I can explain.
I realize I write for newspapers, which makes me questionable. You've probably been surveilling me for years, checking up on my sources, flagging my friends, monitoring my Facebook, examining my email.
I am sorry.
Sorry for wasting your time. At taxpayer expense, I suppose. Paying to be stalked qualifies as a new low for me.
Maybe when my column is pensive or my email is sad, you guys could send me flowers. On me. I'm good for it -- ask the IRS.
As a writer whose work appears online, though, I could use the clicks, so I don't want you to lose interest in me entirely. I'm single and enjoy the companionship. So let me lobby a bit for why my privacy is still worth invading.
1. I have foreign friends. I went on a journalism fellowship in 2008 where I was the only American. Everybody else was from Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand ... and one guy was from Pakistan. I've never been to Pakistan, and I've never seen him since. But as you know, we are friends on Facebook. True, we don't interact much. He "liked" a photo of my new bicycle, which doesn't strike me as actionable intelligence. I do know he doesn't care much for drone strikes. Frankly, it's hard to find anybody in that part of the world who's a big fan of drone strikes.
Even my friend in England doesn't like drone strikes. Like many people there, she is English. Just because they're our friends doesn't mean we shouldn't keep an eye on them. You can conceal a lot of things on a sheep.
I have Canadian friends too. They may not be colorful Parti Quebecois pie-throwers, but they're foreign. Sort of.
2. I went to the Soviet Union in 1982, when it was still scary. I was in high school, but I noticed the KGB took an interest in my presence, going so far as to turn an entire floor of hotels I stayed in into listening posts. My friends and I drank vodka and read excerpts of a steamy romance novel into the light fixtures.
I still speak a little Russian, and I've been told it's very convincing. I can say "ice cream," "Where is the ladies' bathroom?" and "I don't understand Russian; do you speak English?" like a native.
3. I've been to all the terrorist hot spots. Bermuda, Winnipeg, Avignon, Cardiff, Kamloops, Reykjavik, Moose Jaw. I'm an International Woman of Mystery -- the mystery being what the temperature and price of gas really are in those places.
I'm not making a good case. You have no idea how hard it is for me to seem suspect. I was born in New Jersey. I'm not even interestingly ethnic -- I'm half Welsh, which doesn't count as ethnic unless you're English. From a law enforcement standpoint, I've never done anything more pernicious than speeding.
I did apply to the CIA once. Many, many years ago, when I was looking for work. I graduated from a college that is a feeder school for the CIA, so I thought, hey, why not a career in spooking? Then I realized they'd not only check my background, but they'd investigate my entire family. It would be like a Thanksgiving written by Eugene O'Neill.
Instead I went on to a life of flying under the radar. I'm not on Twitter. I share more pictures of my dog than of myself. You could follow me, but I'm going to the dry cleaner.
My dad, who served in World War II, didn't even want people to know where we lived. If he hadn't died already, Google Street View would have killed him.
As for you, NSA, here's something interesting to read:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ... ."
Samantha Bennett, freelance: firstname.lastname@example.org.