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Secrets

This substantial Washington Post story (a product of a "two year investigation") on our intelligence agencies post-9/11will become consequential, of course.  It will merit study.  Here is how it begins: "The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."  It goes almost without saying that intelligence gathering in our terror war--in the end--is not really distinguishable from the fight.  Worth reading and filing for future use.
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Discussions - 4 Comments

"It goes almost without saying that intelligence gathering in our terror war--in the end--is not really distinguishable from the fight."

Was the "without saying" an intentional pun? Of course, if there's no mechanisms in place to validate such claims some tea party people will have to explain to other tea party people why they must accept a huge and growing Big Government bureaucracy that eats up tax dollars in billion dollar bites and is not remotely accountable for its actions, which include spying on... tea party people. Will they be keen on the idea of an elite shadow government that is fully institutionalized and centralized and beyond the reach of the voting booth?

Should be fascinating.

No.

Craig, the point is that a vast and spreading government messes this kind of thing up as surely as it messes up anything else. Sadly, "intelligence gathering in our terror war--in the end--is not really distinguishable from the fight." and if we cannot get the intelligence right then it is all a big, expensive, intrusive and maybe useless waste of time, money and since it is war, of lives.

This paints American intelligence agencies as another great jobs program.

"no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work" can be said of most agencies of the federal government. I had some students who were curious about government spending on foreign aid. One guy's whole paper was about how impossible it was to track foreign aid because so many departments of government, including the various branches of the military (What does the Coast Guard need to distribute foreign aid for?) spent money on projects and agencies that fall under the definition of foreign aid. Big government as we endure it currently eats not only GNP but liberty.

It's a good article.

"....if we cannot get the intelligence right then it is all a big, expensive, intrusive and maybe useless waste of time, money and since it is war, of lives."

So, what would you recommend then, Kate? Should all of this work be contracted out to various corporate entities (since, presumably, profit-based entities are waste-free)?? Would you prefer your boys enlist in the Blackwater Marines rather than the United States Marines? (That could get interesting!)

I've often been told from many a conservative - including bloggers and commenters here - that one of the very few things that government should do (presuming we don't realize t the Norquistian dream of drowning it in the bathtub) is to protect its citizenry (via military, spying, wars, etc.). Here's the quandary for tea party conservatives. How are you ever going to know how effectively and efficiently these enormous arms of the shadow government are doing their work if the work must be completely secret? Further, how can one protest the government's execution of these tasks which are "not really distinguishable from the fight" if they're actually one of the few core tasks that conservatives (incl. many/most tea party conservatives) approve of the government undertaking??

"This paints American intelligence agencies as another great jobs program."

Well, and if the goal is to ensure absolute, 100% safety for every American at all times (against terrorists, not luxury items like drinking water and peanut butter), perhaps it just might take a huge bureaucracy of thousands of people to man The All-Seeing Eye, in the name of National Defense. And I'm guessing that those people who work for said bureaucracy - while enjoying the Jack Bauer mystique of their mode of employment - will need to pay for homes, clothes, food, cars, etc. - that is, they'll want to be paid for their service (just as we pay soldiers for their national service).

I'm forced to interpret your point, Kate (do you presume it be Mr. Schramm's, as well?), as it strikes me as rather vague. Is it that you WANT government to engage in effective intelligence-gathering in a post-9/11 world - and to absolutely prevent another 9/11 - but you just want it to do so by using the pre-9/11 resources, most especially human resources, more efficiently, in order to prevent making the intelligence field another "great jobs program"??

(But again, if it's, by necessity, secret, how can you realistically expect the citizens to be able to monitor its effectiveness or efficiency??)

[Yes, I too thought it was a good (pretty good) article, but I'm baffled as to the point(s) you seem to be taking away from it]

how effectively and efficiently these enormous arms of the shadow government are doing their work if the work must be completely secret? Further, how can one protest the government's execution of these tasks which are "not really distinguishable from the fight" if they're actually one of the few core tasks that conservatives (incl. many/most tea party conservatives) approve of the government undertaking??

IIRC, the U.S. Government has 1.9 million civilian employees. I believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation has some 30,000 employess and that Customs and Border Protection has 20,000. I am not sure the Central Intelligence Agency publishes their headcount, but it is putatively in the range of 20,000. These are large agencies, but a modest fraction of the whole.

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