All-powerful NSA / The spy agency doesn’t need a super computer

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Calls are growing across the land for the Obama administration to consider either clemency for Edward Snowden or substantially reduced charges so he can return to the United States to face justice.

The advocates argue that the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked thousands of documents about America’s clandestine operations around the world is not a traitor but a whistle-blower.

Since last year, Mr. Snowden, who now resides in Russia, has been the source of blockbuster revelations about extensive intelligence gathering by the NSA at home and abroad. Because of him, Americans know more about the indiscriminate collection of data from phones and email, some of which has been gathered through legally questionable means.

The major telecoms and social media giants have been pressed by the NSA for access to their customer base. America’s European and South American allies, from prime ministers to average citizens, have also had their phones and emails monitored by the NSA.

So news from the latest Snowden leak that the agency wants to build a super computer capable of breaking every kind of encryption isn’t shocking, but it isn’t any less disturbing given the NSA’s track record. If the NSA succeeds, there will be no security lock on information that the agency can’t pick.

According to Mr. Snowden’s leak, the NSA is no closer to success in building this “cryptologically useful Quantum computer” than the European Union or Switzerland, but it is making major strides toward that goal every year.

One thing is certain. It would be foolhardy to believe that another super weapon in the NSA’s arsenal is going to make it more mindful of Americans’ constitutional protections.

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