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What our whistleblower was really trying to do? And no, this isn't political! :) - alyburns' (aka sideburns & alyjude) Hiding Place
If you spoke faster than David Hewlett you’d travel back in time: Michael Shanks
What our whistleblower was really trying to do? And no, this isn't political! :)
I've now watched all the news on this issue, and the interview with Mr. Snowden, and I think I'm beginning to understand his concerns. We've learned that the NSA doesn't actually have conversations, etc., but they're keeping information such as numbers dialed and duration of calls, etc. That doesn't seem all that scary - until you realize what Snowden was trying to point out - an issue I've not yet seen any news show actually tackle (except TRMS, on a brief basis): there are HUNDREDS, even THOUSANDS, of people today who have top secret clearance - and many of them are people like Snowden, whose job it is to view all that data (including Prism). These many people work either for the private companies contracted to the US or the government itself. So what he was saying is that any one of them has the power to wreak havoc; based on the data they see and work with everyday.

He showed us how our government, as usual, overreacted, meaning that after 9/11, one of the problems that surfaced; one of the 'reasons' for how the terrorists succeeded, was that people with top secret clearance were limited within each of our organizations (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc), thus the sharing of info was equally limited so no one could see 'the whole picture'. Thus, as is our habit when we find a hole, we plugged it by granting more top secret clearances - but because we overdo everything, we over-plugged this hole too. Instead of really analyzing the situation, working on department cooperation (duh), and widening the pool of 'special analytical (and thoroughly checked out) folks with top secret clearance, we just gave everyone and their geek uncle the top secret clearances.

We over-compensated, like we so often do.

And that's what Snowden was trying to demonstrate. Any super-geek like him, with top secret clearance, working in some cubicle, in some office or home, be it working directly for the government or a contractor (another problem he pointed out, btw, the number of contractors), could take a piece of that data, hone in on them to find the actual conversations, and then use any information seen or heard - against someone - someone like a politician, or hell, anyone with something to lose - as in 'blackmail'. Or worse yet - selling information to our 'enemies', which was Snowden's real fear, I suspect.

So it's not just the gathering of surface info, the fact that a database exists where all calls/emails, etc. are kept (data again meaning ONLY the addresses, phone numbers, duration, etc., not actual conversations, etc.) but what could be done with it by the wrong person - meaning someone with fewer principles than Snowden. That's scary. Especially when you look at Snowden's background and how he got to where he is - and why. How many other Snowdens are out there but with chinks in their 'honor'?

In addition, I also found myself wondering about the wisdom of leaking the info, even though I think I understand the why of it.

I've not heard that he tried to tell his superiors - but maybe I missed that? Anyone? If so, and if they didn't react as they should have (with worry and plans on how to fix the issue), that would be another major problem. But if he DIDN'T confide his worries; why not? Hell, why didn't Greenwald attempt to bring this to the attention of our government before breaking the story? I only ask because if it had been me - that's the tact I'd have taken; to Hell with a possible Pulitzer! Were both of these men spurred on by the possibility of fame and fortune instead of following a proper course of action when discovering this kind of problem? And before you say, "But aly, Snowden is hiding in Japan, in fear for his life and freedom!" I'd remind you that everyone knows not only is he in Japan, but even his hotel. And sure, he may not be able to return, but can we say 'book' deal? Movie deal? This guy is going to make a fortune and so is Greenwald (who is probably already writing his book). I have no doubt that Snowden had heroic reasons for bringing the issue to light, but I also wonder just how far he allowed himself to 'think' before he acted. Same with Greenwald. :(

Which brings us to another issue: Thinking before acting. As in really thinking, which applies to all of us as we utilize all the new communication devices, right? I mean, our communication today is instant. I know I've posted many times - without thinking it through first. I've come to realize an important lesson:

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Just because you can post anything and everything you feel nowadays, doesn't mean you should. Just because you can talk directly to a celebrity, for instance (as in Twitter, for example), doesn't mean you should tweet everything that comes into your head. Just because you can tell a celebrity/politician/actor/athlete, etc. their last work/project/game sucked eggs, doesn't mean you should. Maybe it's time for all of us to remember - and live by again - that old saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Yes, I know that sounds silly and old - but it has power behind it. It means we should think through something first; think of WHY we want to say it, think about what it will accomplish, if anything, and think of what might really be pushing us to say/email/tweet/text it.

For instance: your friend is wearing a new dress - in yellow - and you don't think yellow is her color. She asks you, "Do you like my new dress?" Loaded question, right? We could sound all noble in our mind by thinking we owe our friend the truth, but if we allow our brain to go a bit further, we might realize that 'we' think yellow isn't her color and that doesn't make it true. And she clearly LOVES her new dress, is very happy in it, so is our 'duty' to share how we feel? Do we say, "Well, you know, yellow really isn't your color" or do we think of our friend first, and say, "Oh, you look wonderful!"??? Of course, if our friend had just come out of the restroom with toilet paper hanging from her bunched-up dress, truth is an imperative, but even that can be handled in different ways - and how we perceive ourselves determines how we handle this situation. Large ego? If so, we probably appear all flustered and start waving our hands at her and pointing, until we finally say, loudly, "Oh, no, you have toilet paper trailing behind you, dear!" OR, our ego has nothing to do with this situation, so our friend comes first - which means we quickly move behind her, maybe put an arm out to stop her forward movement while surreptitiously removing the paper and fixing her dress, our body blocking the back of hers. Then later, when we're alone, we share it and laugh together as she thanks us.

I find I often treat my journal as my own private thoughts - forgetting that it's public - even if I friend lock it, it's still seen by them. I realize I need to stop doing that and treat this journal for what it really is: a public forum. Sure, it's MY journal, for ME, but it's NOT a private diary unless I make it so. But honestly, how many of us do that? Sure, I can, and will,  post things that are important to me; share things happening in my life, but now, thanks to the NSA story (and I don't mean because I'm afraid our government might be reading it - poor them if they are! LOL!), I realize not everything I think is worth posting. In fact, many times I've said hurtful, painful things because I didn't stop to think first. I didn't stop to examine my motives or how what I wrote would be perceived by others. And btw: that's a big one: examining motives. And consequences.

Motive and consequences.

I'm thinking those are two questions that would be good to ask of ourselves, especially today, when we live in a world of instant communication and sharing. Would now be a good time to remember and follow an old saying our parents were constantly repeating? You know the one - "Think before you speak"

Yeah. I've definitely got to do that. Although for me, I'm going to update it to -  "Think before you speak, text, tweet, email, post, share".

*nods and then goes back to watching mindless tv*


7 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
alyburns From: alyburns Date: June 19th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, I agree, which is why I asked why didn't he

go to his superiors first, you know? And no, I haven't heard it in any news, that he did, which really puts into question his motives. And while he'll live less than a normal life - I suspect he'll be paid very well and that 'less than normal life' will be spent in countries without extradition. :( So snake might be a good adjective for him, no matter how noble he tries to make it all sound.
(Deleted comment)
alyburns From: alyburns Date: June 19th, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yeah, I agree, which is why I asked why didn't he

I'm doing fine, girlfriend! How are you and how's the job? I know you're still missing your son, so maybe you can find the time to take a drive up here for a day of fun?
babs_sg1 From: babs_sg1 Date: June 17th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the hardest things to get through to kids at school is that you don't share everything. I have little ones who think that it's okay to tell people online their real names, their phone numbers, addresses, etc. And that's with our teachers (all of them) continually telling them, no you don't do that.

alyburns From: alyburns Date: June 19th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh,man, YES, Babs!

That's our major problem today, isn't it? And with small children on computers now (and doing better than us), it's such a DANGEROUS problem. I sympathize with teachers today, girlfriend. You have a doubly difficult job now. :(
babs_sg1 From: babs_sg1 Date: June 25th, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh,man, YES, Babs!

Our librarian who is also our tech teacher had the kids use an online program/tutorial put out by the FBI to teach the kids about online safety. It was a really good program, kept the kids engaged, etc. They all did well on it. And even with all of that, she was talking to some of them later on and they were saying about things they said/did online and yep, they had totally done everything they shouldn't do!

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