“My personal opinion: these leaks have caused grave, significant and irreversible damage to our nation and to our allies. It will take us years to recover..."
"We’ve got to handle media leaks first."
-Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the N.S.A.
Remarks to Georgetown University, 2014
In his opinion, the most dangerous is....the group which consists of people who are "20-something, sitting in pajamas and slippers, still living with their mother in the basement, who are mad at the world, who want to do what you and I can not understand and certainly can not perform."
Gen. Michael Hayden, former director C.I.A. and N.S.A., former Director of National Intelligence
Currently working for Motorola and the Chertoff Group
Speech at the National Bank in Bucharest, 2014
They are right. The "Greatest Danger" are hackers and journalists and they are right to fear them. What is different is what Joe and Jane Average consider a "Danger" and what the men who live in the world of Deep State truly fear.
Whistleblowers, hackers, journalists all have the power to expose what someone else was trying to conceal. If a set of lies fuels the gravy train that you and your associated have build careers on and which you plan to profit more from in the future, then any truth that challenges that lie is your "Greatest Danger". More than any carbomb or suicide vest some very specific truths threaten to destroy the "world" of certain men and their associates.
A long time ago, in what feels like a past life, I studied and practiced the art of propaganda for the United States Army which at the time was called Psychological Operations, or PSYOP. I took to it like a fish to water, they offered ample study materials but I wanted more, I studied more about persuasion, about belief and motivation and what really drives people to action. I read fundamentals, I read Bernays theories of Propaganda, I read little red books by Mao and Guevara, and little pamphlets by Franklin and Thomas Paine. I dove deeper into related fields neurology and graphic design. I learned about the power that words and symbols and narratives and ideas can have on the actions that we take, how people dedicate and even sacrifice their lives for them. I learned that the biggest bombs and biggest missiles were all built years before I was born and that the new arms race was being fought for human minds and souls.
Part of my job was to gather, analyze and estimate the impacts of propaganda (ours AND the enemy's). One lesson I took away from this is that the arguments or symbols or ideas that are believed to pose the greatest threat will draw the greatest and most rapid response. Most propaganda comes and goes with little response, but the things that make a target drop what they are doing and focus on answering from the highest levels right then and there - those are the things they believe will have an impact.
I have previously written about how the thing that we have lost with arguments regarding the recently leaked programs and "balancing" privacy and security is how the most broad and unconstitutional of them have never been shown to have caught a single terrorist. What bigger threat to their continued existence than to expose that particular fact?
The area surrounding the District of Colombia has the highest median income of any metropolitan area in the United States. While many groan about the salaries of Federal employees and lawmakers, these are tiny drops in a rather large bucket. The money that funds the wave of new wealth in the D.C. area is money from contractors, often National Security contractors with the clearances, backgrounds, and connections to make truly gigantic amounts of money filling "needs" we believe our government has.
Dear Disney: Please do not sue me.
Companies like Booz Allen Hamilton (who employed Edward Snowden on N.S.A. contracts), the Carlyle Group (which owns Booz Allen Hamilton), The Chertoff Group (founded by former Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff and currently employing former NSA/CIA director Michael Hayden)... these all make a handful of people behind the secret surveillance community known as Deep State VERY rich men.
These companies donate millions to the corrupt campaign finance and influence system that keeps lobbying firms and political consultants very, very, rich. These companies keep the pipeline open to welcome public servants and lawmakers onto their payrolls after they complete their service (and maybe throw a contract or favor their way while in office). I have written about this before.
Recently Senator Diane Feinstein has been a news item by going public with the fact that Senate computers were hacked to delete CIA files relevant to an ongoing investigation of the CIA by the Senate. What files and what report? The Senate report regarding the network of "Black Sites" and "Rendition" and "Enhanced Interrogation" (or Torture) that supposedly was a necessary program to keep us safe from Terrorism.
Remember the first half of Zero Dark Thirty was mostly this.
The Senate was closing in on pinpointing the exact number of crucial intelligence items discovered by this network, in relation to stopping terrorist attacks on the U.S. The number they were getting close towards? Zero, or close to it. Specifically they concluded "that the CIA program had yielded little or no significant intelligence."
My bad y'all...
Again, this is the kind of secret that shuts down sites and ends contracts. This required a response. (The head of the CIA during the relevant time of investigation was Michael Hayden.) This report - and the threat of it reaching the kinds of people who might reject the program that hurt our reputation around the world, threatened our core values, and likely violated our constitution and various treaties if it did not yield a damn thing. This is the report that inspired individuals to invade the computers of the Senate Intelligence Community and delete evidence. I assure you if the people doing this were wearing Guy Fawkes masks there would be a bipartisan call for them to be pursued to the ends of the Earth and penalized to the fullest extent of the law.
But they are not. Hopefully, somewhere in the mind of a senior Senator the idea is brewing "Since they were not reigned in from doing this to ordinary Americans, of course they would utilize these tools on us." A series of events have led us to a once in a generation national discussion regarding the powers, funding and secrecy we allow "Deep State" to have.
We will hear arguments about Privacy versus Security, we will hear nightmare scenarios about captured terrorists and hidden ticking time bombs (never happened), we will - and of this I am 100% certain - hear the Snowden leaks/revelations used as evidence that the companies making these tools need to be paid billions of additional dollars to "repair" the effectiveness of a program which has (in regards to mass collection) NEVER CAUGHT A SINGLE TERRORIST. In all of this we need to keep that one piece of signal among all the noise - These programs cannot display they produced ANYTHING, let alone the kind of vital and consistent operational advantage to justify their existence.
Hell, just the financial cost alone (let alone the moral, human, or constitutional cost) should kill these programs in an era where we are told we as a nation cannot afford our levels of such things as Food Stamps and Veteran's Pensions.
How much military pension funding would you cut to preserve an unconstitutional program that has never caught a terrorist? What about education funding? What about roads, or bridges or medical research or food for the hungry? How are the to build all those new mansions in and around the D.C. area unless you fund our multi-billion-dollar boondoggles that protect no one. For that matter, how long does a person need to be imprisoned for leaking details about programs that never caught a single terrorist?
Their most secret, horrible, and expensive activities protected no one. This is the secret that threatens them. Are hackers and leakers and journalists "The Greatest Danger"? If your asking about the danger to their unaccountable riches and power, then you are DAMNED right they are.