Check this out: We didn’t end up with Orwell’s all-knowing, all-powerful protector. Criminals and terrorists can easily avoid him, so Big Bro’s surveillance is mostly a pathetic joke. (Check Privacy Protection to see why this is the case.)
Big Bro is Impotent
Be aware that our leaders are lying. They want us to believe that their spying is essential, that their universal dragnet stops terrorist attacks.
But the bad guys know how to hide, apparently. The record seems to show that Big Brother’s spying has never uncovered a single terror plot or stopped any attacks.
Electronic monitoring has done little to halt the expansion of groups like Islamic State or stop the resurgence of the Taliban. (In 2001, for example, could anyone have predicted that militants from 80 countries would flock to the new Middle East “caliphate” to help Islamic State control large parts of Iraq and Syria — including more than 300 oil wells that generate an income of $1 million a day?)
Politicians claim that universal eavesdropping enhances security, but that’s just another big lie.
Consider the remarks of General Keith Alexander, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency. When asked about his agency’s universal data collection programs in June 2013, Alexander said that NSA phone and Internet intercepts were instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events,” including 13 in the U.S. He claimed that NSA eavesdropping provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream” in 12 of those cases (“US News” on nbcnews.com. Retrieved September 2013.)
Around the same time, President Obama and other U.S. officials repeated Alexander’s claim. The details were sketchy and the number of alleged attacks kept changing. No evidence was available to back up their assertions.
It’s Comforting, But It’s Pure Baloney
The electronic spies have stopped 50 or more attacks? Sounds reassuring, but it seems that the NSA’s track record was greatly exaggerated. Later in the summer of 2013, one of Alexander’s NSA colleagues refused to lie to Congress. While testifying before U.S. senators, Deputy Director John Inglis admitted that agency intercepts were not vital in stopping any terrorist attacks. NSA electronic surveillance uncovered one terror plot (maybe). Inglis told the senators that NSA efforts were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending $8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a terrorist militia based in Somalia.
An Unmitigated Failure
Without a doubt, criminals know what to do. They use codes and strong private encryption to conceal their messages. But, other than that, how come? Why is Big Bro’s electronic surveillance a poor tool for uncovering terrorist plots and other crimes?
Bureaucratic incompetence is part of the problem. The task is further complicated by language interpretation problems and the immense volume of phone and Internet traffic. Then you have insurmountable difficulties created by non-commercial encryption techniques and private codes (see Privacy Protection).
(Continue reading about the mass surveillance menace at this link.)