Abuse of Power Always Starts with Something that Sounds Reasonable


One of the most common arguments made by those who promote obtuse domestic spying and reduced individual privacy for American citizens is that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to worry about. There are plenty of people in Washington DC who espouse these concepts, who believe that the NSA and law enforcement should be given free rein on their activities in order to keep us safe.

At what point do the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans get pushed aside for the common good of fighting evils such as terrorism or mass shootings? How much does America have to change in order to deal with the challenges of modern society?

Perhaps the question we should really be asking is whether the measures that have already been put into place are the result of a changing world or are they working to expand the very challenges they were intended to solve. As with most things that happen in American politics, this question does not have a black and white answer. On the surface, it would appear that the solutions are attacking the effect, but if we dig deeper we will find that they are actually part of the cause.

In the future, we’ll discuss how gun control has the exact opposite effect from what the liberals say. For now, let’s examine domestic spying and see if Washington DC is part of the solution or part of the problem.

Truly Fighting Terrorism

One can look at the recent events that happened in Paris, Aden, London, Beirut, and San Bernardino and think that we need to do more to stop terrorism both in the United States and around the world. The knee-jerk reaction is that we need more military action, more domestic spying, and more law enforcement fighting the terrorists.

This can be a dangerous line of thinking if it’s not analyzed beyond the surface. More is not always better. Do we work towards preventing terrorist attacks by expanding the powers of the NSA? Do we play towards our fears of radical Islamic terrorism by taking Donald Trump’s approach of monitoring mosques and blocking Muslims from entering the country altogether? Should we send multiple battalions of troops to Iraq and Syria to eradicate the monster of the Islamic State before it can advance its cause and radicalize people foreign and domestic?

All of these can seem like plausible ideas. All of them have harsh repercussions that would actually contribute to the problem in the long term.

Of the solutions, the expansion of the role of NSA spying is the least noticeable to the public and potentially the most damaging to the country. It’s easy for politicians like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio to say that the tenets of the Patriot Act were necessary evils to keep us safe, but that’s not the story from those who actually fight terrorism. The FBI, which is our first line of defense against terrorists within our borders, do not use the same techniques as the NSA. This is a distinction that must be understood for what it represents.

The NSA has been charged with collecting the data from digital communications and sorting it in a way that can draw meaningful connections between terrorists. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. In reality, the Inspector General’s report declassified this year revealed that “the secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program hampered its effectiveness, and many members of the intelligence community later struggled to identify any specific terrorist attacks it thwarted.”

It’s the FBI through good ol’ fashioned investigating coupled with modern legal suspect monitoring systems that prevent terrorist attacks. Those like Rubio, Christie, and Jeb Bush who claim that promoting the USA Freedom Act somehow contributed to the San Bernardino terrorist attack (or any attack for that matter) either fail to understand the complexities of national security or are pounding on a talking point for the sake of political expediency.

Marco Rubio Jeb Bush

Could your electronic communication records be used to thwart a terrorist attack? If not, why does the government need it? The answer is that they do not. The NSA wants the data for other reasons that have nothing to do with stopping terrorism. As conspiratorial as that sounds, it’s the truth. This data is clearly effective in other areas such as corporate espionage and demographic structuring, but it has never been demonstrated to have an impact on terrorism or terrorist-related crimes. Never.

The natural progression is this: once the government is empowered to gather private information from its citizens, they develop a need for more information to enhance the data they collect. It sounds like circular reasoning because it is. One can speculate that had Edward Snowden not come forth, the NSA’s activities would have grown in scope and grandeur. I am not one who supports what Snowden did, but I’m also not one who believes the government must collect communication and activity data from every law abiding citizen in an effort to find the needles in the haystack. There are better ways to do this which is why the FBI has had tremendous success and the NSA spying operation has been a bust.

Reliance on authoritarian methods to locate potential terrorist threats is a path that Americans should never allow to happen. Law enforcement agencies are equipped with the tools they need to succeed. Pushing for the dismissal of freedoms and privacy is a road that will lead to things much worse than the terrorism that can happen in their absence. It’s important to reiterate that there has never been a terrorist attack thwarted on domestic soil based upon the information gathered through the communication spying promoted by Rubio, Christie, or Bush.

It’s the FBI who has been wildly successful at stopping terrorist attacks after 9/11. With the power of the USA Freedom Act that Rubio, Christie, and Bush opposed, they can gather information from potential terrorists without having to snoop through everyone’s digital activities. I’ve said it twice now but it must be said one more time: the NSA has not been successful with the domestic spying portion of the Patriot Act. It was a miserable failure and one that the FBI never had to rely on. They tried. It didn’t work, so they resumed their proper activities within the confines of the Constitution.

Do not believe those who are selling you on Draconian methods of national security for the sake of their political careers. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have fought this because their ideology is the best way to keep Americans safe. Bush, Rubio, and Christie are selling national insecurity because they hope your fears will make you too blind to see the truth.

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” Those are the words that are literally posted on the NSA’s website. Big Brother wants to be watching. Don’t let him.

NSA Motto



Why retention starts with well-trained managers


Managers rely on their employees to deliver results.

They realize there is a never-ending war for top talent and count on their HR partners to bring in candidates who are qualified and, ideally, passionate about the organization or brand.

Working in concert with HR, managers screen the brightest and hire the best with the promise of tapping into that passion.

New employees look forward to putting their passion to work and developing new skills and capabilities. For the new hires, day one is full of possibilities and opportunities for a bright future.

Add a manager who is eager to bring on a much-needed and talented team member to a new employee who is excited to contribute, and you have a recipe for success. Right?

Unfortunately, some new employees’ eagerness doesn’t last long. They soon lose that initial passion and end up leaving—within their first 90 days.

Why? What happens to disrupt things so quickly? Did HR select the wrong candidate? Did the manager overlook something in the interview process? HR and managers are left wondering what went awry and trying to figure out how they can hire the “right candidate” next time.

Experience tells us the right candidate was hired. Often, new employees leave because of their managers. Don’t assume, though, that your organization is brimming with bad managers. In most cases, managers are constantly trying to do the right thing—just like their front-line counterparts.

These managers arrive at work committed and full of passion and excitement. They want to be great managers who engage their employees and connect them with the business. Yet they fall short because they simply don’t have the tools and support to make that happen.

Managers + training ≠ investing

For managers to engage and connect with their employees in a way that heightens their passion and garners the greatest contribution, they must have the tools and the time. Research proves that managers simply don’t have either.

A Progressive Business Publication study revealed that 52 percent of companies only trained their managers once a year or less. Without the right guidance and support from the leadership team, managers can’t do their jobs well and are doomed to fail as mentors, coaches and team leaders.

Download this free white paper, “Auditing your Internal Communications,” for a step-by-step guide to assess which communications channels work best for your organization.

Instead of supporting new employees, managers often thrust them directly into the work, partially or completely bypassing onboarding, training and ongoing coaching, yet with expectations of greatness.

Without taking the time to invest in their employees’ development, managers often end up micro-managing. Or perhaps team members think they’re doing their work properly, only to find out later that it fails to meet their manager’s expectations—because the manager didn’t properly set up the project and outline the expectations from the start.

Managers begin asking people to take on tasks instead of projects or initiatives, and employees find their ideas for how they can best contribute to the organization falling on deaf ears. The end result? All parties quickly become frustrated.

When managers don’t have time or resources, they can become jaded and neglect the development of their employees, because they’re just struggling to get through the day. Team members become disengaged and unmotivated, feeling abandoned by the manager they had once trusted. They’re left wondering what happened to their dreams, passion and excitement.

The first three months are crucial

Our experience tells us that the first 13 weeks of an employee’s tenure are pivotal. Once you squander someone’s passion, or once an employee fails to trust his or her manager, all the time, effort and money spent recruiting that person have been wasted.

Keeping people engaged, inspired and contributing over that period is essential. Because of those challenges (and others), managers are unsure how to stem the tide of high turnover, so they come to expect they’ll lose their best and brightest.

They often feel as if they are, or are labeled as, “bad managers.” In many instances, it’s not their fault. They lack the resources to support their success or weren’t properly trained in the first place.

The 2015 study, “America’s Workforce: A Revealing Study of Corporate America’s Most Neglected Employee,” told us that 57 percent of respondents believe their manager training programs aren’t supported by senior leaders.

This is a major missed opportunity. Other studies have shown that companies with senior leaders who coach, develop and hold others accountable for coaching and development are three times more effective at producing improved business and talent results.

Fomenting disdain

If leaders aren’t investing in their own people, why would anyone else?

This key failing results in managers who haven’t been invested in, which leads to employees who feel unsupported and, therefore, become disillusioned. If that’s the problem, we must look at partnerships between managers and the leaders of the business.

Even the best managers need time for training and coaching their employees. They need the investment outside their regular responsibilities to build the skills needed to engage a team. Managers need the tools to continuously develop their teams—and themselves.

They need to know what to say so they are consistently involving their teams in relevant topics across the business. That responsibility falls largely on the leadership team, including HR partners.

Do great employees leave great companies that have bad managers, or do great employees leave companies that fail their managers?

Gary Magenta is the senior vice president of Root. A version of this article originally appeared on Business2Community.