New NSA revelations: 'We know if you've been bad or good.'

Devastating new information from Edward Snowden and NSA agents reveals the previously unimagined reach of NSA surveillance. Photo: Dear Santa .. / Associated Press

WASHINGTON, December 21, 2013 – The steady drip of revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has continued apace this week. New documents leaked by Snowden now reveal that the NSA has infiltrated organizations once considered nearly invulnerable, and done so through front organizations in countries around the world.

“It shouldn’t have come as a surprise,” observes former NSA officer D. Edward Moroz. Moroz, who has worked undercover for the NSA in Russia, points out that the NSA’s shadowy Special Agency for New Technologies and Applications office has long had the motto, “We see you when you’re sleeping; we know when you’re awake.”

“That no one understood the full implications of that motto speaks to the extraordinary level of complacency and almost childlike innocence of the American public. But it also illustrates the power of psychological manipulation of the young. By accustoming them to continual surveillance and associating it with annual rewards, the NSA has been able to make them comfortable with levels of observation and control that would have been unimaginable 50 or a hundred years ago.”

More remarkable is that the NSA not only flaunted this program for decades, keeping it secret in plain sight, but that it placed agents openly in garish, red uniforms all over the country, taught them to get children to spill family secrets to a total stranger, and parents not only permitted it to happen, but encouraged it. It was able to subvert the U.S. Postal Service, setting up a special office somewhere in the far north where vast quantities of mail would be diverted, letters detailing the fondest hopes and dreams of millions of Americans.

“It’s impossible to overestimate the intelligence harvest of this program,” notes former agent Kristine Engle, code named “Mrs. Kringle.” “The mail, the personal interviews and debriefings in shopping malls all over America, and even a program that placed small observers on shelves in homes all over the country.” She refused further comment on that program, but it is likely her reference was to the program made infamous by a leaked NSA document, “The Elf on the Shelf.”

The shadowy head of the SANTA program is known by the code name “Claws.” “He has a lot of aliases,” says Moroz. “Identifying him is made harder by the fact that agents like me, or Pere Noel – the head of our offices in France – often act in his name. Each of our agents is trained to impersonate him, creating the illusion of omnipresence that is essential to reinforcing the idea that there really are no secrets. If you believe you have no secrets, it’s much easier to acquiesce to constant observation.”

At this point, it is obvious that Congress is powerless to curtail the SANTA program, nor is the president able to rein it in. “PRISM is just a distraction, a feint,” says Engle. “The NSA is willing to lose that one, and it creates the illusion that the agency can be reined in. But SANTA is the real source of power, and no one will touch it. Really, the motto says it all. ‘Claws’ sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. Unless you want a free trip to a secret detention facility, you’ll be good, for goodness’ sake.”

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Jim Picht

James Picht is the Senior Editor for Communities Politics and teaches economics and Russian at the Louisiana Scholars' College in Natchitoches, La. After earning his doctorate in economics, he spent several years working in Moscow and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union for the U.S. government, the Asian Development Bank, and as a private contractor. He returned to Ukraine recently to teach principles of constitutional law and criminal procedure at several Ukrainian law schools for a USAID legal development project. He has been writing at the Communities since 2009.

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