Apparently, the world’s most sophisticated information collecting and sorting organization doesn’t have the technological wherewithal to search within its employees emails.
Well, at least, that’s what Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker said. She is one of many agents in the NSA responsible to make sure that non-classified information is readily available to American taxpayers.
But, in response to a harmless inquiry about employee emails concerning a positive National Geographic story on the NSA, information was far less than free and forthcoming.
According to Blacker, “There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately.”
Right. I’m just not buying it. It would be funny if it weren’t so frustrating. The NSA has just been under intense scrutiny for its over-reaching intrusions into American privacy. If we are to believe the characterization of the NSA’s chief, they want to “collect it all.” If you’re gonna go all Pokemon on the citizens’ private information, you better have servers large enough to store all that data, and some very powerful algorithms to sort it. That you wouldn’t also have similar capacities to search the internal emails of employees actually beggars belief. I guess it is possible. But this smells like foul play. Is the NSA lying? Or have they intentionally under-funded their public records office? I’m not sure.
One thing’s for sure: after the Snowden debacle, now is not the time for the NSA to be neglecting its public image. Transparency, honesty, and full disclosure would go a long way in repairing that image. Denying very harmless requests for public information even because of a purported technological obsolescence seems fishy at best. But that is what we’ve come to expect from an organization that views every American citizen as a potential enemy of the state, and every harmless inquiry as a possible cyber-threat.