Get PJ Media on your Apple

Unexamined Premises

Free Detroit City!

July 23rd, 2013 - 4:15 am

As everyone who’s ever been skating knows, there’s nothing like anarchy to bring about spontaneous order. Somebody decides to skate either clockwise or counter-clockwise and pretty soon everybody falls into line. Based on no empirical evidence whatsoever, a “progressive” would have predicted random collisions, overheated tempers and — in concealed-carry states — gunfire. To a leftist, life is a room full of bumper cars just waiting to happen, and needing the heavy, coercive, and sometimes lethal hand of the state to prevent citizens from, well, killing each other.

We conservatives, on the other hand, prefer the view that not every one of our fellow citizens is a homicidal maniac, thief, robber, or chiseler; we do not view the entire rest of humanity, crooked as its timber may sometimes be, as a threat. The Hobbesian left exists in a constant state of fear and misery (hence the rise of the Robocop), with the added genius that its prescriptions for ameliorating the human condition inevitably and ineluctably result in an increase in misery, until it finally turns into what it really has been all along: a suicide cult. The notion that less government equals better government is completely alien to them, because they do not trust themselves to be good.

And now we both have a chance to put our theories to the test, right there in Motown — Detroit City, Michigan, U.S.A.

Their theories, of course, have already been tried.

The fabulous Ruins of Detroit, decline-porn lovingly recorded by legions of photographers from around the world, are a direct result of leftist notions of government, put into place since the calamitous riots of 1967 and now at their apotheosis in the bankruptcy of one of America’s greatest cities. An entire city has effectively been leveled in a failed attempt to prove that the crackpot Marxist “labor theory of value” makes any sense in the real world; that the current generation of people is far more important than those in the past who labored to create the city, and more important even than future generations. An infinite amount of money — well, nearly infinite, because Detroit finally ran out of it — has been expended in order to provide “services” that nearly everyone would have been better off providing for themselves.

As I wrote over at the Corner on NRO yesterday:

Until you’ve been there, you have no idea just how devastated the place is. And I don’t mean “devastated” in its current pop-psychological, New York Times-sense of “a little bit discomfited” — I mean devastated as in Carthage just before the salt trucks arrived. I’ve driven all over the city, from downtown to Eight Mile along Woodward Avenue, which bisects the town into its east and west sides, through surviving neighborhoods like the faded but still mightily impressive Boston-Edison and Indian Village, to neighborhoods that, well, simply do not exist anymore. They’re gone. From Brush Park, for example — in the 19th Century, Detroit’s most desirable neighborhood — you can stand on what amounts to a prairie, gazing south toward downtown a couple of miles away, and your view is entirely unobstructed — you can easily make out Ford Field in the distance. A city that once boasted the finest residential architecture in the country is now effectively a ghost town, and all the finger-pointing won’t bring it back.

And that’s the real tragedy of Detroit — a marvelous example of 20th Century American civilization has vanished and is now returning to a state of nature that would have, literally, been inconceivable were it pitched back in the 1950s as one option for the city’s future. We can argue all we want about the blame, but there is no gainsaying that Detroit did not deserve its lot, and does not deserve to be an object of derision for the Right today.

"Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus." Maybe

“Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.” Maybe

Pages: 1 2 | 56 Comments»

Why Does Anyone Run for Office?

July 18th, 2013 - 3:23 pm
Because I said so

Because I said so

So goes the question on everybody’s lips whenever a candidate willingly subjects him- or -herself to the media’s proctological examination (more rigorous by far for conservatives and Republicans), the gleeful reportage of old rumors and innuendos, the financial Lower GI, and the ritual humiliation of the office-seeker, his or her spouse and their children, if any. Surely, the thinking goes, no one in his right mind would go through all this just for a job as a “public servant.”

Well, who said anything about “right mind”? I’ve come to the realization that the very question could only be asked by someone whose sanity is not in doubt, someone possessed of a shame gene, someone with a social conscience and, very likely, a day job. Someone, in other words, who doesn’t really want to be a contemporary American politician.

We still maintain a romantic notion of the citizen-legislator, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the honest guy who believes that politics is not a complete mug’s game, and who harbors the notion of doing good. But if that fellow ever existed — and frankly I’m not sure he or she ever really did — then his day is long gone. What we have now are not citizen-legislators but citizen-dictators who can’t wait to get their hands on the levers of the regulatory state and give it to their fellow Americans, but good.

The fact is, government today no longer exists to serve the people, but to regulate them. Regulation is everything, the name of the game — by executive order when possible, by armies of unelected, unfireable, faceless mole-people appartchiks otherwise. The mushrooming of federal agencies in our lifetimes — say, from the Johnson and Nixon administrations on — has been phenomenal, all of it effected in the name of “doing something” about this or that perceived problem. The problems naturally remain (poverty for sure, although chastity and obedience have been summarily dealt with), but the bureaucracy continues to lurch around, flailing its arms and smashing every good and decent thing it encounters in its efforts to control the lives of subjects who were once free citizens.

Pages: 1 2 | 15 Comments»

Licensed to Smooch

July 16th, 2013 - 11:17 am
FirstAmendment

An order, not a suggestion

So Eric Holder’s Justice Department has just issued new guidelines for the federal government’s treatment of journalists. I’ll wait a minute while that sinks in …

That’s right: in a clear violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights, a branch of the U.S. government is making policy regarding its treatment of the “press”:

The Justice Department on Friday announced changes to how it will conduct investigations of leaks of classified information to reporters, making it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain journalists’ phone records and other private information without giving news organizations advance notice….

According to the rule changes, the government will no longer be able to pursue a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials.

That tactic was used in the FBI’s argument in the Fox News case. Specifically, an affidavit filed in the case by an FBI agent said Rosen may have acted as “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leak of classified information to the government’s main target in the investigation, a State Department official.

In addition, under the new rules, a search warrant can no longer be issued if the reporter is engaged in ordinary news gathering activities and if the individual is not the explicit target of the investigation. Court documents suggested that Rosen used flattery to coax the information out of the government official who leaked him documents. Such behavior would presumably fall under the ordinary news gathering provision.

Another change in the guidelines would make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain a reporter’s calling records without giving the news organization advance notice.

Well, thank you very much. But note a hidden caveat: the use of the word “news organizations.” As the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, notes:

Does this policy protect anyone doing journalism, or just members of the establishment? The Justice Department talks about protection for “news media” (the guidelines don’t use the word “press”) but doesn’t provide any guidance on just who that is. Presumably, if you’re drawing a paycheck from the New York Times or Gannett (the parent company of USA TODAY), you’re covered. (But note that, not too long ago, the Obama administration was claiming that Fox News, home of James Rosen, one of the key targets of recent Justice Department snooping, was not a “legitimate news organization.”) If the Justice Department can pick and choose in this fashion, the guidelines don’t mean much.

But even if the guidelines extend to everyone who draws a paycheck as a reporter or pundit — hey, I guess that would include me — that’s still not enough. In this era of blogging, social media and independent journalism, there are an awful lot of people doing serious journalism who aren’t drawing a paycheck from a media organization. They deserve protection, too. Journalism is an activity, not a profession.

Glenn goes on to cite the work of ACORN slayer James O’Keefe, independent “milibloggers” like Michael Yon and J.D. Johannes, and even the anonymous tweeters who first broke the news of the uprising that brought down Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and correctly observes that a system in which only members of “news organizations” (meaning the Legacy Media) are considered real journalists is effectively licensing — a First Amendment prohibition if there ever was one. And for that, you can thank John Milton.

BRITAIN-PAPACY (MILTON 2)

Take your license and shove it

The pamphlet above is the famous Areopagitica, Milton’s broadside against state licensing of individual opinion. (The back story is fascinating.) This epic rant, along with the seminal essays of “Cato” (Trenchard and Gordon) in the 18th century, forms the bedrock upon which the Framers based their notion of individual liberty. The great poet of Paradise Lost certainly pulled no punches:

Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil.

And how can a man teach with authority, which is the life of teaching, how can he be a doctor in his book as he ought to be, or else had better be silent, whenas all he teaches, all he delivers, is but under the tuition, under the correction of his patriarchal licenser, to blot or alter what precisely accords not with the hidebound humour which he calls his judgment? — when every acute reader, upon the first sight of a pedantic license, will be ready with these like words to ding the book a quoit’s distance from him …

Translation: good can only be discerned in the presence of evil, and truth is impossible to discover when it’s being dictated from the top down. Here’s a trenchant observation from “Cato”:

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors.

As Milton famously asserted:

I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell. How do we believe a word of anything we read (or hear or see) from the Licensed Media (or the “state-run media,” as Rush calls them) if they are not counter-balanced by the Non-State-Run Media? “Trust us, we’re professionals” is not exactly reassuring given their recent track record as information falsifiers and administration cheerleaders.

Pages: 1 2 | 10 Comments»

Freedom for Me, Not for Thee

July 9th, 2013 - 3:16 pm
durbin

I’d like to address my valets in the media

That would be First Amendment freedom. And, to listen to Dick Durbin talk about it, the senator from Illinois — you know, the one who didn’t become president five minutes after he won his seat — the First Amendment applies to real journalists, not you unwashed lot, with your grubby blogs and your cell-phone cameras and your Twitter accounts. Sen. Dick means real journalists — you know, like David Gregory. The kind who can get away with breaking the law because they’re Journalists and you’re not — which is apparently why they need shield laws and you don’t. Folks employed by big-time news organizations (although most of them aren’t as big-time as they once were). You know, the kinds of reporters and editors the Founders had in mind when they wrote the words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Except, of course, they didn’t.

In the freewheeling media environment of the mid/late 18th century, just about anything went. True, there were newspapers aplenty, frankly partisan affairs that advocated instead of reported. But there was also the contemporary equivalent of modern bloggers — rabble-rousers like Tom Paine, the British-born troublemaker and pamphleteer who provided much of the intellectual fodder for the American Revolution in works such as Common Sense. Like bloggers today, Paine was a pain in the ass, forever complaining about how underpaid and overworked he was, and mad at the world that his genius was not better appreciated and remunerated:

Often tactless, Paine provoked considerable controversy. He was invariably hard-pressed for money and had to depend upon the generosity of his American friends and the occasional reward from the French envoy in America. When the War came to an end, his financial position was so precarious that he had to campaign to obtain recompense from the government. Congress eventually rewarded him $3.000. Pennsylvania granted him £500 in cash, while New York proved more generous and gave him a confiscated Loyalist farm at New Rochelle.

After American independence had been won, Paine played no part in the establishment of the new republic. Instead, he busied himself trying to invent a smokeless candle and devising an iron bridge.

And when that didn’t pan out, Paine hied himself off to France, where he threw himself into another revolution, in which he almost lost his head. He died, penniless, on his farm at New Rochelle.

A real Paine

A real Paine

Would Durbin consider Paine a journalist? Of course not; he’d consider him an enemy of the state. Here’s how the guy Rush calls Little Dick defines journalists:

Here is the bottom line – the media shield law, which I am prepared to support … still leaves an unanswered question, which I have raised many times: What is a journalist today in 2013? We know it’s someone that works for Fox or AP, but does it include a blogger? Does it include someone who is tweeting? Are these people journalists and entitled to constitutional protection?

When you hear a hack pol like Durbin bruit the issue of who’s “entitled” to constitutional protection, you know the fix is in. For today’s media happily occupies one side of the bed of the Democrat-Media Complex (in the late Andrew Breitbart’s famous formulation), a cozy racket in which each side protects and nourishes and pleasures the other. As the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, wrote the other day:

Sen. Dick Durbin thinks it’s time for Congress to decide who’s a real reporter. In the Chicago Sun-Times last week, he wrote: “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”

How do you decide who is a journalist? Essentially, he says, it’s someone who gets a paycheck from a media organization: “A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined ‘medium’ — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news Web site, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”

Does it really? Every form?

The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who’d never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like 18th century pamphleteers.

Pages: 1 2 | 39 Comments»

Ring of Fire, Den of Thieves

June 26th, 2013 - 11:19 am
The Special Prosecutor

The Special Prosecutor

The whole crowd are a complete ring: the Chief of Police, the Chief of Detectives, the Mayor and the City Attorney.” Thus spake special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, the gang-busting lawyer and politician, when he was trying to extradite Lucky Luciano from his protected redoubt in Bill Clinton’s home town of Hot Springs, Ark., back in 1936. After the assassination of fellow gangster Dutch Schultz in the fall of 1935, Charlie Lucky had fled to Bubbles, where he sought the protection of Owney Madden, the English-born Irish gangster who had recently moved his base of operations from Manhattan to Hot Springs.

The charge was pimping, but everyone knew that was just a placeholder for all the other crimes Luciano had committed. As the last man standing after the Castellammarese War of 1930-31, the mob-sanctioned takedown of the Dutchman and Madden’s simultaneous relocation to Hot Springs, the Sicilian-born Salvatore Lucania had survived various attempts on his life (hence his nickname, “Lucky”) to become the mob’s kingpin — and Dewey’s principal target. So when Dewey turned up the heat in New York, Luciano headed down to Madden’s protective embrace in the delightfully corrupt spa burg in the Ouachitas.

Hot Springs was ideally located, just 55 miles or so from the state capital at Little Rock, which was close enough with which to do business and far away so as not to be nosy. When Madden needed something done, he would simply order the governor to meet him somewhere in the woods between the two cities, orders would be given, money would exchange hands, and business would proceed at usual.

Because what Madden quickly learned at the beginning of his 30-year exile in Bubbles was that organized crime was great– but it was even better and more efficient when the government was part of the racket The town already had a corrupt mayor in place in the person of Leo McLaughlin, but Madden and his associates expanded the ring to eventually include not only all the local officials, but the governor of Arkansas and at least one of the state’s U.S. senators, “crimebusting” John McClellan, first elected to the House in 1935 (the year Madden arrived) and to the Senate in 1943, where he served until his death in 1977. During the 1963 “Valachi” hearings into big-city crime, McClellan was forced to call Madden before his committee, but carefully protected him from questioning and quickly sent him back to Arkansas.

Thus Dewey’s complaint cited above — everybody in Bubbles was a crook, including the police chief (who lived next door to Madden), the head detective, McLaughlin (surely the model for the cheerfully powerless mayor in Miller’s Crossing) and the D.A. They were all on Madden’s payroll. Needless to say, they were all Democrats.

Pages: 1 2 3 | 42 Comments»

‘What Is It You Want Us to Do?’

June 21st, 2013 - 4:24 pm

Right: die. Which brings to mind Mitch McConnell’s observation today:

WASHINGTON—The Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused the Obama administration and its allies of undertaking a broad effort to push conservatives off the political playing field by trying to identify and harass their donors and force them into silence.

Mr. McConnell, in a pointed speech before a mostly conservative audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups was one element of a broader attempt to vilify the political right.

President Barack Obama and his allies, he said, citing the IRS matter and other actions, had created a “culture of intimidation … around any person or group that spoke up for conservatism—or against the direction the president and his administration wanted to take us.”

It’s about time the mastodons of the GOP finally realize what they’re up against, and what they have been up against for a very long time. For the Obama administration is not simply politics-as-usual, in which both sides of the aisle gather to welcome us — the marks — to their weekly poker game, and we’re the guys who leave without our pants. No, this time (as my faux-leftist character, David Kahane, likes to say) it’s personal.  Thanks to a combination of timing, good luck, and the incredible stupidity of the Republican Party, which nominated not one but two sure-loser candidates against him, Barack Obama and his brain trust have finally succeeded where previous generations of radical Leftists had failed, and that is the successful neutralization of the conservative movement, which must perforce lead to its ultimate destruction.

Better wise up, suckers

Time to wise up, suckers

As “Kahane” writes in the introduction to Rules for Radical Conservatives:

I want you to get mad.  Good old-fashioned all-American furious, as you realize that we’ve been playing you for suckers for decades now, relying on your good will and sense of fair play and willingness to entertain any theory, no matter how ridiculous.  Slow to anger, that’s you guys, whereas our side usually resembles nothing more than visiting day in the insane asylum, what with all the shouting, shrieking, screaming, begging, whining, imploring and general carrying-on.  Whereas you tend to sit there, smiling and nodding, welcoming us into your homes via the evening news, and into your children’s noggins via the state-controlled educational system, and into your purses and bank accounts via the ever-expanding reach of the federal government and its insatiable appetite for your money and your property.  Not realizing that slowly we are squeezing the life out of you and what used to be your country, slow-boiling the frog, delay-poisoning you with our arsenic biscuits, the way Miss Madeleine Smith eventually rid herself of her inconvenient lover, Emile L’Angelier, in long-ago Scotland.

I want you to understand that very little of what you are about to read has happened to you by accident, that most of it was done with malice aforethought – not in any vast-left-wing conspiracy sort of way, controlled from Moscow Center by a giggling psychopath stroking a white cat, but still deliberately – and with the clear intention of bringing down your society and replacing it with something else.  Something that will still be called “the United States of America” (maybe; we haven’t decided yet) but will bear as little resemblance to the land of Lincoln as 19th-century Britain does to its 21st-century incarnation.

I want you to understand that with each passing day, as we wrap our tentacles more tightly around you, binding you with a million small pieces of petty legislation, harassing legal tactics, intrusive law enforcement, and the criminalization of just about everything, we are doing this for a reason: to weaken you enough so that in the unlikely event you actually do decide to fight back, you won’t be able to.

And that’s basically the leftist strategy for America and has been since I was in college at the end of the turbulent Sixties.

Pages: 1 2 | 42 Comments»

Life Imitates Devlin

June 15th, 2013 - 6:16 pm

CSS_Logo
My friends on the right are finally waking up to what the National Security Agency has been up to. Andy McCarthy has a definitive look at the subject over at NRO:

The same spirited defense of wartime executive power also informed the debate over the PATRIOT Act, very much including its controversial business-records provision — Section 215. Records of subscriber usage maintained by service providers such as telephone companies — called “third-party” records because they are the property of the provider, not the subscriber — enjoy no Fourth Amendment protection. They have always been freely subpoenaed, with virtually no judicial oversight, by law-enforcement agents exercising the executive branch’s police powers. The objective of the PATRIOT Act was to vest equal investigative authority in national-security agents (the FBI’s domestic-security division), on the theory that protecting our country from mass-murder attacks was a higher priority than probing, say, a run-of-the-mill check-kiting scheme…

The NSA is in hot water again, but it is not doing anything different from what it was doing in the Bush years — under the authorities Republicans and conservatives won in the bruising battles over reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act and overhauling FISA. It is still collecting telephone-usage records (“metadata”) on millions of Americans (though not the content of their conversations). It is broadly targeting the communications of non-Americans outside the United States for surveillance — though some domestic American communications may inadvertently be picked up because the surveillance involves vacuuming up traffic as it zooms across U.S.-based servers.

What the NSA is doing, however, will come as no surprise to readers of my “Devlin” books, which chronicle the exploits of an extremely disaffected NSA/CSS (Central Security Service) operative who just so happens to be their most lethal weapon. Devlin is so secret that his very existence is known only to three people in the need-to-know loop: the president, the secretary of defense, and the NSA director himself, who just so happens to be his adoptive father. Here’s an excerpt from the second book in the series, Early Warning (2010), whose original title was to have been Black Widow:

No Such Agency was founded by President Truman in 1952 to both collect and decode foreign signals (SIGINT) and to protect America’s codes from hostile code breakers.  The Second World War had made both encryption and cryptanalysis boom industries, and a wide variety of codes had been employed, everything from the Germans’ “Enigma” machine — named after the series of musical variation by the British composer, Sir Edward Elgar, to the Navajo “code talkers” who had worked for the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater.

Still, in the end, code-breaking was all about patterns, even if those patterns were sometimes so deeply hidden that they resembled wheels within wheels, whose sprockets had to be carefully aligned for the message to be read and understood.  Today, the volume and the magnitude of the threat was infinitely greater than it had been 75 years ago — one missed pattern and the next thing you knew there was a smoking, radioactive crater where midtown Manhattan or the Washington Monument had once stood.  Which is where the Black Widow came in.

The Black Widow was the in-house nickname of the NSA’s Cray supercomputer at Fort Meade.  Forget privacy — no matter what the sideshow arguments in Congress were about the FISA laws or civil liberties, the Black Widow continued to go remorselessly about her job, which was to listen in on, and read, all telephonic and written electronic communication, in any language, anywhere in the world.  It was the old Clinton-era “Echelon” project writ large, able to performs trillions of calculations per second as it sifted and sorted in its never-ending quest for key words, code words, patterns.  The ACLU had screamed, but presidents from both parties had surreptitiously embraced it.  The Black Widow was here to stay, little Miss Early Warning, if only she could be heeded and translated in time.

1-early-warning

You’ve been warned

Wiretapping  had come a long way.  In the popular imagination — and in the minds of the media, which to judge from the op-ed pages of the New York Times, now viewed everything through the lenses of bad movies and show tunes — “eavesdropping” still conjured up images of fake telephone repairmen in jump suits, shimmying up phone poles or cracking open service boxes in the sub-sub-basement and applying alligator clips to the switching machinery.  Congress, only slightly less obtuse than the media, played along, and continued to debate and pass laws having to do with “warrantless wiretapping;” there was even a court, a vestige from decades earlier, that solemnly heard evidence in camera and then gravely debated whether to issue warrants.

None of that mattered any more.  It was all for show.  the Black Widow not only heard all and read all, she could sense all: the technology had advanced to such an extent that the Widow and other Cray supercomputers like her — including the Cray XT4, known as the Jaguar, and the MPP (massively parallel processor) housed at the University of Tennessee  — could read the keystrokes of a given computer through the electrical current serving the machine.  And all linkable.  If the Singularity wasn’t here yet, it would be soon.

You can read more about Early Warning and the other books in the series —Hostile Intent and Shock Warning — here. I’m at work now on the fourth installment of the series, which will take Devlin and Maryam in an entirely new direction. Stay tuned.

About That Air Force ‘Ban’

June 12th, 2013 - 4:06 pm

top-secret-documents-gsa-containers-shredders11

One of the problems with the media is that, too often, they seize on and then misinterpret events that more experienced eyes and hands understand. Given that most reporters and editors are generalists, not specialists, this sometimes turns ordinary bureaucratic procedures into sinister machinations. It’s like sending a rookie to review La Boheme for the first time, and he comes back with the breathless discovery that [warning: spoiler alert] Mimi dies at the end. Well, duh…

Let me offer as an example this story at Breitbart and on World Net Daily. The headline on the Breitbart story reads:

AIR FORCE BANS PERSONNEL FROM READING NEWS STORIES REPORTING NSA SCANDAL

At WND, it’s:

MILITARY TOLD NOT TO READ OBAMA-SCANDAL NEWS — Verizon phone records story off-limits to airmen.

Oh-oh: another example of Obama administration overreach, right? Manipulation of the armed forces to serve political ends? The descending jackboot of fascism?

In fact, it’s nothing of the sort — just CYA business as usual by the Permanent Bureaucracy, Air Force division. And it makes perfect sense.

The memo to the 624th Operations Center – which is a cyberspace wing of the 24th Air Force in Lackland, Texas — instructs personnel that some of the material leaked by The Guardian regarding the NSA’s data-mining efforts and the PRISM program might, in fact, still be classified, and therefore they should not access it, even inadvertently.

Viewing and/or downloading these documents on Air Force NIPRNET computers could constitute a Classified Message incident. Therefore, users are not to access these files for any reason.

Translation: open-source news stories with possible embedded links to stolen classified information, if passed around on unsecured networks,  can get folks into a lot of trouble, by bringing in-house security monitors down on the miscreant’s head to learn whether he or she knew what they were forwarding, however inadvertently. In short, it’s for the airmen’s protection.

And that’s it. Nothing at all to do with the Obama administration — it has plenty of scandals already, but shielding negative news about itself from the military is not one of them. They can get that anywhere: PJ Media is freely available on military computers.

Devlin’s Revenge

June 7th, 2013 - 10:40 am
YouTube Preview Image

Why is anyone surprised by the NSA’s data-mining program? I’ve been writing about it for several years now, in my trio of “Devlin” novels: Hostile IntentEarly Warning, and Shock Warning, which have just been picked up for e-book publication in the UK, I’m pleased to report. The books have found their audience, especially among members of the military and the intelligence community, in part thanks to my main character — a cipher working for the secretive branch of the NSA called the Central Security Service and known only by his code name, “Devlin,” who gets called into action in the most dire of circumstances — and in part because they accurately reflect the strange and lonely wilderness of mirrors in which people like Devlin live and operate.

My goal has been to illustrate and dramatize in fictional form various nightmare scenarios that keep our counter-terrorism officials awake at night. In the first book, Hostile Intent, it was a Beslan-style attack on a school in the Midwest, followed by an abortive attempt to launch an EMP device on both coasts; luckily, our man Devlin foiled both plots. Here’s a bit on the CSS and what it does:

“Under the authority of National Security Decision Memorandum 5100.20, signed by President Nixon on 23 December, 1971, and amended by President G. H. W. Bush on June 24, 1991,” said Gen. Seelye, “the Sec Def and I believe that you should provisionally authorize a Central Security Service operation to terminate the ongoing incident in Edwardsville.”

“Terminate, how, General?”

“With extreme, exemplary prejudice, sir,” replied Seelye.

President Tyler vaguely remembered the CSS, a special division of the National Security Agency that not one American in a million had even heard of, much less understood its function.  The CSS had been created originally under the Nixon Administration as the “fourth branch” of the armed services, to complement the Army, the Air Force and the Navy/Marines in the burgeoning field of electronic intelligence and combat.  But the traditional-minded put up the predictable bureaucratic fuss, and the CSS was quietly folded in the NSA, authorized to work with each of the individual service branches in capturing and decoding enemy SIGINT. So when, for example, a Navy submarine tapped an undersea Soviet communications cable, or one of the Air Force’s many electronic surveillance overflights picked up hostile transmissions, they were relayed to the CSS for evaluation and, if necessary, action.

But the CSS chafed at being a bystander and, using the “No Such Agency” cloak of anonymity, quickly moved into the void, coordinating covert strikes on Soviet assets with the utmost plausible deniability — “accidents” were amazingly common — and establishing its own presence as a service to be reckoned with.  Still, resistance from the uniformed services, kept it in the shadows of its birth, where it lurked now — the incognito, but highly effective, muscle arm of the NSA.

4-hostile-intent

In the second book, Early Warning, there’s a rip-roaring terrorist assault on Times Square patterned after the real world Bombay attacks of 2008 — and which I wrote well before the actual Times Square bombing attempt; it’s not easy staying ahead of the curve — all part of the triology’s meta-plot involving a shadowy Hungarian-born billionaire named Emanuel Skorzeny with a pronounced animus against the West. (Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.) With the entire island sealed off, Devlin infiltrates Manhattan via a disused Hudson River tunnel, teams up with members of the NYPD’s counter-terrorism unit, and sorts out the bad guys.

Pages: 1 2 | 6 Comments»

Benghazi, Mon Amour

June 5th, 2013 - 10:53 am
And the horse you rode in on

And the horse you rode in on

Just when you think the farce that goes by the name of the Obama White House couldn’t descend any lower, along comes this:

In a move sure to provoke congressional Republicans, President Obama is nominating embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice Wednesday to serve as his national security adviser.

The White House also confirmed that Mr. Obama is nominating former aide Samantha Power, who once referred to Hillary Rodham Clinton as a “monster” in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, to succeed Ms. Rice as U.N. ambassador.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s not one, not two, but three flips of the Obama bird to Congress, the American people, and his erstwhile secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Let’s start at the top.

Susan Rice is no more qualified to opine on matters of national security than a character from The Wizard of Oz. Like Obama himself, she is a highly politicized, over-credentialed Scarecrow, with certificates from Stanford, Oxford, and the Brookings Institution in place of a brain. Among her intellectual “achievements”:

In college, she pushed herself to excel. She not only earned Departmental Honors and University Distinction, but also became a Harry S. Truman scholar, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Rhodes scholarship. She turned the heads of top administrators when she created a fund that withheld alumni donations until the university either stopped their investments in companies doing business in South Africa, or the country ended apartheid.

After she received her bachelor’s degree in history in 1986, she went on to attend University of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. Here she earned her M.Phil and D.Phil in international relations, and wrote a dissertation that examined Rhodesia’s transition from white rule.

A protege of Madeleine Albright, Rice joined the National Security Council during the Clinton administration in 1993:

[Albright] recommended Rice for the post of assistant secretary for African affairs in 1997. With her appointment, she became one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state ever. Many elder politicians disagreed with placing a young woman in the position, arguing that she would be unable to deal with older, male leaders. But Rice developed a reputation for her direct, plainspoken opinions, and an ability to bring people to her side of the table. “They have no choice but to deal with me on professional terms. I represent the United States of America,” she says. “Yeah, they may do a double take, but then they have to listen to what you say, how you say it and what you do about what you say.”

In other words, she’s a grievance-monger with a feminist chip on her shoulder, twin virtues which will henceforth inform her foreign-policy perspective as Obama continues his mission to “fundamentally transform” American society by wreaking revenge on his “enemies.” But wait, it gets worse.

Pages: 1 2 | 18 Comments»