How to talk to the NSA when they come recruiting

When the NSA came recruiting at a University of Wisconsin language program, the students and teachers pushed back, hard. The transcribed recording of their discussion is a model for the dialog that we should be having with our spooks everywhere we encounter them: "So, 'adversary' is basically what any of your so-called 'customers' as you call them -- which is also a strange term to use for a government agency -- decide if anybody wants, any part of the government wants something about some country, suddenly they are now internally considered or termed an 'adversary.' That’s what you seem to be saying."

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  1. I find it disturbing, if not surprising, that the NSA recruiters wouldn't even attempt to give a straight answer to any question. Given that they'd be utterly stupid not to expect to encounter such questions while recruiting these days, the fact that they are seemingly arrogant enough not to bother being prepared for them is rather telling. (Whether these questions are appropriate during a recruiting session or not is another issue, though I personally have no problems with them.)

    Combine this hubris with the descriptions of getting drunk and disassociating themselves from their work that the recruiters themselves offered as examples of their culture, and I think it's even more apparent that we deserve the truth from our government about what is being done under the guise of ensuring our safety.

    (The link is troublesome, but worked for me on the third try. The server seemed overwhelmed.)

  2. rknop says:

    Almost certainly the people at the NSA are living in a bubble where they and everybody around them have convinced themselves that everything they're doing is OK and normal and reasonable.

    The sad thing is, those of us who are horrified by the revelations about the NSA are ALSO living in a little bubble. We hear things like this, we read the news reports, we read the editorials and analyses that say that this revelation is more important than the Pentagon Papers, that the USA has been growing a gigantic secret government since 9/11, etc. However, more than half of the population of the USA that has been polled has come out in favor of all of this. Other people are conflicted, and so rationalize that Snowden is bad for having undermined the Western alliances, or have convinced themselves that because it's Obama, it can't be all that bad. Horror and disgust at the relevations about the NSA is very far from universal, although within this bubble of people who are horrified by it, it's easy to think it is.

  3. Do you think that the NSA would want to recruit anyone not already convinced of the rightness of what it does? If you are recruiting hatchetmen, there isn't much point in preparing a principled defense of what you do, that just means HR has to weed 'em out later...

  4. What color is the sky in your world where the NSA and friends' activities were 'done, for the most part, right out in the open'?

    How many times has it been repeated that basically any legal challenge to any aspect of the programs is contrary to 'state secrets'? Things haven't been 100% leak-proof; but it's been nothing but stonewalling, silence, and denials to everyone(possibly including the alleged-oversight in congress).

    Why is 'vilifying' the people who knowingly took part in that a problem? They aren't conscripts, or 'stop-loss'-ed into repeated service. The private sector ones even less than the government employees. They could walk at any time. If they don't, on their head be it.

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