Assume The Government Is Run By The DMV or the Post Office

You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause.

For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?

No, it doesn’t.

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

This is the default Shylock rule – when you’re thinking about the government, assume it will be run by folks at the DMV. Can you trust the government to clean up after Katrina? Think the DMV. Is it likely that the next round of financial regulation will prevent the next housing crisis? Think the DMV. Can you create police SWAT teams all over the country in rinky dink places and not have them consistently raiding the wrong houses while looking for marijuana? Think the DMV.

But… what about the CIA? Surely, if competence exists anywhere, it must exist there, right? When it really counts, when the chips are down, these guys are the pros, and they wouldn’t screw it up?

Except, you know, with the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The point of the DMV rule is not that it’s always right. It’s just that it tends to be a fairly good predictor of what’s actually going to happen.

The one ambivalently bright side of the NSA scandal(s)

Snowden is charged with three federal crimes: theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications information with an unauthorized party.
. . .
Note that the second and third charges both require the feds to prove that Snowden’s release of information to the press was harmful to the United States. This puts our government in the position of attempting to prove that it is harmful to release accurate information about how it is spying on us, and how it is misleading us about spying on us.

Espionage charges usually describe someone with classified information leaking that information to powers hostile to the United States government.

We, the people, are those hostile powers.

A Look At The Charges Against Edward Snowden

CSPAN, the newest delivery method of Rule 16 discovery.

Dot Connecting The NSA’s Stories and Reality in Court



Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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