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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Spying Run Amok": Live Free or Diet

Are you a regular reader of this blog? Well, you will be amused to know that this blog is also sometimes read by a handful of the world's intelligence agencies, and that there is one such agency that reads it before all the others. Ah, he's paranoid, some of you might say. In fact, I don't give a damn if it is read by these agencies, perhaps owing to my age (see the last paragraphs of:

In her latest New York Times op-ed  entitled "Spying Run Amok" (, Maureen Dowd begins by describing the demise of a certain "Homeland" character, whose unpredictability and ambiguous motives she compares with those of Edward Snowden.

"Homeland"? The creator of "Homeland" is now reading a screenplay that I wrote last month, and I await his determination with quite a bit of excitement, although I am also prepared for disappointment, inasmuch as such is the way of the world in Hollywood. I am fortunate that my primary involvement at this stage of my life is biotech, which also increasingly involves code breaking of the Maker, if you will.

But I digress, or perhaps I don't.

Dowd writes today:

"Though the Justice Department tried to justify the mammoth hoovering by insisting on the need for speed, [Judge Richard J. Leon] pointed out that the N.S.A. couldn’t cite a single instance in which its haystack of data had produced the needle to puncture an imminent attack."

Of course, Judge Leon is correct, as best illustrated by the Boston Marathon bombing, which could have been prevented if the government had known how to sort through that "haystack of data."

You see, the haystack is important, but without the tools to sort through it, it is just a mountain of manure.

Don't get me wrong: I agree with Dowd. I am aghast by the unregulated collection of data by the NSA, which violates all freedoms which Americans should hold dear. I italicize should, because these are freedoms which should be held dear, but aren't. Moreover, I find it shocking that an American president, who claims to be a Constitutional lawyer, allowed the NSA to run amok.

Yeah, right, he didn't know.

But the bottom line is this: In this age of narcissism in which we live, in which the president himself is a prime purveyor of this new opiate of the masses, do Americans care more about the NSA or the NFL? Which is more important to them: their Diet Coke or their adherence to the principle of "Live free or die"?

You decide.


  1. The phrase ‘Swimming In Sensors and Drowning in Data’ has come up in just about every ISR conference since 2009. Just when a new tool appears to solve the data-overflow problems of last year, new sensors come online that the current analytic systems can't process fast enough. Having identified the problem, all the major defense contractors are lining up to cash in with their own solutions. Here's an unclassified example of Northrop Grumman's MIDA.

    The only slide missing was a 20-20 hindsight case study "MIDA could have (add italic) prevented the Boston Bombings".

    Best of luck with the screenplay, Jeff. If Gidi Raff rejects or ignores it, try contacting Robert Avrech ( - who I'm sure would be interested in working with you.

    1. I also have a somewhat tenuous connection to someone who produces exactly the genre you created. At a minimum I could get it on his desk, but that's it.

      Actually -- on a different but related note, my best friend in Israel's little sister (with whom I played with every day during the year I lived in Rehovot) is, I believe, married to the Israeli who created "In Treatment," Hagai Levi.

    2. Thank you. Let's see what I hear from my first Hollywood reviewer.