Seems like everyone is mad at the NSA these days – Conservatives, Traditionalists, Democrats, Progressives, Harikrishnas, Episcopalians, Trekkies, and the Upper Peninsula Ladies Curling Team (OK – I made some of those up). General Alexander and his cadre of super-spooks have been working overtime toward the apparent goal of electronically spying on and thereby annoying every sentient life form on the planet, and making a purty dang good job of it. I would counsel a certain measure of indulgence for the general and his happy band; they are, after all, only doing what spies are supposed to do, i.e., gather as much information as possible (no matter how irrelevant) as surreptitiously as possible. They just happen to be really, really good at their job – a state of affairs notably lacking in virtually every other agency of the federal government.
So I have a solution that should make all parties happy. We, parties of the first part, referred to hereafter as “spyees,” do agree to and hold harmless the party of the second part, the NSA, hereafter known as “Spyors”, for whatever listening, bugging, meddling, prying, scouting and ferreting they care to indulge in, provided that the results of such snooping on certain classes of subjects shall be made immediately and universally available to anyone interested. The classes of subjects so affected shall be all public servants, elected or otherwise, who have any authority to spend public monies, or to direct others to spend public monies. This would include just about every civil servant except the janitors and the folks in the mailroom. At the local level, every mayor, every town or county board member, school board member, etc., would have their most private conversations available for public scrutiny. Kind of a “I’ll show you mine, and you show me yours” thing. Personally, I would include in the list TV preachers, news commentators, and anyone who has ever won an award from the Country Music Association, but that’s just me – those could be negotiated.
Already I can hear the gasps of consternation; “but, but …spying is … not nice.” Please – governments have been spying on their own, as well as other countries, since this world was in short pants. I will bet good money that one of Teddy Roosevelt’s first acts after stepping into the assassinated McKinley’s shoes was to call in his chief science geek to inquire if there wasn’t some way to use, for nefarious purposes, Marconi’s recent discovery of long-distance transmission of radio signals. One can almost hear the conversation:
“So here’s the thing, Professor — any chance we can get some spying mileage outta the gizmo that crazy Dago just invented?”
“Uhhh … I’ll look into it, Mr. President.”
Cut to a dismal subterranean laboratory filled with mustachioed, sleeve-gartered techies (defined as anyone whose working knowledge of physics has progressed beyond the Earth-Fire-Air-Water paradigm) beavering away with all manner of coils and wires and retorts and such. Electronic humming fills the air, along with the occasional shout of “Eureka!”
But to return to my grand plan. All “intelligence” garnered by the NSA (on those subjects delineated above) would be made available every morning on the internet at, say, eleven o’clock sharp. This would allow each of us enough time for a coffee break before being faced with the daunting task of checking up on our leaders. But wait – this thing could go global! At regular intervals, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, all world leaders would convene to hash out the real significance of the data that they all have collected on each other.
“Jeezus, Vladimir … did you really call me a ‘community organizing imperialist lapdog’ and ‘big-eared capitalist pig’ in your phone call to Chairman Ming last month?”
“Da … but no worries … is term of endearment east of Urals. You should feel honored. By the by, nice move on that Danish babe at Nellie’s funeral.”
Anyhow, you see how this could work. All shady deals, underhanded transactions, sell-outs, back-bitings, graft, blackmailing, etc., etc., would pretty much have to be done directly – up close and personal as it were. If it’s put on the air (cell-phone or whatever), Uncle General Alex and his electronic scavengers will have it, which means we all have it, which means someone has a lot of ‘splaining to do to someone. Most of these folks do not possess the stones to perpetrate their villainies on a face to face basis, so one could, it seems to me, reasonably expect the incidence of such misdeeds to decrease – at least to the level of abasement prevalent in, say, Tammany Hall, or maybe Baby Doc Duvalier’s Haiti.
All in all, it’s just about perfect; now, if I could just figure out some way to watch the watchers.