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[YOST IN THE MACHINE]

by Scott Yost

My sinister queso dip

If you’re looking for a needle in the haystack, you need a haystack.

Jeremy Bash, former CIA Director Leon Panetta’s chief of staff So, just in case you haven’t heard yet, basically it’s like this: In 2013, we finally saw the arrival of 1984.

Just take all of your worst paranoid conspiratorial fears about the government spying on you and lump those fears together and multiply them by 1,000, because — while all the ugly details are still trickling out — in short it boils down to the fact that the government of the United States of America is closely tracking your every move.

It turns out you have to assume at all times that the government is monitoring your every phone call and Google search, noting every e-mail you send or receive and watching all of your credit-card transactions.

In reality, the massive surveillance state went into effect not long after Sept. 11, 2001, but Big Brother didn’t tell us about it, so we are just now finding out, courtesy of a modern day Winston Smith named Robert Snowden.

And I’m certainly glad to see that everyone is so upset about this because we should be upset: The government has been filling vast electronic warehouses with information such as the name of the girl you drunk-dialed at 2 a.m. and the kind of cheese dip you ordered the last time you had Mexican.

However, despite those trillions of terabytes of information being pumped 24/7 into underground National Security Agency facilities behind a cloak of secrecy, do you know what the NSA still can’t tell us?

The NSA still can’t tell us who’s planning a terrorist attack.

Before the Boston bombings, while secret government agencies were combing through all of our cell-phone records and tracking our dining preferences, one of the Boston bombers was posting all sorts of scary Islamic extremist anti-American Jihad videos on his YouTube page.

So, while NSA investigators were mired down in a microscopic examination of the lives of every American citizen, they missed the Boston bombers even though, not only was the writing on the wall posted on YouTube, but also the US was warned about this guy ahead of time. Russia warned US intelligence agencies several times, and, according to a report in the Daily Mail, Saudi Arabia warned US officials as well.

Apparently, the NSA didn’t have the resources or manpower to follow up on that lead. Which is scary if you think about it: I mean, when you’ve got Russia and Saudi Arabia saying they’re extremely concerned about someone’s behavior — well, that’s like having Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes pull you aside for an intervention and tell you they think you’re drinking and partying too much.

You know, that should be a real wakeup call.

But the NSA officials were like: “Well, we would follow up on those warnings — and maybe even do a Google search of his name — but we’re way too busy trying to figure out why Scott Yost of Greensboro, NC recently ordered the spicy cheese dip at La Bamba. In the past, he’s always ordered the regular cheese dip. We’re baffled right now, but our computers are working on it round the clock. It could be nothing — perhaps he was just in a mood for a different type of dip — but, on the other hand, the mystery could hold the key to everything.”

Here’s what it boils down to: The NSA and other government agencies are looking for a needle in a haystack when they should be looking for armed terrorists with explosives in the haystack.

You know, they’re busy going straw by straw through the haystack, trying to find a needle, and they pull away some hay and there’s an armed terrorist standing there holding an AK-47 in one hand and homemade explosives in the other, but the NSA officials don’t care because they’re looking for a needle. They are all like, “Hey buddy, could you take your gun and your explosives and step aside please — we’re looking for a needle in this haystack. Hey, what’s your name? Muhammad Abdul? Well, Mr. Abdul, while you were in that haystack, you didn’t happen to see a suspicious looking needle in there, did you?” I’m telling you, it’s been the same way for years. Before 9-11, Zacarias Moussaoui was temporarily detained by law enforcement officials in Minnesota. Moussaoui raised suspicions when he told his flight-school instructor that he wanted to learn how to fly but he didn’t need to know how to land or take off. A frustrated Moussaoui was in flying class and he was like, “No, no I do not care about taking off or landing, you infidel! Just teach me how to fly the plane into something!” But no alarm bells went off at the NSA or the FBI or the CIA because a joint task force of special agents was debating why you and I suddenly changed our Mexican dip preferences. I think they need to get their minds off of you and me and focus on the terrorists. Trust me, my choice of cheese dip is not a matter of national security — despite what the government would have you believe.

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