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Big Brother Can be Your Friend!


For aging radicals from the Vietnam War generation, like me, the NSA is not all bad.

My own case agent Nadeen is very helpful.  Just today I was at Staples getting a keyboard with a cord to replace the Bluetooth keyboard that is always crapping out on me.   Nadeen knows all about this stuff.   He worked for a while at Dell Tech for a year, then got a job this summer interning at the NSA.  (I think his brother works for the CIA out near the Afghan border, but don’t tell.)

I was punching in my pin number for the damn thing, and I know I got it wrong.  Sometimes my old arthritic fingers just can’t reach into the inner recesses of those little machines.  Anyway, Nadeen saw the whole thing unfold on the security camera, and of course he was there in real time monitoring the transaction, and corrected it.

For him it’s easy, but the kid at the counter was, like, totally impressed.  That’s awesome, dude, he said.

Yeah, I said, the CIA watched me for over 25 years  but was never able to pull off something like this.

Things have vastly improved since the NSA took over.  As Nadeen explained one day, my CIA case officer recently retired and, as part of a recent government reorganization brought about by the Snowden flap, my account passed to the NSA.  Nadeen is standing in for my regular NSA “guardian” while he’s at the Cape.

Nadeen is a godsend.  Last week my wife and I took a drive out to see Richard II at the summer Shakespeare festival in Lenox.  We get a ticket when we get on the Mass Pike, and a receipt when we pay at our exit.

I get the ticket and the tattooed kid in the toll booth gives me a big smile and says, you gotta read this.  On the receipt is a note from Nadeen reminding me I have an oil change in 50 miles and, more importantly, I gotta get my car inspected before the end of the month.

It’s like having a memory again, and fingers that work.  And I just gotta say, all you people criticizing the NSA, you just haven’t seen it’s good side.  Big Brother can be your friend.

These kids at the NSA, they can even tell whether you break the speed limit once you get on a toll highway.  Not that they’d ever report an old fart like me.  They just turn in the guys driving Porsches, I’m told.  Nadeen says he can even add a zero in my bank account.  If they like you, they do that kind of stuff.

It’s amazing what they can do.  Change the history in your personal computer.  Add some photos, touch them up, get rid of the wrinkles, so your friends Facebook can see you at your best.

I get tired, so just one more example.  I get an email from my wife this morning reminding me that we’re low on booze.  I’m at the liquor store later this morning, stocking up on imported beers.   Belgium ales.  The fancy Scottish brands.  It’s my one luxury in life.  I’m checking out when the old girl at the counter stops and winks and says, “You forgot your wife’s Pinot Grigio.”

You wonder, how does Nadeen know this stuff?  Emails, of course.  The guy even corrects my spelling and edits out the angry expletives when I’m talking to my betters.

So cut the NSA some slack, please.  The NSA is part of our trillion dollar a year military machine.  It’s here for our protection.  Like the cops, it’s here to protect and serve.

Especially post-war baby boomers.  We will learn to rely on it, once those guys driving Porsches confiscate our pensions and Social Security.

Doug Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program.  See or write to him at


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