“Hello, NSA”

“Hello. NSA?” “Hello, CIA.“ “Hello, Homeland Security.” “Hello, whoever you are, listening in on my phone conversations.”

I’m on the phone with the Church Administrator of the little church I serve. A loud whining noise suddenly over-rides her voice. I try to talk with her; she keeps talking as though everything is fine. I hang up and call again. She wonders what happened. I tell her. “It’s the NSA,” she says. We both laugh.

But it’s no laughing matter.

The timing of the unexplained noise on the phone coincided with arrival of an email from a JFK assassination researcher who is providing overnight lodging for another critic of the Warren Commission Report, Judyth Vary Baker. Judyth is Lee Harvey Oswald’s former lover, controversial author of Me and Lee: How I Came to Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald. Ms. Baker makes the case that President Kennedy was assassinated by a right-wing, anti-Castro, Mafia-linked group within the CIA.

Judyth is in town this week promoting her latest book, David Ferrie: Mafia Pilot, Participant in Anti-Castro Bioweapon Plot, Friend of Lee Harvey Oswald and Key to the JFK Assassination. David Ferrie is the shadowy figure with whom Judyth worked in 1963 in a New Orleans cancer research lab she claims was a covert project of the CIA.

At the request of her publisher, my friend here in Chaska approached several bookstores, a church, and a senior citizens center. One of the bookstores, one of America’s largest, originally said yes, but the next day reported back that “it wouldn’t work out.” An event at a church was scheduled, but was cancelled at the last minute because of a scheduling conflict.

“Hello, NSA.” “Hello, CIA.” Hello, somebody. Someone is listening in. Someone who doesn’t want the rest of us listening to the likes of Judyth Vary Baker or reading the allegations about David Ferrie and the connection between the anti-Castro, Mafia-linked cabal within the CIA.

Or maybe no one is listening in and my friend and I are making it all up. Maybe there is some other reason for the noise I’d never heard before on my phone. It’s just a strange coincidence that the noise happened while the email was arriving on my MacBook Air. It’s coincidence that the phones of people I called the rest of the day did not ring but showed as voicemails without messages, a new wrinkle in their experience and mine. It’s coincidence that my computer and those of several others I had emailed or phoned began to behave as though they needed the Geek Squad or Prozac.

Although I’ve never asked to see it, I’m confident that the FBI has a file on me, and, if they do, I’m rather proud of it. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a group in Decatur, Illinois identifies a picture of King’s alleged assassin as the man who’d shown up out-of-the-blue while a crowd of youth was still on the church parking lot following the dismissal of that night’s youth outreach program.

The FBI shows each of us three photographs, asking if we can identify the man  we met. Each of us, interviewed separately, identifies one of the three. The picture matches the photograph of James Earl Ray on the cover of Life magazine.

A cub reporter who gets wind of the story publishes a column in The Decatur Herald. The Chicago Sun-Times publishes a story on its front page. Right-hand column. Right there in black and white. The headline reads something like “King Assassin Spotted in Decatur, Illinois.” Several of us are quoted in both articles.

Years later, researchers search the files of the Decatur Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times for the stories. They’re not there. There is no evidence that the stories were ever published.

“Good night, NSA.” “Good night, CIA.” “Good night, FBI.” “Good night, Judyth.”

“Hello, Patriot Act.”

“Good-bye Constitution; good-bye Republic.”

“Kyrie Eleison!”

12 thoughts on ““Hello, NSA”

  1. I had a 1st Lieut. Minuteman missile launch officer friend back in the early 70s. We would sit around his fireplace when he was off duty & he would commiserate with me about his dilemma. He had command of 15 missiles with 3 warheads each. He was finally phased out when he couldn’t wake up in the morning without thinking about the 45 million deaths he would cause when he launched his 45 warheads @ 45 Soviet cities. He proceeded to go to the Lib of Congress to write a treatise on the insanity of nuclear war. I never saw or talked to him again after he left Grand Forks, ND but his story haunts me to this day.


    • No wonder this haunts you, Gary. It should and always will. Have you researched his life and writings subsequent to his departure from Grand Forks? If you haven’t already done so, there’s no time like now. Thanks for sharing. I imagine your Minuteman friend is one among many who suffer sleepless nights, nightmares, and a special kind of traumatic stress.


    • Mona, This piece has NOT been a big hit. Three (3) Likes, including yours. One comment other than yours.Submitted piece to Star Tribune. Not hopeful. Major bookstores were “not interested” in book signings or appearances. Only small bookstores. Having had strange things happen with phones over the years has given me a certain comfort level. I talk with the listener, although I know the “ears” on the other end of the line now belong to a computer.


  2. Fascinating Gordon but I’m afraid this may be what we have become. This is how plutocracies behave. I remember reading the book 25 years ago “Computer Power & Human Reason” by MIT’s Herbert Weisenbaum, the father of modern computer. He said there that “the only reason authorities don’t listen to every phone call is because they can’t but someday they will”. His prescience has proved to be prophetic.


    • Gary, its sounds as though Weisenbaum is is a kindred spirit with J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the bomb. They’re different, of course, because while the bomb had only on purpose (destruction), the computer is neutral depending on how its manufactured intelligence is put to use. And there’s the rub, isn’t it? How it is put to use by whom, for what purpose, when, and where. The world gets smaller and smaller, and, as it does, both government authorities and hackers who hack their computer codes put us one computer command away from irretrievable horror.

      Thanks for sharing the information about Weisenbaum and the quotation.


      • The ref to the computer as neutral is interesting. If we accept the notion ala McCluhan et al that the computer is an extension of the mind in the sense that it has become the way we have adapted to the fact that we wouldn’t be born if our heads got any bigger. We have externalized our flesh & blood brain into an artificial piece of hardware. Just as the organic brain grows into an organ that is capable of comprehending evil the analogy to our brain as a computer is accurate from the standpoint that since we can comprehend evil so can the “computer as us”. IOW, is it possible that the computer isn’t neutral since it is “us” in a very real sense. We can’t avoid interacting with our external brain in a way that by definition includes evil acts. The computer is our way of continuing to escape from death which is by de-finition seeing di-vision, i.e. evil, where there is none. You can’t escape from death without being engaged in di-vision. “Does the sparrow worry about the source of its next meal”.


        • Interesting observation about computer neutrality, which is different from net neutrality. Maybe. I’d forgotten Marshall McCluhan. I’ve gone to the same place you’ve gone many times: “The computer is our way of continuing to escape from death” – the denial of all limitation, the escape from the human boundary of flesh and blood, the flight from the fact of death, the mortal limit. I’ve sometimes awakened in the night after a bad news day wondering when someone somewhere will push a button that launches a holocaust, when Dr. Strangelove will raise his hand with a “Heil, Hitler!” salute as the irretrievable nuclear payloads move to their targets. Isn’t it only a matter of time? Computer hacking of the most sensitive Department of Defense computer codes and all the rest sends chills up and down my spine. Then I remember the psalms and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and the sparrows.


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