- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2015


One thing that is clear from the debate over National Security Agency “snooping” is the abysmal ignorance on the part of politicians, editors and commentators about the Internet. Worse, the ignorance is self-willed and appears to be deliberate. But there is no secret about the Internet or the way it works. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people throughout the world are well aware of how a packet switch network functions, how TCP/IP works, and why trite phrases such as “get a warrant” serve to demonstrate only the stupidity of those who use them.

So here is a suggestion. I think The Times should do a series of articles on the Internet — how it works and the difficulty of finding the pieces of e-mails and other transmissions that might be of critical importance in protecting the nation. I think a Times series could go a long way toward clearing up the fog and ignorance without compromising national security. The Islamic State and other national enemies know exactly what is involved, how we are going about trying to protect ourselves and how they can evade our detection mechanisms. There are no secrets.

As long as even our national leaders operate under a veil of ignorance about the Internet, however, we will always be in the position of listening to bad advice. If, with full knowledge, we choose privacy over security, that would be a valid decision. To entrust making that decision to those who think in terms of listening at a keyhole, is foolish. To entrust that decision to people who would exploit our ignorance for political reasons is a recipe for disaster.


Middletown, Md.

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