In which my Taco Benefactor Turns Out to Be a Former Communications Analyst for JSOC
While working on a freelance infotainment assignment during the small hours of Thursday night, er, Friday morning, a friend alerted me to the presence of free tacos nearby. After engulfing a few, I happily tweeted:
I asked who my taco benefactor was. Friend points him out: that guy over there talking philosophy. One of my BA majors was in philosophy, so I go over and talk up my taco benefactor on the subject, which we quickly hone in on Hobbes.
In 1651 Hobbes wrote in Leviathan:
I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.
The conversation gets mildly heated and a bit more interesting when he says he voluntarily chose to fight for the US military in Iraq. I asked him how he reconciled his philosophy studies with, you know, invading another country that didn’t do anything to the United States. My taco benefactor tells me that, metaphysically speaking, he thinks of reality as permeated and constituted by violence.
Kill them before they kill us, he says, because otherwise they will kill us — that sort of thing. I bring up nonviolence, Martin Luther King Jr., Zen Buddhism, etc. and win temporary favor with him by acknowledging the US MIL culture is at its best educated, sophisticated, etc., not easily rendered by broad brushstrokes (speaking of rendering things, the CIA renditions innocent civilians extra-legally, knowingly; then there’s the torture). My taco benefactor is assuaged enough by my token respect for military culture to carry on the conversation outside over a cigarette, but I carefully bum one (rare & for social purposes only) from my friend, not from him.
He (Chad Wood) tells me he worked as a communications analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command. JSOC, you know, black ops. Said he was integral to missions that led to the capture of AAM (Abu Ayyub al-Masri), for example. Said, a few times, “I don’t know if I should trust you” — I’d made my activism supporting WikiLeaks clear from the outset and that I was adversarial to his beliefs. In fact, I let him know that a few hours prior I’d been calculating bus fare to attend a protest at Fort Meade to support Bradley Manning, who was, like Chad, a military intelligence analyst. (It turns out the bus fare cost is prohibitive; the USA really needs some high-speed public transit.)
Chad philosophically justifies US aggression and treating people as expendable by reference to the grand historical project of democracy. Look, I like Madison-Jeffersonian democracy, too, but the approx 120,000 dead civilians in Iraq (due to the War since 2003) aren’t the price for that. It seemed to me Chad argued for the goodness of US foreign policy by an attempt at inference to the best explanation: Look around, he argued, things are fine, aren’t they? Don’t you think there are some really smart people making sure you and I can have this conversation, and that we should let them have their secrets? I’ll let Howard Beale reply to that one:
Well, if there’s anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me: That man is full of bullshit.
He pointed to a truck at a stoplight. He said if he saw such a truck overseas, a computer could give him the last 8 months on that truck in seconds. Exact maps of its past movements, actually. I asked him if they do that on domestic soil. He shook his head No.
He told me the NSA (
No Such Agency National Security Agency) has a guy called “Crypto ******” — Crypto something; I didn’t catch the second part of the NSA man’s name, and when I asked Chad to repeat it, he wouldn’t. I do recall that the other, second part of the name was a dactyl (metrical foot: three syllables, stressed on the first syllable) and alliterative (starts with the same sound) — I think it was “Crypto Codekeeper” or “Crypto Keykeeper” or “Crypto Keymaster” or “Crypto Codemaster” or something like that. This guy, Chad said, arrives at top-secret meetings with a briefcase containing physical tape — like cassette tape — that’s used to communicate one-time cryptographic keys and is burned as soon as possible. This guy, Chad said, will be watched for the remainder of his life.
Chad also said he worked with CIA black sites. I’m not sure if he meant worked at them geographically or worked with them remotely (or both).
He posited a “hypothetical”: Why not a submarine vampire-tapping the communication cables that cross the oceans?
Another “hypothetical”: Why not a building here in Fort Worth — or any other major US city — with 6 elevator shafts and only 4 elevators, the other 2 used as antimissile silos or for other interesting purposes? I asked which building. He said I should have asked which buildings, plural. He didn’t specify any.
He said Obama personally authorizes dronekills (or at least the significantly controversial ones) and in general, the extrajudicial assassinations (my phrase). Said it’s public record that the Commander-in-Chief authorizes them, but that he has the experiential knowledge that it’s so.
Said AES-256 OTR properly done cannot be brute-forced yet and contains no backdoors.
Really, he asked me, if I’m so interested in this stuff, why don’t I join up? “The ultimate Assange is already working for the NSA,” he said. Get involved, he said, and get better health insurance than hippies currently have. I’d have access to all sorts of cool technology, he said, and since I’m an ace humanities guy, they’d even have stuff about metaphors and narratives for me and all that kind of stuff!
To which as a proper reply I offer:
In which my Taco Benefactor Turns out to Be a Former Communications Analyst for JSOC by Douglas Lucas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.douglaslucas.com. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.