To read the rest of "On Violence’s Most Thought Provoking Foreign Affairs Event of 2013", read the articles below:
Eric C asked me after the initial batch of Edward Snowden NSA disclosures if we had just found our “Most Thought Provoking Event of 2013”. (Check out our past "On V's Most Thought Provoking Events", click here for 2009, click here for 2010, click here for 2011, and click here for 2012.)
I said, “No, why would we have?”
Then the leaks kept coming. And coming. And coming. Then it turned out that James Clapper was lying. Then a super-majority in Congress came out to support...the NSA. Then President Obama claimed that he had planned to restart this debate, allegedly without Snowden’s disclosures.
Then I read--with great interest--the pro-NSA crowd defend the NSA on cable news, in blogs and on Twitter. I also noted heaps and gobs of misinformation, mostly from NSA defenders.
After following the story for a few weeks, I went on a plane trip to visit some friends. I pulled out my iPad, attached a keyboard and planned to capture some of my thoughts. 5,000 words later, my flight landed and I called Eric C.
“Yeah, the NSA disclosures are the On V Most Thought Provoking Event of 2013.”
What do we hope to provide with yet more articles on a topic that has already generated millions of printed words? As always, unique takes you (hopefully) won’t read elsewhere. For instance:
- A post trying to find the last time an intelligence or security agency willfully disclosed bad information about itself.
- A post describing why so few leaks happen, using my business school knowledge of economics and organizational behavior.
- A post debunking the idea that China and Russia haven’t already infiltrated our intelligence agencies, a la Snowden.
Yeah, unique takes. (We’ll also have a post on the most unique takes on the Ed Snowden NSA disclosures as well.) The sad fact is most of the millions of articles on the NSA simply reported the most recent disclosures and took the same quotes from the same officials on background. Even the analysis tended to repeat the same political talking points.
So expect nearly a dozen posts (if not more) and hopefully some guest posts in other media. Overall, what is the theme you can expect? Well, the first theme is bi-partisanship. Our posts take a viewpoint both civil libertarians and left-wing radicals can respect: the government has immense power and we shouldn’t automatically trust it. Trust but verify, if you will. We also feel that this is the constitutional position. Any scholar of the revolutionary period knows that most of the founders (except for Alexander Hamilton) deeply mistrusted concentrated power. Since both political parties have deep ties to the intelligence-security-military establishment now-a-days, this is a unique viewpoint you don’t often hear.
You can also expect plenty of calls for more government transparency, less classification in general, and more incentives to support whistleblowers. You’ll also find heaping doses of skepticism about the intelligence community’s effectiveness. This comes from personal experience.
And that last point is probably the viewpoint you will hear more than any other. If you want to know what inspires us in this event, re-watch 60 Minutes’ NSA hagiography. It treated the analysts as superheroes, terrorism as an omnipresent threat, and the NSA as veritable truth teller.
We don’t agree with any of those positions, and we hope to provide that unique context to these unprecedented disclosures. (Only a short six months after everyone else started.)