.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, February 27

Um, is NSA IG George Ellard calling the NSA Director a "wacko bureaucrat?"

On Tuesday  the NSA Inspector General, in a spirited defense of his office's record of handling complaints by NSA employees, got his tongue tangled in the bungee cord.  This was during the course of his heated argument that Ed Snowden should have come to him with his complaints rather than stealing highly classified government property to make his points: 
“The losses…were not the result of some wacko bureaucrat wanting to classify everything and anything.”
All right; let's untangle this.  By "losses" Dr George Ellard meant that Snowden's theft had been a catastrophic blow to U.S. national security. By "result" Ellard meant his idea of Snowden's rationale for the theft, which he dismissed as a baseless fear; i.e., a "wacko bureaucrat wanting to classify everything and anything.”
But the whole reason Snowden had to risk his freedom and even his life to steal a mountain of government property was because not even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have believed him without proof that under the direction of Gen. Keith B. Alexander the National Security Agency was in the process of collecting and storing every single human utterance in the entire world that was digitized. 

George Ellard wouldn't have believed him, either, because Ellard doesn't have the security clearances to have seen what Snowden saw during the course of his work at NSA.  As I pointed out in the Genie post, only the topmost echelon at NSA had the big picture -- exact knowledge of how much and what kind of data was being collected by NSA. 

The rest, to include the White House, Congress and Pentagon, even with top security clearances only had a vague understanding that Alexander had run away with the metadata concept of intelligence gathering.  This is because a complete understanding would have meant falling down the rabbit hole and facing the Red Queen.  What started out as a great idea that Alexander had developed and applied in a battlespace -- Iraq -- had snowballed, if you'll pardon the expression, into an idée fixe in which he redesignated the battlespace as "everywhere."  He set out to collect and store every and any utterance made via digital communications. And because this was being done in the name of national defense, "classified" was stamped on everything and anything that was collected and stored!

The result was the mother of all Catch-22 rules: Because everything is secret there are no secrets but you will be jailed for telling no secrets. Ergo, Snowden's complaints, if he'd taken them to the IG,  would have been thrown out on the grounds that they were ipso facto mooted or dispo fatso prima facie, whichever applied. 

Put another way: within less than a decade the system of classifying information as secret was made obsolete by the metadata approach to intelligence gathering, as implemented by the NSA under Alexander's direction.  It was no longer possible to distinguish between secret and non-secret when even the most mundane and superfluous data had to be classified as secret merely by the act of storing it for possible future retrieval.
Instead of confronting the dilemma, the Congress, White House and U.S. military command kicked the can down the road.  But because nature abhors a vacuum Keith Alexander kept the National Security Agency busy filling up the boundless.
Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?