Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It is time to do some house cleaning and say something nice about the NSA the National Security Agency despite the fact that they hired a 20 year old high school dropout, Eric Snowden and gave him access to millions of classified data on people’s lives. It is important to say something nice about the Agency because they do protect our lives in this day of cyber warfare.  The guys that plotted the attack of 911 did plan it through phone calls and e-mails.  There must be precautions that must be made to never allow it to happen again. 

The NSA is the most secretive agency in the United States, how ironic this kid was able to take millions of data and just run with it and now hide in Russia.  Why are they giving Eric a safe haven anyway?  Are we now getting back to the days of spies and the cold war?  I hope not.  The joke was that NSA stood for Never Say Anything until recently.  We as Americans have a lot of serious questions about the Agencies’ reach into the lives of the American people. Are they protecting us or intruding in our lives unknowingly? Are we willing to give up our privacy in the interest of national security?

The NSA says their job is foreign intelligence and that they are very good at that. The man in charge is a 4 star Army General Keith Alexander who probably has a lot of credit behind his earned stars on the battlefield.  This war is in cyber space, a very different game that most people above the age of 50 just don’t understand.  Older people did not grow up playing with tablets and computers.  It is the 20 year old kids who grew up holding a hand held computer that knows cyber wars.

The law states that the NSA can only target the communications of an American with a Probable Cause finding under a specific court order.  The NSA doesn’t need a court order to spy on foreigners from its heavily protected headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.  They sort through communications to find terrorists plots. To do that they use super computers that use more power than most cities require. They admit they are collecting the phone records of more than 300 Million Americans to see if those bad foreign guys are getting an American to work with them and do harm to this country.

If a terrorist is suspected of having contact inside the United States the NSA can trace every phone call by this person made to the U.S. going back five years. Then they tell the FBI to investigate the American who is talking to the known terrorist   Privacy advocates argue that American’s phone records should not sit in bulk at the NSA searchable under a blanket court order.  They believe that the NSA should have to get a separate court order for each phone number and the records should have to stay with the phone companies.  This would at least prevent some kid like Eric Snowden from having access to so much information.

Before 911 we did not have this capability. After 911 we were one real angry country that we went a step further in monitoring foreigners.  America developed another program thanks to the revelations of Eric Snowden called PRISM.  The NSA says that it is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA. This is the program that the NSA uses to target the Internet communications of Terrorists.  It has the capability to capture e-mails, chats, video and photos. Privacy advocates believe that the NSA’s efforts to sweep up terrorists activity on the Internet may be also getting into privacy issues of Americans on the Internet.  I say, if you have nothing to hide let them know what you are doing on the Internet. Who cares? 

This Snowden guy forced the NSA to explain programs they never intended to talk about. So, how did this kid pull of the most damaging breach of secrets in United States history? Eric had the passwords that gave him access to data and gave him permission to move data so he simply moved about 1.3 million data files to his personal downloads. About 31 thousand documents were about China and Russia and Iran.  If these countries get their information back it could compromise any edge we might have had in getting to know who our enemies are from those countries. Eric said that so far none of those documents have been leaked.  He said exposing the secret documents of the NSA does not make him a traitor or a hero but an American.  This bastard kid was 10 years old during 911 living a safe peaceful life while someone’s Dad was being crushed to death in the Twin Towers.
No big shot at the NSA has been forced to resign because of the actions of this kid.  Instead, they formed a Snowden task force to see who exactly this kid was.  They found out that Eric cheated on a test to get a job at the Agency. He used the credentials of the test maker to get access to the test and got the questions and answers before he had to take the test. It cost Tens of Millions of dollars to destroy every machine and cable he had access to in order to make sure the kid did not plant any more damaging things in the programs.

We need and employ many cleaver bright young people in the NSA because they are most familiar with computer programs and the latest in communication comings and goings. The NSA is fighting every day with the threat of terrorist acts and war zones. They are also monitoring the rising threats of cyber-attacks that could take down anything from the power grid to Wall Street.

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