Tag Archives: CIA

Edward Snowden et al

Bond. James Bond.

James Bond.

So Edward Snowden now tells us that he was not just a computer administrator but also a spy – not only for the NSA, but also the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. I’m sure that will be followed up by his claim to the Heisman Trophy, how he was the inspiration for Mother Teresa and his groundbreaking work in neurosurgery. Not too shabby for a guy who never even graduated from high school.

It got me thinking – we all love James Bond, but that’s because he’s a good guy and therefore on our side. On the other hand, the idea of someone listening in on our telephone calls is just plain creepy. (Although those of us old enough to remember party lines know that an extra listener was to be expected.) So what does it really mean?

There are 7.1 billion people in the world, 317 million in the United States. There are almost 328 million cell phones in the U.S. – more phones than people. If each phone is used for one hour a month, which every parent with teenagers knows is ridiculously low, then each year there would be almost 4 billion hours of phone conversations. This would require nearly 2 million full time intelligence employees to keep up with the phone calls, ignoring e-mails, internet browsing, traffic cameras, black helicopters, drones, and other spy stuff.

I think that even if phone conversations were routinely monitored into, most of us would get lost in the clutter. Sorry, but your selfie just isn’t that interesting.

On the other hand, people who buy chemicals that just happen to be used for making bombs, or send fan mail to known terrorists; people who want to learn to fly but aren’t interested in learning to land just might be interesting enough to give a listen.

Personally, I think that’s a good thing.

Phone Transcript from the NSA



(Ring) “Hello?”

“Bob, it’s Sam. How are you enjoying your vacation?”

“Sam! My esteemed colleague and fellow member of Congress. Good to hear from you.”

“Thanks, Bob. Before I forget, I need a little favor from you. If you should happen to speak with my wife, you and I were fishing yesterday.”

“Sam, you dog. What did you catch? A blonde?”

“Actually a redhead, Bob. She was wild! She had tattoos in places I didn’t know they could put tattoos.”

“Whoa, Sam! No details! If I don’t know nothin’, I can’t spill nothin’! However, we do need to talk business. You got any hot issues we need to look at when we get back in session?”

“Nothing major, Bob. I owe the environmental lobbyists a bill to celebrate ‘National Snail Darter Day.’ The bankers want another bailout so they can give each other big bonuses. Just the usual.”

“Now tell me honestly, Sam, are you planning on doing anything about the budget?”

“Hahahaha! Bob, you slay me. Why in hell would I want to do that? The stalemate has made my base solid. You’ve never seen a happier bunch of cranky old white guys. The campaign contributions are rolling in and the PACS are already working on new issue ads. I sure don’t want to derail that gravy train.”

“I hear you, Sam, but my party needs to make it look like we’re really trying to solve the financial crisis. I going to have to lay it on thick that your party is only capable of saying,’No!'”

“Bob, we’re big boys. We both know how the game is played. I don’t take it personal any more than you do when I accuse you of being a ‘Tax and Spend’ advocate. The battles aren’t important. It’s the war we want to win and when both sides are after the same end, it’s a wonderful thing. Everything else is just showmanship!”

“Great, Sam. I hate to see my vacation come to an end, but I guess that’s the way it is.”

“And don’t forget that we were fishing yesterday.”

“Right, Sam. I won’t tell your wife what you caught – only the one that got away.”

(Connection terminated)