July 25, 2003

THIS PIECE BY COLBY COSH on the Congressional 9/11 report is worth reading in its entirety. But here’s an excerpt:

I am a bit disappointed that the report of the congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11 takes claims that the “intelligence community” was overworked and underfunded so seriously. The claims may, one supposes, be factually correct, but tell me this: can you name any bureaucracy, in any government department, in any state, on any planet, whose members do not unanimously claim to suffer from a lack of “resources”? In the case of 9/11 the claim has been made indisputable, apparently, by how badly the intelligence services fucked up. They failed–there must have been a budgetary reason.

And yet, on the other hand, there’s this weird post facto expectation of outright perfection in intelligence-gathering. The lessons of Pearl Harbor about signal-to-noise ratio seem to have been poorly absorbed. And Congress appears rueful that a “wall” was built in the 1960s and 1970s between domestic policing of the American republic and the gathering of foreign intelligence, because it prevented the relevant agencies from coordinating their data and making the connections (INS-CIA-FBI-NSA) that might have saved the World Trade Center. Well, the people who built that “wall” were perfectly aware that it would have the effect of decreasing the efficiency with which the citizenry was protected. They built it because the power to protect is also the power to detect, persecute, and destroy. The wall serves to prevent a police state being created in America. That’s important: not lip-service important, but future-of-the-human-species important. If getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth American lives, the continued existence of the wall unarguably is. But something there is that does not love a wall–and it’s Congress, whose job description formerly included the task of checking and supervising executive power within the United States government.

Read the whole thing, as they say. I’m not buying the “overworked and overfunded” argument much, though, in light of this story about FBI translators — after September 11 — being told to slow down their work so as to justify higher budgets. I’d like to see Congress investigating that.

And somebody should hire him to write stuff like this for a magazine. You know, for money.

UPDATE: This post by Phil Carter is worth reading, too.

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