Can Congress Trust ‘Emperor Alexander’?


I’ve been fortunate (?) as a journalist to interview two directors of the National Security Agency, however briefly.

One was the late Bill Odom, who led the NSA for three years during Ronald Reagan’s administration, and died in 2008.

The other was Keith Alexander, appointed by George W. Bush’s first Defense Secretary, Don Rumsfeld. Barack Obama kept him in the job.

With NSA domestic surveillance in the news and Alexander putting in some serious face time before Congress, I took the time to dig up those old interviews.

What strikes me in retrospect is how both men spoke with conviction and candor.

Only one of them, however, spoke honestly. It wasn’t Alexander.
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Snowden Screws The Pooch

categories: [Posts, Politics, Intrigue, Foolishness]
published:
– true

– published

God dammit, Edward Snowden.

“He’s our age,” my confidant said proudly when we first learned Snowden’s name two months ago.

I shared that sense of pride. Snowden’s whistleblowing seemed, at first, so much less fraught than the Bradley Manning’s relatively aimless data dumps.
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Bookmark Black Hole 7-21-2013

I got a lot more reading done this week, but only thanks to insomnia.

The specialty of foreign-affairs blogging is explaining to a supposedly uninformed public the complexities of the outside world. Because blogging isn’t reporting, nor is it subject to much editing (let alone peer review), posts like [this] are particularly vulnerable to their author’s blind spots and risk endogenizing, instead of detecting and flushing out, the bullshit in their source material.

Spot-on:

This is an endemic problem across the massive middlebrow “Ideas” industry that has overwhelmed the Internet, taking over from more expensive activities like research and reporting.

“[F]ast forward a bit and… I think there is going to be a device in the ceiling with microphones, and it will be in my glasses or my wristwatch or my shirt. And like the Google Glass it won’t have a keyboard… you just say ‘OK Google, blah-blah-blah’ and you get what you want.”

A microphone in every room connected directly to the internet? Sure. Why not. (That’s Google engineering director Scott Huffman talking, by the way.)
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Bookmark Black Hole 7-15-2013

I figured that instead of just letting things vanish forgotten into my Instapaper account (the Black Hole), I may as well share some of the stuff I’m reading, or at least trying to get around to reading.

You don’t start an insurgency against a powerful beast like our NatSec state without knowing what the fuck you’re doing, without a politics and a well thought-out set of strategies and allies and such.

Too late now!

On a related note,

Also:

RIP Michael Hastings, A Genuine Journalist


This is terrible news.

I knew Michael Hastings only by email and Twitter and of course by reputation. I’d looked forward to meeting him one day. This morning I’m sad to know that won’t happen, sad for his family and friends and sad that we’ve lost another good reporter.

I’ve known some courageous reporters, who can get to the bottom of things, and some good writers, who can keep you reading to the end. Hastings had both talents going for him and that was enough to set him apart. But he had more to admire.

Few journalists seemed so eager to confront the real problems facing the United States—versus the distractions served up by the weekly war of talking points—as Hastings.

He had that rare combination of career success and intellectual honesty. So often one eventually snuffs out the other, but Hastings was having a great run, even after moving to Buzzfeed, which was a gamble at the time but probably a smart one.

Hastings was hated by Beltway climbers and establishment bootlickers because he wouldn’t play ball.
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