The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Operation Stalk My Girlfriend’

Posted on | December 28, 2014 | 10 Comments

Kevin D. Williamson has a column about NSA employees who were caught using the agency’s surveillance technology for personal purposes:

Thanks to a Christmas Eve document dump, we learn that agents of the National Security Agency, the spookiest spooks in all our vast spookocracy, are a bunch of stalkers, using the effectively boundless surveillance powers of their organization to spy on husbands and wives, overseas girlfriends, and sundry romantic partners. . . .
In a free and open society, there is a generally unspoken understanding between the citizens and the intelligence forces: We the people understand that they’re going to necessarily conduct themselves in a nefarious fashion from time to time, bending or breaking some laws along the way. We know this: That’s what spies do, being a necessary evil that is no less evil for being so acutely necessary. The spooks’ end of the bargain is: being good at what they do, not comporting themselves like a bunch of jackasses, and getting really bendy with the situational ethics only when doing so advances some legitimate national-security interest. Operation Mincemeat we can live with; Operation Stalk My Girlfriend we cannot. . . .

Read the whole thing. Kevin’s a brilliant writer.



10 Responses to “‘Operation Stalk My Girlfriend’”

  1. Matthew W
    December 28th, 2014 @ 11:05 am

    And what makes anyone think that Democrats aren’t using the NSA for their ow private data gathering????

  2. Jim R
    December 28th, 2014 @ 11:07 am

    If only we had some body of people, accountable to the citizens and with the power to make laws and rules on their behalf, who could oversee these spooky agencies. You know: tell them what they can and can’t do, where the lines are drawn, &c? And, it goes without saying, with the smarts to know when to keep their mouths shut about things we DON’T need to know.

    Another brainstorm! What if there was a profession dedicated to bringing information to we the people, one that investigated potential wrongdoing by the spooky agencies (and that other body of everseers I mentioned) and shone a light on abuses and malfeasance? Natch, they’d have to restrain the urge to do this for partisan or plain selfish reasons, but that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

    Is it?

  3. Daniel Freeman
    December 28th, 2014 @ 11:39 am

    Don’t be silly. If the surveillance agencies were beneath the people, then they would’ve been disbanded and replaced many years ago. We can deduce their status from their existence.

  4. genes
    December 28th, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

    It’s not just NSA that spys on spouses and partners. Where they have plate scanners police and others with access will track them.

  5. Quartermaster
    December 28th, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    I can just hear the typical Dim, “They would never do such a thing. But, if they did, I have nothing to hide.” I’m sure there were people that learned the hard way the meaning of “nebel und nacht” under the Nazi Regime, or the equivalent with Stalin’s NKVD. Having nothing to hide didn’t save several million people in the Soviet Union.

  6. DeadMessenger
    December 28th, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

    Yep. Any technology that can be misused, will be misused. Which is why the statement, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about”, is a clear sign of gross stupidity, and anybody saying it should not be allowed to vote or to be in charge of children.

  7. Jim R
    December 28th, 2014 @ 5:31 pm

    They are much like the armed forces and the various police agencies: they perform a task that is regrettably necessary in this sorry, makeshift world (how sane is it to give another man a baton or a gun and tell him, “You can use this on me if I break the law”?). They have served as well at various points in the past, and I think we’d be f*cked without them. The fault lies in a long succession of Congresses and presidents who were too lazy, disinterested, bedazzled or feckless to keep the spooky agencies firmly in check.

  8. Adobe_Walls
    December 28th, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

    As Kevin’s article notes none of the these NSA employees were prosecuted. This is typical across all government agencies whether the infractions are violations of rules or statutes. This is pervasive up and down the ladder of government work, from lowest GS-1 to Cabinet Secretaries there are no consequences for violating rules or statutes. This is only going to get worse over time no matter who is in the White House. The unaccountable Fourth Branch snubs the authority of the Inspectors General in their departments refusing provide access to documents based on privacy rules or other regs that do not trump the IG’s authority. The EPA has it’s own little Homeland Security department, it’s purpose is to thwart the EPA’s IG oversite of their activities. At what point does the Fourth Branch determine that they aren’t subject to any oversite? That they aren’t subject to legislative or even federal LE investigation and oversite.

    In another article Kevin D. Williamson reports that ” 47 inspectors general — the officials charged with fighting corruption, waste, and wrongdoing in federal agencies — sent a letter to Issa’s committee complaining that organizations ranging from the EPA to the Justice Department were impeding their investigations by withholding information”

    This is the part where I’m confused. The Inspectors General control the SWAT teams of their departments at least in those Departments not specifically tasked for LE.

    This should become a major issue in 2016. If the Fourth Branch isn’t reigned in from within the government it will have to be reigned in from without.

  9. Matthew W
    December 28th, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

    We have the perfect example of the IRS being used by Democrats (not that the Liberals believe anything wrong was done) and NOT A SINGLE PERSON WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE !!!

  10. Wombat_socho
    December 28th, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

    This is what pisses me off, that none of these people faced even the least consequence for their crimes. When I was working in signal intelligence in the Army, we were frequently lectured on the dire consequences of screwing around with classified information or using our equipment on civilian targets. Guess the boys and girls at the Puzzle Palace are above such punishments, the bastards.