The End Is Near

With friends like Dianne Feinstein, who needs enemies?


The NSA was established by President Truman in a 1952 secret memorandum with the mission of conducting SIGINT surveillance of foreign communications.  In the 1960’s it secretly expanded its mission to include monitoring domestic telephone communications of opponents of the Vietnam War but was forced to return to its original mission by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.  Then, through a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the NSA again quietly changed its mission to include bulk collection of all communications, including those of all Americans.

And then, in 2013, came Snowden.

It looked like the scale might have been tipped again after the NSA’s leaders had been proved to be liars, and mass collection of domestic American communication was temporarily put on hold, set to resume shortly after Americans have forgot all about the issue.

The recent events in Paris are the perfect excuse and have already resulted in calls for a ratcheting up of all surveillance.  So once again it looks like we’ll be trading the remaining shreds of our freedom for more security, a global Panopticon.

Even before the Paris attacks, British and American intelligence forces had been clamoring for an end to civilian encryption.  My fear is that an overreaction to the Paris massacres will lead to the outlawing of encryption by civilians or at least the forced insertion of back doors into all encryption programs.

After all, it’s unpatriotic to want to keep anything secret from your government.

Hell, i’ll bet Apple has already installed a back door into its encryption system.  Our communications companies have a long history of collaborating with the NSA, and it was rather amusing to see them (and not just Apple) falling all over themselves denying this in the wake of Snowden’s exposures, only to be proved liars by subsequent exposures.  Now they’re making a big show of defending encryption and offering it to their customers.  When the next whistleblower exposes their secretly installed back doors, they’ll just say it was the work of a rogue engineer.  Like Volkswagen’s little switch in its emission controls software.

Meanwhile, a shot of Alcatraz, taken last week from the deck of the Hornblower.



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  1. Tommy Taylor
    Posted 19 November 2015 at 10:20 | Permalink

    Matte, you awaken my seldom-used vocabulary often…and, yes, teach me more than a few new words.

    I actually knew “panopticon”, but could NEVER have called it up and did not know it’s original reference to a particular prison design by Jeremy Bentham. As so often after reading one of your posts, I clicked over to Google. The Wikipedia entry on the word is quite fascinating…and as horrifying as the original concept of “penitentiary” itself.

    Thanks again for this post as for so many.

    • Posted 19 November 2015 at 15:51 | Permalink

      Well, i do love using abstruse words to send readers Googling. If you want a rich cluster of esoterica, click on “About Matte Gray” in the main menu.

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