WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of revelations by the Washington Post that the National Security Agency harvests hundreds of millions of contact lists from e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world—many of them belonging to Americans—cable channel A&E announced Tuesday that the spy agency would be featured on the next episode of their hit reality series “Hoarders.”
“At ‘Hoarders,’ our mission is to document those who struggle with compulsive hoarding, no matter how ugly it gets or where it takes us,” executive producer David McKillop said in an interview. “The dire state of the N.S.A.’s files makes it a priority for us.”
“Hoarders” has documented the struggles of people who suffer from compulsive hoarding since 2009, a format which McKillop said is a perfect fit for the N.S.A. McKillop admitted that the spy agency had been on the show’s radar for some time. “[The N.S.A.] was under consideration as a subject since season one.”
“Contrary to popular belief, we don’t do this show to embarrass or exploit; we do it to raise awareness about compulsive hoarding and offer help to those who need it most,” McKillop said.
“Hopefully we can help the public understand the why behind the N.S.A.’s behavior. What is it that drives them to spy on American citizens? What kind of emotional trauma did the N.S.A. suffer in its past to make it feel the need to build a facility capable of storing 12,000 petabytes of information? Does the N.S.A. know that collecting contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists per day stands in the way of building meaningful relationships? These are questions that need to be answered to help us understand the NSA’s compulsive tendencies.”
MicKillop also addressed concerns about the show’s ability to effectively help the $10.8 billion-a-year department. “We’ve never tackled anything quite like this,” McKillop admitted. “The Utah supercenter alone is going to require a couple of episodes to tackle. And that’s not even discussing their headquarters in Fort Meade. This will certainly be a long-term project, no doubt. The more extreme the compulsion, more attention they receive.”
“The N.S.A. needs serious help,” McKillop said, “but no one’s beyond saving.”