NSA inside story: Big Brother blurts
Who has time to go jogging when you've got a bajillion emails to sort through....?
You read it here first: an exclusive interview with a covert, clandestine, undercover operative from the ultra-secret, shadowy, under-the-radar but much publicized U.S. National Security Agency.
Q: So dude. busy times?
A: Busy? Can the Pope swim? Is a duck Catholic? Are you kiddin' me?
Q: According to Edward Snowden and other leakers, you've been eavesdropping on 60 million Spaniards, 46 million Italians, millions of Brazilians and Mexicans. You've skimmed data from 70 million French phone records and bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel even before she was in office.
A: So why do you think Eddie left the agency?
Q: You mean the ethical dilemma of snooping into so many people's private lives?
A: Geddoutahere! It was the overtime. You think we enjoy doing this? Like, one minute you're hacking into a handful of would-be-terrorists' cellphones and the next you're sucking up every bleep and blurb that's sent out over every electronic signal. Think about it.
Q: So who planned this huge spy net?
A: That's way above my pay grade. But they don't spend 24/7 with their eyes and ears glued to computers in a basement that smells like old running shoes. Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode. And not in a good way.
Q: What have you learned from all those hacked communications?
A: There's two categories: drop-dead boring and just-shoot-me-now boring. Do you have any idea how friggin' tedious other people's stuff is? The Spanish! Always whining about unemployment. The Italians and their ungrateful bambini. The French! Toujours in le snit.
Q: So no smoking guns?
A: A whole bunch of people talked about wanting to kill their spouses. But that's normal.
Q: What did you learn about Angela Merkel?
A: Don't get me started. Those three-hour gabfests with Christine Lagarde about the Greek debt. The endless bickering with the Social Democrats. The dry cleaning that never came back on time. No excitement at all -- not like the Sarkozys or Dominique Strauss-Kahn. And all her sentences ran backwards.
Q:And now we hear the agency has infiltrated Yahoo and Google worldwide.
A: Tell me about it. That was the last straw. Nearly 200 million records. Who messaged who and who wrote back. And what they said. Worse than a 200-year-long rerun of Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice.
Q: Has all that snooping affected your, er, private life?
A: It's totally over. I go home at night, my wife says, "Agent 5386," (I can't tell her my real name), "you never listen to me." That's what she says. Same every night. Now she's filing for divorce and moving in with her personal trainer.
Q: And you?
A: This is my last week on the job. I'm going into a monastery. Not one of those happy-clappy places where everybody is tweeting the Pope. Somewhere there's total silence. And nothing is wired except the light bulbs.
Q: Do you think Edward Snowden is a traitor?
A: If anyone can roll back this crazy work load he can. Bring it on, I say. In the agency the guy's a hero.
Olivia Ward has covered politics, conflicts and human rights from the former Soviet Union to South Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. Her phone has been tapped in at least two countries.