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October 31, 2012


There’s something inspiring about those mind-numbing tales of office politics. When the furor over the extremism report erupted, Homeland Security officials refused to defend the document, Johnson’s team was “left floundering day-to-day without any meaningful work to do,” and the department ended up adopting a new civil liberties and privacy review process. As far as Johnson is concerned, he’s telling a tale of spineless bureaucrats succumbing to political pressure and snuffing out his valuable efforts. But if you remove the filter of the author’s perspective, you’ll see that what Johnson calls political pressure could just as easily be seen as popular protest working. Offended citizens rose up; an unelected bureaucracy backed down; a lousy approach to tracking terror threats took a blow. All we needed was a leak, some public outrage, and the ass-covering instincts of the civil service. Take heart, civil libertarians: If they cowered once, they can cower again.

Make it so.

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