Defenders of the status quo in the intelligence world are beginning to sound an awful lot like Uncle Andrew from The Magician’s Nephew.
“No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”
So I would like to make a few observations about that high and lonely destiny, and in my view these observations stand, whether or not “sources and methods” are being revealed, whether or not Julian Assange is a dirt bag, and whether or not Trump’s war with the deep state is going to be at all successful.
One way or another, these leaks and revelations have shown that the people currently running the show behind the scenes are not up to the task. If you have a conservative view of the nature of man, and the subsequent need for checks and balances and constitutional law, then you will not have a “high and lonely destiny” chair to fill. But if you did, you would not fill it with these people.
The most sanguine outlook is that we are looking at gross incompetence. These security breaches are not simply things that just “happen.” Somebody was asleep at the switch. When an armored car is robbed, one of the things you need to do is review what the guards were doing at the time. What was Private Manning, future girl, doing with access to all those secrets? What was Snowden, a contractor, doing with access to all those secrets? And with regard to this latest dump, what was—let us guess—the cleaning lady doing with them?
Listening to defenders of the intelligence community on television is like listening to the favorite aunt of the Brinks armored car driver, complaining that the dastardly criminals are revealing to the world certain trade secrets—sources and methods— like when the guards and drivers take their naps. This puts us all in peril.
Just curious. How many people in the intelligence community have lost their jobs over these security breaches? Who has been held accountable? To date, has there been a row of heads on any superior’s desk? Or do they just continue on in much the same way, that way including lugubrious laments on talk television about “sources and methods?” I am not saying that no one has been held accountable–just that nobody seems to care about it. If it has happened, it isn’t news.
But there is not just incompetence in the intelligence world—there is also obvious treachery and malevolence. What is the crime that Julian Assange is guilty of? Revealing classified material, for political purposes, to those not authorized to read it, right? What was it that caused Flynn to have to step down as National Security Advisor? Was it not that classified material was leaked, for political purposes, to those not authorized to read it? So is it not the case that the intelligence community is being run by blood cousins of Julian Assange?
Put another way, it used to be thought by certain quaint souls that national security was a distinct thing from “politics.” That was never entirely true—although it was true that the foreign policy differences between the political parties was less than what was apparent in domestic politics. But although politics was always present in national security issues, it was nothing like it is now. Assange has a certain political agenda that he is pursuing, and none of us voted for him. But the intelligence hotshots are actively using classified intelligence to oppose a president, who was elected by the people. We didn’t vote for them either. So carry on with your dishonorable campaign, but spare us the finger-wagging in the direction of Snowden and Assange. From my perspective here you are quarreling with a mirror.
In defense of the intelligence status quo, people like John McCain are saying the most ludicrous things. Everybody has their knickers in a twist because Trump said that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. How dast he say that? Well, because—in pursuit of the Trump/Russia connection—news reports, front page of The New York Times news reports, were talking about what wiretapping revealed. There were wiretaps of foreign nationals that happened to pick up people like Flynn in the sweepings. So these intercepts were all according to Hoyle, the line goes. Well, okay, maybe so . . . until they were leaked for political purposes, in high imitation of the ethics of Julian Assange. My theory is that some well-placed CIA analysts got envious of the Ecuadorian digs, and the fact that Pamela Anderson likes to visit there.
If some establishment defender wants to maintain that Assange is a skunk, I am prepared to grant it. But why defend agencies that match Assange’s entire approach to classified info? We are not just dealing with corruption over there, with Assange, Manning, and Snowden. No, I grant the corruption. But it is manifest that the corruption is now total.
As Lord Acton would have put it, were he here, data corrupts, and big data corrupts absolutely.