When this episode of "Nova" begins, it appears to be an exposé about the National Security Administration (NSA), as it talks a bit about what the agency does, shows some of the facility near Ft. Meade, Maryland and discusses the role of the organization. All this is pretty interesting to me--particularly since I had family who worked there and they NEVER talked one bit about their jobs or the agency! However, what follows in the rest of the film was an examination in the weakness of NSA. While they gather gobs of information, they don't always have time to interpret it all AND often there has been a HUGE problem getting NSA, CIA and FBI officials to talk and share information--and part of this is due to silly rules imposed on them. The chronology of the events intercepted by NSA about the 9/11 murderers is shown. As a result of a screwed up system, the 9/11 attack was able to take place without the US government intervening to try to stop it. The film shows a long trail of information gathered by NSA and how it COULD have helped stop this terrorist attack--and it's quite sad and frustrating to see. But it doesn't stop here. The rest of the show is rather scary, as it discusses how NSA has changed since 9/11. Now, with new laws, the agency can pretty much spy on ANYONE--not just folks abroad or targeted known terrorists. While a benign government would not misuse this information, who's to say this will always be the case? Scary stuff, that's for sure. Overall, this is a rare, interesting and depressing look into NSA--and, in light of the failure, you wonder if things have actually changed for the better since 2001. Very well made and quite sobering.
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