They say every cloud has a silver lining.
These days, finding the silver lining surrounding the US government debacles is like finding a diamond sunk in a bucket of sewage – you really have to dig deep for it, and it’s not all that nice when you find it.
Given the recent sequester cuts and the government shut-down and the spectacular bumbling of the Obamacare website, I was beginning to wonder if our government would ever get anything right.
That’s why I was delighted with the good news to come out of the National Security Agency recently: the bureaucrats and lifelong public servants working for the NSA have been listening to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private phone calls.
Now this may not be good news to Congress, who despite being tasked with overseeing this agency had no clue what it was doing. It definitely isn’t good news to Angela Merkel, who wasn’t expressing Fahrvergnügen or any other kind of Vergnügen (translation: enjoyment) when she realized her phone had been tapped.
It’s absolutely terrible news to President Barack Obama, who despite being the Most Powerful Man In The World is now like a teenager who’s been caught looking at porn (he’s not sure which is worse: that he was caught doing it or that he won’t ever be able to do it again).
President Obama sure had a good thing going there for a while. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddling kid!
So what’s the good news? Where is the silver lining?
I hope you’re sitting down for this: An agency of our government was tasked with something really difficult –some might say nearly impossible – and they did it perfectly for over a decade. Their accomplishment is like the SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) version of getting Osama Bin Laden or landing the Mars Rover safely on the red planet.
It’s like something Brad Pitt would do in a spy movie, all the while looking ruggedly handsome but also resourceful and MacGyver-ish, brushing a lock of lustrous hair out of his eyes while his bare biceps strain to adjust the massive antenna just enough to catch the signal which, after he cracks the code, will save the planet.
I’m sorry, where was I?
Oh, yes. What a relief to see a branch of government that’s working. Like them or hate them, the NSA is supposed to collect information that others are trying to hide from them. Trying desperately to hide. We’re talking information that’s blocked, jammed, and encrypted at every turn. Top Secret information, the most private conversations by the most powerful people in the world, who know things and discuss things that might have huge implications for US interests and policy.
But we sure showed them. There is no match for American ingenuity and fortitude, and we were victorious despite all obstacles! Our SIGINT analysts are the most brilliant, imaginative, outstanding code breakers in the entire world! It seems our potential is limitless – where do we go from here?
Alas, nowhere. The White House says such data collection “will not continue.” Thanks to Edward Snowden, a successful secret program that probably took years to build is over. Done.
So where’s the silver lining now?
At least we know there’s competence somewhere. Those folks at the NSA know what they’re doing and they do it well. A major work item has just dropped off their departmental “to do” list. And they’ve already passed every background check required of government employees.
Perhaps they could call up the Department of Health and Human Services and see if anyone needs any help with anything.