Friday, June 14, 2013

NSA spying program predates 9/11?

Here's some evidence.  During his 2007 trial for insider trading, the former CEO of Qwest, Joseph Nacchio,  referred to it and claimed to have been approached by NSA about participating in it in February 2001.  Nacchio believed it was illegal and refused to particpate, for which -- he thinks -- Qwest was subsequently denied other NSA contracts they'd been expecting.

If this is true, it isn't very surprising.  In 1999 there was a joint agency intelligence report, not classified but also not very available to the public, that warned that in the "new millenium" states were on the verge of losing control over flows of people, of capital, and of information.  Open borders, freer trade, internet and similar technologies got the thanks, or blame, depending on whether one isn't or is a member of the political class.

This was back in my pre-blogging days so I never commented on it, but since then much of what Western governments have been doing looks an awful lot like fighting to reverse these trends.  For example, I think it likely that this is really the reason why the PATRIOT Act was written and ready long before 9/11, and just kept ready for a moment at which Congress was likely to be sympathetic to it.

In this way, it doesn't require a conspiracy theory to account for what is happening.  The self-interest of politicians and bureaucrats is enough, that, plus understanding that the advance of civilization frees and empowers individuals, and that's a threat to the political class.

What we're seeing today is, in part, a desperate gamble by the political class to control the advance of civilization.  This gamble can't succeed, but the danger is that it could conceivably wreck civilization.  Market processes are benign, but government ones have a tendency to be malignant.

The Echelon Program as such already predates 9/
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