• The Vampire Hypothesis: falsifying the NSA’s claim to help us

    by  • July 11, 2013 • Everything Else • 3 Comments

    Guns in the US are involved in 5000 to 10000 murders per year, plus a lot of suicides. However, the Second Amendment is staunchly defended by a wide range of Americans, and the gun murders stand. Car crashes kill about 30000 per year, and nobody’s pushing for a radical end-to-end rethink of transport to save those lives. So we can establish clearly that merely killing quite a few people is not sufficient cause for action.

    So let us consider what kind of a threat might require pervasive monitoring of ever human being who can be reached, 24 hours a day (do you have your phone with you?) including their communications, travel, spending, health records, employment activities and everything else?

    The answer seems obvious: Vampires!

    Let us examine this from a different side. Let us consider America’s long struggle with The Vampire Threat

    No less a creative power than Tim Burton produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. You don’t really want to watch the trailer for the film, but it’s worth three minutes of your life. Bear with me.

    About mid-way through, the Vampires reveal their secret: slavery is how vampires breed humans to feed on, and they’ve been at it since Egypt if not before. At which point, a relatively silly film jackhammers its way into a certain kind of Twilight Zone Episode greatness.

    Now, if this was really going on, I think the NSA’s current stance – to identify every single vampire feeding on Ordinary Americans by discovering who is being fed on, by narrowing down the vampire’s hiding places, and by sending out SWAT teams to impale every single one of these blood sucking leeches, down to the last one, is entirely rational, commensurate with the severity of the situation, and what’s more, Just.

    But if it is not vampires, then what the hell is it? If the effort being made would be commensurate with an invasion of undead horrors, and we don’t likely have an invasion of undead horrors, what’s all the struggle about? Surely all of this isn’t being done to blow up a couple of thousand Muslim fundamentalists with a fetish for blowing things up? In 12 years they’ve killed around 3000 people in the US, roughly 1% of the number of Americans who have died in car crashes during the same period. No rational organization would spread so much blood and treasure on the sand for such a loss… no, it must be something more. It must be a Vampire-scale threat… or they have lost their minds!

    The only credible explanation I can see for a rational, reasonable NSA is this: they’re scared shitless of something huge. It’s either something we know about and under-estimate (terrorism using biological weapons would be my best guess) or it’s something out in Gordon White territory: aliens, ancient astronauts, Neanderthal clades, Cthulhu cults, or similar. I have a feeling if it was the latter, we might well have seen traces, the occasional improperly covered up Bigfoot sighting, or a Dr. Who-esque UFO landing from time to time.

    Because if it’s not Vampires, we have a much worse problem: Fascists. And we know the harm they could do: 22 million dead from the German outbreak, and their close neighbours in Russia offed 70 million, and China another 50 million. Around 250 million people died in death camps and similar “democides” in the 20th century, and if we are being asked to accept an American Fascism on account of 3000 people killed by terrorism? By the numbers, terrorism is roughly a hundred thousand times less dangerous than political authoritarianism.

    If the price of cars is 30000 lives a year, and the price of guns is 10000 or more, by god, if the objective is to save lives, start there. Or with tobacco. But, by god, if we’re willing to sacrifice our basic freedoms for 3000 dead in 12 years, we have truly lost our freaking minds.

    If the NSA is to be believed, they are protecting us from something far, far more terrible than they are. And, at that point, it’s Vampires or nothing.

    Which is it?


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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    3 Responses to The Vampire Hypothesis: falsifying the NSA’s claim to help us

    1. Thomas Lord
      July 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      The massive surveillance databases selectively leak, like sieves. I don’t mean that information about these databases leaks to the public, though that is also going on. I mean that the private data in the databases leaks like sieves.

      There are somewhat overt access points to it like the “fusion centers”. These aren’t public access points. These are access points available to favored law enforcement types at all levels of jurisdiction (and also to the military and in some cases to private, corporate service providers). There are more covert access points, such as the various contractors and private firms that need access to the infrastructure in order to feed, build, maintain, monitor, and debug it.

      So think about that. Here you are in a small town like Oakland, CA or Berkeley, CA, or Cleveland Ohio. Some of the cops in your municipality, and some from your county, and some from the state all have peeky-sneaky not-very-audited chances to get some dirt on this or that person or group in your community. And there are service providers there who, if they like these local actors enough, help and facilitate that.

      And as well, someone sufficiently well connected can probably get at data obtained by tracking your license plate (for parking rule enforcement purposes, of course) — just by having the right kinds of friends at the private company that all that data passes through, from around the nation. (“Cloud services, man. Greatest thing since plastics.”)

      Wink-wink. Nod-nod. All those actors solemnly swear that the only purpose of this surveillance is crime prevention against the worst kinds of threat. Then they go off on team-building weekend retreats, sponsored by DHS, to practice emergency preparedness against populist uprisings. They get to dress up like high tech soldiers and try out some really fancy kit. If they play their cards right, their home department might even get a grant to buy a used drone from the army. You know, in case of earthquakes.

      I have a whole long explanation for you (that I’ll spare you, hear) about who the elites are at the top of this Machiavellian machine that dispenses privilege and limited freedom of corrupt action in exchange for armed, loyal, troops.

      The key thing is that those elites like these corrupt latent army of friends — which has an antecedent and precedent in Hoover’s intel database — because they are trying to protect us from a populist uprising of ourselves.

      They would put it differently. They are trying to preserve “continuity” of business and civic order, knowing at any moment that USians might rise up and tear the nation apart.

      A problem, if you happen to think that that’s not such a great arrangement, is that a lot of hoi poloi will think that That’s Just Fine. People should know their place, not rock the boat, play by the rules, blah blah blah and if domestic surveillance is what it takes to catch those who do otherwise, well, fine. Because you know you can’t trust those ______________, where the blank is to be filled with whatever racial, economic, geographic, religious, or other outgroup you like.

    2. zac
      July 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      I think it’s much simpler than all that, and to hear snowden talk, it’s really just a matter of bureaucratic inertia. you get the budget, you spend the budget, you request a bigger budget, so you can hire more people, pay bigger salaries, do more R&D, etc. the fact that there is a certain irrational hysteria around terrorism is just grease for the wheel, as is the fact that dragnet surveillance turns up all kinds of useful political leverage material. chances are, NSA is passing back their graph of society to google and facebook, so they can target ads even better than they already do. there is simply no incentive to curb their mission creep, and every incentive to extend it, so that’s what happens. the good news is there’s no malicious agenda, but the bad news is, that they’re going to put surveillance drones the size of fruitflies in every house just because they can, or data mine plausible targets for entrapment and false confessions any time they need a bit of good press. these two idiots where i live area great example. CSIS passes RCMP a plausible internet profile of two potential radicals, RCMP runs a “Mr. BIG” style operation to get them to commit some terrorist “crimes” then foils it all in the nick of time to salvage their useless reputation.

    3. Thomas Lord
      July 11, 2013 at 11:25 pm

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