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August 10, 2007

Enemies Of The State

Salon has an unsurprising but alarming article about the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and its new working relationship with the NSA. Basically, the NGA looks while the NSA listens—and both are now doing an unknown amount of this domestically. (Even less is known about the NTA, the National Touching & Tasting Agency.)

Little jokes aside, this actually isn't funny. As Frank Church, then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, famously said in the mid-seventies:

[The government's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know.

ALSO: While Salon calls the NGA "relatively unknown to the public," it's not unknown to me because my father used to work there, back when it was called the Defense Mapping Agency. In fact, before I was born my parents and sister lived across the street from them, and I went to kindergarten right next door. The buildings there didn't have any windows, to prevent the sneaky Russians from seeing in and stealing all our mapping secrets.

I'm pleased to say my father quit when he was assigned to map cities in the Soviet Union so they could be more effectively targeted with nuclear weapons. This made a big impression on me when I was six.

AND: Let's turn the tables on the NGA and look down on them from space:

Posted at August 10, 2007 11:46 AM | TrackBack

hey, someone at the NGA drives a '76 Pacer!

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at August 10, 2007 12:49 PM

YES FRIENDS, even the government has lost it's privacy, as we ALL have.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 10, 2007 04:48 PM

There should be some kind of medal for people like your father, Jonathan. I'm much older than six and I'm impressed that he quit rather than do that work. Not many people around like him nowadays, unfortunately.

Posted by: Not an American at August 10, 2007 05:04 PM

This makes my tummy hurt.

Posted by: Ann at August 10, 2007 06:25 PM

"I'm pleased to say my father quit when he was assigned to map cities in the Soviet Union so they could be more effectively targeted with nuclear weapons. This made a big impression on me when I was six."

Well, now we know where you get your radical, communofascist anti-American attitude from. And thanks for suggesting the National Touching and Tasting Agency. I may never sleep again.

Posted by: Maud at August 11, 2007 05:08 AM

"...and there would be no way to fight back..."

Some gun nuts claim this is why they need their weapons -- so they can take on the federal government if it ever gets uppity. But I can't ever think of a time that a private armed group has protected or expanded freedom in the U.S. I can think of instances in which:
1. private armed groups take on the gov't and are defeated (Whiskey Rebellion, Waco)
2. private armed groups help suppress freedom (KKK, private militias hired by union-busters)
3. private UNarmed groups take on the gov't and protect/expand freedom (suffragettes, civil rights movement).

Can anybody else think of an example? The American Revolution (fought against an occupying power) doesn't count. Neither does "Red Dawn" with Patrick Swayze (for those NRA members who have a little trouble distinguishing movies from real life).

Hence, I guess the NGA employees feel safe even driving Pacers instead of Hummers.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at August 14, 2007 01:54 AM