One of my favorite John Wayne westerns is The Searchers. Just before he returns home from the Civil War, an Indian raid results in the death of his brother and the kidnapping of his niece. The majority of the film concerns his long search for this young girl.
This may seem like an odd preface for the news snippet below, but hey, I'm an odd guy who often views things from a different perspective!
The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.
But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.
"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.
The system is “a little antiquated and archaic," she added.
Now imagine if John Wayne's character had reacted like the NSA. He would have said there were numerous things he could search for, but not his niece! "Sorry," he would have said. "That's way beyond my capabilities."
The film that runs almost 2 hours would have been over in the first 10 minutes or so!
It defies credulity to think that our key spying agency could thwart terrorist attacks IF they can't even figure out how to conduct searches in their own system! That would be like me claiming that I am unable to find text files on my own computer.
How stupid does the NSA think we are?