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An overview of the NSA and Prism

Updated on December 18, 2013

The Prism project has been a serious news push that has been filling up the wires starting in early June 2013. It all started with an NSA contractor risking it all by being the whistleblower on the project that will collect interent traffic information on all citizens of the United States and of any folks the NSA has an interest of. The NSA (aka National Security Administation) and the U.S. Government has been criticzied plenty since 9/11 on how they collect personal information on people, even people who have not comitted a crime. But since the beans were spilled by Mr. Snowden, the critisizm has exploded with mulitple articles and news reports filling up your TV screen, tablet screen or radio... and the sales of George Orwell's book 1984, which depicts a govermnemt takeover on it's people. Some may know 1984 better for it's movie made in the same year (the novel was published in 1949), and if you were around in 1984, you'd know about the famous Apple commerical that ran in during the Super Bowl of the same year.


However, although the spike of interest and fists swung at the NSA have popped-up, one needs to understand that the NSA has been spying on the general public for years. A good showing of this under my recommendations is Nova: The Spy Factory. Yes, one can say that most shows on Public Television can be boring but I'd like to emphazie that Nova does show some interesting media. And that this program does: on telling us about the NSA, how they collect information and how they use it.

A good half of the 50-minute show tells us about how the NSA collected info of the 9/11 hijackers. In 2000-01, much like now without the Prism, the NSA had highlighted those people of interest. And with the computers picking up almost each transaction they did, wheteher it's finiancial or getting a drivers liscense, the NSA would pick up the transaction and add it to the large database they have. They would note certian keywords to that person's file, and what they are doing that interest the NSA.

An example: Let's say a man named Jim Smith sends the following e-mail to Todd Johnson.

Here it is:


Thanks for the tickets for the upcoming White House tour when we go on our trip to Washington.

I also sent you a link to the news about the Boston Marathon boming. You know, my friend was there and he witnessed that, pretty terrible stuff. That Domestic Terrorism does scare me.

Jim Smith

Now, the NSA will likely collect this e-mail due to some keywords. Those words are White House, Bombing and Terrorism. The NSA supercomputers may also point out Boston Marathon Bombing and Domestic Terrorism. Although we can say that the e-mail is practially harmless; still, it does contain keywords that are alamring to the NSA. At that point, an employee will look at the e-mail and decide what to do with it. More than likely, they will disregard it, or perhaps add Jim and Todd to the database.

The Simpsons Movie NSA Scene

The sudden surprise of the NSA keeping tabs on us and any people of interest finds itself on the news from time to time, depending on the circumstance. And this time around, it's one of the NSA's own (or a contractor) spilling the beans. And at the current time, we have heard that he is in a Moscow airport searching for asylum.

But when one puts the pieces together on why the NSA is doing what it's doing, who can we blame? Ourselves? Our government? When I think of that, I have to go to George Carlin's You Are All Diseased when he talks about Airport Security on how the people are willing to trade away their freedoms for the feeling and illusion of security. Do we do the same while we are on the ground and not dealing with the undereducated pesky guards of the TSA but the folks of the NSA? I like to say we do. Truth is, some people want the NSA around to protect us, even if they may intrude on some people who are not involved at all with a terrorist plot. And some people don't want the NSA around anymore.

But the government and the NSA do have reasons why they carry on what they do. They can use 9/11 as an example, which we learn on NOVA's Spy Factory. But also, the NSA has it flaws, and the said show tells us on that too. An example is that the hijackers of Flight 93 had stayed in a motel a day before 9/11, just a few miles away from the main NSA offices in Ft. Meade, Maryland. If NOVA is correct, one can say that the NSA isn't perfect. Which could prove to be scary for the American People.

But, does the news tell us stories about the NSA defiling a terrorist plot? They may. But that isn't the news people like to hear. We are more interested in Kim Kardashian and the new episode of Survivor (is that show around? I don't watch much TV.). It's more interesting to hear about what drama the folks of Jersey Shore are up to, regardless of whether we like or love to hate them, than opposed to a story about the NSA doing their job right this time by defiling a potential terrorist plot.

And watch, there will be a group of people accusing the NSA of wrongdoing and believing those who are caught on the plot to be innocent. They will head to the NSA headquarters to protest and head to the trail of the accused to protest as well.

Everybody has a opinion on the NSA just as much as the folks of Jersey Shore (A mention of the NSA and Jersey Shore in the same sentence? Augh boy), including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who was vocal to Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi's about the show she was on. Although the PR firm of the NSA probably doesn't like the idea of the public and the media jumping on them for the falsehood they have done, but as long as the American people all together do not come running at the NSA's door in the similar way of an angry mob, the folks and the PR firm of the NSA will still have their jobs.

That or multiple Edward Snowden's running out the building while yelling out secrets at an alarming number.


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    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 2 years ago from Shimla, India

      Brilliant post.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 4 years ago from Corona, California.

      It's a case of they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they do what they are doing they are infringing on our freedoms, supposedly. If they don't do what they are doing and we have another "9/11" then they aren't doing enough. My feeling is that if you aren't doing anything wrong, then what do you have to worry about. Our soldiers risk/give the ultimate price for our freedoms. I think we can give a little of our freedoms to try and keep our soldiers/Americans a little safer. If the searches at the airports have kept even one plane safe, then it is all worth it. If the NSA feels they need to put my name in their data-base, then s0-be-it. I don't do anything wrong, illegal, criminal or threatening to the security of our country, so I have nothing to hide. Maybe people should just be more careful what they say on the Internet. The NSA are not the only ones that can access your e-mails. My opinion, Greg.