Wonder why with all the work that is being done for the public sector why, with all the problems in finished work do we continue to go with private contracting of public work? The intent is to privatize all that is public. As global markets die the 1% are pressed to lay claim on as much wealth they can get and that is what you have witnessed this last decade. Labor losses when public sector unions are privatized and busted by public private partnerships and private unions thinking they are going to get the work are finding all the jobs given to immigrant workers.
The good news is that global corporations are going to shrink and are being forced to move back to the US for business. This means we can rebuild a domestic economy that uses US labor as consumer to fuel the economy rather than having global corporations worried about building a middle-class overseas. So, the elements of our former economy centered on domestic consumerism is there. The bad news is that the 1% do not care if we have a strong economy domestically because they have all the money and can just limp along forever. This is what is happening as neo-liberals fight to keep wealth and profit at the top and pass laws like the TPP that undermines the US Constitutional rights of citizens as legislators. We must fight hard to stop this descent into third world autocracy by taking back the democratic party from the neo-liberals and reinstate Rule of Law and democratic principles-----we have a chance to move back to the US of 1950----strong economy and middle-class and first world quality of life.
WAKE UP AND GET MOVING------CREATE COMMUNITY ACTION GROUPS AND SHAKE THESE BUGS OUT OF THE RUG!!!
We are sitting listening to corporate NPR tell us that we need to dismantle more regulation in order for private contractors to take more of public sector work even as what they say has already failed in Europe.
UK government auditor questions reliance on big contractors
By Christine Murray
LONDON Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:08am GMT
Margaret Hodge, Labour Party Member of Parliament and chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), poses for a portrait after speaking to Reuters about corporate taxation, in Westminster, central London April 24, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning
(Reuters) - A review of Britain's use of big companies to run services from prisons to hospitals raised questions about whether the rise of a few major contractors was in the public interest, the National Audit Office (NAO) said on Tuesday.
And it said transparency on profit made from government contracts was limited, with firms' tax affairs hard to understand, setting the agenda for a parliamentary grilling of some of the state's biggest suppliers next week.
Two NAO reports on government contractors, based largely on information from Capita (CPI.L), G4S (GFS.L), Serco (SRP.L) and Atos (ATOS.PA), will form the basis of two Public Accounts Committee hearings later this month, one with representatives from the four firms, and another with government officials.
"I asked the NAO to carry out this work after looking at case after case of contract failure ... in each case we found poor service; poor value for money; and government departments completely out of their depth," Margaret Hodge, the lawmaker who chairs the PAC said. "These reports together raise some big concerns".
The political spotlight is firmly on Britain's 187 billion pound public sector contracting market after a series of high-profile contract failures.
There are currently eight reviews of the industry, including a criminal investigation into G4S and Serco's botched prisoner tagging contracts launched earlier this month.
A Serco spokesman pointed to the firm's corporate renewal program, announced in October to rebuild its relationship with its largest customer, as evidence of its improved transparency.
A spokeswoman for Atos said it had been open and transparent with the NAO, whilst balancing its ability to compete for future work.
The NAO added that the Cabinet Office, which is currently deciding whether G4S and Serco can work for government again, should develop a more "mature" approach to dealing with its biggest suppliers.
It said a balance must be struck between short-term savings, which have mostly come from fierce contract renegotiations, and innovation and investment.
Until the austerity-focused coalition came into power in 2010, suppliers like Capita and Serco enjoyed double-digit revenue growth for two decades.
In some markets, such as private prisons, child custody and medical assessments, there are only a few large providers which the NAO said could be considered "too big to fail".
Some 3 billion pounds of the 40 billion spent by central government each year on suppliers is with the four firms in the report.
Capita said in a statement that all its businesses seek to ensure value for money in an open, fair and transparent way.
A spokeswoman for G4S said it was a strong believer in partnerships with customers and it fully supported NAO's work.
The government said earlier this month that 10.5 percent of all government business went directly to small and medium-sized enterprises in 2012/13, up slightly from 10 percent in the previous year. It has a target of 25 percent for that figure by 2015.
As Congress and Obama race to build global corporations sending all US Treasury wealth and all spending expanding global markets we know that the global market is dying .......
We need to get rid of global corporate pols wasting our wealth on the status quo and bring corporations back to small and regional businesses.
ALL OF THIS REQUIRES THAT THE US WORKER EARNS ENOUGH TO BE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSUMERS. IT IS BAD POLICY TO KEEP LABOR IMPOVERISHED AS NEO-LIBERALS ARE DOING!
TRUST IN GOVERNMENTS, CORPORATIONS AND
GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS CONTINUES TO DECLINE
Global Survey ahead of World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
in Davos shows ‘trust deficit’ deepening
Geneva, Switzerland, 15 December 2005 – A global public opinion survey carried out for the World Economic Forum in 20 countries, interviewing more than 20,000 citizens, paints an alarming picture of declining levels of trust. The survey, carried out by GlobeScan, shows that trust in a range of institutions has dropped significantly since January 2004 to levels not seen since the months following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The poll also reveals that public trust in national governments and the United Nations has fallen the most over the past two years.
Since signalling the importance of trust in world affairs by making it the theme of its Annual Meeting in 2003, the World Economic Forum has been monitoring public trust levels and today presents the most recent responses to a set of questions asked of representative samples of citizens around the world since January 2001. The research, conducted by GlobeScan Incorporated, shows that:
• Public trust in national governments, the United Nations and global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began in January 2001. • Since 2004, trust in government has declined by statistically significant margins in 12 of the 16 countries for which tracking data is available. The only national government with increased trust is Russia’s, continuing its upward trend since 2001. • The United Nations, while continuing to receive higher trust levels than other institutions, has experienced a significant decline in trust from 2004 levels in 12 of the 17 countries for which tracking data is available, suggesting an impact of the scandal over the Oil-for-Food Programme. • Public trust in companies has also eroded over the last two years. After recovering trust in 2004 to pre-Enron levels, trust has since declined for both large national companies and for global companies. Trust in global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began. • NGOs remain the leaders in trust, but they also have to contend with some decline. In 10 of 17 countries for which data is available, trust in NGOs has fallen since 2004, in some cases sharply (e.g., Brazil, India, South Korea).
These findings are based on a global public opinion poll involving a total of 20,791 interviews with citizens across 20 countries (n=1,000 in most countries), conducted between June and August 2005 by respected research institutes in each participating country, under the leadership of GlobeScan. (A full list of participating institutes, with contact details, is available at: www.weforum.org.) Each country’s findings are considered accurate to within 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The survey asked respondents how much they trust each institution “to operate in the best interests of our society”. Identical questions were asked in most of the same countries in January 2004, August 2002 and January 2001. Net trust levels are presented here – the difference between the percentage of respondents who express trust and those who express no trust in a given institution.
A full report, including charts illustrating all findings, is available at: http://www.weforum.org/trustsurvey.
NOTE: The 14 countries that were tracked are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Declining trust in governments across the world Of all the institutions examined, national governments have lost the most ground over the past two years. In 12 of the 16 countries for which data is available, public trust in the national government has declined by statistically significant margins, leaving only 6 of the tracking countries today with more citizens trusting their national government than distrusting them.
Trust in government has fallen the most in Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Spain, followed closely by Argentina and the USA. The case of Nigeria is also noteworthy, where trust in the national government fell by 13 points while trust in all other institutions rose. Even in countries such as Great Britain and India, where trust remains positive, it has suffered its biggest fall since tracking began in 2001. Only in Italy, Indonesia and France has trust in the national government held steady, although polling was completed prior to the recent riots across France. The Russian government is now the only institution in any country polled to have consistently increased trust since 2001.
For complete results across all countries, please see the additional charts available on http://www.weforum.org/trustsurvey.
Changing patterns of trust in global companies While trust in global companies has not fallen everywhere, statistically significant declines have occurred over the past two years in 10 of 17 countries for which tracking data is available, and the overall trust level for global companies is the lowest since tracking began. After global companies had rebounded in 2004 to pre-Enron trust levels, these latest findings will be discouraging for business leaders. Perhaps most worrying for corporate executives are the sharp drops in trust in Spain, the USA and Canada, where net trust in global companies has turned negative for the first time. Trust in global companies is strongest in China, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and India.
In commenting on the poll’s findings, Ged Davis, Managing Director, World Economic Forum, said: “The Annual Meeting in Davos in January will be held under the theme “The Creative Imperative” and it is clear from these figures that to regain the trust of the general public in institutions and governments we must find new and effective ways to reconnect with citizens and tackle the public trust deficit. If not, the very institutions that govern our world will be increasingly under threat.”
Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan, offered the following perspective: “If Francis Fukuyama was right when he described trust as the necessary glue of any properly functioning society, then these poll results suggest we’re in danger of becoming unstuck – especially when values-driven organizations like non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations are losing trust almost as quickly as large companies. It’s time for all organizations to better understand how to earn the public’s trust.”
Each national survey was based on a representative sample of about 1,000 adults and was conducted in-home or by telephone between June and August 2005 as part of the annual 20-nation GlobeScan Report on Issues and Reputation. Individual country findings are accurate within +/- 3%, with 95% confidence. Multi-country results were calculated using the one nation/one vote method.
Notes for Editors:
A fuller document detailing all the survey’s findings is available at www.weforum.org/trustsurvey
For more details on the report’s findings please contact Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan at doug.miller@GlobeScan.com
Just look at this indicator having global shipping in decline. Obama and states are pushing port dredging and expansion to accommodate global tankers and this is where tens of billions are heading.......Baltimore being in this mode. Remember, it is the HighStar investment firm with Ivy League universities as major shareholders that are being given public ports all across America.
This is particularly bad policy for Baltimore because having global tankers chugging up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore is the most environmentally damaging policy anyone could pass. All of the invasive species coming from ship hulls will kill the Bay habitat and for what? A DECLINING GLOBAL SHIPPING MARKET!!!!
GET RID OF NEO-LIBERALS BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES!
Global shipping industry in danger of decline
Report released today into the global shipping industry warns of oversupply and high pricing constraining performance The shipping trade could be entering rough waters
1 12 Aug 2013 Joseph Wilkes Supply Chain Digital
A report into the global shipping industry has been released today, warning of decline.
Online market research store Research and Markets has released the Global Shipping Industry 2013 – Forecast, Trends and Opportunities, report from Taiyou Research company, which provides analysis and overview of the entire industry as well as individual elements such as ownership and prices.
The report states that in the coming years, the global shipping industry is expected to decline by five to 10 percent.
Oversupply and high bunker oil prices will eventually lead to a constraining of performance.
The report said: “A sustained oversupply of vessels combined with high bunker oil prices will pressure margins in most shipping segments. The dry-bulk and crude oil tanker segments are likely to have the largest supply-demand gap in 2013, complicating these sectors' ability to meaningfully improve their earnings.
“The tanker market has also been affected by the oversupply of vessels in the near term aided by lower OPEC production levels; though the outlook for the product tanker segment is more favorable since demand growth is likely to outpace supply during 2013, leading freight rates to rise by the end of this year. Box freight rates for the container segment have rebounded since March this year.
“However, strong improvement in earnings should not be expected for the full year in this segment. This reflects sustained high bunker oil costs and pressure on container rates stemming from recent increases in deployed tonnage of box ships.”
But Japanese conglomerates could be affected to a lesser extent by the negative market trends that will damage other global shipping trends. This is due to the scale of the Japanese conglomerates, their diversification, (including their liquefied natural gas, or LNG, fleets) and strong relationships with customers, said the report.
The report includes analysis of 35 major shipping companies such as AP Moller Maersk, China COSCO, China Shipping Development, D/S Norden, Golar LNG, Kawasaki Kisen, Hyundai Merchant Marine.
AP Moller Maersk, Nippon Yusen, Kawasaki Kisen, Mitsui OSK Lines, China COSCO and Evergreen Marine are some of the top players in the industry, the report suggested.
GLOBALIZATION TOOK A HIT WHEN THE 2008 ECONOMIC COLLAPSE REVEALED AN ENTIRE NETWORK OF US CORPORATE FRAUD AND CORRUPTION BUT THE SNOWDEN WHISTLE BLOWING WILL SHUT GLOBAL MARKETS DOWN AND THE US KNOWS THIS.
The American people are under assault for their wealth because the 1% know they will have no more markets to build and wealth will decline. WE NEED TO STOP THE LOOTING AND FIGHT FOR A RETURN TO DOMESTIC CONSUMERISM FUELING THE DOMESTIC ECONOMY. As global corporations are forced to move back to US they intend to make Chinese sweat shop workers of US labor-----
GET RID OF NEO-LIBERALS WORKING FOR WEALTH AND PROFIT!!!
Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence: A World Without Privacy
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 09:55 By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch | News Analysis
Protesters rally against mass surveillance during an event organized by the group Stop Watching Us in Washington, DC on October 26, 2013. via Shutterstock)" height="400" width="400">(Image: Protesters rally against mass surveillance during an event organized by the group Stop Watching Us in Washington, DC on October 26, 2013 via Shutterstock)Given how similar they sound and how easy it is to imagine one leading to the other, confusing omniscience (having total knowledge) with omnipotence (having total power) is easy enough. It’s a reasonable supposition that, before the Snowden revelations hit, America’s spymasters had made just that mistake. If the drip-drip-drip of Snowden’s mother of all leaks -- which began in May and clearly won’t stop for months to come -- has taught us anything, however, it should be this: omniscience is not omnipotence. At least on the global political scene today, they may bear remarkably little relation to each other. In fact, at the moment Washington seems to be operating in a world in which the more you know about the secret lives of others, the less powerful you turn out to be.
Let’s begin by positing this: There’s never been anything quite like it. The slow-tease pulling back of the National Security Agency curtain to reveal the skeletal surveillance structure embedded in our planet (what cheekbones!) has been an epochal event. It’s minimally the political spectacle of 2013, and maybe 2014, too. It’s made a mockery of the 24/7 news cycle and the urge of the media to leave the last big deal for the next big deal as quickly as possible.
It’s visibly changed attitudes around the world toward the U.S. -- strikingly for the worse, even if this hasn’t fully sunk in here yet. Domestically, the inability to put the issue to sleep or tuck it away somewhere or even outlast it has left the Obama administration, Congress, and the intelligence community increasingly at one another’s throats. And somewhere in a system made for leaks, there are young techies inside a surveillance machine so viscerally appalling, so like the worst sci-fi scenarios they read while growing up, that -- no matter the penalties -- one of them, two of them, many of them are likely to become the next Edward Snowden(s).
So where to start, almost half a year into an unfolding crisis of surveillance that shows no signs of ending? If you think of this as a scorecard, then the place to begin is, of course, with the line-up, which means starting with omniscience. After all, that’s the NSA’s genuine success story -- and what kid doesn’t enjoy hearing about the (not so) little engine that could?
Conceptually speaking, we’ve never seen anything like the National Security Agency’s urge to surveill, eavesdrop on, spy on, monitor, record, and save every communication of any sort on the planet -- to keep track of humanity, all of humanity, from its major leaders to obscure figures in the backlands of the planet. And the fact is that, within the scope of what might be technologically feasible in our era, they seem not to have missed an opportunity.
The NSA, we now know, is everywhere, gobbling up emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, credit card sales, communications and transactions of every conceivable sort. The NSA and British intelligence are feeding off the fiber optic cables that carry Internet and phone activity. The agency stores records (“metadata”) of every phone call made in the United States. In various ways, legal and otherwise, its operatives long ago slipped through the conveniently ajar backdoors of media giants like Yahoo, Verizon, and Google -- and also in conjunction with British intelligence they have been secretly collecting “records” from the “clouds” or private networks of Yahoo and Google to the tune of 181 million communications in a single month, or more than two billion a year.
Meanwhile, their privately hired corporate hackers have systems that, among other things, can slip inside your computer to count and see every keystroke you make. Thanks to that mobile phone of yours (even when off), those same hackers can also locate you just about anywhere on the planet. And that’s just to begin to summarize what we know of their still developing global surveillance state.
In other words, there’s my email and your phone metadata, and his tweets and her texts, and the swept up records of billions of cell phone calls and other communications by French and Nigerians, Italians and Pakistanis, Germans and Yemenis, Egyptians and Spaniards (thank you, Spanish intelligence, for lending the NSA such a hand!), and don’t forget the Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesians, and Burmese, among others (thank you, Australian intelligence, for lending the NSA such a hand!), and it would be a reasonable bet to include just about any other nationality you care to mention. Then there are the NSA listening posts at all those U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and the reports on the way the NSA listened in on the U.N., bugged European Union offices “on both sides of the Atlantic,” accessed computers inside the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. and that country’s U.N. mission in New York, hacked into the computer network of and spied on Brazil’s largest oil company, hacked into the Brazilian president’s emails and the emails of two Mexican presidents, monitored the German Chancellor’s mobile phone, not to speak of those of dozens, possibly hundreds, of other German leaders, monitored the phone calls of at least 35 global leaders, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and -- if you’re keeping score -- that’s just a partial list of what we’ve learned so far about the NSA’s surveillance programs, knowing that, given the Snowden documents still to come, there has to be so much more.
When it comes to the “success” part of the NSA story, you could also play a little numbers game: the NSA has at least 35,000 employees, possibly as many as 55,000, and an almost $11 billion budget. With up to 70% of that budget possibly going to private contractors, we are undoubtedly talking about tens of thousands more “employees” indirectly on the agency’s payroll. The Associated Press estimates that there are 500,000 employees of private contractors “who have access to the government's most sensitive secrets.” In Bluffdale, Utah, the NSA is spending $2 billion to build what may be one of the largest data-storage facilities on the planet (with its own bizarre fireworks), capable of storing almost inconceivable yottabytes of information. And keep in mind that since 9/11, according to the New York Times, the agency has also built or expanded major data-storage facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington State.
But success, too, can have its downside and there is a small catch when it comes to the NSA's global omniscience. For everything it can, at least theoretically, see, hear, and search, there’s one obvious thing the agency’s leaders and the rest of the intelligence community have proven remarkably un-omniscient about, one thing they clearly have been incapable of taking in -- and that’s the most essential aspect of the system they are building. Whatever they may have understood about the rest of us, they understood next to nothing about themselves or the real impact of what they were doing, which is why the revelations of Edward Snowden caught them so off-guard.
Along with the giant Internet corporations, they have been involved in a process aimed at taking away the very notion of a right to privacy in our world; yet they utterly failed to grasp the basic lesson they have taught the rest of us. If we live in an era of no privacy, there are no exemptions; if, that is, it’s an age of no-privacy for us, then it’s an age of no-privacy for them, too.
The word “conspiracy” is an interesting one in this context. It comes from the Latin conspirare for "breathe the same air." In order to do that, you need to be a small group in a small room. Make yourself the largest surveillance outfit on the planet, hire tens of thousands of private contractors -- young computer geeks plunged into a situation that would have boggled the mind of George Orwell -- and organize a system of storage and electronic retrieval that puts much at an insider’s fingertips, and you’ve just kissed secrecy goodnight and put it to bed for the duration.
There was always going to be an Edward Snowden -- or rather Edward Snowdens. And no matter what the NSA and the Obama administration do, no matter what they threaten, no matter how fiercely they attack whistleblowers, or who they put away for how long, there will be more. No matter the levels of classification and the desire to throw a penumbra of secrecy over government operations of all sorts, we will eventually know.
They have constructed a system potentially riddled with what, in the Cold War days, used to be called “moles.” In this case, however, those “moles” won’t be spying for a foreign power, but for us. There is no privacy left. That fact of life has been embedded, like so much institutional DNA, in the system they have so brilliantly constructed. They will see us, but in the end, we will see them, too.
With our line-ups in place, let’s turn to the obvious question: How’s it going? How’s the game of surveillance playing out at the global level? How has success in building such a system translated into policy and power? How useful has it been to have advance info on just what the U.N. general-secretary will have to say when he visits you at the White House? How helpful is it to store endless tweets, social networking interactions, and phone calls from Egypt when it comes to controlling or influencing actors there, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or the generals?
We know that 1,477 “items” from the NSA’s PRISM program (which taps into the central servers of nine major American Internet companies) were cited in the president’s Daily Briefing in 2012 alone. With all that help, with all that advanced notice, with all that insight into the workings of the world from but one of so many NSA programs, just how has Washington been getting along?
Though we have very little information about how intelligence insiders and top administration officials assess the effectiveness of the NSA’s surveillance programs in maintaining American global power, there’s really no need for such assessments. All you have to do is look at the world.
Long before Snowden walked off with those documents, it was clear that things weren’t exactly going well. Some breakthroughs in surveillance techniques were, for instance, developed in America’s war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. intelligence outfits and spies were clearly capable of locating and listening in on insurgencies in ways never before possible. And yet, we all know what happened in Iraq and is happening in Afghanistan. In both places, omniscience visibly didn’t translate into success. And by the way, when the Arab Spring hit, how prepared was the Obama administration? Don’t even bother to answer that one.
In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that, while U.S. spymasters and operators were working at the technological frontiers of surveillance and cryptography, their model for success was distinctly antiquated. However unconsciously, they were still living with a World War II-style mindset. Back then, in an all-out military conflict between two sides, listening in on enemy communications had been at least one key to winning the war. Breaking the German Enigma codes meant knowing precisely where the enemy’s U-boats were, just as breaking Japan’s naval codes ensured victory in the Battle of Midway and elsewhere.
Unfortunately for the NSA and two administrations in Washington, our world isn’t so clear-cut any more. Breaking the codes, whatever codes, isn’t going to do the trick. You may be able to pick up every kind of communication in Pakistan or Egypt, but even if you could listen to or read them all (and the NSA doesn’t have the linguists or the time to do so), instead of simply drowning in useless data, what good would it do you?
Given how Washington has fared since September 12, 2001, the answer would undoubtedly range from not much to none at all -- and in the wake of Edward Snowden, it would have to be in the negative. Today, the NSA formula might go something like this: the more communications the agency intercepts, the more it stores, the more it officially knows, the more information it gives those it calls its “external customers” (the White House, the State Department, the CIA, and others), the less omnipotent and the more impotent Washington turns out to be.
In scorecard terms, once the Edward Snowden revelations began and the vast conspiracy to capture a world of communications was revealed, things only went from bad to worse. Here’s just a partial list of some of the casualties from Washington’s point of view:
*The first European near-revolt against American power in living memory (former French leader Charles de Gaulle aside), and a phenomenon that is still growing across that continent along with an upsurge in distaste for Washington.
*A shudder of horror in Brazil and across Latin America, emphasizing a growing distaste for the not-so-good neighbor to the North.
*China, which has its own sophisticated surveillance network and was being pounded for it by Washington, now looks like Mr. Clean.
*Russia, a country run by a former secret police agent, has in the post-Snowden era been miraculously transformed into a global peacemaker and a land that provided a haven for an important western dissident.
*The Internet giants of Silicon valley, a beacon of U.S. technological prowess, could in the end take a monstrous hit, losing billions of dollars and possibly their near monopoly status globally, thanks to the revelation that when you email, tweet, post to Facebook, or do anything else through any of them, you automatically put yourself in the hands of the NSA. Their CEOs are shuddering with worry, as well they should be.
And the list of post-Snowden fallout only seems to be growing. The NSA’s vast global security state is now visibly an edifice of negative value, yet it remains so deeply embedded in the post-9/11 American national security state that seriously paring it back, no less dismantling it, is probably inconceivable. Of course, those running that state within a state claim success by focusing only on counterterrorism operations where, they swear, 54 potential terror attacks on or in the United States have been thwarted, thanks to NSA surveillance. Based on the relatively minimal information available to us, this looks like a major case of threat and credit inflation, if not pure balderdash. More important, it doesn’t faintly cover the ambitions of a system that was meant to give Washington a jump on every foreign power, offer an economic edge in just about every situation, and enhance U.S. power globally.
A First-Place Line-Up and a Last-Place Finish
What’s perhaps most striking about all this is the inability of the Obama administration and its intelligence bureaucrats to grasp the nature of what’s happening to them. For that, they would need to skip those daily briefs from an intelligence community which, on the subject, seems blind, deaf, and dumb, and instead take a clear look at the world.
As a measuring stick for pure tone-deafness in Washington, consider that it took our secretary of state and so, implicitly, the president, five painful months to finally agree that the NSA had, in certain limited areas, “reached too far.” And even now, in response to a global uproar and changing attitudes toward the U.S. across the planet, their response has been laughably modest. According to David Sanger of the New York Times, for instance, the administration believes that there is “no workable alternative to the bulk collection of huge quantities of ‘metadata,’ including records of all telephone calls made inside the United States.”
On the bright side, however, maybe, just maybe, they can store it all for a mere three years, rather than the present five. And perhaps, just perhaps, they might consider giving up on listening in on some friendly world leaders, but only after a major rethink and reevaluation of the complete NSA surveillance system. And in Washington, this sort of response to the Snowden debacle is considered a “balanced” approach to security versus privacy.
In fact, in this country each post-9/11 disaster has led, in the end, to more and worse of the same. And that’s likely to be the result here, too, given a national security universe in which everyone assumes the value of an increasingly para-militarized, bureaucratized, heavily funded creature we continue to call “intelligence,” even though remarkably little of what would commonsensically be called intelligence is actually on view.
No one knows what a major state would be like if it radically cut back or even wiped out its intelligence services. No one knows what the planet’s sole superpower would be like if it had only one or, for the sake of competition, two major intelligence outfits rather than 17 of them, or if those agencies essentially relied on open source material. In other words, no one knows what the U.S. would be like if its intelligence agents stopped trying to collect the planet’s communications and mainly used their native intelligence to analyze the world. Based on the recent American record, however, it’s hard to imagine we could be anything but better off. Unfortunately, we’ll never find out.
In short, if the NSA’s surveillance lineup was classic New York Yankees, their season is shaping up as a last-place finish.
Here, then, is the bottom line of the scorecard for twenty-first century Washington: omniscience, maybe; omnipotence, forget it; intelligence, not a bit of it; and no end in sight.