Thursday, April 24, 2014

Clapper muzzles supporters not critics

Recently, the director of national intelligence promulgated a rule barring members of the intelligence community from talking with the press -- even on unclassified matters. This has widely been described as yet another way that they are silencing critics and potential whistleblowers. That may be true, but the intent is the opposite: they want to silence defenders/supporters of the intelligence community.

During the last Winter Olympics, journalists arriving in Sochi reported how basic services like plumbing were broken. A Russian spokesman claimed the journalists were lying, that they had video proof that journalists were leaving the showers running all day long. This led to the natural follow up question: why does Russia have video cameras in showers?

In any crisis, those who would defend you are often your worst enemy. True Believers lie and otherwise behave badly. That's great when the other side does it (e.g. the Glenn Greenwald crowd that distorts the Snowden disclosures), but it hurts you when your own side does it. Thus, it's the first step of crisis management for corporations and governments: make your own supporters shut up.

Am I arguing that James Clapper is therefore not as corrupt as people claim? No, quite the opposite. He's more corrupt.

The intelligence community serves at the whim of the President, who serves at the whim of the people. It's not their job to influence policy, by lobbying congress or the people. It's their job to cary out policy.

What we see here is that they are trying to control the message -- meaning "influence policy". That's horrible and dangerous, and justifies the worst claims that the Greenwald crowd makes about the intelligence community, that they are looking out for their own interests rather than our interests.

A free and open debate about the intelligence community will harm the interests of the intelligence community. That sucks for them, but screw them. They have no interests but to serve our interests. If we want programs dismantled, and if that allows terrorist attacks, then so be it. It's a choice that we, the informed public, make -- it's not a choice made for us by the intelligence community.

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