Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

NSA Needs a Zoloft After Obama No-Show, but Here Comes Internet’s “Wrecking Ball” Letter

zoloft-dosage

In a fascinating, only-in-the-Beltway story, the Washington Post is reporting that morale at the National Security Agency is in the doldrums over the controversy related to questionable surveillance techniques that has given the government a decidedly sinister image.

And that apparently makes the spies very sad.

“Morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency’s surveillance activities, according to former officials who say they are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support,” wrote Ellen Nakashima, about the the 23 miles not traveled by the commander-in-chief, up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Fort Meade in Maryland, where the NSA is headquartered. “Supporters of the NSA say staffers are not feeling the love.”

It’s like a Fed version of “Wrecking Ball.” (Except thankfully without Miley Cyrus and twerking.)

Let’s sing together:

I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard your code
All I wanted was to break your (fire)walls
All you ever did was hack me
Yeah, you, you ha-aa-aack me

Not so former President George W. Bush, who was a gentleman when he paid a visit to show his support after another NSA excessive spying scandal in 2006.

But President Barack Obama has gone all Liam Hemsworth-cold, and the NSA is feeling wronged. “It’s become very public and very personal,” according to one former official that Nakashima quoted. “Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t.”

Grandma gets a pass from smartphone invasion? I guess it’s nice to know there are limits.

But wait until the NSA gets a gander at a just-released open letter to Obama and Congress from almost all the Internet giants — none of whom can agree on anything most of the time — about their unhappiness over government surveillance practices.

Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo and AOL — Amazon is curiously not part of the group — are urging the U.S. government “to make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”

Said the short letter, with a link to more details at ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com, one of the less-catchy monikers for a political website:

“The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for change … We urge the U.S. to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”

Oooh, burn. Well, not really, as this is mostly rhetoric. But it’s clear that the NSA is not getting its digital hug anytime soon.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle