I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post where I questioned how ostensibly liberal politicians like Franken and Obama and so many other Democrats ultimately drank the Kool Aid when it came to national security.
Of course, I am not a Washington insider, but I think I can make some reasonable assumptions about what happens to newcomers when they enter the vortex that is D.C. politics.
The seeds of the national security state were planted by a frightened and reactionary Bush Administration immediately after 9/11 and have sprouted into myriad agencies and programs related to homeland security and surveillance.
Now imagine you are the director of a large surveillance program. It could be at the CIA or NSA or some other government branch. You’re called to a top-secret briefing for congressional members on your latest activities and accomplishments. You know that there will be many new representatives at your presentation. So what is your primary objective? To present a sober, realistic picture of the department’s successes and failures? No, silly. YOU MUST JUSTIFY YOUR EXISTENCE.
Exactly what is the best way to justify your existence? It’s to present your division as an essential bulwark against the threat of terrorists who are hiding in every American neighborhood plotting their next deadly assault. In other words, you are going to scare people into believing your services are essential to the safety of America. There may be some truth in what you say during your presentation, but whatever the real situation is on the ground, however many times it’s been shown that massive data mining is an ineffective approach, your argument is going to be that the world is a very dangerous and scary place with threats lurking everywhere, therefore your division’s work is absolutely necessary.
In other words, as an expert in your field, your job is to scare skeptical liberals into becoming devoted, unquestioning soldiers in the war on terror, thus securing your position in the vast machine powering the surveillance monster. Up to this point, it has been a highly successful approach.
With recent revelations of the immense scope of the NSA surveillance program, it remains to be seen what effect the outrage of normal citizens will have on those “liberal” politicians on Capital Hill. I fear it won’t be much. No one ever likes admitting they were wrong. I will be very surprised if any of the Kool Aid drinkers turns around and says, “Wow, sorry. I made a mistake.” This is Washington, D.C. after all.