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Oh man. I can think of no greater, pathetic, fitting, hysterical, sad symbol for the state of our country than the news that the NSA is running out of power.

The demand for electricity to operate its expanding intelligencesystems has left the high-tech eavesdropping agency on the verge ofexceeding its power supply, the lifeblood of its sprawling 350-acreFort Meade headquarters, according to current and former intelligenceofficials.

Agency officials anticipated the problem nearly a decade ago as theylooked ahead at the technology needs of the agency, sources said, butit was never made a priority, and now the agency’s ability to keep itsoperations going is threatened. The NSA is already unable to installsome costly and sophisticated new equipment, including two newsupercomputers, for fear of blowing out the electrical infrastructure,they said.

At minimum, the problem could produce disruptions leading tooutages and power surges at the Fort Meade headquarters, hampering thework of intelligence analysts and damaging equipment, they said. Atworst, it could force a virtual shutdown of the agency, paralyzing theintelligence operation, erasing crucial intelligence data and causingirreparable damage to computer systems — all detrimental to the fightagainst terrorism.

Where to start with this? So we’re the most powerful country in the world. But we can’t seem to manage our infrastructure–neither civilian, nor military–to ensure we retain access to one of our society’s most basic inputs, electricity.

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