The NSA Can Search Everyone’s Email But Their Own
If you're going to snoop on everyone's email, at least do it right.
The NSA — you know, the folks looking at everyone’s phone records and such — they have the capability to sort through almost unthinkable amounts of data from their surveillance programs, but if you ask them to do one simple internal email search through a Freedom of Information Act request, suddenly they don’t have the technology. The NSA claims that their email system is, “a little antiquated and archaic.” Then update it. You’re the NSA.
The revelation that the NSA lacks this pretty basic functionality came about when reporter Justin Elliot sent a FOIA request for emails between the agency and the National Geographic Channel for a set time period when the two would have been communicating for a documentary.
What he got in response is unbelievable. NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told him, “There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately.”
Here’s why that’s so ridiculous — it’s the NSA. The fact that they can search my email more easily than their own is almost as frustrating as the fact that they can search my email at all. We trust the NSA to monitor communications so they can do things like stop terrorist attacks, but they can’t even tell someone what one of their own employees said in an email conversation with the National Geographic Channel? Unacceptable.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to be able to search internal emails, so wanting the government agency responsible for monitoring things like email to be able to do it too isn’t an unreasonable request. Neither, for that matter, is wanting them to stop spying on citizens, though that may be a horse of a different color here.