The Washington Post is running a Big Deal investigative piece on our secretive national security infrastructure. This investigation has been going on for two years. It covers “The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
I have not read the entire thing yet, but the gist of it is that this national security infrastructure is big and secretive, and pretty much ineffectual. It’s ineffectual because it is so big and clumsily organized, and so secret it’s a mystery even to itself. It gathers far more data than anyone can analyze and cranks out far more reports than anyone has time to read. It’s so big it’s a challenge even for the Guys In Charge to know what all the parts of the infrastructure are, never mind what they’re finding. Apparently there is no coordinating agency and no way for anyone to know what all the parts are up to at any given moment or how much of what the parts are doing is duplicating what the other parts are doing.
Now, this much isn’t really news. I know I have blogged about such complaints before, although I’m not finding the posts. Very basically, after September 11 the Bush Administration went into overdrive creating new intelligence nets without bothering to come up with a coordinated, systemic way of sorting and analyzing the intelligence. And here’s no way to know if and how much the parts are skirting the law and the Constitution regarding the rights of citizens.
If we were living in a futuristic political novel, this would be Chapter One of how Big Brother Came to Power. As Glenn Greenwald says, “we keep sacrificing our privacy to the always-growing National Security State in exchange for less security.” What’s growing is a surveillance network that is scarier than al Qaeda. This is how dictatorships begin.
Naturally, the usual suspects who scream perpetually about Big Government have a different view.
TownHall: ObamaCare is worse.
Fox News: Obama should be ashamed.
Weekly Standard: La la la nothing to see here move along hey isn’t that Lindsey Lohan?
Daily Caller: The Washington Post piece is a national security threat!
I can see it already. The GOP will try to hang the blame for this dysfunction onto the Obama Administration, even though the dysfunction was a creation of the Bush Administration. And when the Dems point out that this was Bush’s doing, the GOP will screech oh, yes, everything is always Bush’s fault.
Not everything, but yeah, most of it. Bush so screwed the national pooch it may never be unscrewed, and what unscrewing is possible will take many years. I’m not letting Obama off the hook entirely, however, because he has appeared to be way too comfortable with the surveillance infrastructure the Bushies bequeathed to him.
Final comment: For all their swaggering about how they were efficient people of business and not bureaucrats, the upper levels of the Bush Administration was staffed almost entirely by people whose careers were made in academia, government, or by family connections. The fact that they fancied themselves to be other than an assortment of hothouse flowers is a testament to their persistent self-delusion. And then there was Karl Rove, whose entire career was as a political operative, and yet who was put in charge or projects like the cleanup after Katrina that required entirely different skill and experience sets.
These people were idea people, albeit with really bad ideas, not people who knew how to do concrete things. They all seemed to have the attitude that once they put their ideas into motion, the details would fall into place. Like charging into Iraq with absolutely no idea what they would do after the invasion. Yes, the unscrewing will take years.