William E. Jackson Jr.: Security bubble

November 7, 2013 

The Oct. 30 editorial “Watching spies” hit the nail on the head. It is a sure sign of the relatively low regard in which national security officials – and members of Congress – hold the civil liberties of American citizens that they become exercised over the revelations of spying on foreign leaders while countenancing the bulk collection of phone and email data on Americans.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is “totally opposed” to spying on leaders of allied countries but not to running dragnet surveillance operations in this country under a secret court’s order. She and Rep. Mike Rogers are supposed to provide legislative oversight of the intelligence community but protect Gen. Keith Alexander of NSA and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper from possible firing offenses for “rogue” activities in the context of pursuing executive branch national intelligence priorities. Meanwhile, the president feigns an “I didn’t know” posture.

“Political guidance” on the scope of NSA spying is provided by a national security elite not notably sensitive to the constitutional rights of citizens. These people, including academics with their treasured low-level clearances, live in an isolated “security bubble” in a culture unique to Washington. How can there be so much intelligence and so much cluelessness indeed?

William E. Jackson Jr.


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