Imagine this. President George W. Bush authorizes the implantation of software in 100,000 computers around the world that conducts surveillance on those machines and creates a digital highway for launching cyber-attacks. This software can also enter and alter data in computers not connected to the internet. It’s on your computer right now.
Well, not really — or so the National Security Agency (NSA) says about domestic computers. Furthermore, former President Bush didn’t authorize this surveillance, President Obama did. In fact, this President has allowed the NSA to collect reams of data about everyone who uses the internet.
You, of course, may say that’s no big deal because Google, Facebook and other companies do the same. This is a lame excuse — those companies are not backed by an entire secret infrastructure, not to mention troops. Citizens are domesticated now to think it’s no big deal that Uncle Sam has the ability to read our emails, listen to our phone calls, and, now, alter data or launch a cyber-attack. This is quite some Democratic president you have. I can imagine the shouts of outrage if a Republican had ushered in this unprecedented spy network.
Now, you learn from the Associated Press that the government has bastardized such agencies as USAID, an organization whose stated purposes are to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world. Why should any foreign government now trust any aid workers in their respective countries, since they might be spies? This endangers all humanitarian workers.
The idea was to create a cellphone text messaging system that would entice Cubans to use it with soccer scores, music news, and one free text to a friend and, once lured, to change the message from soccer is good to “Castro is bad.” U.S. law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization.
At its peak, the text scam had 40,000 Cubans getting the texts from places set up by our government all around the world. As one memo from the United States, secured by the Associated Press, read, “There will be absolutely no mention of the United States government involvement. This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the mission.” The secret shell companies and financing of the project though foreign banks petered out as money costs escalated and Cuban authorities began an investigation.
Now some Americans may think all is fair in love and spying. The underlying issue, though, is a query as to what will prevent these tools being used with United States citizens. Do you really trust the government to do the right thing? Will we always have a benign leader so that we never have to worry about a Hitler? Right now, is our government working for all the people or primarily for special interests? If the government were to go sour, it would have the tools to find the “patriots” who try to rally the populace and could even mess with their messages by altering them. A Revolutionary War would flop!
Edward Snowden had his misgivings, so he blew the whistle on the NSA tentacles. There apparently is little appetite to curb this surveillance by regular folks demanding a change. This article starts my protest.