January 31, 2014

Times Leaks More NSA Details About Spying on al Qaeda, Leaks Names of Spies

Wow, that's smart power! Remember, the Times justifies leaking classified material on the grounds that: a) the American people have the right to know what the government is doing; b) protecting civil liberties; c) they redact information that might harm national security, so no harm no foul.

In the case of the information they leaked yesterday via the traitor Snowden, though: a) they not only revealed what the government was doing, but how they were doing it (ie, means and methods); b) the information revealed was on how the NSA spies on al Qaeda, not on the American public; c) they didn't redact the documents sufficiently, instead accidentally leaked the names of NSA employees.

I don't trust government. But you know who I also don't trust? The media. And I especially don't trust the media to decide which aspects of government secrets I need to know, and which aspects I don't.

In my mind, the Times thinks I should trust the government when it comes to health care, but not when it comes to fighting al Qaeda. Now, I may be old fashioned, but it seems to me that it is the federal government's primary duty to fight foreign enemies and that providing health care comes way, way down the list of things we set up a government for. In fact, that's not on my personal list at all. It's something the government shouldn't do.

But killing our enemies abroad? Yeah, I kind of like that.

I'm going to skip the part about how the Times and other Snowden enablers revealed the means and methods by which the NSA was collecting al Qaeda SIGINT data, and skip right ahead to their amateurish "redacting". CS Monitor:

The paper also uploaded some of the slides, but with one problem: Amateurish redaction of some details, designed to hide the identity of an NSA employee and make it harder for terrorist groups to make good use of the information, that was no redaction at all. The paper quickly rectified the error but not before the original uploads were snatched by the anti-secrecy website Cryptome...

This error highlights the risks of the tens of thousands of Snowden documents that are now floating around among at least a dozen journalists: Promises that all documents will be handled carefully and be fully vetted by responsible reporters are just that. The more documents and different organizations involved, the greater chances for error and there is little point in closing the barn door after the horses have bolted.

That's pretty bad. These people think they're smarter than everyone else. The spooks. Us. But in reality? They are us. We may be morons, but working for the New York Times, the WaPo, or the Guardian doesn't magically give a person common sense.

In fact, we fought a revolution over this very idea. The idea that it's not that Kings are worse than the rest of us, it's just that they are no better than the rest of us. That is, prior to the American Revolution, the cause of bad government was thought to be rooted in the individuals running government. Bad government is caused by a bad King. So, the solution to bad government was .... getting a new King. This time, a "good" one.

But the Founding generation held a common belief that self-interested behavior was rooted in human nature. Hence, the solution to bad government was not to replace one self-interested person with another, but in putting self-interested individual within self-interested institutions and then letting those institutions have at it (ie, checks and balances).

The point I'm trying to make is that going to journalism school does not improve the human condition of a journalist any more than putting a crown on some guy's head and calling the guy King somehow means he is more likely to work for the common good than the rest fallen humanity.

In fact, I would go one step further: Giving a guy a crown makes him worse than the rest of us inasmuch as power has a corrupting tendency.

Is it just me, or do people who work for the top tier media outlets think of themselves as above the rules that apply to the rest of us? Kind of like some kings I've read about. Evidence, I think, that power really has corrupted them.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:51 PM | Comments |