NSA's catch-22: we can't tell you anything, because everything we do is a secret

See, here’s what I don’t understand. We know about the metadata. Hell, we also know they’re wiretapping everybody, based on lots of anecdotal evidence. Email, text, Skype - they’re capturing everything.

Given we already know that, what else would be reveled about their methods if they released Seymour’s file? I can’t imagine a hell of a lot more that could be revealed, unless maybe they’ve assigned two agents in a car to actually tail every American citizen. And four agents for the two agents.

Therefore, the whole “national security” rationale falls apart. The only thing left to protect is the respectability of the powers on Capitol Hill. That’s a whole different kind of “national security” - the kind where questioning authority is a serious offense. Are we there yet?

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…We’re influential guys for the D.C.C.
We can lie so perfect
And we’ve got a party line
to every call
It’s a very short circuit-
What we do is secret – secret!

Licensed to drill with the torch
in our lives,
Walking on shallow water
Progressed to the
point of no distinction
Dementia of a higher order-
What we do is secret – secret!

you know why in the “olden days” this didn’t happen but NOW it does? know what the difference is??

back then, they had HONOR

recall: nixon “wanted” to do something similar (ya ya… probably apples and oranges but… “somewhat” similar) but the head of the IRS back then wouldn’t do what the pres was asking


There goes the simple backup strategy of sending FOIA requests to the NSA and getting all your communications back.



come on NSA, all we are asking for is the METADATA on your spying program, nothing compromising…


I think any shred of evidence that would actually confirm that they are wiretapping everybody is what they want to avoid.

We and everyone on this corner of the internet may suspect they’re doing it (and have suspected for years/decades), but we also suspected everything Snowden revealed - it’s still a big deal to actually know. And once the general public knows, the reaction may not be what we hope but it’ll be huge.

It’ll happen soon enough, but the NSA and the rest are certainly not going to help - even if they must exploit and abuse every legal loophole possible to keep things contained as best they can.

At this point, I believe we have sufficient evidence to conclude that NSA secrecy is only effective against the US public.

Look at the background of Snowden. If he is typical, then the NSA has no ability to protect secrets from any government or motivated corporation. The NSA appears to have systematically eliminated all the traditional sources of loyalty.

  • The NSA could not appeal to Snowden's patriotism, because the NSA was subverting the core values of the constitution.
  • The NSA could not appeal to his desire for job security, because he had none. He was an out-sourced contract employee. He knew he would be replaced as soon as the NSA could figure out a cheaper way to do his job.
  • The NSA could not appeal to this professionalism, because he was too young, isolated, and inexperienced.
  • The NSA could not appeal to Snowden's protective instincts, because he was in a position to discern that the threat from terrorism is minimal.

The NSA appears to have based their entire claim to his loyalty on his desire for money.

Snowden and the other intelligence contractors are simply mercenaries. Their job, is first and for-most to get paid. You buy their loyalty with money. Anybody who offers a greater reward, can shift their loyalty.

Showden ultimately, found a higher bid for his loyalty than his Booz/Allen/Hamilton paycheck.

This is not rocket science. This is simply Management 101. One of the most shocking revelations has been that the NSA is so incompetent in managing the basics of loyalty. I am afraid that we will eventually find that the only thing that is unique to Snowden is that he acted publicly.

It is very likely that the ‘secrets’ of the NSA have already been cheaply purchased by many governments and large corporations.


This metadata nonsense has to stop. GPS coordinates, email to: and from:, ip addresses, phone numbers is not metadata, it’s data.

They are not collecting metadata. They are collecting data.

But more to the point, what is the major crime that we can pin on them. Going after the NSA is like going after Al Capone. Even though Capone had corrupted the judicial system, he had broken so many laws there was still something the Feds could pin on him, in his case tax evasion. There has to be a large number of laws they have violated due to the unprecedented scale of their wire tapping program.

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Or one federal judge.

The Privacy Act of 1974 gives the right of any citizen to sue the federal government when a violation of the act has occurred.


Assuming this mythical citizen had the time and energy and financial wherewithal to attempt this,where would this suit in all likelihood end up?I’d say there’s a better chance of lightning striking a few members of SCOTUS.

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You mean, like all of Europe? They are being bugged, tapped and surveiled, but when it was revealed publicly, they were shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that the US would do such a thing. Meanwhile, years ago, those countries invited us in and paid the NSA to perform that surveillance work. It’s all a bunch of hogwash.

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I can’t tell for sure if the following is your intent, but your wording would strongly suggest you think Snowden is getting financially compensated for his actions… but I’ve not seen any information suggesting anything of the sort… so I can’t just let the implication stand unchallenged.


Your overall point is quite a simplification, with a rather large number of unsupported suppositions. So many that your agenda is showing.

My reply to that finagling would be that the principle behind, and existence of FOI requests was long established before these NSA honkies developed their sooper seekrit processes, so bad luck. If they want their processes to survive FOI requests, they should design them to be robust. These scumbags have a dozen half-baked excuses for their malarkey, but they haven’t got anything approaching a justifiable reason for disappearing your freedoms at a stroke.

I apologize for my lack of clarity. There is no evidence to show that Snowden is getting financial compensation for his disclosure. There is evidence to show that his actions are not based on money.

My first point is simply Snowden’s loyalty to the NSA appears to be weak, because his ties to the NSA are weak. He has stated that his loyalty to the NSA was superseded by other things. They include his loyalty to the spirit and intent of the US Constitution and his belief that public discourse can fix the wrongs that he observed. He has acted consistently with his public statements. I have no reason to doubt him.

My second point is that the issues that weakened Snowdens loyalty to the NSA appear to be widespread at the NSA. Snowden is not the only one with reduced loyalty. Consequently, the NSA’s ability to keep secrets has probably been greatly reduced.

Please feel free to correct any mistakes. I make them all the time.

But your post appears to contain the same mistakes that you apply to me. You have simplified your post to the point of failing to support your suppositions. You also appear to have an agenda. Isn’t this fun! We could do this all day…

Lets try this another way. I will attempt to iterate my postulates. Then you can identify the ones that you feel need more support:

  1. The NSA is currently using a large number of external contract employees.
  2. External contract employees lack many of the loyalty creating benefits of direct employees. These deficits include:
  3. External contract employees are not directly paid by the NSA, They have not taken the 'Kings Shilling'. In Snowden's case, he was paid by Booz/Allen/Hamilton.
  4. External contract employees can not look forward to stable, decades long employment by the NSA, followed by a NSA sponsored pension.
  5. External contract employees can not expect job progression within the NSA hierarchy.
  6. For all these reasons, external contract employees have less loyalty to the NSA then internal, direct employees.
  7. And yet, Snowden had access to many 'secrets' that can not be revealed to the US public.
  8. Snowden is not unique, many of the NSA's 'secrets' are disclosed to other, less trustworth people.
From those postulates, I conclude that many of the NSA's 'secrets' are secrets in name only. They are disclosed to a wide, untrustable community. They have probably already escaped to many of the enemies of the US.

I was wrong to fail to disclose my agenda. My biases begin with, I am a security professional. For the last 10 years, I have done network and computer security for a university. My professional experience has led me to believe that secrecy is bad for security. I created a YouTube video to discuss these problems at:

My bias about security secrecy is:

Secrecy is to security as strong medicine is to the prescription drug addict. We can’t control ourselves. Our access to secrecy must be restricted. Our use of secrecy, carefully monitored. Some secrecy is justified, but usually the bigger the community, the more damaging the secrecy. Secrecy does not enhance meaningful community security.

  • Secrecy blinds security.
  • Secrecy blinds the community.
  • Secrecy isolates security from it's community.
  • Secrecy favors the illegal over the legal, the attacker over the community.
But we love secrecy to excess. And, after the orgy, the stench of secrecy remains and security is gone.

Hopefully, my suppositions, agenda and bias are now completely exposed. Feel free to tear my logic apart.

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There’s this. I disagree with this. The contract employees have taken oaths, been vetted, and are liable under federal law. The crime in question (If proven) is the same crime for direct federal employees as for subcontractors.

Your supposition seems to treat Snowden as nothing more than a mercenary that B/A/H got to before some other nation or some other nations temp agency, hired him.

I don’t think that s the case here.

Good reply, by the way.

I think part of our problem may be that we are being deceived by the English language.

The plural of oath should not be oaths.

  • 1 oath produces devotion.
  • 2 oaths create division.
  • 3 oaths foster delusion.

A dutiful person faced with conflicting oaths can only see damnation.

A creative person presented with conflicting oaths can find unlimited opportunities for justification.

Good analysts are almost infinitely creative. When Snowden was presented with a conflict between his oath to defend the Constitution and his oath to protect government secrets, he found a new path of duty and loyalty.

This conflict exists for hundreds of thousands of people. I would not expect secrecy to be the universal outcome.

So, our path forward should include a new declension for oath:

  • I took a single oath.
  • She uttered two divisions.
  • He swore multiple delusions :^)

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