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NSA Document Liberation Ruminations

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I have been personally processing large amounts of information over the past several days regarding the NSA / PRISM data liberation, and the responses of the U.S. Government to same. There seem to be 2 points of the affair which are most contentious: Is the massive, all-encompassing spying being done by the government of grave concern, or no big deal? And whether the people involved in the release of the classified data are heroes or criminals. There has been plenty of heated debate on both of these points, but I have some thoughts on several things which have not received much attention – in fact, you may not have heard or thought of them at all.

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       Edward Snowden, the former spy who gave the documents in question to the press, stated he was making $200,000 per year. Booz Allen, his most recent employer, recently stated Edward’s salary was $122,000 per year. People who know these types of things say base salary in this type of job can increase greatly with per diem, travel, bonuses, etc. to arrive at total compensation. Let’s use the $200K figure for our purposes. My sources say government contractors use a ‘multiplier’ of around 2 – 2.5, that is they charge the government 2 – 2.5 times what they spend on their employee. These figures would mean taxpayers are spending $400,000+ per year for a low to mid level computer geek with a security clearance. This job would probably pay $30,000 – $50,000 in the private sector in most areas of the country, if Edward could even obtain the job, as he did not finish High School. The feds can pay $400K per year for Edward’s services, but need to lay off air traffic controllers, close National parks, etc. due to sequestration? I call bullshit.

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       One storyline I saw was the fact that top secret security clearances are hard to get, which inflates the salaries and demand for people who have them. There are around 1,400,000 people with ‘Top Secret’ security clearances in the U.S. Yes, that is 1.4 million. There are clearances higher than top secret, but all of the documents which were released last week would be available to anyone with a top secret clearance. 1.4 million figures to around 1 out of every 220 U.S. citizens. I wouldn’t want to invite 220 people over for dinner, but this is not a very large group to round up for each person with a top secret security clearance. Maybe they should change ‘Top Secret’ to ‘Top Practically Common Knowledge’.

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       Of the 1.4 million people mentioned above, 480,000 are contract employees, not actual federal employees. Many of us have worked with and/or as contract employees, and know the differences between ‘job security’ and ‘waiting to see if my contract gets renewed’. Even with the possible repercussions, it is not a stretch to think a contract employee may be more susceptible to blackmail, selling data, or other nefarious endeavours than would a ‘permanent’ employee. Why does the government think this is a good way to handle ‘Critical National Security’ data?  The PTB / MSM would have us believe the release of information at hand is such a heinous crime, those responsible should be severely punished. (Tortured, imprisoned for years without trial, etc., if Bradley Manning is any indication.)  “They are helping the TERRORISTS!” and “soldiers will DIE!” and “We won’t be able to keep you safe!” …Please. The combined population of Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Madison, Little Rock, AND Atlanta is less than 1.4 million. Top Secret data is not secret, just kinda hard to get. Like the old saying goes: Two people can keep a secret – if one of them is dead.

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Another point to ponder:

Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totalling upwards of $50 billion.*

On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.

Close to 100 million additional Americans have their personal identifying information placed at risk of identity theft each year when records maintained in government and corporate databases are lost or stolen.

These alarming statistics demonstrate identity theft may be the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the United States. (http://www.identitytheft.info/victims.aspx)
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I wonder what percentage of all identity theft crimes are committed or aided by one of those 1.4 million top secret folks who have access to all information about every U.S. citizen? If some of them designed and / or worked on the systems controlling the data every day, they would certainly know how to filch data without getting caught, sell it to criminal elements, and so on. It is highly doubtful any of these crimes would make it to CNN or your local newspaper, even if they were caught. More to come, if I can find time.  Thanks for checking in.

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http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-10/911-prismgate-how-carlyle-group-lbod-worlds-secrets

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-10/a-federal-top-secret-club-thats-not-very-secret-or-federal

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