I'm going to make a guess here.
I doubt the NSA and its leadership know what data it has, where it came from, who has accessed it and whether or not it has been -- or is being -- stolen by other parties for nefarious purposes.
I'm getting some weird signals watching the excuses train come in and out of the station.
And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one.
It started to strike me as strange a few days ago how the NSA leadership, its spokespeople and members of the Obama Administration were all having a hard time describing the scope and application of domestic surveillance, and the policies that determined how the information gleaned from it were being used by the agency, by other security agencies and by law enforcement.
Yet at the same time, we're being told that it's all totally under very tight control and there is just, like, tons of total oversight and accountability everywhere when it comes to the whole operation.
These two things are in essential conflict. How do they know if oversight is adequate when they can't actually grasp how much surveillance is going on?
Moreover, quotes from senior NSA leadership about the kind of access rights that Edward Snowden enjoyed seemed curiouser and curiouser to me everytime someone spoke. Maybe it's just not something that the public NSA folks understand -- but the way they were describing their security policies raised my eyebrows a bit.
Going even further, I read that the NSA hired the former security chief of Facebook a while back to take over their internal data security function and I though, whoa! First of all, Facebook does not have a good reputation for security. Second, I wondered what was going on behind the scenes that would make them seek out a new, high-profile administrator for the IT security role.
We're accustomed to thinking of the NSA as a shadowy agency -- shadowy to us.
But I'm guessing that the domestic surveillance operation at the NSA has gotten so huge that it is shadowy even to the NSA leadership. There is little effective oversight because the policy system surrounding it is as vague as the operation's scope.
Plus, I'm guessing that the whole operation is insecure -- with data being passed around willy-nilly between Federal IT systems, military/security contractors, telecom companies, Internet service providers and Internet companies, as well as the various law enforcement agencies that use it ...
What a huge freaking mess. Vaguely-scoped, with unclear policies for access and application, and insecure. Just my guess! But I've got a weird feeling about this.
No wonder the U.S. military is pulling out of the commercial communications network entirely and building its own 4G infrastructure for voice and data.
If what I suspect is true, calls and e-mails recorded by the NSA in the morning are probably read by Chinese hackers by sundown.