Here’s a Beautiful Wicked Problem:
The Government must decide how to react to the revelation about secret illegal espionage in the form of listening to phone conversations of citizens and foreigners. Where it isn’t clear whether listening to the phone conversations of foreigners is indeed illegal (there being no explicit law against it other than international courtesy) and not just impolite and — if there is no adequate provision against discovery — plain stupid. Just as stupid as any heads of government running their own similar surveillance programs but don’t make sure their own cellphones can’t be tampered with…?
For — the tame argument that ‘every country must try to gather information, and therefore it’s not a big deal’ aside as asinine just like the unbelievable claim that ‘I didn’t know about it’ (why doing it at all if the information gathered isn’t used?) — if such a surveillance program has been discovered, anybody having information to convey to others that he or she does not wish the government to know, will obviously not use cellphones to do so. It does not seem to occur to anybody that this (discovery) having indeed occurred — which could be interpreted as indisputable proof of incompetence and thus cause for immediate dismissal of those responsible — that the entire operation devoted to cellphone surveillance has thereby become entirely useless and a humongous waste of money. Psst, Obama (and foreign colleagues) — there’s a bunch of money to be cut from the budget to reduce the debt… Just don’t tell anybody you did it. Why? Because if you declare that you dropped that program, well, the evildoers might feel free to plot their evil deeds by phone again, wouldn’t you know.
What does this tell us regular cellphone addicts? It tell us: we will never be told what the government is going to do about it. If such an announcement were to materialize, either way — which would have to be considered as either a blatant lie, or an incontrovertible sign of incompetence, it should not, repeat NOT, be believed. This should be clear to any thinking citizen. And given the confidence in government being what it is these days, any government providing another reason for not believing it must be out of its mind. Lets see… the obvious solution would be to shut down NSA to save the money but keep it secret. Can it be kept secret? Should it? This looks like a supremely delicious test of political and diplomatic competence. Abbé Boulah He say: Invest in carrier pigeons.