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New NSA leak reveals invasion of the management consultants

Spookhaus documents infested with the very worst corporate-speak imaginable

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Register can reveal that while the NSA has been infiltrating the highest echelons of the governments of US allies, a counter-infiltration has taken place.

Crack teams of Microsoft marketing droids, sleeper cells of incognito TEDx speakers and the greatest sociologists ever to torture a syntax into confessing to crimes of postmodernism have all been recruited to take the battle back to the spooks by befuddling them with the worst excesses of corporate language-mangling.

The strategy appears simple: by making it impossible for anyone in the NSA to understand what they were being told, the agency wouldn't be able to wreak too much havoc on the IT sector.

Evidence for the counter-insurgency can be found in this document, published by the New York Times, that shows how Strike Force Linguistic Paralysis had created an NSA in which this is apparently a meaningful statement:

“ubiquitous computing is fundamentally changing how people interact as individuals become untethered from information sources and their communications tools”

El Reg is shaking its head in wonder at the profound professional mediocrity that can describe "the soul-stealing life in which no human is ever permitted to be absent from work or out-of-touch" as “untethered”.

Here are some other gems from the leaked document:

  • “We must proactively position ourselves to dominate that environment”
  • “Fully leverage internal and external partnerships to collaboratively discover targets”
  • “a collaborative information space that mirrors how people interact in the information age”
  • “Drive an agile technology base mapped to the cognitive processes”
  • “Integrate the SIGINT system into a national network of sensors which interactively sense, respond, and alert one another at machine speed”
  • “Collectively foster an environment that encourages and rewards diversity, empowerment, innovation, risk-taking and agility” [Which reminds Vulture South, the Human Resources sector seems to have contributed to the infiltration task-force]
  • “Enable better, more efficient management of the mission and business by establishing new, modifying current, and eliminating inefficient, business processes; by strengthening customer relationships; and by building necessary internal and external partnerships.”
  • “Align and standardize administrative business processes”
  • “Champion the development of a unified NSA/CSS U.S. customer engagement strategy”
  • “Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor*”

If there's a serious point in this turbid prose (you think I mean turgid but I don't), it's to take a tiny handful of meaningful statements and stir them in mud until they become indiscernible to the naked eye.

The NSA is revealed to be a relentless consumer of the cyber-warfare Kool-Aid, baldly stating that “cyberattacks … may not cause the mass casualties of a nuclear strike, but they could paralyze US society all the same”.

As with many of the NSA leaks, the document appears crafted for an audience that needs to be told "the Agency is omniscient, wonderful, efficient, and under constant threat so give us more money and power".

The group reveals an intention to try and get the government to rewrite the legal and administrative controls it's subject to – presumably not in favour of citizens: “legal, policy, and process authorities must be ... adaptive and dynamic … we aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.”

Noting that the outside world's cryptographic capabilities are a danger to the NSA's ability to deploy ubiquitous snoopery against World+Dog, the document says the spooks needs to attack both midpoints and endpoints “to enable cryptanalysis”, says it must “Counter the challenge of ubiquitous, strong, commercial network encryption”.

The obvious strategy? Subvert commercial crypto providers: “Influence the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships, HUMINT, and second and third party partners”.

With any luck, however, the invasion of the soul-snatchers will render the NSA incapable of carrying out any form of internal communication before that happens. ®

*Bootnote: OK, the last one came from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's hardly out of place, is it?

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