The National Security State Run Amok

After reading this, do you feel safer or more secure? Do you think that American national security interests are served when the besotted use the awesome power of the state to spy on those with whom they are in love?

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.

The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.

The “LOVEINT” examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.

In the wake of revelations last week that NSA had violated privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions in a one-year period, NSA Chief Compliance Officer John DeLong emphasized in a conference call with reporters last week that those errors were unintentional. He did say that there have been “a couple” of willful violations in the past decade. He said he didn’t have the exact figures at the moment.

NSA said in a statement Friday that there have been “very rare” instances of willful violations of any kind in the past decade, and none have violated key surveillance laws. “NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities” and responds “as appropriate.”

After you have picked your jaw up from off the floor, read this as well. I don’t know which part of the story is worse; the fact that a Hindu traveler was mistaken for a Muslim? The fact that a TSA officer demonstrated that he knows nothing whatsoever about Hinduism and that what he thinks he knows is laughably wrong? The fact that no traveler–Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian–ought to be subjected to such a mix of both insulting behavior and inept security procedures? The examples of petty tyranny that make up so much of the piece? The craven actions of JetBlue? The fact that in all of its years of existence, the TSA appears to have learned precisely nothing from past mistakes?

Oh, and while we are on the subject, this Venn diagram still is accurate:

Venn Diagram
I swear, some politician could strike electoral gold if s/he ran a campaign made up in large part of efforts to making the TSA go the way of the dodo bird.