So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Thursday, September 20, 2012
Information does not equal intelligence
I’ve been giving some thought to the surveillance state recently. State operators have more and more information at their finger tips, but often they don’t know what to do with it. Domestic or foreign, it doesn’t seem to matter. They get a lot of stuff wrong.
For decades the US and Soviet Union struggled against each other in the cold war. The spying that went on was epic. We’ll never know how much money was spent on it as much of it was “black budget” -invisible to the average person. In spite of the massive effort, the collapse of the USSR was totally missed. That was huge and nobody saw it coming.
Take our involvement with Afghanistan. To get the Russians out, suitcases of money were given to people who turned out to not be our friends. Sure, the Russians were forced to leave, but then the some of the same guns were turned against the US. Pretty short sighted.
Domestic spying has access to huge volumes of computer data. Our whole lives are tracked. Everything we buy. Every e-mail we send. Every blog post I write. There are records of everything -even when not strictly legal.
How is it whenever a “domestic terror cell” is uncovered, they turn out to be a bunch of wanna be losers? None of them would have done much of anything at all if not for their secret government informer. He’s the who supplies them with stuff like arms and bomb materials. Embarrassingly often, these cases are thrown out of court.
Now consider the government can infinitely detain someone on allegations of terrorist connections. That’s pretty scary. Now consider how often they get people’s intentions out and out wrong. Then it get’s really scary.
Governments use a lot of the same data mining that companies use for marketing. I don’t know about anyone else, but a lot of stuff is marketed to me for stuff that I don’t want. For example, at one time I was researching marine diesel fuel tanks and fuel transfer systems. My project was converting a car to run on waste vegetable oil. I was looking at marine fuel tanks because they come in may different sizes and shapes, and I was looking for one to fit in the available space in the vehicle. The fuel transfer equipment wasn’t for diesel but for veggie oil. From that information, marketers were under the impression I owned a large diesel powered boat. My mailbox was flooded with advertising for power boat related goods and services.
That’s only one example. In one day’s mail I got stuff asking me to join the NRA and a membership offer from a group pledged against the NRA. Since I’m a writer, I often research stuff that other people might be interested in, or sometimes I’m researching for a negative blog post. If I criticize a product, there will most likely be ads for it on my blog. Hope you are as amused by this as I am.
It’s funny when it’s marketing. It’s deadly serious when it’s national security or personal freedom.
Government agencies are agenda driven. They will only see what they are looking for. Nobody gets promoted finding evidence that goes against the boss’s pet project. With so much information available, it’s easy to cherry pick the “facts” needed to “prove” any viewpoint. Information is not intelligence.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.