April 5, 2017

Hackers Guarding the Hen House

We older folk tend to hold the United States government intelligence community in high esteem, and rightly so for the most part. But retired CIA Station Chief Scott Uehlinger says that this isn't your father's CIA. The folks in charge now don't have the same sense of unscrupulous objectivity that their forbears held so dear. Instead they are more idealistic and, his words not mine, "politically correct."

I am here to tell you, having served in the CIA and the Naval Reserve, that the Deep State does indeed exist. And it's not a bunch of centrally controlled drones in black robes meeting at midnight. The Deep State is made up of thousands of similarly credentialed, remarkably "un-diverse" civil servants and political appointees who saw themselves promoted rapidly during the eight years of the Obama administration. The appointees have left, but make no mistake - the progressive civil servants remain.

There is little doubt that intel leadership saw Obama's relaxation of rules regulating the sharing of NSA raw intelligence - for which there is NO operational justification - and did nothing. They also saw the Obama administration's demand for "incidental" collection on the Trump campaign at an unprecedented level - and still they did nothing.

Like some binary poisonous reagent, these dynamics combined to foster an environment ripe for political abuse and leakage - a fairly transparent attempt, from the point of view of any discerning intelligence officer. This weaponization of intelligence for the sake of discrediting the political opposition I have seen in Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Moldova and elsewhere - sadly, it is now on our shores.

The present culture of the intelligence community and the shameless political shenanigans of the Obama administration combined to create this disaster. In earlier times, such a gambit would have failed; CIA leadership famously stood up to the Nixon administration when asked to domestically spy on Justice during Watergate, for example. It seems that today we lack the character and the competence to ensure that the intelligence community honors the trust of the American people.

Let us hope that somehow, someway, our intel agencies can re-learn how to act professionally. One way would be to hold very public trials for everyone involved, top to bottom, followed by prison time for everyone found to be guilty. And I mean right up to the highest levels. If that doesn't happen then the disaster we're watching unfold day by day now will pale in comparison to the size and scope of future abuses of power.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:11 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Not only objectivity, but also competence.

To be fair, "My Father's CIA" was involved in some grisly episodes that do not represent our nation's proudest moments. But I accept your premise, whole-heartedly.

As government does more and more nonsense, they cease to perform basic and important functions. The metaphor is Colorado devoting everything to renewable energy -- but not fixing the roads.

I fear that is the current CIA of which you link.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2017 10:30 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

My favorite example is the billions CA have spent on high-speed rail, while their dams and bridges collapse.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2017 11:41 PM

January 23, 2014

Yet Another Keen Insight on the NSA

Edward Snowden is a uniter not a divider! Surely Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are headed to a great Kumbaya moment where the left and the right will join forces to fight Big Brother.

Not. So. Fast. Jason Kuznicki @ libertarianism.org posts a public response to ex-libertarian Will Wilkinson. I think he makes an original and important point.

But I think that for many modern liberals the reality is much simpler. They like the surveillance state because modern liberalism sooner or later requires it.

If it wants to succeed, or if it even wants to be taken seriously in many of the claims that it makes, modern, paternalistic liberalism requires watching people. A lot. The state must watch so that we the people don't violate any the tens of thousands of rules in the Federal Register. The state must watch so that we exercise and eat properly. The state must watch so that no one makes a racist joke or fails to serve a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The state must watch so that we don't seek alternate medical care or put any otherwise wrong substances in our bodies. The state must watch so that we all comply minutely with every one of the state's vast array of commands.

Terrorism is an excuse for the surveillance state, but it's only one of many such excuses. What we're ultimately headed for might well be called the paternalism of things.


Hat-tip: blog friend tgreer on Facebook. I replied that "A libertarian model survives quite well without surveillance. But if our calorie counts require scrutiny..."

Posted by John Kranz at 6:04 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Hear hear.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 6:56 PM

January 22, 2014

jk delenda est?

I am forever "not libertarian enough" to please Facebook friends, Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons folk, and -- on occasion -- ThreeSourcers.

But I am starting to feel like an anarchist in the Snowden/NSA contretemps. The WSJ Ed Page, Larry Kudlow, the usual suspects have allowed their antipathy toward Edward Snowden to assert a reflexive defense of the NSA and domestic surveillance.

I am still content to answer "Snowden: Hero or Traitor?" with an assertive "whatever..." I'm all for pursuing foreign intelligence, even if it includes allies. (Gambling, at Rick's?)

But my Conservative buddies have accepted internal, domestic collection of metadata. "They're not listening to our calls." No, but I imagine an enemy of this administration (a large dataset) who made frequent calls to a cancer clinic, bordello, reported paramour, &c. Team that up with search requests and an aggressive prosecutor and it does not describe our expectations of privacy.

Randy Barnett, now in the WaPo-sponsored Volokh Conspiracy, presents a superb case against its legality, desirability and constitutionality -- likening it to gun registration.

The power to search all our communications -- or all our third-party records -- is a power too great to repose in the government's hands. Unlike private business like Verizon or Google, those in government have a strong incentive and desire to suppress dissent -- along with their political rivals -- and need only the means to do so. Unlike private companies, they have the power to incarcerate anyone on their enemies targeting list should their searches turn up anything incriminating. Yahoo and Sprint have neither the motive nor the means to restrict our liberties.

Paul Gigot talks about "the Rand Paul wing" of the GOP like one's crazy but likable ne'er do well uncle. I don't want to handicap or endanger, as Snowden likely did, those who protect us by collecting foreign intelligence. But I am not so sanguine about giving up domestic protections of privacy.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (12)
But Terri thinks:

Hear, Hear it is!
(tough crowd!)
(tuff crowd?)

Posted by: Terri at January 23, 2014 4:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Tuff! That was our word for cool, back in the day.

Nice try jk, but I ain't gonna bite on irregardless. I'm a pedant, but not an insufferable one.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Irregardless is kryptonite for pedants...

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2014 5:04 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Second amendment is the right analogy to make. Truth be told, I am not so much concerned with people's "rights" -- as I have said before, the concept often hurts the cause of liberty more than it helps it. (And spawns whiny ALCU types I'd rather do without).

For me, this (and the 2nd amendment) is about the balance of power between society and state. Giving the state this kind of surveillance power changes this relationship. Or in older terms, it fundamentally changes the 'social contract' between the two. This is insufferable.

When confronting issues like this I sometimes ask this question: would this program/policy make it impossible for an armed revolution of the type that founded this nation (God will such never be necessary!)? If the answer is 'yes' then it should be part of our government. The trade off is too great.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 23, 2014 6:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Point of clarification: Don't you mean, "should NOT be part of our government?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2014 6:53 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Correct.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 23, 2014 9:12 PM