An IT View of Prism and its Dangers – Its not a partisan issue

Posted by Andrew on Jun 11, 2013 in Politics |

Major Andrew McClary fighting for freedom

Its very interesting the the whistle blower is a mid level IT manager.  Even more so that he is a contractor.  But the fact that he held these positions should be our wake up call to the real dangers of data collection by both the US Government and by private companies.   Just the collection of “private” conversations, emails, and text into a digital database is extremely dangerous.

Let me start out by saying that I have served as the IT manager at a mid sized company before.  Most CEOs have no idea of the power that this position holds.  How much information you have access to and are exposed to just by nature of the position and job which you do.  Because 99% of the people on any given network can’t remember a simple password or know how to setup a print driver, you are often put into their seat and exposed to the work that they do.  You also see and hear of all of the information that is being routed through the system.  You know every connection to the outside. You know every piece of software that is run on every computer.  You go about your day fixing or maintaining the system and you see EVERYTHING.  You are the holder of the keys to the kingdom.  Now remember that in the case of the NSA, this position is filled by an outside company.  It is filled by a worker who  is usually young.

Edward Snowden was one of these IT managers.  He was one of thousands employed by the NSA.  Everyone probably knew him in the offices he worked in but had no idea of the true amount of information he had access to just because of his job function.  Now imagine a senior level executive who not only knows what data is being housed but also knows how it could be used.  There are hundreds of these people.

So let assume for the moment that the President didn’t have access to the data that was being collected.  He could “by law” only access the metadata.  Its kind of like being able to Google the web, but not be able to view a web site without judicial approval.  This may actually be the case.  But guys like Edward Snowden and those above him don’t have anyone looking over their shoulder.  How about a quick search while working late night at the computer?  OOOOw.  I found something.  Do I click on it.  It doesn’t have any national security issue, but its dirty juicy stuff.   He clicks on it just to see.  Maybe its a conversation about a company that has a new product, an official who has a mistress, a candidate from another party who is cheating on his wife, or any other skeleton that people hide in their closets.  Can we trust every one of these people with this kind of information.  Hey, they did sign a gag order.  I hope you can see my point.  Just having the collection of this data is dangerous because it can be used for personal or political gain, laws or not.

So the question is Mr. Snowden a traitor or a hero.  I would have to say he is a hero and that those who started this Prism program are the traitors.  When you take the oath of office in the government you swear first to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  If what you are asked to do is unconstitutional then it is your duty to speak up.  Even the military courts have found that a soldier can be held responsible for murder if a commanding officer orders what is clearly a murder.  Further more the soldier has a responsibility to speak up if the officer is doing something illegal such as murder.  The lines are often grey and military courts tend to error on the side of the officer, but when it is cut and dry they don’t.  Such would be the case of killing children etc.  In the case of Mr. Snowden, he realized that what the NSA was doing was clearly a violation of the Constitutional right to privacy and due process.  To hold him accountable as a traitor, you must first decide if the issue upon which he blew the whistle was really Constitutional and thus legal.  I can’t see any way you could twist this gathering of information to be Constitutional.  Oh and saying you didn’t use it doesn’t mean its not illegal.  Its like saying I stole a million dollars from the bank, but its ok, because I haven’t spent it yet.

The gathering of personal data by Homeland Security under the Patriot Act is not a Democrat or Republican problem.  Its a bi-partisan issue created by the whip lash response of scared people to a terrorist act.  You can’t blame this all on Obama because it started with Bush.  The issue first raised its ugly head under a Republican administration.  At the time Obama was against it.  Till he was given the power.  Since taking office he has expanded it.  This I do blame on him.  Hopefully now the people of the United States will wake up and speak out, take to the streets, and demand that the eves dropping stop and the Patriot Act be repealed.  Safety from terrorism is not worth risking giving the tools of totalitarian states to our government.  I myself would rather risk being involved in a terrorist hit than to have my children live under a government that spies on its citizens.

Copyright 2010 Andrew McClary