Spy vs. Spy

Why do bullies act the way they do?  Because they can.  This week’s edition features audacious exhibitions from both East and West.

In the East, we have Vladimir Putin.  He has infiltrated soldiers and activists over the unguarded Ukrainian border – they probably came by car, as tourists – to raise hell and push to separate the Southeastern regions from Ukraine and unite them with Russia.

He does this with impunity.  The Ukrainian military cannot stop him.  As Putin has the huge logistical advantage of being next door, NATO forces would be foolish to oppose him.  The drama unfolds as a very well planned, well-orchestrated effort.  If only somebody, perhaps the NSA, had been able to read their mail and see it coming.

Alas, the NSA is too busy reading my email to bother with hard cases like Vladimir Putin, who presumably knows something more about secure communications than I do.  It is easier to read my Facebook posts, so that is what they do.  The NSA conducts their dragnet in the name of stopping terror, although I participate in no terror whatsoever and feel terror mainly of the omnipotence of my own government. 

The most chilling point about Edward Snowden’s book is how ineffective the NSA’s efforts have been in stopping actual terror and war, but how effective they are at stifling dissent.  We are all looking over our shoulders… afraid to say what we think.   If they have unlimited power to read our mail, they presumably have equal power to create mail in our name and frame us for any crime they want. 

My objective is just to raise a sane child, one who will give me grandchildren.  I want him to be able to investigate, know and talk about the truth.  Honest communication is the foundation of a successful democracy and commerce-based society.  The future looks dicey.  The first book I reviewed this week, A Troubled Inheritance, lays out the facts that our government and related institutions do not want told about human evolution, and the lengths they went to keep this author, Nicholas Wade, from speaking the truth.  The second, Snowden’s Nowhere to Hide, describes that same government’s incredible ability to invade our privacy.

Now, what do I tell my son?  Grow up like a Soviet citizen, afraid even to be exposed to the truth, much less to speak it?  That is not a world I would want for myself.  When it comes to a choice between abandoning truth and not having grandchildren, I’ll reluctantly go with the latter.  Alas.  Whether under Putin or Obama, I have to ask if it makes any difference.

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