NSA Agent Is Oh So Shy About Being Filmed/Questioned In Public

from the i-see-you dept

With all that’s gone on with the NSA leaks, one thing has been made abundantly clear: the idea of operating in the world without having eyes on us or digging through our motives, is dead. The NSA, admitting it or not, has unilaterally decided that we don’t deserve privacy and that our daily lives are an open book should they have any contrived reason to take a peek. Even members of Congress appear to be under such scrutiny.

Yet it appears that at least some of the folks that work in our version of the thinkpol don’t take kindly to being examined and filmed in public.

The NSA sent someone bearing the nametag “Neal Z.” to the University of New Mexico’s Engineering and Science Career Fair today, in the hopes of recruiting young computer geniuses to help manage the yottabytes of data it is collecting about you. But instead of eager young applicants, Mr. Z. encountered University of New Mexico alumnus Andy Beale and student Sean Potter, who took the rare opportunity of being in the room with a genuine NSA agent to ask him about his employer’s illegal collection of metadata on all Americans. Mr. Z. did not like that one bit.

Should you be unable to see the video, the exchange is fairly polite, if persistent, from behind the camera. The NSA employee, on the other hand, is both combative and at one point grabs the interviewers phone. Prior to that, the employee repeats the discredited claim that the NSA does not collect intelligence on US citizens, which by now everyone knows is simply false. Then the name calling starts, followed by the attempt to grab the phone. The two interviewers were subsequently ejected from the building under the notion that they were causing a disturbance. The NSA employee was clearly unhappy about being videotaped and probed.

And it’s easy to sympathize with him as a US citizen, since the organization he works for has done the same thing to American citizens. We’re brothers of a kind, both having to endure an undue yet meticulous examination of our activities as we simply attempt to go about our lives, working and living less free than we were meant to be. That the irony appeared to be lost on our NSA friend isn’t terribly surprising to me. The Ministries of Oceania are not known for their sense of humor, after all.

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Comments on “NSA Agent Is Oh So Shy About Being Filmed/Questioned In Public”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“And it’s easy to sympathize with him as a US citizen, since the organization he works for has done the same thing to American citizens”

NO… NO it is NOT fucking easy to sympathize.

I think the Soldiers in the Gulags and Concentration camps were just following orders to! But hunted a lot of their asses down!

If you serve and evil master your are EVIL TOO!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’d modify that to knowingly serve, it’s quite likely that before Snowden, a lot of the grunts weren’t able to get a good enough feel for the overall actions of the NSA to really understand just what they were a part of, and at that point, you can’t really blame them, how were they to know what they were helping happen?

After though… unless they pretty much literally have no other option, yeah, blame them all you wish, they know what the NSA is doing, and by continuing to work for them, they are showing their support for the NSA and it’s activities.

Whoever says:

Shows the mindset of NSA employees

Here is a low-level employee who has clearly been briefed on the NSA’s position, denying that the NSA “collects” data on US citizens. His explanation of this relies on rather dubious semantics around the word “collects”.

He follows the party line unquestioningly. He defends the NSA for a long time before realizing that his best approach is to avoid the issue.

But it’s clear that this low-level employee has no doubts about what the NSA is doing. Damn them all to hell!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

I'm disappointed that all he did was quote the usual NSA talking points.

If he were to say “Okay, I know it looks bad but this is what we do…” and explain why the process is acceptably regulated (except it’s not)…

Or even sympathize “I know right? We got everyone’s data in a big ol’ database, and I can’t locate your mom for you unless she has a credible relationship to an international conspiracy to attack the US.”

I almost get the feeling he’s not really in the NSA, e.g. one of the technicians that passes around private nudie pics of US citizens, but just works for the NSA and has been ordered to feed the people the usual refuted official lines.

But also he was in a college, and college students are notorious for creating scenes just like this one and harassing people for the organizations and issues they represent. Right or wrong, he should have expected and been prepared for it.

Joe says:

Re: I'm disappointed that all he did was quote the usual NSA talking points.

A) Yeah, it was rude to put him on the spot as he was about the equivalent of a grocery-store clerk (or even manager) selling Kraft products that you found out are fake. Make a complaint known, but don’t go overboard and try to egg them on when they try to tell you they don’t make that decision.
B) It was only a matter of time, so he should have been coached (better?). Quite frankly, I would have been tempted to tell them, “hey, that’s not my line of work. Go ask the guys with the pocket protectors that I hire or the ones with $10K suits that pay us.”. Kind of snippy but still funny. 😀

Anonymous Coward says:

I was surprised to find this clickbait on The Intercept. The NSA employee was clearly at fault when he grabbed the recording device, but (not that this excuses that reaction in any way) the students were antagonistic and clearly lacked knowledge of the subject matter. It seems like the only goal was to provoke a response by the NSA employee.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Can you help me find my mom was really the only antagonistic comment I saw from the student.

The rest of the bullshit attitude came from the NSA employee and his crappy talking points from being in a NSA seminar.

“We don’t collect anything unless it’s for foreign intelligence purposes” Uhhhhhhh your own internal documents say otherwise… and his snide smiles and scoffs at counterpoints.

MondoGordo (profile) says:

legano, no legano ... is grey area

the nsa guy says it’s legal … he is telling the truth. laws were passed, executive orders issued and court precedents set that makes it all “legal”.

it’s also unconstitutional, but until SCOTUS rules on the laws in place and declares them unconstitutional it remains “legal”.

“you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Obi-Wan Kenobi and from the NSA point of view everything they are doing is perfectly in accordance with the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: legano, no legano ... is grey area

so it was for Stalin when he committed genocide against millions of his people. Since he was the ruler that made it legal. Did not make it right though. So might I suggest you not try and argue about criminal laws being passed to justify their evil actions.

As history has a wealth of information on this as it has all happened before.

Cal (profile) says:

Re: legano, no legano ... is grey area

You, and the NSA guy are both incorrect.

One, not one person who serves within our governments, whichever branch and duties apply to them are to pass something that they do not know for a FACT is constitutional. That is their duty, their OATH, their personal responsibility because of that Oath to make sure that all things that pass, are used as binding on the people are constitution BEFORE being implemennted.

Judge Thomas M. Cooley: “Legislators have their authority measured by the Constitution, they are chosen to do what it permits, and NOTHING MORE, and they take solemn oath to obey and support it. . . To pass an act when they are in doubt whether it does or does not violate the Constitution is to treat as of no force the most imperative obligations any person can assume.”

It matters not what the courts decide, they were never given the duty to “interpret” the US Constitution, they were given the duty to see that all things are “in Pursuance thereof”, follows, the US Constitution, the supreme law of THIS land. The courts gave themselves that “power” (interpreting the US Constitution) which is usurpation.

Tucker’s Blackstone, Volume I, Chapter 1 regarding how the Oath applies to the judiciary: “But here a very natural, and very material, question arises: how are these customs or maxims to be known, and by whom is their validity to be determined? The answer is, by the judges in the several courts of justice. They are the depositaries of the laws; the living oracles, who must decide in all cases of doubt, and who are bound by an oath to decide according to the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.
Now this is a positive law, fixed and established by custom, which custom is evidenced by judicial decisions; and therefore can never be departed from by any modern judge without a breach of his oath and the law. For herein there is nothing repugnant to natural justice;…”

The judicial branch of the federal government is not in place to “interpret” the Constitution of the United States of America, but to decide if a law, bill, treaty, case is IN PURSUANCE THEREOF – they are to make sure that they are following the US Constitution.

Article 5: “… This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Thomas Jefferson: “…To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…and their power is more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruption of time and party, its members would become despots….”

James Madison: “But it is objected, that the judicial authority is to be regarded as the sole expositor of the Constitution in the last resort”

John Marshall: Opinion as Chief Justice in Marbury vs. Madison, 1802: “The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.”

James Madison, Federalist 46: “The Foederal and State Governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, instituted with different powers, and designated for different purposes… They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone; and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expence of the other. Truth no less than decency requires, that the event in every case, should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.”

Any law, bill treaty, etc that is not in Pursuance thereof the US Constitution is “Null an Void”.

This by Madison does a pretty good summary of what the duties are of those who serve within our governments.

James Madison:
“Because if . . . [An Unalienable Natural Right of Free Men] . . . be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: It is limited with regard to the coordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires, not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained: but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the greater Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are Slaves…”

Binko Barnes (profile) says:

It’s not so simple as saying that data collection is “legal” under current laws until found to be unconstitutional.

What our despotic federal government is doing more and more is starting from misguided laws of dubious constitutionality and then creating SECRET interpretations of the laws that use truly Orwellian semantics to justify the actions they desire.

Once we are down the rabbit hole of the government interpreting and acting on the laws in secret then we truly no longer have any semblance of democracy.

TheLastCzarnian (profile) says:

Better Question

I think a better question to ask the recruiter is, “at what point would you find the collection of data on fellow citizens morally objectionable?” Ask that simple question, thank him/her, and move on. Odds are, they are so wrapped up in fighting their bad rep and cursing Snowden that they’ve never stopped to think about the morals and ethics of what they are doing.
Perhaps, if every time they go to recruit, one person asks them this question and leaves. Not 10, not 20, just one.
Perhaps they will start to question themselves, their role, and their purpose.

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Being unwanted and afraid

I disagree. Many NSA employees is unwanted everywhere. After NSA actively harmed the security of so many US made products, why hire a potential mole? Would you?

After Snowden and Manning, it is not only difficult to seek honorable employment, it is evidently dangerous. Will NSA find out if an employee suddenly prepares to leave? Would leaving rise suspicion? Is defecting OK?

And shame on the University for letting NSA praying its students!

Anonymous Coward says:

NSA Career Fair Schedule Down

Interesting, the NSA’s career fair schedule http://www.nsa.gov/applications/careers/recruit_events/index.cfm was taken down sometime after July 4, 2013.

Here’s the newest archived version:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130704070850/http://www.nsa.gov/applications/careers/recruit_events/index.cfm

If they just went to the New Mexico fair this year, that’s the same one they went to around this time last year, so they’re probably keeping to the same schedule. They’re booked again at this fall’s Northeastern fair, as well.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: NSA Career Fair Schedule Down

Probably trying to make it more difficult for organized protesters to show up.

Dealing with some angry but ill-informed students? Easy to spin if you keep your cool(which apparently this individual didn’t), but someone who’s had time to research their arguments and answers and comes prepared with evidence? Much more difficult to deal with.

Craig Eddy says:

NSA doesn't like being spyed on

So, the NSA doesn’t like being treated like an ordinary citizen. That’s not really a surprise to me. However, I do believe that that’s exactly what should happen to people that lie to the public and to Congress. I’ve come to the conclusion that the intelligence community should be better termed the lack-of-intelligence community. They’re so busy spying on us that they can’t do anything about other governments, crackers, spammers and generally not very nice people breaking into America’s computers and stealing private information. What does it take to get them to actually deal with national security, instead of empire building?

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