Daniel W. Drezner

Your Top Secret Post of the day!! Very exciting (yawn) stuff

Question:  what do Top Secret America and Wikileaks have in common?  Answer:  they both pretty much put me to sleep.  Call me shallow, call me jaded, call me cynical, but there’s not that much there there in either effort.  Day 1 of the Top Secret story was the most informative of the bunch, no doubt — but ...

Question:  what do Top Secret America and Wikileaks have in common? 

Answer:  they both pretty much put me to sleep. 

Call me shallow, call me jaded, call me cynical, but there's not that much there there in either effort.  Day 1 of the Top Secret story was the most informative of the bunch, no doubt -- but even that story was frustratingly short on detail.  Day 2 and Day 3 were worse, in that they didn't tell me anything I already know.  Day 2 of Top Secret America told me that  outsourcing to private contractors is bad, bad, bad, and very expensive.  Day 3 was kind of like your local news teasers: "Are NSA employees living RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO YOU?!"  If you live in the vicinity of BWI, it turns out the answer is, "yes, but it's not a big deal." Again... yawn. 

Question:  what do Top Secret America and Wikileaks have in common? 

Answer:  they both pretty much put me to sleep. 

Call me shallow, call me jaded, call me cynical, but there’s not that much there there in either effort.  Day 1 of the Top Secret story was the most informative of the bunch, no doubt — but even that story was frustratingly short on detail.  Day 2 and Day 3 were worse, in that they didn’t tell me anything I already know.  Day 2 of Top Secret America told me that  outsourcing to private contractors is bad, bad, bad, and very expensive.  Day 3 was kind of like your local news teasers: "Are NSA employees living RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO YOU?!"  If you live in the vicinity of BWI, it turns out the answer is, "yes, but it’s not a big deal." Again… yawn. 

If Top Secret America actually prompts hearings/reform efforts, then yay, dead tree journalism.  Otherwise, the reveal was far less than the hype. 

As for Wikileaks, Blake Hounshell and Andrew Exum sum up my feelings on the matter.  So it turns out that the war in Afghanistan is not going well and Pakistan is playing a double game?  Well, knock me down with a feather!! 

In essence, neither story provides much in the way of new information — they merely serve as news pegs through which intractable policy issues can be debated anew.  If those debates prove fruitful, that’s great — but during a summer in which I’ve seen the Stupidest Topics Ever become cable show fodder, I ain’t getting my hopes up. 

This might be my own subfield prejudice at work.  Every once in a while someone from security studies tells me that international political economy is really, really boring and that they can’t understand how I could find it interesting.  I think today is one of those days in which I would tell them the same thing. 

Am I missing anything?  Seriously, anything? 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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