A Short Scene of the Debate Leading to the Formation of the NSA’s PRISM Program

Top-Secret NSA Meeting, 2007

Agent Sitwell:
And that, sir, is how this expansive, state-of-the-art Internet communications surveillance program will become the key instrument in our War on Terror.

NSA Director:
Excellent, gentlemen, excellent. You have done a great service for your country. Now what do you call this program?

Agent Sitwell:
We call it…Dat-Sur!

NSA Director:
Dat-Sur? What the fuck is that? What does that mean?

Agent Goodwin:
Well it’s just a contraction of Data Surveillance, which is, you know, all this program really does.

NSA Director:
…No. No, no, no. No, fuck that. We need a better name. Dat-Sur sucks.

Agent Sitwell:
Um…okay. But I mean…it doesn’t really matter what we call it. All that’s important is it’s an effective program, right?

Agent Goodwin:
And we assure you, sir, that project Dat-Sur is unparalleled in its ability to mine any communi–

NSA Director (interrupting):
But Dat-Sur? I mean, Jesus. This is the NSA, for God’s sake. This is top-secret spy shit. Dat-Sur sounds like a…fucking dog breed or something. Like, “Hey, what breed is your dog?” “Oh, it’s a Datsur.”

Agent Goodwin:
…I think you’re thinking of Dachsund.

Agent Sitwell:
Sir, with all due respect, seriously – it’s a topsecret program. It makes no difference whatsoever what we call it. No one outside the NSA will ever know this even exists.

NSA Director:
I don’t give a shit. I know it exists. And I want a badass top-secret spy shit name. Something like, I dunno…Project SPECTRE!

Agent Sitwell:
Sir, that’s the name of the terrorist organization in the James Bond films.

NSA Director:
I know that, Sitwell. I said “something like,” didn’t I? I said fucking “like,” right Goodwin?

Agent Goodwin:
…You said “like,” sir.

NSA Director:
See? Now I want everyone in this room to give me five potential badass top-secret spy shit names for this program by tomorrow morning, you got that?

Agent Darby:
Hey, does anyone want to debate whether this program crosses a line in the fundamental give-and-take of security vs. privacy that all democracies inevitably must contend with when faced with unpredictable, asymmetrical foreign threats?

NSA Director:
Shut the fuck up, Darby!

Agent Goodwin:
God, seriously. You’re always like, “Mer-derp-a-der, I’m Agent Derby! I want everyone to know how thoughtful I am about defending civil liberties derrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

NSA Director:
Hahaha, yeah! Holy shit, Darby, Goodwin over there has you down to a T!

Agent Hernandez:
Hey, how about PRISM?

All, simultaneously:
What?

Agent Hernandez:
You know. For the program code-name.

Agent Sitwell:
Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

NSA Director:
Hmm…PRISM. Yeah! I like it! It sounds mysterious, has a slight Illuminati air to it, and yet it means absolutely nothing in particular. It’s perfect!

Agent Goodwin:
Yeah. And we’ll capitalize every letter so people will think it’s an acronym for something, like SHIELD, you know? But when people ask, “does that stand for anything?” we can be all, “I’m sorry, that’s top-secret.”

NSA Director:
Oh shit yeah! I love being able to tell people that! Perfect. Get the formal proposal for Project PRISM on my desk and I’ll send it to the President immediately.

Top-Secret NSA Meeting, 2013

Agent Goodwin:
Sir, here’s the latest report gleaned from the PRISM data we collected.

NSA Director:
Man, PRISM. We really fucking hit the nail on the head with that name, huh?

Agent Goodwin:
Fuck yeah, sir. It’s just too bad no one’s ever going to know it exists.

NSA Director:
Yeah.

Agent Goodwin:
Yeah…

NSA Director:
…Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

The Next Day:

prism

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