In which the head of the NSA is found to have more in common with the Borg than with Captain Jean-Luc Picard
What do Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise and NSA director Keith Alexander have in common?
(a) Both boldly go where no man has gone before.
(b) One is a fictional character, and the other likes to imagine he is that fictional character on "Star Trek."
(c) Their command centers -- one designed for a TV series and movies, the other for Army Intelligence -- were at one time identical.
The answer, unfortunately, is all of the above.
Glenn Greenwald, the investigative reporter and former constitutional attorney who broke the Snowden NSA story, tells us that when Alexander was running the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, he constructed a meticulous duplicate of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise to serve as the control center, replete with a captain's chair, a gigantic TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that make a "whooshing" sound when they slide open and closed.
Lest we have any doubts about Alexander's intentions, he called the hub of his operations the "Information Dominance Center," a name th at is, of course, completely consistent with his "collect it all" approach that has been unmasked by the Snowden revelations about the shocking and illegal scope of the NSA's activities.
The NSA believes it has the right to spy on everyone by mw238
The Shadow Side of American Democracy
It is deeply distressing that Alexander has been allowed to go to such scandalous lengths in pursuit of his collect-it-all policy, and to do so, until recently, in secret. He is, presumably, acting at the behest of other forces such as the military, the unitary presidency, the banking system, and the corporations that increasingly practice unfettered dominance (not democracy) in our society.
This is the shadow side of American democracy; it has been with us from our founding. On the one hand, we have striven to honor human rights. On the other hand, we have pursued a path of dominance and hostility toward the rights and lives of others. Seen in psycho-historical terms, Alexander is part of the tradition of dominance, and clearly he is proud of it.
Manifest Destiny in the Digital Age
Where this story becomes truly bizarre is in the "Star Trek" de'cor that so excites Alexander and his Congressional overseers. This is reminiscent of George W. Bush acting like a cowboy -- and it was acting, for not only was he not a cowboy, but the kind of cowboy he was pretending to be was the mythic cowboy of the Old West, a character that never really existed.
Step back for a moment and look at what we have here: a recent president acting as though he were a fictional "cowboy" and an NSA director, a lieutenant general, acting as though he is a fictional "Star Trek" captain (albeit sans that character's famously high moral character).
It is one thing for these men to have such fantasies about themselves and to nurture these fantasies well into adulthood; that alone should give us pause.
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