Petraeus scandal: This is the national-security establishment turning the surveillance apparatus on itself

From Patrick Radden Keefe, in the New Yorker: "The serialized revelations that have unfolded since Friday—when Petraeus, who left the military as a four-star general, resigned from the C.I.A. because of an affair—are, to say the least, honeyed with irony. In the decade following September 11, 2001, the national-security establishment in this country devised a surveillance apparatus of genuinely diabolical creativity—a cross-hatch of legal and technical innovations that (in theory, at any rate) could furnish law enforcement and intelligence with a high-definition early-warning system on potential terror events. What it’s delivered, instead, is the tawdry, dismaying, and wildly entertaining spectacle that ensues when the national-security establishment inadvertently turns that surveillance apparatus on itself."


  1. My schadenfreude in seeing the director of the CIA taken down by the tattered privacy protections his agency helped to dismantle is counterbalanced by my irritation that this is what it takes for the AP to start writing articles with titles like “How easy is it for law enforcement to read your emails?”

    Suddenly they give a shit, right?

    1. Don’t call it a mandate. Not that you did. I just wonder if the press is reflecting the wishes of the people, as shown by the election, just a little bit more this week than last? The conservatives lost a lot, maybe this is the AP showing that by returning to some pre-9/11 standards?

      1.  The press doesn’t exist to reflect the wishes of the people. If now it’s suddenly okay to write about the loss of privacy protection then something is still wrong.

      2. I think it’s simply another illustration of the principle that people with power are in a position to challenge the curtailment of their rights. When the target is a general, suddenly people care.

        Take Watergate, for example. Big national scandal! But the only thing new about the Watergate burglary was that the target was Democrats, not black community organizers or anti-war groups.

        The CIA and FBI had been running COINTELPRO and MKULTRA for more than a decade before Watergate.

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