Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bruce Schneier notes this great article on the NSA revelations by Yochai Benkler, writing at The Guardian.  A sample:
What did we actually know about what we got in exchange for undermining internet security, technology markets, internet social capital, and the American constitutional order? The intelligence establishment grew by billions of dollars; thousands of employees; and power within the executive. And we the people? Not so much. Court documents released this week show that after its first three years of operation, the best the intelligence establishment could show the judge overseeing the program was that it had led to opening "three new preliminary investigations". This showing, noted Judge Walton in his opinion, "does not seem very significant".

If this was the best the intelligence community could put on the table when it faced the risk of judicial sanction, we can assume that all the hand-waving without hard, observable, testable facts is magician's patter, aimed to protect the fruits of a decade's worth of bureaucratic expansionism. Claims that secrecy prevents the priesthood from presenting such testable proof appeal to a doctrine of occult infallibility that we cannot afford to accept.

History doesn't give us very many examples of powerful bureaucracies being successfully reined in.  Let's hope we can make an exception of the NSA...

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