Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Is anything private anymore? No, and that may be the fault of the post-9/11 panic

Short answer: No. I fear we really are living in a national security state.  A few weeks ago I would have said that is an exaggeration, but reading these linked stories, no more. No wonder Eric Holder thought it was no biggie to begin fingering reporters as co-conspirators in leaks. In the crowd he is ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

Short answer: No.

I fear we really are living in a national security state.  A few weeks ago I would have said that is an exaggeration, but reading these linked stories, no more. No wonder Eric Holder thought it was no biggie to begin fingering reporters as co-conspirators in leaks. In the crowd he is running with, he's probably considered a wild-eyed civil libertarian. Even so, I think it is past time for him to walk the plank.

Among the outfits reportedly turning over access to surveillance mechanisms: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. All those smug hipsters in skinny jeans sold you out. I feel justified in my withdrawal from "social media." Is Steve Jobs's overweening smile the face of 21st century American totalitarianism? Maybe so -- I always suspected there was something sinister about California cool.

Short answer: No.

I fear we really are living in a national security state.  A few weeks ago I would have said that is an exaggeration, but reading these linked stories, no more. No wonder Eric Holder thought it was no biggie to begin fingering reporters as co-conspirators in leaks. In the crowd he is running with, he’s probably considered a wild-eyed civil libertarian. Even so, I think it is past time for him to walk the plank.

Among the outfits reportedly turning over access to surveillance mechanisms: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. All those smug hipsters in skinny jeans sold you out. I feel justified in my withdrawal from “social media.” Is Steve Jobs’s overweening smile the face of 21st century American totalitarianism? Maybe so — I always suspected there was something sinister about California cool.

They say this program was designed to target foreigners. That may be how it started, but I don’t trust these guys to obey strict limits. So I think it is time to bring the surveillance agencies under control. The national leadership panicked after 9/11, and now 12 years later we have an Orwellian surveillance program. Forget Benghazi. This is the juicy target that the American right — and left — should be going after. A New York Times editorial avers that the Obama administration has “lost all credibility” on the issue.  

As an Army colonel said to me a few years ago, How can you win a war for your values by undermining them?

(A Best Defense 21-gun salute to Bart Gellman and his homies on this one. Somebody throw this guy a Pulitzer.) 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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