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Now I’m not one to advocate that the average Joe should step up to pinch-hit for pros in the security game. That’s not my cup of tea. I pay taxes for better people than me to do that dirty work. And I can understand the zealotry that many of them seek to bring to their mission. But, no matter how professional they may be, these NSA people are human after all. They have a perspective that ranks catching terrorists, playing free video games and checking out wanna-have girlfriends above protecting our constitutional rights. And they have an interest in calling sketchy people out there terrorists because the more of them there are—whether true or not—the more they can sell their invasions of our liberties to a frightened citizenry. Terror is an industry, not just an act.

As you can tell, I am pretty skeptical of the need for all this fear-driven surveillance. I don’t see why we ought to believe that the NSA is run more effectively than, let’s say, Congress.  I don’t believe that the NSA’s computer system is less flawed than the one that brought us the Obamacare rollout. I believe that with hundreds of millions of calls to monitor, a bunch of low-level enlisted personnel dragooned from various military services are going to miss a load of leads in the first place, then dig a bunch of dry holes, then miss simple coded messages. Who the hell are we kidding here? Our enemies are as competent and capable as the next guy, as well, unfortunately, as being more determined. We just aren’t going to catch all the balls they throw our way. Benghazi proved that. We have a global presence that’s spread very thin, and we piss off a lot of people around the world. Us getting attacked is the price we pay for that strategy.

When I hear these explanations from NSA people who have a vested interest in keeping their sinecures and their raison d’etre I am remind of the last line of our national anthem: ”The land of the free and the home of the brave.” And I wonder, where the hell all those folks are, now that our Fourth Amendment rights are hanging in the balance.


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