How to talk to the NSA when they come recruiting

When the NSA came recruiting at a University of Wisconsin language program, the students and teachers pushed back, hard. The transcribed recording of their discussion is a model for the dialog that we should be having with our spooks everywhere we encounter them: "So, ‘adversary’ is basically what any of your so-called ‘customers’ as you… READ THE REST

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Link no worky.

Google cache.

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I find it disturbing, if not surprising, that the NSA recruiters wouldn’t even attempt to give a straight answer to any question. Given that they’d be utterly stupid not to expect to encounter such questions while recruiting these days, the fact that they are seemingly arrogant enough not to bother being prepared for them is rather telling. (Whether these questions are appropriate during a recruiting session or not is another issue, though I personally have no problems with them.)

Combine this hubris with the descriptions of getting drunk and disassociating themselves from their work that the recruiters themselves offered as examples of their culture, and I think it’s even more apparent that we deserve the truth from our government about what is being done under the guise of ensuring our safety.

(The link is troublesome, but worked for me on the third try. The server seemed overwhelmed.)


Almost certainly the people at the NSA are living in a bubble where they and everybody around them have convinced themselves that everything they’re doing is OK and normal and reasonable.

The sad thing is, those of us who are horrified by the revelations about the NSA are ALSO living in a little bubble. We hear things like this, we read the news reports, we read the editorials and analyses that say that this revelation is more important than the Pentagon Papers, that the USA has been growing a gigantic secret government since 9/11, etc. However, more than half of the population of the USA that has been polled has come out in favor of all of this. Other people are conflicted, and so rationalize that Snowden is bad for having undermined the Western alliances, or have convinced themselves that because it’s Obama, it can’t be all that bad. Horror and disgust at the relevations about the NSA is very far from universal, although within this bubble of people who are horrified by it, it’s easy to think it is.


When the US got hurt on 9-11, it was scared and angry, and did some things that we’re starting to regret. Among those things was to write laws that basically increased the powers granted to out national security apparatus.

There’s a misconception that all of this latest scandal was a vast secret plot. It wasn’t, but a lot of people seem not to have been paying attention. It was done, for the most part, right out in the open, by a government that was responding to our collective will. That’s an important phrase, “collective will”. I might not agree with it, and you might not, but the majority carried the day, and that’s how it’s supposed to work. Of course, we can change out minds, and that seems to be the trend now.

The thing that I find most pathetic in all of this is the vilification of the people who’ve been carrying out our collective will in good faith. There’s no justification for that. Yes, some might not be the brightest or most noble people, but disagreeing with something doesn’t grant superiority. We’ve stopped spitting on soldiers, even when we disagree with the war. If we don’t like the system we’ve got, it’s up to us to change it.

Do you think that the NSA would want to recruit anyone not already convinced of the rightness of what it does? If you are recruiting hatchetmen, there isn’t much point in preparing a principled defense of what you do, that just means HR has to weed 'em out later…


What color is the sky in your world where the NSA and friends’ activities were ‘done, for the most part, right out in the open’?

How many times has it been repeated that basically any legal challenge to any aspect of the programs is contrary to ‘state secrets’? Things haven’t been 100% leak-proof; but it’s been nothing but stonewalling, silence, and denials to everyone(possibly including the alleged-oversight in congress).

Why is ‘vilifying’ the people who knowingly took part in that a problem? They aren’t conscripts, or ‘stop-loss’-ed into repeated service. The private sector ones even less than the government employees. They could walk at any time. If they don’t, on their head be it.


Can someone re-write Boing Boing’s summary paragraph? It’s freaking incomprehensible.

Cory’s part seem okay, give or take a preposition. The quote is… challenging.

to think that the most scathing indictment I’d heard of the NSA used to concern codebreaking to reveal overseas targets of dubious value. and it was fictional.
the UofW student’s transcript had me laughing far louder than this scene, and that’s saying something. fucking glorious.

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One of my friends nearly got swept up in a thing the NSA held at UW-Madison a year ago. They almost got him, before he realized that full tuition and a well-paying job was not worth signing what was basically a lifetime contract, as he described it.

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I hope some of the students who’re against unconstitutional spying join the NSA and help to change it from within, while others surround the NSA by running for office, etc.

Flank the corruption from all sides and from within. We need to nation-build the USA from the bottom-up.


I really enjoyed reading that. I do hope that the NSA etc run into this kind of resistance no matter where they find themselves.


We haven’t really had much luck with this ‘nation building’ stuff since, best case, WWII-ish. and that was after years of nigh-apocalyptic war, genocide, indiscriminate bombardment of population centers with explosives, firebombs, and eventually nukes, followed by large occupation forces keeping the pacified survivors in line…

It’s not really the most hopeful plan.


Right, but you’re referring to nation-building by corporatists at the top, I referred to nation-building from citizens themselves from the bottom-up.

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That was a fun read. If I were there, I’d probably end up saying something angry and hurtful to the NSA recruiters along the lines of: “You work for a corrupt, and abusive agency that has no regard for the law. It’s unavoidable, and public knowledge. Yet you haven’t left it yet. That makes you worse than terrorists you claim to be fighting. Your willingness to stay with the NSA disgusts me.”

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