Is It Time to Give Up Explaining History?


I don't know why anyone would bother trying to explain that the national security state is something that must be controlled by law; the American system of government is a near-perfect apparatus for doing this sort of thing but it only works when we have competent oversight and compliance. Currently, we don't have that, and so the abuses seem much greater.

This is hysterical nonsense:
It's not just domestic abuse we have to worry about; it's the rest of the world, too. The more we choose to eavesdrop on the Internet and other communications technologies, the less we are secure from eavesdropping by others. Our choice isn't between a digital world where the NSA can eavesdrop and one where the NSA is prevented from eavesdropping; it's between a digital world that is vulnerable to all attackers, and one that is secure for all users.
Bruce Schneier lives under the assumption that only one country in the world has the capability of using the Internet as a weapon; he conveniently ignores the fact that there are governments all over the world salivating at the prospect of being able to do whatever they want because no one talks about their capabilities. They want to hide in the shadows. They want to operate freely. They don't care a whit about security or the noble ethics of people who want to trade Grateful Dead bootlegs without being hassled. They want to control their people and dominate their area of the world. The Chinese are tearing up America's technological infrastructure, taking whatever they want and infiltrating public and commercial networks at will because it gives them access to the tools they need to control their society and grow their economy. But, remember. America is evil. China is merely a bad boy who will change because they want to be like us. And on and on, like a Noam Chomsky lecture on how America is the only country in the world where anyone has ever had a bad thought.

Schneier doesn't know anything about history, but he knows how to mock the very people who keep him from being pulled out of his bed and beaten senseless by thugs:
"NSA-level surveillance is like the Maginot Line was in the years before World War II: ineffective and wasteful."
That's a rather inept use of analogy. The Germans never attacked it head on; they went around it because France's allies were weaker or neutral. If the French had extended and improved it--and fully funded the thing--they would have slowed the German advance to an extent that it would have allowed Britain to send more troops. The Blitzkrieg was a myth concocted by Goebbels anyway, and it's the myth that persists.

I get that people hate the national security apparatus of the United States. You're supposed to hate the apparatus because it is proof of a nasty world. But you're also supposed to use our system of checks and balances to make certain that abuses are punished and money is well spent. You're supposed to not trust anyone because trust is not a virtue that our Constitution recognizes. You're supposed to stand there with a stopwatch and a clipboard and keep a close eye on things, metaphorically or otherwise. You're not supposed to throw up your hands and give up and destroy the thing that is designed to keep you safe. I can't wait to see what living without this very same apparatus looks like because that's where we are headed.

The people that are so hated today inherited their intelligence gathering and cryptographic skills from the people who enabled and informed the forces that destroyed the Germans. These advances gave us tremendous advances in technology through their academic achievement and hard work. This hatred for knowledge is interesting, and it has precedents. None of them come to mind.

Ignorance of the acts of nation/states going back hundreds of years is prevalent. The French and the Austrians and everyone who attended the Congress of Vienna used every means at their disposal to spy on one another. They stole mail, they employed vast intelligence gathering efforts, they used women to seduce men and they traded information without regard for who was a friend and who was an enemy. To get to an agreement, everyone angled for their own self-interest and not for the "greater good" of Europe because they had a common enemy--France--to blame for their troubles. And yet, they dealt with France secretly, trying to get as much as they could so that they could have a leg up on their own wartime allies.

The people screaming about the NSA today don't know anything of modern history and they don't know what other countries are doing as we speak. They don't understand the efforts of the intelligence gathering services in Iran, Israel, France, Russia, China, or Brazil and how they are actively working against American interests, no matter who they call a friend, to gain the upper hand. They hate the idea that someone knows they are boring, stupid and have no life, and they think the NSA is full of people who are listening to them. An estimated 40,000 people work there. The vast majority are bureaucrats and support personnel. You could reduce the number of actual "snoops" down to a few thousand. There are never enough of them and most comprehend or speak a foreign language because that's who they target. Duh.

If those 3,000 people spent all eight hours of their day listening to conversations, how much could they hear when there are tens of millions of Americans doing mundane and unimportant things all day long and why would they bother when their professional careers depend on being able to assess what foreign entities are doing? You don't get promoted at NSA by knowing what Jane Doe in Manhattan thinks of her friends choices in shoes; you get fired. You can get promoted if you know what your target is up to and spend years acquiring the expertise needed to make a rational prediction of what they plan to do in the next five years.

Defending America's need to defend itself is a waste of time when nobody realizes how uninteresting their personal business is to people who are actually dealing with real threats.