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Someone has to listen to all those phone calls

August 23, 2007

I wanted some information on the government’s expanded wiretapping powers so I pick up my phone to talk to the NSA agent currently tapping my phone.

“Hey Jackal, got a minute?” I say.

“Hey, how do you know someone’s tapping this line?” says an unfamiliar young male voice.

“Hey, I’ve known for quite some time,” I say.  “So where’s Jackal?”
“He’s out of the office right now,” says the voice.  “I’m his intern Mosquito.”

“Jackal has an intern?”

“Jackal has many interns,” says Mosquito.  “See, if you’re going to expand government surveillance, you’re going to need a lot of people to listen to those phonelines and read those emails and check out the video feed from the hidden camera in that VCR you barely use anymore.”

“So they’re using unpaid interns to do this?” I ask.

“It’s easy college credit for my Communications degree,” says Mosquito.

“I’m not comfortable with the fact that interns are tapping my phone,” I say.  “I want my privacy rights violated by professionals, damn it.”

“Does it make you feel better that I’m only on your phone on Thursdays?” says Mosquito.  “Jackal’s other interns Cicada and Head Lice help out on Fridays and Mondays.”

“Not at all,” I say.

“Oh… well if it makes you feel better most of the time we’re not even listening to most people’s phonelines,” says Mosquito.  “Most of the time Jackal has us listening to some woman’s phone, transcribing everything she says.”

“So you’re doing Jackal’s stalking for him?” I say.

“Yeah… I didn’t quite buy that this woman was a threat to national security,” says Mosquito.

“Take a message for Jackal,” I say.  “You tell him I said that there are some things that require actual paid professionals.  They put interns in charge of rebuilding Iraq and you saw how well that went.  Now put someone who pulls an actual paycheck on phone before I call up your superiors and tell them about the stalking.”

“Could you repeat that?” says Mosquito.  “I was flipping the tape and I didn’t have a pen.”

I get the feeling this is how Rome fell.  Not by barbarian hordes busting in and burning it down, but by toga-wearing interns forgetting to close the gates.

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