify the means' mentality conflicts with your sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, and I can only hope history will look back on this whole endeavor as a dark stain in American history, and view you like a McCarthy of our time. Machiavelli would be proud of you, sir.

The problem is too many morally unconscionable programs which lead to a growing revulsion in the ranks.

Au contraire, it's extremely morally conscionable to people who see law enforcement as a noble profession empowered to rid the nation (and beyond) of people they see as the scum of the earth. These programs are run by people who, I can guarantee you, do not wake up in the morning wondering what morals and ethics they can ignore that day.


"No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies," he said.

And he's right. And that's the problem: these things are likely not against the law. The law has both been perverted inch by inch and the agencies have been allowed to operate under looser legal interpretations than you and I receive for parking tickets. This means that to the degree that laws exist that permit their behavior (PATRIOT Act, FISAA), those who would constrain them to even the loose boundaries do not (and by all accounts refuse to) do so. This goes for the FISC as much as Dianne Feinstein and Eric Holder. This means they can say it's legal for them to do pretty much whatever they want. So now what?

You say now what? Now exactly what Snowden did: if it's "legal" only because secret court makes secret decisions which are against the Constitution, inform the people. You are sworn to protect the Constitution not to just say "I've got an order, I'm just doing it" like some guys managed to kill millions without losing sleep, thinking "the superiors say it's legal it's not my thing to even think about it".

Or Bradley Manning. So, basically give up everything in your life for one chance to do the right thing that just about half of America will call you a traitor for?

That's always been the fate of true patriots. Even in Revolutionary times, my understanding is that well over half of the colonial population had a neutral or even positive attitude towards the British. Surprisingly few people wanted to rock the boat.

It's always easy to do the right thing when everybody agrees with you.

Yes. Over and over by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.

The alternative is the public getting exactly what they deserve, receiving the full consequences of their actions, and reaping a bounty of oppression.

I've noticed all along that the NSA is relying VERY heavily on the idea that an automated system collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from spied data is entirely legal so long as no humans are involved. This was the legal defense that whistleblowers claimed they were using (but which has never been tested in court, and they would like to avoid that testing of course) years ago. And for some reason I can't guess, everyone seems to just be going along with it.

"Oh, agents don't have easy access to our personal information? You've just got it all recorded on your servers and you constantly datamine it, but the analysts only look at outputs from the mining and not the specific data? Well OK then" seems to be the response of the press at least.

You might as well try to shame J. Edgar Hoover.

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