The PJ Tatler

A Rant on NSA Intercepts

There are sources of great wisdom in the media. For example, from Casablanca:

CAPTAIN RENAULT: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

This comes to mind — well, regularly, but this week it’s been most often the case when I hear about the current “scandal” over the discovery that the NSA has been monitoring communications from “friendly” heads of state. Well, here’s a not very great secret:

PALMERSTON: We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

Of course we intercept communications with our allies, because we know that we have no permanent allies, and so do they. (And yes, they spy on us too, see for example Jonathan Pollard.) It is at best an open secret, and the truth is it’s not a secret at all; this whole drama is Captain Renault’s shock.

There’s another quote that often occurs to me when listening to the news:

NICK DANGER: Huh!? What kind of chump do you take me for?

ROCKY ROCCOCO: First class!

The only question in my mind, when we hear that President Obama didn’t know about the NSA intercepting “friendly” heads of state, is whether he’s the chump, or just thinks we are.