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My Head, Blogging

July 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment

With former DHSer Stewart Baker on Wikileaks and intelligence oversight:

Tags: Privacy and Surveillance · Self Promotion



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 njc // Jul 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    What a deeply disappointing conversation. Based on the excerpts from his book that Baker’s posted at the Volokh Conspiracy, I guess that this shouldn’t have been a surprise. But it’s disappointing none the less.

    Among the ‘high-lights’ of the conversation:

    1) Baker’s allusion to some sort of Journolist conspiracy, as well as to a conspiracy of crowd-sourcing Taliban.

    2) His nearly complete dismissal of the existence of over-classification.

    3) His glib dismissal of FOIA and the benefit it provides to journalists and the public.

    4) His assertion that Congress, at present, has adequate intelligence oversight capabilities (an assertion made when it’s clear that even the executive lacks such capabilities).

    5) His non sequitur about investigating stimulus money—a non sequitur in that the two investigations are not mutually exclusive, the secrecy of intelligence budgets creates unique oversight problems, and the creation of the RAT Board suggests the existence of a much higher degree of government oversight of stimulus money as compared with, say, the oversight of intelligence provided by the ODNI.

    6) His complete mischaracterization of the Post’s critique of the intelligence failure regarding Maj. Hasan. The Post article doesn’t argue that too much money or info caused the DoD to miss the clues regarding Maj. Hasan, or that a curtailing of money or info would result in better outcomes. Rather, the Post notes that counter-intelligence personnel within the Army were not focused on looking for signs of radicalization within the Army (which they were uniquely situated to do). Instead the Army’s counter-intel personnel were engaged in spying on civilians, such as student groups, despite the fact that the DHS and the JTTFs were already doing the very same things.

    7) Numerous bad analogies (e.g. declassification is like immigration reform, DoD shouldn’t be expected to account for its expenses any better than a private citizen does for his own personal expenses).

    In the abstract I think there could be interesting discussions between someone committed to privacy and open-government and someone else who’s opposed to both those things. It’s perhaps telling however that the person holding the latter views can’t make a forthright case for his position and must resort to glib dismissals and poor analogies.