From Pine View Farm

“I Get To Play WoW at Work, and Get Paid for It” 4

That was my first thought on reading about the NSA’s infiltrating MUDs and MMOGs.

Robyn Blumner takes down the gamers at the NSA:

Terrorists playing online video games to confound the enemy? Sounds like a modern Get Smart episode, and a far-fetched one at that.

But there it was on the front page last week as yet another spying revelation from former NSA contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The secret documents showed that America’s masters of spycraft thought it possible that terrorists were training and communicating while hiding behind avatars in popular virtual games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. This prompted spies with the CIA, FBI and Pentagon to infiltrate the world of online gaming in such ridiculous numbers that a group had to be assigned to make sure the spooks weren’t colliding with one another.

The effort was a bust. Nothing came of it except to underscore the bloated surveillance state the United States has created.

Follow the link. After the snark, she gets serious, and her thoughts are worth the three minutes it takes to read them.



  1. George Smith

    December 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    As you know this started as early as 2007.  Everyone bears some blame. When the stupid stories started appearing that terrorists could train on-line in virtual worlds, there were never any naysayers in them. And the media always published whatever nonsense was aired, the American people pretty much accepted that “the terrorists” could do anything. We surrendered spine, skepticism and will to not let it get as out of hand as it did and coupled with the national security boom and the internal forces of the government/private sector, this was what we have among many other things, equally stupid and bad. I can’t recall any serious journalistic efforts during the period between 9/11 and 2012 that questioned anything about threat prediction or the exploding national security and surveillance infrastructure. You will recall that the spurt of crazy anthrax mailers this summer had the result of uncovering the collection and opening of paper mail nationwide, installed as a result of Bruce Ivins, the anthraxer, who was also from the natsec infrastructure. That story also showed that, like these other surveillance networks — although it gathers a lot of stuff,  it did not intercept any of the ricin letters, except those to the president, which are naturally at a site near the capitol as a matter of course.

  2. Frank

    December 13, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Quantity of data /= quality of data.


    Wonder when the NSA will figure that out?


  3. George Smith

    December 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Always been that way. The American national security grail — always more, and more is better regardless of results. Don’t believe it can be fixed now despite all the editorializing. The national security megaplex is in its own bubble environment, insulated from everything else. Like Wall Street, they may get a complex and complain about being shelled by public opinion but odds are it won’t and can’t make a difference. Has anyone resigned over this? No. Has Keith Alexander moved up his retirement by a few months? No. They either really believe they’re manning the ramparts against threats or it’s defense of the structure. Actually, it’s immaterial what they believe. 

  4. Frank

    December 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I suspect that many of the worker-bees believe sincerely that they are doing something good and useful, despite the demonstrably poor returns of broadcast surveillance.


    I am more skeptical of the policy makers. 


    I remember the common refrain during the Viet Nam War.  “But the government must know something we don’t.”  Turns out the government did know something we didn’t–that the whole damn war was based on bullshit.