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December 28, 2014

TINKER, TAILOR, STALKER, SPY: In violations not just of NSA policy but of the law, agents spy on their romantic interests.

Thanks to a Christmas Eve document dump, we learn that agents of the National Security Agency, the spookiest spooks in all our vast spookocracy, are a bunch of stalkers, using the effectively boundless surveillance powers of their organization to spy on husbands and wives, overseas girlfriends, and sundry romantic partners. And that’s our government at work: While the guys who are supposed to be keeping an eye on Gordon Gekko are keeping their eyes on marathon porn sessions instead, the guys who are supposed to be putting a hurt on Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad are trying to figure out whether their girlfriends are browsing Tinder. One curious analyst targeted the numbers in her husband’s telephone directory. Another spied on his wife, who was stationed overseas.

As usual, basically nothing happened to the wrongdoers — working for the government means facing no real consequences for real crimes. Yes, crimes: These actions do not represent mere violations of NSA policies — there were plenty of those, too; more on that in a bit — but willful violations of the law. One offender retired before the investigation of his crimes was complete; others were merely reprimanded; the fellow caught spying on his wife abroad was docked a month’s pay. Who these offenders are remains unknown, as the reports are heavily redacted. Funny thing, that: These criminals, some of them still employed by the NSA, intentionally used the awesome power of a federal spy agency to violate American citizens’ privacy, but the NSA is all discretion when it comes to the privacy of the criminals on its payroll.

Think of the state as a band of thieves, and you will not be far wrong.