Double standard

January 1, 2014

Here’s how NSA spying on Americans is reported during the Obama administration:

A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency’s hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft’s internal reporting system to spy on their targets.

I chose that article simply because it is ABC News’s most recently article on the topic. Now contrast how ABC News reported such things during the Bush administration:

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

See how ABC ties the NSA’s actions to the Bush administration in the very first phrase (and then again in the third paragraph). But ABC doesn’t use the word “Obama” in the other article at all.

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World of spycraft

December 21, 2013

The NSA has been spying on World of Warcraft:

The National Security Agency (NSA) and UK sister agency GCHQ sought to infiltrate the massive virtual worlds in online video games such as “World of Warcraft” and interactive environments like “Second Life,” according to the latest secret documents stolen by Edward Snowden and jointly released by the Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica.

According to a document titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,” the secretive spy agencies were concerned by potential terrorist use of such games and felt an immediate need to begin analyzing in-game communications as early as 2007.

Why were they so concerned? Get this:

“[Certain] games offer realistic weapons training (what weapon to use against what target, what ranges can be achieved, even aiming and firing), military operations and tactics, photorealistic land navigation and terrain familiarization, and leadership skills,” the document notes.

Fortunately, this is just bad reporting. The NSA wasn’t really making a connection between World of Warcraft and realistic weapons training; they were talking about games like America’s Army. But then why the concern over a game in which the most realistic weapon is a Gnomish blunderbuss? I wonder if this was just an excuse to play games on company time.