Roger Michaels, who heads the homeland surveillance division, says that even if the agency’s powers are now diminished, he is confident it will be able to continue keeping tabs on what Americans are up to.
The latest crop of NSA recruits are lithe, Michaels says, allowing them to effortlessly fit into hiding places under beds, in closets, or even in that narrow space between washers and dryers. He also says that in addition to being agile, agents are screened for their hearing abilities and aptness for making rapid deductions.
“Even if we can longer know which numbers people are dialing on their phones, by using contextual clues we’ll figure out who they’re calling,” Michaels said on Monday. “For example, if an individual dials a number on her cell phone and then says, ‘Hi Gareth,’ that could mean she’s calling Gareth, this guy she met at yoga back in October of 2014 while her husband was busy updating data-collection software to protect the nation from terrorists.”
“And if she says, ‘Good news, he’s in Washington for a meeting,’ an agent could determine that the individual is planning to violate the sanctity of her marital vows for the umpteenth time while her husband takes part in a grueling six-hour meeting with the secretary of defense for no other reason than he’s trying to get a raise to the next pay grade so he and his wife can finish building that fucking sunroom.”
“And we’ll still be able to place a dozen agents in Gareth’s home and workplace, just to see what sort of guy he is, and we’ll still be able to dispatch teams to follow him to his insurance company’s annual Christmas party, where he gets drunk with his coworker Nathalie Winnecke — who got treated for chlamydia twice, once while she was in college in 2002 and again in 2009 — and they have sex in the mop closet in the basement, oblivious to the fact that no fewer than two agents are posted in there.”
Critics of the plan to return to placing agents in homes say that it will be too expensive, and that monitoring the millions of necessary new agents will require too much oversight. However, officials in the NSA say they’re working on a plan to outsource electronic surveillance and bulk data collection of the NSA to a company in Bangalore.