Classified: The Myth of Secrecy

Ladies and Gentlemen of the National Security Agency:

I do not know where to send this letter, as I do not have a corresponding address for your headquarters. Could it be what everyone says is true, that you do not exist? Perhaps your agency does exist, only we are not allowed to talk about it. I may be breaking some unwritten law and aiding malicious terrorists by doing so, and if that’s the case, I’m terribly sorry. But can you blame me for being curiously ignorant of your unspoken power? For all I know (nothing) and for all the trust I have in my country’s leaders (none), your alleged code-breaking, terrorist-tracking methods advertised on your website are just an illusion of protection. Or are they?

But for the sake of a hopeful leap of faith, I’ll publish this as an open letter here to you. As I write, I am fueled by the optimism that someday, somehow my concerns will make their way to your organization. Please be assured that these concerns are mine and mine alone. The probability that others may share my concerns, while very high, is purely coincidental and is up to each individual to decide for him/herself, or at least until you have the power to wiretap out minds and reconfigure our freedom of thought into stone cold allegiance.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself here, NSA. Allow me to rewind.

Last December, right in the middle of the merry month of religious industry, I heard some news that has made me quite paranoid, effectively killing my holiday buzz. Straight form the reliable yet controversially biased packed pipe of the New York Times, I inhaled the disturbing reality of your domestic spying program. When I exhaled, I saw everything differently. Suddenly, I was living in a transparent world with no secrets, information overload, and the integral question we must all ask ourselves: what do we have to hide?

Thanks to the acceleration of electronic communications technology into the profit of the billable, convenient instant, it is now possible to process every transaction of our lives over the computer. We buy updates for privacy protection, scanning for viruses that can infect our hard drives, spam killer for potentially corrupt correspondence, firewalls to protect us from the flames. We trust in these services to shield us as we continue to leave our trails across the intricately networked global online economy, from car insurance deals to porn, Googling thoughtlessly from our handheld devices as spiders crawl after us, spinning us further and further into interconnected isolation.

The simulated life has taken a predictably profitable turn, and we’re all paying, not just financially, but personally. There is no vulnerable part of my existence that can’t be hacked into with today’s cutting edge worms and extracted from the vast network that tracks billions of other lives. So many reasons to be uncertain, paranoid, and increasingly more private, but we have done just the opposite in our unflinching trust in giving agents of e-commerce our most sensitive, potentially detrimental information.

This brings me, quite conveniently, to shed a speculative light on the most sensitive, potentially detrimental information hidden behind the myth of secrecy in the almighty Bush Administration. Understandably, many concerned citizens feel helpless and angry at the news that the President and his henchmen are taking an illegal piss on our civil liberties, simultaneously flipping us off with another round of distracting propaganda in support of the spying program, brainwashing half the electorate and more than half of Congress with the notion that he’s doing what’s necessary to protect our nation. But instead of concentrating on the long-nosed puppet on stage, I find it enlightening to focus on the strings the power-hungry ventriloquists are trying so desperately to keep out of our critical view.

If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the insistent, obsessive secrecy of the Bush Administration is a giant myth that must be diffused. Its inherent truths are potentially damaging to our swindled nation’s identity, but by now the smoke and mirrors have become impossible to penetrate. From torture tactics to shady reconstruction favors in the war-profiteering private sector, this wall of deception has been building ever since the big goon first set foot in office. A growing public mistrust breeds questions we never would have thought possible ten years ago. For example, are our civil liberties classified information to be thrown about and acted upon as carelessly as the intelligence gleaned to justify the Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Within the matrix of morally righteous patriotism lie the essential questions we should be asking, strategically placed so that the critical, suspicious thinkers will see the proverbial big picture haunting our society, parading around the world in its righteous isolationist costume of democracy-spreading values. It’s an act, only the stage is real, the events manufactured. Our judgment cloudy by the murky events of 9/11, with conspiracy theories sprouting from questioning classified information. We’ve been duped, and we’re currently being duped, by the greedy intoxication of those in power. We’re wandering around Oz with no hearts, brains, and courage, and Wizards ain’t gonna stop this charade until we demand to know who’s behind the curtain.

If all this speculation is true, and the Wizard orders you to spy on me, NSA, go ahead, knock yourself out. Read my emails. Listen in on my phone calls. Better yet, tap into my mind, knock yourself out. If anything I say or do offends your laws of national security, then go ahead, blacklist me. You can come by anytime, take me away, lock me up in solitary confinement, and torture me into a celebrated martyr that will only serve to hurt the reputations of the power brokers you so unquestioningly obey. I’ve got nothing better to do, and unlike Osama, I answer to no deities, at least none I know to exist as I watch a congregation thrust their faith outward without a critical eye to all things contradictory. I’m waiting for the opportunity to very publicly expose the myth of secrecy within the executive branch of our government like most actors in Hollywood are waiting for their big break

And now the time has come to inject this column with drama, if I may. If it’s come to this, we may as well all be terrorists. Our lives are on the computers, riddled with debt, overdosing on unfounded fear. While the world’s no longer as black or white and right and wrong as it used to be, there are definite winners and losers, buyers and sellers, luxurious CEOs and destitute hungry. The sides of the coin have grown more ambiguous since debris clouded the rubble of 9/11. It’s time to start looking at what’s there, to start proactively investigating the actions of our leaders, to begin taking some responsibility for their secrecy, because strangely enough, we have become accountable for everything it represents.

National Security Agency, if the mission set forth on your website has any righteous validity in a world of ambiguous villains, flawed heroes, and international law, the main code to crack is mythical secrecy, and key to cracking that code is to follow the money, the connections, and the power, from al Queda to Capitol Hill. Even in a culturally tangled world of mistrust, fragile relationships, and faulty intelligence, this method will take you straight to the top, where you’ll find that the manipulative, extreme secrecy of the Bush Administration may be putting us at risk for further terrorist attacks. In an uncertain era where we have nothing to hide, don’t we all deserve to know what our leaders are holding?


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