A new Snowden leak details how the NSA and GCHQ tasked agents to infiltrate Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other MMOs to find jihadis and spy on them. The battalions of undercover orcs did indeed take much of gamespace, but there's no evidence they ever spotted a plot. I was once questioned by members of an "unnamed branch of the State Department" at a games and public diplomacy event about the likelihood that jihadis were playing MMOs; and I said something like, "Sure, of course. Everyone plays MMOs." I didn't realize they'd take it all quite so much to heart.

The absurdity of sending spies to infiltrate Warcraft can best be understood as a natural outflow of the doctrine that holds that if any two bad guys, anywhere in the world, can communicate in such a way that the NSA can't listen in on them, all of society will crumble. Once you set yourself the insane task of eavesdropping on all conversations, everywhere, always, it's inevitable that you'll send Secret Squirrel and his pals to Azeroth.

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