Erik Prince, founder of the private defence company Blackwater (then Xi, now Academi), says that the NSA is turning America into North Korea.
Prince, a one-time king of the mercenary world, told Eli Lake of the Daily Beast, “Whether it’s allowing the NSA to go way too far in what it intercepts of our personal data, to our government monitoring of everything domestically and spending way more than we should. I don’t know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible ’cause that country would look more like North Korea than America.”
Prince is certainly on to something.
The national security apparatus has been concerned for at least the last decade or so that the most feared weapon of the enemy in the so-called War on Terror — the roadside bomb, or Improvised Explosive Device — would make its way back to American soil.
Their lone wolf suspicions were made true at the Boston Marathon. More recently, Al Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri called for more ‘one wolf’ attacks on Western targets.
Proponents of the NSA’s surveillance say their current methods are necessary to stop these attacks.
Hirsch argues in National Journal that the NSA’s far-flung surveillance is necessary to deal with the changing threat from al-Qaeda, which is morphing from mega-attacks like 9/11 to encouraging more “lone wolf” attacks such as those at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon.
That the NSA missed the Boston Bombers in their digital dragnet might indicate that the net only needs to get more comprehensive, possibly more invasive.
What may be more frightening is the Massachusetts State Law enforcement’s response to the bombers: locking down Watertown, Mass., rolling up-armoured vehicles down residential roadways, and conducting what most combat veterans would instantly recognise as a textbook cordon and knock operation — sending heavily armed officers in body armour in a mandatory house to house search.
The War on Terror seems to be coming home to roost, and as far as Prince is concerned, the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
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