Guess who kinda knew about the NSA Spying Program – ‘Scandal’


“Tensions run high at Olivia Pope & Associates as questions swirl about Quinn’s background. A government official drops a bombshell, claiming that the government is using a new technology called “Thorngate” to spy on its citizens, and a distracted Olivia is caught off-guard with how far up this scandal goes.”

What happened a year later in June 2013?

Some Perspective

When details emerged that an National Security Agency (NSA) computer program, Prism, was spying on millions of people across the world it sparked an almighty uproar. We’re talking about everyone from Joe the ice cream man around the corner to German Chancellor Angela Merkel!

It was Glen Greenwald from The Guardian newspaper who first revealed the extent of the ‘spying software’ in his piece – NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others

Do you know what that means? It means the American government could tap in to whatever data you have, including ‘live data’, i.e, They could watch you Skyping in your homes from their screens in America.


So I came across something quite curious when I was watching a TV show called Scandal (weirdly called The Fixer in South Africa). Kerry Washington portrays ‘Olivia Pope’ who runs a crisis management firm that tackles political and criminal ‘scandals’ for the rich and powerful.

Now, ‘Olivia Pope’ was inspired by Judy Smith, a White House aide to George H.W. Bush (the dad!) during the 90’s. So when Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, started making the show you can imagine that a lot of the ‘scandals’ shown in the series has some link to real life events that may have transpired; and in Season 2 Episode 3 they hinted PRISM!

An eccentric, typically fast-talking man (seemingly paranoid) runs into Pope’s office and starts yelling that they’re being watched and he quickly jumps onto a desk and asks everyone to switch off their phones and computers. He starts claiming that the NSA has a program, ‘Thorngate’, that is able to monitor anyone using their laptops or mobiles.

Pope quickly asks her ex-CIA confidant: “Is this real? What is this?”

The paranoid man replies: “This is big! This is everything! The government is monitoring all US citizens with ‘Thorngate’!”

The CIA man asks: “All citizens in this country?”

Eccentric man replies: “Yes!”

CIA man: “That is everything.”

Very subtly the show reveals the existence of such a program but doesn’t quite map the extent of it. By reaffirming on the fact that ‘Thorngate’ is monitoring strictly within the country, the show doesn’t draw much suspicion from anyone. Most importantly, Judy Smith isn’t ‘taken care of’ by any secret agency that is afraid that she might reveal state secrets!

The show even demonstrates how the program spies on unsuspecting users. Hacking into the video chat of no less than the White House’s Chief of Staff!

Ladies and gentlemen, in this case ‘Scandal’ saw the scandal coming.


One thought on “Guess who kinda knew about the NSA Spying Program – ‘Scandal’

  1. Pingback: A Politicians Guide: How to Screw up and Still be Liked | Sleight Of Thought

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