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Snooping for global security
Snooping for Global Security, Symbols of American power. Spirit of People. Friends and foes, national security is important for us. It has assumed more importance after the 9X11 terrorist attacks on the symbols of American power.
Friends and foes, national security is important for us. It has assumed more importance after the 9X11 terrorist attacks on the symbols of American power. They might have destroyed the structures but not the spirit of people; we continue to work relentlessly to foil terrorist attempts to kill our people on our own soil. As you know, we have tightened our internal security mechanism, initiated a number of measures to stop disruptive elements in their tracks under the Homeland Security Act.
There was a lot of opposition to it and its various features. One of them that attracted a lot of flak was scanners installed at airports to detect arms and explosives hidden in undergarments.
Women passengers raised a hue and cry alleging that their privacy was being violated by the see-through machines monitored by male staff. We corrected the mistake done unwittingly and strict instructions were issued to security officers not to grope both male and female travelers inappropriately since hardcore militants travelling in the garb of businessmen, artistes and the like had got a whiff of our tactics and turned to more sophisticated ways of smuggling in deadly explosives to blow up our cities and other structures that stand for what is quintessentially American. We have succeeded to a great extent, but we need to be on constant guard.
It is not enough if we secure our own interests. Other countries are in greater peril. Day in and day out they face threats from terrorists whose avowed mission is to destroy democracy and install theocracy and turn the clock back to the Middle Ages. Look at India; how that poor country is struggling to contain terrorism which it says is being exported by Pakistan.
Like in our Cold War days when Russians used to send spies to the US with all love, including femme fatales, Pakistanis keep infiltrating India; they set up modules in important cities and towns with local help and wait for instructions from their masters across the border to create havoc and chaos in that country. The agents and operators’ modes of communication are mobile phones and emails. Identifying the terrorist elements by their phone calls or eavesdropping on their conversations or cracking their emails in a billion- plus population is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Security of India and its people is as much concern to us as it is to our friends there. We share their threat perceptions and want to prevent any militant strike because if terrorists can do it there they can do it in America as well. Militant activity has become universal now. It is not just India; every country is a terrorist target. Their protection is our sacred national duty. Since our security cooperation pacts with our friendly countries and allies don’t allow us to examine their internal and external surveillance activities closely, we have set up National Security Agency. Though its primary focus is on our own people – what they are up to – soon we have realized that as a global cop we should have access to everything that’s going on in cyberspace.
We have been doing it, of course, covertly until a bloke called Edward Joseph Snowden blew our cover and bared us in front of the world. He knew what he disclosed was highly classified; still he had chosen to do it out of spite and we could not lay our hands on him because Russians had taken him under their wings and been waiting for his plans to hatch.
Anyway, we are not unduly bothered about Snowden or other leaders who have vehemently protested against our snooping operations that include tapping of phones (legal or illegal is a different issue), reading emails and monitoring chats. These run into millions and millions globally. But we have perfected our systems so good that in seconds our computers can pinpoint from where a particular conversation had emerged, an email originated and any terrorist was incubating a plot.
That’s incredible, given the amount of data NSA’s global eyes generate and process. We know only a millionth of it will be useful and may provide vital leads. The rest is baloney. For one or two clues we spend millions and millions on global surveillance. Instead of appreciating our efforts and safety concerns for the world, we don’t know why leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francoise Hollande are up in arms against the US in general and the NSA in particular. They are trying to form a European front against American snooping operations.
We are all allies; shared intelligence info and still we do. If Merkel says her cell phone was tapped and Hollande complains his emails were hacked, and some leaders carp about US spying, it was all done in their own interests. If some enemy was listening in on a leader’s conversation, we can detect and jam it in no time. That’s cool, is it not?
In any case, friends and foes are like shifting sands. Today’s friends are tomorrow’s foes and vice versa. See, what happened to Iran. It is shedding its enemy image which has antagonized the oil-rich Saudi kingdom.
It had even rejected the UN Security Council seat in protest against Washington’s overtures. Our belief in “there are no permanent friends or foes but only permanent interests” is not shaken; though it may stir some of our friends in all the continents. Such things should not perturb them because we know what they have done. The strength of a country in future does not lie in military or economic power; it lies in power of information and we will control it.
PS: If we have offended our allies’ sensibilities, remember we are in cloak and dagger business!