The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” said William Sullivan, who became the number three official in the bureau under Hoover, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”
–Ronald Kessler on “Hoover’s Secret Files”
The spectacular failures of NSA snooping rarely get much of a public airing. How many terrorists has the NSA captured since collecting every call, every email, every keystroke and every sort of communication from citizens worldwide?
The director of the NSA said over 30, but that claim was quickly reversed by the deputy director on Capitol Hill admitting to “possibly one,” but even that could not be verified. Recent revelations from the Snowden cache revealed that former French President Sarkozy, Germany’s Angela Merkel and even the Pope have been snooped on.
Are these would-be terrorists? Of course not.
It is pure rank speculation of course that the NSA is monitoring the Pope, senators and world leaders for the purpose of blackmail. But this has been done from time immemorial. In May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed J. Edgar Hoover the FBI Director for life. This is not some conspiracy theory, but historical fact. Again, one is left to speculate what information Hoover had on the President.
It is rather well known secret that even the mighty J. Edgar Hoover was compromised by the same tactic he employed. It seems J. Edgar liked to dress up as a woman and his sexual proclivities were photographed by the mafia. The threat of disclosure was presumably behind Hoover never acknowledging that the mafia existed. Israel’s intelligence forces Shin Bet and MOSSAD have a long history of using blackmail to further a political agenda. The “rank speculation” of an alternate purpose for the NSA snooping is not that much of a stretch to consider.
Utilizing the private sector’s ability to collect and centralize data, the NSA and the rest of its alphabet soup cousins in the government have easy access to friend and foe. Remember General Petraeus? He suffered an ignominious downfall when his phones were monitored and his affair was leaked.
Friends can easily become foes in this murky world. Saddam Hussein was our friend. Noriega was our friend. Marcos was our friend. Gaddafi even became our friend. But that is straying from this post’s central theme.
The real “value” of all of this data is not in prediction. It is really to zero in on targets of choice.