1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Hopey, changey Pt. XXIV “The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.”

    To critics, the move is another example of an administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security. The proposal is “incredibly bold, given the amount of electronic data the government is already getting,” said Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.

    Apparently, only ‘critics’ of the Bureau’s desire to expand (significantly) its unmonitored NSL powers see that as a retreat from the whole 2007-2008 ‘change’ thing. ‘Supporters’ of expanding non-judicially reviewed FBI surveillance apparently see that as inherent in the Obama Brand from the beginning? Who knew.

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @CF Oxtrot

    Sounds like it might be a good hope. As Carl Spackler once said:

    Carl Spackler: So I jump ship in Hong Kong and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas.

    Angie D’Annunzio: A looper?

    Carl Spackler: A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald . . . striking.

    So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga.

    So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.”

    So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.


    You’re also right about Obama, program lead times, and gaming program out years to co-exist with budget gestures, etc. Even if he (or more importantly Gates) even truly wanted to make more than symbolic efforts, his reach at its fullest is really inflection — too much distributed power.

    Absent perhaps what the Japanese call gaiatsu – external pressure (often a covertly welcomed excuse). Or flat out American Suez. Perversely, such a ‘foreign’ context likely would strengthen the PNSS nomenklatura who would help cost shift hardships on to American subjects citizens.

    We’ve all seen that movie, too.

  3. CF Oxtrot says

    My brother, a network security specialist, began working for Booz Allen about 17 months ago. He’s getting paid extremely well to do his part in this terrific, impressive “security” apparatus, and has been assured that he has at least the next 10-12 years of work satisfied on this subject matter. Apparently (and unsurprisingly) Booz Allen are certain this is a long-term thing, not a short-term, Obama-specific thing. My only consolation is hoping my brother’s connection to the apparatus will save my bacon when e-dissidents are rounded up. That’s probably a naive hope.

  4. inquire says

    William Arken: We think of the military-industrial complex in a sort of old-fashioned way still. In fact, we don’t even have an appropriate word to describe what this enterprise is today, and we’ve struggled ourselves to try to figure that out. You know, the military-industrial complex of the Eisenhower era was one that produced massive amounts of capital goods for the military—bombers, missiles, nuclear weapons, etc. But today’s national security establishment really values information technology more than it values weapons…And so, what you see is that we are increasingly a national security establishment that’s producing paper rather than producing weapons. And the question is, with the production of all that paper, whether or not we have either an effective counterterrorism operation or whether or not we’re even safer.Source

    Isn’t this “are we safe?” attitude entirely beside the point? You know who else produced few weapons but lots of paper, the STASI. They didn’t care much what outsiders were doing, they wanted ‘security’ from their own citizens. I bring this up because SO MANY American commentators, even the co-author himself, appear to buy into the notion that this is ‘counter-terror’ and aimed at foreigners, it’s obviously not at all.
    It’s a digital STASI with the purpose of domestic control – what else are they going to do? It doesn’t take nearly a million people to track the Tim McVeighs and Bin Laden’s of the world, so the rest will chase Code Pink and the Vermont chapter of IVAW.
    Is this facet another piece of the giant elephant in the dark room getting overlooked due to common knowledge? More thoughtful people ought to be less worried about the waste and redundancy and wake up to the fact that you’ve sprouted infrastructure that would make the STASI and the Cheka green with envy from guts to garters.
    The Stiftung may be interested in the guest immediately following Mr. Arkin:

    TIM SHORROCK: Well, first of all, let me say that, with all due respect to the Washington Post—and Dana Priest and Bill Arkin are very good reporters—we have to ask, why did it take them seven years to do this story? Anyone who’s been covering intelligence or national security in Washington knows that intelligence has been privatized to an incredible extent and national security has been privatized to an incredible extent.

    I broke the first stories on the intelligence-industrial complex. The first one appeared in Mother Jones in 2005. In 2007 I wrote a major story for Salon and a whole series in Salon. I disclosed that 70 percent of the US intelligence budget is spent on private-sector contractors. And then, of course, I wrote this book, which has a lot of this information that’s in the Post series. So, I find it rather amazing that it took them this long to actually do this kind of piece, because the information has been there.

    And the American people have been ill-served by the Washington Post, whose coverage of these companies has been basically rah-rah journalism—rah-rah Lockheed Martin, rah-rah Booz Allen, look at the profits they’re making. There has not been this kind of careful look at what’s actually happening. — Source

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Inquire, that’s it. If one hears efficiency memes then a rote, pro forma dance to follow. (And even on his chosen dance floor of IT and tech there are more significant and problematic issues besides paper). Arkin in his own way is another fish in a fish tank per earlier comment.

      As you note, at its core it’s about internal corruption of values, corrosion of civil society and status of Individual citizen and the Permanent National Security State. Much more than just ‘civil liberties’ (important as they are). Thankfully, for the American Nomenklatura, Obama has extended his bi-partisanship in this area, too.

      Thanks for the Tim Shorrock quote. We agree. We don’t recall his work at the time or book but that means little – there was a bubble economy re pundit ‘intelligence commentary’ for a while and probably we missed some other solid efforts as well. He’s quite right about the WaPo’s long standing complicity. But then the company depends on the patronage and largesse of these entities ways large and small, obvious and less obvious. Our only quibble – the very notion of ‘a major piece in Salon.’

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    For those wondering why we haven’t bothered to say more. Andrew Sullivan offers a succinct overview of ‘informed thought leadership’.

    No surprise if we’re underwhelmed. That’s not meant to feign cheap ennui and sell enervation as The New Black. What can we say that we haven’t already said ad nauseum for 6-7 years?

    We’re just struck by elephant in a dark room metaphor. Most commentators appear unaware how much the WaPo still understates things – even if their critiques of the Post push the boundaries of the reality based community in blogging outrage.

    For one thing, almost no one seems to understand how hard it is to collect even a few nuggets some let alone the still incomplete fact pattern — even if most of it is technically open. John Pike could tell stories, as could others (Arkin especially suited). Like Carlson, some possibly believe hard working investigative reporting is reprinting Journolist excerpts with a ‘booyah!’.

    Partial empirical data is always welcome even if mundane to opinion-addicts. (Facts – or purported facts – are the cigarette currency of this particular exercise yard). And the dimmest flashlight might as well be an inbound JDAM.

    Perhaps we *are* feigning ennui despite denying it. Is it too much to ask a fish in a filled 20 gallon tank if it feels wet? How would it know? It’s striking to perceive how the most ardent observers/critics struggle to grok — as it were — secondary and tertiary political, cultural and economic effects all around them.

    We’ve said what we could over the years as it was happening here or in the other Bunker. What happens next is beyond our control. They say that behind every cynic is a frustrated romantic. May be true, but in this case this means we’re either not a cynic or possibly not a romantic. Still we hear the elevator music ‘Same as it ever was. . . same as it ever was . . .’

  6. Comment says

    “Command centers, internal television networks, video walls, armored SUVs and personal security guards have also become the bling of national security.

    “You can’t find a four-star general without a security detail,” said one three-star general now posted in Washington after years abroad. “Fear has caused everyone to have stuff. Then comes, ‘If he has one, then I have to have one.’ It’s become a status symbol.””

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