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Finally, Americans are discovering and believing, that everything you say, do, or buy and wherever you go is stored in a secret government archive at Fort Meade, and soon to find a home under a massive facility in Utah, known as  The Utah Data Center (ask yourself, how is this beast going to be constrained with "new oversight rules" passed by this Congress?

Freedom: the great American mass delusion, thanks to the NSA. There can't be a more dangerous threat to everything that is American than everything this beast is, can do, is doing, and will continue to do as long as it exists.

I took the oath to protect "national security" and it secrets within a branch of the NSA run by the USAF and collecting military grade COMINT. It took about two years to discover, or to lose a capacity to rationalize abhorrent activities as justifiable, all of the treachery, deceit, illegality, patently undemocratic, and very deadly activities that are at the core of the operational raison d'etre of this practically autonomous and unregulated agency. It is a government unto itself, and I am bound for life by that oath, even though I took it about 44 years ago.

Unlike those who recite with blind devotion or affirm with passion, I know that this celebration of freedom is an illusion. That freedom can be, and often is, stripped away, anytime and for any reason; not from outside threats, but from the dark heart of all of the secret agencies within our own borders that remain untouchable with that oath.  Much more than the origins of the pledge have been forgotten and lost, and God has nothing to do with any of it.

The heart of the problem is identified in this piece: the dangers of "group-think" in the Bill Moyers recent piece: "Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State"

Let's be clear about what the "group-think" means when speaking about the NSA.
As someone who was once in the bowels of the NSA beast, I observed a number of disturbing traits permeating every nook and cranny of the operation. If those traits were applied to an individual, they would be considered having a very serious characterological disorder, perhaps serious enough to warrant hospitalization. If the culture exudes these characteristics from every pore, document, and interaction, it can only have one outcome. That is it permeates every person who makes a career in an organization and who does work that can not ever be discussed outside of the confines of hardened, secure virtually windowless bunkers.

The dominant pathological organizational disorders rampant within the NSA are obvious:

1. Paranoid
2. Obsessive compulsive
3. Sociopathic
4. Grandiose
5. Narcissistic (self-rationalizing)
6. Uber-patriotic (self-justifying)

Just look at the things official sources say. You will always be able to identify at least one of these characteristics permeating the text or lurking behind the lines.

The groupthink scenario in that place is as toxic as it can get for a human enterprise. Go up the chain of command seeking redress?  Seriously? That is a career ending move, if you lucky.  Go to newspapers? Now that is an extreme; what if you release something that really matters to security? Besides, jail, a bullet in the head, or exile is the only route to safety. Can there be a more completely dysfunctional way to manage a problem in a democracy than to only enable extremes?

I see the level of secrecy endemic to the NSA as a clear and present danger to the security of Democracy as we know it. Under these very real conditions just what "controls" or "safeguards" can be effectively legislated for "better accountability"? Simple answer: None. Nada. Nothing. It is ludicrous to think otherwise. For a quick link to a long history of data collection programs, start here:  The panel on the right of wiki page has many links that describe the big operational programs. To get a sense of scale of current operations, check this out:

Other than shutting it down or making its budget transparent, the only hope of keeping a choke chain on the NSA Beast and protecting American rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is to provide a protected route for whistleblowers to reach the legislature and the judiciary. Getting the word to a legal outlet that is not co-opted already by being part of the madness is the only chance to bring it under some small modicum of sensible control.

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 6:21 AM PT: Here is an example of the thinking epitomized by #2 Obsessive-compulsive, and #5 Narcissistic (self-rationalizing):

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 8:12 AM PT: Here is a current example of #1: PARANOIA !
The NSA Says its Water Bill Should be Top Secret

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some of These Traits Are Shared By (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, I Spoke Umbra

    big finance, business and press, especially the "personality" traits.

    It's not necessarily obvious that one of them is orders of magnitude more threatening than the others.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 12:50:47 PM PST

    •  Well, we DO know that big finance and insurance (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (and likely others) keep track of minute information about consumers, but I don't think they tend to listen in on our phone calls and read all our emails... I DO think that makes a substantial difference.

    •  Finance and insurance (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Calamity Jean, nextstep

      Can't throw you in jail and don't have the limitless power of the state at their disposal.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 01:42:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Shared traits (0+ / 0-)

      I think you are quite right that these are personal traits, they are serious characterological disorders in individuals. There are "ruthless" CEOs and Presidents of all stripes that are expert at it as individuals; they can also be functional and effective, but not moral. In combination the traits epitomize immorality. Shared as institutional traits, at least by some to many people within a given organization, are also common enough. The degree to which it is oppressive and pervasive is a measure of dysfunctional malaise and possible damage to society within both public and private settings. Just look at environmental and individual damage all around you to see evidence of it all playing out all of the time.

      However, I would say there are some very distinguishable attributes within the NSA and related black organizations that are unique and set it apart from other manifestations of a pathologically ill organization:

      1. You don't stay in if you disagree (3 yrs for me, no option to bail for enlisted folks). So "99.99%" of the career spooks are 100% bought in are totally committed and believe they are in the right or that ends justify means.

      2. If you openly disagree, you are treated like you are mentally ill AND a security threat. Six weeks in a mental institution getting psychiatric exams and observation can happen. If you go "outside" to complain, the penalties are severe: 30 years in prison, in war-time unauthorized disclosure can qualify as high treason punishable by death. Post 9/11, who knows what can go down. I think probably anything because there is no such thing as "out of bounds."

      3. Think of Intelligence as "weaponized information." It is not a passive cerebral business. It can and does kill. Witness drones in current history. In war, it is an active part of targeting so people die as a result of it. People die protecting it, sometimes unwittingly. In this aspect, I am far from innocent and there is nothing I can do to be free of that fact.

      All of this is absolutely pervasive, and its scope and impact to an operational unit of the government can not be overstated.

      It is in this last aspect where the risk has the potential to most virulent and dangerous because as an agent of death NSA actions still remain quite hidden. Nothing Snowden has revealed to date, for example, speaks of what has been, is current, will be acted upon in the future or who the target could be or the degree of sanction. All I can say is that I know of at least some actions that were and still are hidden so long ago it doesn't matter now; therefore, however, I have no reason to believe that anything has changed either now is likely to change any time soon either.
  •  You need to fix the 2nd link in your post... (3+ / 0-)

    ....speaking of which, thanks for the courage to state what you've stated here. Considering your background (as you described it herein), that IS a very courageous thing to do. Thanks again.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 02:20:28 PM PST

  •  Let's hope many more people go Snowden (0+ / 0-)

    It's a sad commentary on how out of control the Pentagon has become that the answer to it has to be the sort of extreme step that Snowden took. But there have to be a lot of people in the Pentagon who realize that by recording so much of the activity of Americans, they are destroying the very freedom they want to defend.  

    Thanks for speaking out.

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