NSA Rebrands with New Name and Motto: No Snooping Allowed

To counteract torrential public uproar, judicial skewering, and unexpectedly sharp presidential panel scrutiny, the one-time National Security Agency has reportedly kept its acronym but changed its name and image. According to undisclosed sources, NSA will, in the new year, stand for No Spying Allowed, in a strategic ploy to keep intact its data-war against terrorism without offending Constitutional niceties. An unnamed senior Democratic adviser confided, “Is this rocket science? What kind of backwater beacon of democracy can’t balance a little phone freedom with a lot of security? It’s not like the NSA is some bulwark against fire-breathing terrorists armed with drones.”

Showing that opaque, chagrined government agencies jump as nimbly as opaque, chagrined corporations, the NSA decided, after countless, unmonitored phone chats, that changing its name made far more sense than changing its billion-dollar operations. On point, staff accountants verify millions will be saved by foregoing changes to coffee mugs, secret spy rings or signage.

“As can-do, will-hear public servants,” explains Gen. Fred Flapper, interim NSA chief, “when stuck between product liability and brand liability, we take our cue from any other high-tech communication giant. We’re especially pleased to delink from the derogatory term ‘agency’ without impeding our mission against bad guys with guns, loaded or not. What does Washington hate more than a ‘spendthrift government agency’ but a ‘secret spying spendthrift government agency’?

“It was high time, anyway,” Flapper fluttered on, “to clarify that unrestrained information collection is nothing like ‘spying.’ Spying is about unearthing what’s called ‘intelligence.’ Our back-office computer wizards wouldn’t know spying intelligence if it crashed through the window. Good riddance as well to having ‘national’ in our name for we intrude on many more overseas calls than domestic, party line gossip. And since we hide whether our wiretapping has ever stopped one terrorist attack, we are happy not to be weighed down with any ‘security’ responsibility. Aside from protecting our financial security, of course, and our essential, if covert $12 billion annual budget. Threaten that security and you’ll learn what instant communication is all about: we’ve got more dirt buried on more critics than old J. Edgar’s FBI ever shoveled up on his enemies.”

Thus explaining what his non-agency isn’t, Flapper compared the NSA to comprehensive property insurance: “what’s wrong with making people feel good about things beyond their control? Look,’spying’ is done on real people, detailing secrets with high tradeoffs: all we have are reams of undigested data. Not even the greatest dimwit stops mid-suicide bombing to call up his office, or his mother, to say, ‘All set. Bye, bye, Miss American pie. We’ll met again, don’t know where, don’t know when.’ Maybe if we spent ten billion on really cool satellites, that could read lips whispering at cave entrances, we’d get more than 15 minutes warning. Bingo, then we order up a drone flight and snag those flat-footed, would-be terro-whackos.”

White House Caught Off Guard

White House reaction, from Imno Spook, covert adviser on covertivity, began with surprise, then quickly obfuscated, advisedly off the record: “What idiot rogue approved dumping menacing core ideas that, according to our latest phone survey, scare the bejesus out of bad guys. Secret spying, 24/7 surveillance, no inhibitions, no restrictions, no residual evidence, total global phone access – now that’s scary. Certainly discourages idle chatter, however good for our GNP pinpointing.”

“Time for another presidential commission, to unpack whether a purposely obscured, black site can just up and change its name, all because a few malcontents complain, like Snowden the traitor. This whole name change could boomerang, reinforcing our spooks are wimps afraid of covert action, who roll over under siege. Hell, I bet the president, famous for what he doesn’t know until the NY Times prints it, will bust a blood vessel. Sorry, gotta go find a line free from damn NSA ears. Last time, we did a face-to-face on the White House roof in a rain storm. Wet but private.”

Congress Aghast, Both Wings & Center

Reaction from the Hill came as swiftly as an Edward Snowden revelation. The trio of highly-critical senators, namely Wyden, Udall and Leahy, issued a statement too rapid-fire to be intercepted: “Frankly, this looks to us like lily-livered bureaucratic chicanery.  You soften the name but refuse to contain any of the Constitutional abuses we prove beyond all reasonable doubt? We repeat: collecting and storing every planetary phone call is not just offensive but prohibited somewhere in our Constitution. Ditto: where’s explicit permission to invade the privacy of foreign dignitaries, offending not just law and custom but good manners?”

“First, under George Bush, we invade and destroy non-threatening ‘enemy’ countries with trillion dollar price tags. Now our NSA invades entire sovereign phone systems to monitor calls from our friends to our friends. What empire survives when all distinctions between abuse of friends and abuse of enemies evaporate?  Tomorrow, expect legislation on the table that forbids any government agency 1) to play fast and loose with the truth, like denying it’s a government agency; 2) to declare that secret surveillance doesn’t involve something called spying; and 3) to play games with bureau names because your image rightly stinks.”

New McCain Doctrine: Palin-ready

Across the isle came neither charity, nor clarity as Senator John McCain thundered, “What a lot of malarky. Who cares what some yokel in Peoria thinks the NSA stands for? Here we have tireless, noble patriots, every one deserving that so-called Peace Prize, now forced to act like idiots who don’t know spying must involve, well, subtefuge. Forget the Bush Doctrine: here’s the McCain Doctrine — you can’t spend too much on secret surveillance or wars against would-be enemies any place, anytime. Even Ms. Palin can understand and remember that doctrine.”

“Trust me,” he blustered on, “if all my king’s men can’t keep terrorists ‘over there,’ then they’ll have no choice but go someplace else. Duh. Not to my New Year’s Eve party, thanks very much. Who cares if folks who don’t matter think the NSA stands for Noxious Spying Anywhere, I will never vote to cut its spending. Even if I am tortured again, like during that awful ’08 campaign, I will never forego the NSA, nor the CIA, nor the sacred military code, nor the untouchable Pentagon. Nor will I defund any drone programs, not with new-fangled, cave-ready zingers coming down the pike. They just whip right inside where miserable foreigners curse Christians, then kaboom. Now that’s music to this old soldier’s ears. But I digress. What were we talking about?”

• P.S. Anyone daring to question this well-researched tract, confirm at tongueincheek.truth.

Robert S. Becker was educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English). He left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. "Writing for the public taught me how to communicate." From '92-02 he did marketing consulting, grant, and business writing. Since '02, he scribbles on politics, science and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. Read other articles by Robert.