Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Memo

It came up this week, following Thanksgiving....that the NSA leadership put out a bullet-format newsletter to their employees last week....before they went off for the holidays.

Basically, this two-page letter was to provide everyone with decent argument material when they gathered for the Thanksgiving meal, and defend the cause of the NSA.

It was generally all two-liner items.  It's like the talking points that O'Reilly hands out each night.  Basically stuff that you could remember, and toss at your neighbor, your cousin, or your wife's family.  

So you can imagine the festive occasion.  You, the NSA guy.....arriving with Wanda at her parent's house.  Gus, your father-in-law, will hand you a beer at the front door, then take it away because he jokes up the fact that with all those secrets you carry.....you just can't drink.  You do a mild laugh, with the joke that has occurred yearly since 1988.  

As the family settles into the living room, with sixteen people in full attendance.....there is an uneasy feeling.  It takes less than sixty seconds for Ed Snowden to be brought up, and someone asks if you personally knew Ed.  No, you respond.....out of twenty thousand NSA folks.....you just don't ever meet everyone in a room.

Then someone will ask if Ed is a hero or such.  You respond that heroes don't usually have warrants on themselves, or be potentially facing forty years in a prison for doing good stuff.

The liberal folks in the room will carry this chat on and on.  After a while, you start to wonder if there is some other topic that they might get onto....like NCAA football, or the Redskins.

Then it hits you....the Affordable Healthcare Act.  You toss that onto the floor, and suddenly....everyone is chatty and negative.  The liberal relatives?  They hate you.  For the rest of the day....everyone is talking up the mess.

Maybe this talking points memo was necessary....but I know how this all works.  Some guy has the idea....the General likes it.  And then, the lawyers get involved.  A memo like this would require at least seven-hundred man-hours to write, review, and get approval on.  You could have six lawyers arguing six different points on approving the memo.  The General?  He's sitting there and cursing the simplicity of this, and why the legal office has to make this so complicated.    

The odds that even ten percent of the NSA staff read the memo?  Probably fifty-fifty.  I doubt if twenty percent of the entire NSA ever read it or cared.  Most cleared their desk on Wednesday morning....sipped coffee and chatted over the Redskins.....then went home.  The memo sat on their desk...mostly unread.  That's reality in 2013.