Why Are We Emoting About a Few Intercepted Phone Calls?
In a recent post I mentioned the hacking of Target’s credit card purchase records exposing confidential information about 40 million customers. Now Target has warned us that about twice as many customers were exposed over a longer period of time and other companies, including Neiman Marcus, have acknowledged similar attacks on their confidential customer information.
Then on January 14, 2014, a New York Times article disclosed that the “N. S. A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers,” a tactic we have charged the Chinese military with employing against American companies and governmental agencies. While the National Security Agency (NSA) claims we aren’t stealing confidential commercial information from the Chinese as they are accused of doing with our companies (we’re stealing only “military” information), the veracity of the Agency has proven to be questionable over the years. The article also states that the Stuxnet attack against Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz used an earlier version of the software we’re now using in China. My previous post mentioned that Stuxnet was probably a U. S. project.
Daily cyber war disclosures and discussions have a lulling or diverting effect on the real issues we need to be concerned with. They’re associated with “war on terror,” “security,” “safety,”etc., words which immediately activate the emotional part of our brains instead of the rational. This reaction to fear is well understood by those officials seeking to distract us from more important current issues. When the saber tooth (cyber tooth now) tigers were hunting our ancestors on the savannas in Africa, the survivors were the ones who responded quickest to the threat and could run faster than their neighbors. This reaction to fear is etched in our brains.
The current Constitutional dilemmas presented by the NSA’s surveillance programs we are struggling with didn’t begin with September 11, 2001, or the U. S. A. Patriot Act adopted a month later. John F. Kennedy inherited in 1961 President Eisenhower’s plan to invade Cuba and remove Fidel Castro using Cuban exiles supported by clandestine U. S. military forces. If I’d ask Paco, the narrator of my novel Hot Times in Panamá, about the constitutionality of the international cable company secretly supplying cablegrams sent and received by U. S. citizens to his Unit in the 1950s, I’m sure he’d have said: “Gee, I never thought about it.” Ryan Lizza’s article “State of Deception” in the December 16, 2013, issue of the New Yorker provides a readable history of the situation we find ourselves in today.
I’ll stop here, but I’ll return with another chapter in a few days. There’ll be plenty of news stories in the meantime.