Tuesday, December 24, 2013


They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

Complex systems and the need to stampede...

As I got near the conclusion of "The Report," visions of the Nature of Government began swirling in my brain, and the very Byzantine nature of the Intelligence Community was most definitely highlighted.

If the various elements of the National Security/Surveillance State have been running roughshod and rogue, it's plain to see why. It is in the nature of the beast. Without appropriate and rigorously enforced restraints, they will run wild, there is no way around it.

After 9/11 what minimal restraints they had been under were released, and we now live with the consequences. Reining them back in may prove to be more difficult and problematic than even the panelists on the Review Committee, all of whom have plenty of Deep State experience, recognize.

The key recommendation of The Report is the overhaul and reform of the NSA, essentially re-creating it from the ground up.

Clearly, from this recommendation alone, it's obvious that the Agency has seriously overstepped its bounds and authorities. What Snowden revealed, which seems now to be barely the tip of a very deep bottomed iceberg, barely scratched the surface of what this rogue agency has involved itself in. From the evidence in The Report, it appears that the NSA has violated the trust of the highest levels of the Government itself, and thus must face the consequences.

Seemingly it got that way almost by accident, but it was driven by ethos of the Cheney Faction within government, a faction that recognizes no bounds to its authority in law and custom and which seeks to impose as complete a system of quasi-dictatorial rule as possible. It would appear that the NSA has been seeing itself as the lead agency in that quest. This ethos, such as it is, all goes back to Nixon. Sigh. Will we never be free of it?

But make no mistake. It is in the nature of governmental systems to be this way, especially the more complex they become. It's almost unavoidable. Thus, of course, the key recommendation is to break up the NSA, to curb its tendency to overreach and to apply more rational control over its activities.

A good thing, right?

In a sense, sure. The problem is that once a system like the NSA is allowed to run free as it apparently has been for more than a decade, and once that system has developed extensive tentacles into both the government and the private sectors, as apparently the NSA has, it becomes nearly impossible to reform or remove it without affecting and perhaps damaging the rest of government.

The Report provides a roadmap forward, but it may not actually be possible to follow through. This is due in part to institutional inertia which can become self-perpetuating. Barring a serious and potentially devastating power play within the government (which may indeed be taking place), it may be too late to intervene in the metastasizing Surveillance State.

We may be stuck with what we've got.

I have a few more pages to go before get to the end of The Report, but I'm neither reassured nor hopeful given what I've read so far.

 This logo/graphic appears on page 269 and 270, Appendix B, "Overview of NSA Privacy Protections under FAA 702/EO 12333"

As an aside, could the Target hack be related to the NSA lashing out at the idea of being curbed? Ohhhhhh......

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