I wrote the below long before I submitted my previous post, but it was trapped on a device in a wonky state that I was finally able to squirt onto the forum, so there is a bit of overlap that I apologize for not going in and editing out, but it's already enough of a mess.
There's a huge difference between something like the Manhattan project and the conspiracy theories that abound. There were all sorts of mistakes made in operational security in programs like the Manhattan Project, both positive and negative that, in sum, canceled out. Families in the secret sites weren't supposed to ever communicate with relatives elsewhere, yet Dr. John Von Neumann and his wife exchanged hundreds of letters postmarked in New Mexico and Princeton which still survive. Plus, there was complete understanding of what the stakes were in things like the Manhattan Project.
However, a lone wolf positing themselves as the Savior of Mankind while bragging that they could listen in on the President's phone calls (I want to hear the recordings as proof) is just another posturing butthead who couldn't be bothered to actually prove his mettle by getting a real education (sorry, but I'm just not impressed with him being just a sysadmin who knows how to operate a thumb drive). Snowden's complete and evident lack of even a Plan A is evidence of how unsophisticated he really is. I hope he gets to learn about what happened to the NSA mathematicians at the hands of the Soviets after they realized what fools they really were once they were in Moscow. You can glitz up an iceberg all you want, but it's still an iceberg with no means of escape - checkmate.
As for the 85% claim about the Dutch police, first of all, do you have a link? No reasonable search terms come back with results. Second, even if true, they're Dutch (sorry, Gert, but as he knows, so are some of my ancestors
) and there are lots of things that are legal there that wouldn't pass muster in countries with populations not so insane as to live below the low tide level, much less the high tide level
Third, if this was a real poll, it was probably worded to elicit the desired response and was both misrepresented and misreported. Finally, we'll probably find out that, like 97% of statistics, they're made up (yes, you may start your recursion counters now
There are not countless examples of people getting screwed by the system due to it adding 2 + 2 and getting 5. The examples can be counted, and not on very many hands. Does the system very rarely come up with 5? Yes, I've had it happen to me, but I'm not hiding anything (talk about the Understatement of the Year) and I have a very thick Good Guy Who Wears A White Hat record of accomplishments of, for, and by The People. For a really good laugh, if anyone has access to the Department of Homeland Security or Secret Service records for late August of 2006 or 2007, do a search on terms like helicopter, missile, Hubert Humphrey Federal Building, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and my name. All I can say is never, ever make the mistake of parking your large vehicle trailer containing your helicopter (with or without "missiles" that are in what is actually the rotor blade crate) with the back ramp door open facing a Federal Building that contains offices of minor agencies with TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) such as FBI, DHS, etc.
As for the terrorists "winning" because we're defending ourselves pretty well (and going overboard in some respects), all I have to say is ask Charlie Sheen about "winning", because even he has modulated his definition substantially over time. When the girls and women in your lives are covered head-to-toe in fabric and denied an education, you're left scratching out an existence from the dirt in some arid hellhole in Lower Slobovia, your local thug-appointed religious zealot (I reject thugs from all denominations) is deciding what's best for you, your family, your friends, and everyone else, and you're otherwise just an even smaller cog in an even bigger wheel than you're in now, then the terrorists will be winning. Frankly, they'd just as soon see you dead, so if they're "winning" that much, perhaps it's time to just get your affairs in order. I mean, really? They're winning? Go ahead, eat your humble Pi, we'll wait, after all, it's good for you!
Regarding the NSA and/or GCHQ inserting transmitters in SD cards, etc., we can't even get 1.8 volt ultra-high-speed access and those guys are putting transmitters in them? Well, let's just hack the little buggers to our own ends because if Snowden can do what he did, their security obviously sucks donkey kong.
I can tell you from experience that government, and especially military, projects tend to be built first to do sexy things like accelerate straight up, vacuum up all the data possible, and read what brand of undies tens of thousands of strangers passing through a screening area are wearing, and _maybe_ later someone will ask what's supposed to be done with it all, much less when budgets get tight. I helped institute such questions in the project planning process in the Navy (Information Management - InfoMat), but it was extremely difficult to explain why it was so important to admirals and generals who used to play with a stick between their legs, hide with pride, and go cruisin' for a bruisin'.
People keep talking about The Government as if it's some alien race totally detached from Homo Sapiens (well, now that you mention it ... ) and I'm not really sure what the heck our friends who speak and write English funny got for a government by keeping a monarchy around (I must admit it does make for better TV than our version made up of "reality stars" and other "celebrities" of the week). Ours is of, by, and for The People, and I've done more than my part to make it as best as I can, given the general apathy and lack of participation by 99.99% of the population that just has limited brainwidth, apparently. If you don't like the way it works and elections aren't satisfactory, then go to work inside and change it - it's pretty clear that not much in the way of great intellect is needed these days, and now that the private sector playing field has been reset economically, government pay isn't looking like such a bad deal, although the retirement system isn't what it used to be now that it's defined-contribution instead of defined-benefit here.
ShiftPlusOne wrote:Hey Jim, I am going to play devil's advocate a bit, but these are thoughts that cross my mind when I hear sentiment similar to what you express. Just wondering what your take is in response.
I don't think the issue is with those the honest law-abiding employees, but with the bad bananas. Lawyers looking for illegal activities? That's a start, but it seems like lawyers are to advice what is legal and what isn't rather than track down illegal activity. I would hope that it would be impossible to arbitrarily access people's information without some sort of warrant. Why is the system such that employees can monitor their exes in the first place? How is Snowden a bad banana? Isn't it your duty to speak up if you're being asked to do something you think is not morally justified.
The first duty of someone who holds clearances of any level, especially intelligence clearances because of the sensitivities involved, is to fulfill the obligation they swore to uphold for life. I have no sympathy for people who think they're so superior intellectually but find that they have to take shortcuts to accomplish their selfish, short-sighted agenda. Snowden didn't even spend a nanosecond thinking about doing things the right way. He thought he was too smart for college, too smart for healthy relationships, too smart for the CIA, and too smart for Booz-Allen-Hamilton, the contractor he worked for at the NSA and he very specifically targeted that BAH job and not as an employee for the NSA because he knew he would never stand up to scrutiny.
I'm very familiar with BAH as some of their employees worked for me, and I was not impressed in the least. They tend to hire retiring admirals and generals as partners who have lots of kids they want to send to the best colleges/universities and can't afford that, so they're mined for their contacts and try to recruit more junior military people retiring/getting out who have needed skills. When I left the Navy, I was approached, but I was not at all interested because I was on my way to Silicon Valley and BAH was only willing to hire me to work in the DC area and pay me exactly what I was already making in the military.
ShiftPlusOne wrote:There are lots of government operations that were kept secret. The Manhattan project being one example. Then there are all the ones if found out about way after it was no longer important, like MK-UTLRA. It seems naive not to assume that there are operations going on right now that most people would find abhorrent. But yes, these things to leak, you only have to look as far as Snowden, Manning and Vanunu to see that (and how these people are treated afterwards).
I find it abhorrent that these clowns took it upon themselves to decide what's right and put the rest of us at serious risk because they didn't bother to limit the exposure they made to specifically and only that information needed to demonstrate what they were alleging. Instead, they simply splattered everything they could get their hands on without thinking about what the total picture is. I want someone here to tell me explicitly that they really think that it's more important to reveal all of this information to the likes of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, the Chinese Communist Party, the religious zealots running Iran, Assad in Syria, and every other dictator, murderer, torturer, etc. While proponents are cheering about how wonderful these revelations are in terms of how many devils will fit on the head of a pin, they're not thinking through what's going on around the rest of the chess board. If you really think Vladimir Putin is interested in a level playing field where life is all rosy and smells of unicorn farts, you'd better think a lot harder.
ShiftPlusOne wrote:I don't think that's what wikileaks was supposed to reveal, but gunning down journalists and children from apache helicopters is not an example of people doing their jobs properly.
Do you really think that nothing happened internally when this was seen by the military hierarchy? Wrong.
ShiftPlusOne wrote:The issue is that we're spying on our allies (who are in turn spying on us) and our citizens, not that we're spying on regimes that are a potential threat.
No, this is not what is happening. You're over-generalizing from a very small number of bad-news incidents. You do not live in a police state. If you think you do, I will provide you a list of dozens of actual police states, you can go visit them and voice these kinds of complaints there, and we won't be surprised at all to never hear from you again. I mean no disrespect as you have been blessed to live a decent life, but you are clueless in this regard, and I can say this from experience, having been in some of those police states.
ShiftPlusOne wrote:Because there are other issues that affect the world, does not mean that these are any less important.
This is also completely incorrect and incredibly naive. There is a hierarchy of human needs (go read Maslow's writings on this - it's required for military leaders). Likewise, there is a hierarchy of crimes and misdemeanors (they are not the same). That's why there are differing levels of bail, fines, sentences, incarceration facilities, etc. I am in no way condoning the illegal actions of a minuscule fraction of otherwise law-abiding government workers, and believe the convicted should be hammered at least as hard as other criminals committing offenses at the same level. Judges usually sentence law enforcement officers to the harshest punishments allowed precisely because they are in trusted positions of authority and swore an oath to uphold the law. The same goes for abusers of national security powers.
So, the Moral of the Story is that (1) yes, they really are out to get you, (b) they're really too incompetent to do so and as a result generally go for the low-hanging fruit, (gamma) collecting anything and everything isn't the same thing, by a long shot, as processing, analyzing, reporting, disseminating, and retasking collection to refine the data to what's really associated with threats, and (!) I'm running out of identifiers for Morals of the Story.