Column by Tim Hartnett.
Exclusive to STR
Things always look a lot clearer from behind the beltway curtain. It’s nothing like the haze your average American rube sees trying to watch developments along the Potomac. So Washington keeps a crew spinning round the clock to set the story straight, narrow and well off the course of the blogosphere. We call them lawyers, lobbyists, bureaucrats, PR boys, experts, G-Men, secret agents and journalists. It’s not always easy to tell one from another and even harder figuring out which ones are supposed to be on our side. They all seem to be knights on a quest to slay dragons in the service of that evil troll, reality.
The 4th estate has been giving us blow by blow of a dust-up between Langley and Capitol Hill for about a month now. An uninformed observer might even think stakes in the brawl are big ones. Dana Milbank certainly does. The ace WP opinion maker titled a 3-12-14 piece on the donnybrook, A true Obama scandal (emphasis added), to put things in perspective.
This writer could never be called the man on the street; hearing about the insolent grievances of Joe Six-Pack offends him in column after column. While we never get a peep about the sleazy lobbyists and government contractors he rubs elbows with at lunch every day. You can’t beat him though for the pedestrian voice of Connecticut Avenue. So, in his defense, it must be said that Tea Party organizations are lot less likely to purchase full page ads in the Post the way a conscientious ultra-American organization like Booz Allen does.
According to Dana, supposed CIA spying on the Senate is the only thing anybody’s got so on this administration so far. Apparently Company operatives rifled the computers of a Senate committee investigating the agency. Their mission was to un-surrender documents detailing “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The pretext for CIA reneging was that the legislators had gotten hold of “raw data” rather than official versions from the proper executive sources. Straight company dope just in from the field is the kind of truth elected officials can’t handle as CIA Director Brennan would have it. The idea of any CYA going on in the editing process is pure conspiracy theory.
On hearing this we’re supposed to be screaming “WHAT” as bodily convulsions tear the arms off our chairs. And we would be too if only we had the grasp of statist theology that that high-churchman Dana Milbank does. Milbank is constantly in high dudgeon over ingratitude and mal-contentment in the lowly rank and file but now wants to rouse them. Why this is bigger than the guns that went to Mexican drug-lords, Solyndra, Benghazi, all the lying and lack of transparency, NSA prying, fast and loose Obamacare promises and trying to run the Romeike’s out of the country for being devout Christians. Oh, and that thing about siccing the IRS on thought criminals? You’ve got to be kidding.
Where Dana draws the line is pointing all those cloaks and daggers toward fellow feeders at the beltway trough. Casually treating plain old Americans like criminal suspects in their own country only upsets paranoiacs by Dana-lights. So, naturally, he thinks everyone else should feel the same way. They don’t. A video of Diane Feinstein getting water-boarded and spilling everything she knows could easily go viral. It would get a lot more high-fives and laughs than heartfelt sympathy. Feinstein has sounded like she would where a wire to a family reunion for the FBI, although something like the KGB may be more to her liking, for years.
The California senator is the most effective advocate of the police state serving in a national office. He talks about Feinstein “demanding justice” when all the drama is really about the fact she was defied. If injustice was one of her priorities it’s been held discretely until now. The lady we’ve been hearing for the last ten years will be remembered for demanding Big Brother. A good long stint in Guantanamo Bay may be the senator’s best hope of salvation.
All of the distress about the supposedly purloined documents is going on within the circumference of 495. Nobody else has time to waste for another senate talk-a-thon to prove the tired fact that government officials lie whenever it’s convenient. If you started raging about it at the local watering hole the barkeep would make you pipe down or hit the bricks. The producers that give legislators air time don’t worry about torturing the public like gin-slingers do. If things had gone according to the original plan the newsfeeds would be laden for days with anguished, outraged and disgusted senatorial sound-bites over something anybody with a laptop knew ten years ago. The CIA has ways of making you talk. The elaborate ordeal congress puts the country through so they can deliver hammy lines on TV is a perpetual scandal.
Why do we even need a Hill hearing on something we know will leave CIA heads and culture intact? Criminal fads by heavily armed government employees are routinely indulged. Those hundred and fifty or so victims aren’t getting their fingernails, or anything else they might have lost back, and Obama already ruled out prosecutions. So the only possible justification for the spectacle is that with consequences out of the way this lemon is finally ripe enough to squeeze.
When it comes to getting your panties in a twist over the intelligence racket you have to wonder if Milbank bothers to peruse the daily that ponies up his meal ticket. Dana Priest and William Arkin began publishing their series, Top Secret America, in July 2010. It reported 4 years ago that 854,000 people had top secret clearances then, that’s 88,000 more than the entire Russian military today. Nearly 2000 private contractors are cashing in and at the rate things are going there will soon be a corporation soaking taxpayers for every person that died in the Twin Towers.
Wallowing in the blood of September 11th to extort wealth and privilege is considered inspiring in Washington, DC. We no longer know if future generations will refer to our era as the Information Age or the Insecurity Revolution. The shameless shakedown that goes on all around anyone within 50 miles of the US Capitol is more than enough to numb the senses. That seems to be the idea. We’re all paying for a secret product that we can’t weigh, measure or take a ride in and the media is barely squawking.
We don’t even have a rough idea how much of the take is skimmed to be re-invested into the public service of scaring people out of their wits. Clumsy as that campaign is sometimes it almost seems to be working. But we can see the wise-gals of the biggest family in the syndicate, Booz Allen Hamilton, spending our money on Grey Goose cosmopolitans at pricey DC watering holes every Saturday night. They travel in mobs and think very much alike. The boys of BAH lay a little lower in town but manage to throw their weight around pretty blatantly anyway. What their trysts are costing cost us Edward Snowden probably doesn’t even know. Still you’d have to be in quite a fog to miss the open secret getting flaunted. Milbank’s oblivion is a telltale mark of his journalistic worth.
The insecurity industry doesn’t ask for much besides fabulous remuneration. They are willing to accept universal agreement we owe our mere existence to them. And with that concession may raise the status of the wider public from criminal at large to contemptible peasant. Freedom isn’t free, their slogan goes, which is why we have to pay them so much to watch what we say.
But the worst of it is that an onerous caste system is gradually being imposed on the United States. Charlie Schumer proposes even now to grant special legal privileges to employees of giant media corporations while leaving reliable sources exposed. So far no one has compiled a list of all the special rights, exemptions and exceptions bestowed upon those 854,000 top secret-o-crats or any of the other millions of “shepherds” getting government checks. The media routinely ignores the arrogant and oppressive behavior of people that congress has ennobled. Schumer wants to reward that betrayal of public trust by inviting them to join the club.
The military-industrial-financial-media sectors of the economy have bonded in ways unforeseen by Eisenhower’s famous speech. This surge against the American political culture goes undebated on Sunday mornings. It rendered citizens unconnected to this hierarchy unter-Americans even before 9-11. If guys like Milbank think of it at all they must believe it is too big to scandalize. The ones amassing all the drones, tanks, emails, metadata and money call themselves shepherds. So what does that make us? With a feast of pure reason like this going on the A-list at the buffet won’t be settling for wool indefinitely.