What is the solution to the problem of the NSA and the CIA? We know that the two organizations are not limited by their original charters, namely, to monitor the activities only of foreigners who might be a threat to the security of the United States, and never Americans.
Every organization in the government wants to get bigger: more power, more money, more employees. There is a process known as bureaucratic creep. Why is this? Because career promotions in a bureaucracy are based on the number of people who are under your authority. The more people your department hires, the more likely you will rise in the pyramid of power and pay. This is part of what is known as Parkinson’s law. The famous version is this: “Work expands so as to fill the time allotted for its completion.” But the more important aspect of this law is the law of bureaucratic growth. He published this in 1955, and it is still worth reading. Note: the context of the discussion was the growth of the military. This is basic to my suggested reform.
It is officially assumed by the NSA and the CIA that terrorists outside the United States who may be plotting against the United States will inevitably get into communication with people who are inside the United States. This assumes that terrorists have not figured this out, and they therefore still use digital communications. It assumes that they are not imitating Osama bin Laden, who was never caught transmitting digitally. The moment that the NSA and the CIA persuade the President and Congress that the terrorists will communicate with people inside the USA, they justify their practice of subjecting the entire population of the United States to total monitoring. This justification is sometimes called “six degrees of separation.” It is more commonly known as the Kevin Bacon game.
Edward Snowden has proven that the counter-spies have been playing the Kevin Bacon game with everyone in the USA. Just about everybody in the government suspected this beforehand, but nobody had the documentation. Now they do. That is his real crime in the eyes of the government. He turned the spokesmen of the NSA and the CIA into retroactive liars. They denied that any of this was going on. The government can live with this. Spies lie. So what? But Snowden also revealed that Congress was suckered by these lying spokesmen. Congress now looks like a collection of naive dolts. For this, he is hated.
The government’s right to collect telephone information is defended by the Obama Administration in a 22-page paper. Despite all of the President’s denials, the reality is this: there is no real challenge to the NSA’s surveillance of citizens on the part of the U.S. government.
I think there is an institutional way to reverse this bureaucratic creed. It is consistent with the Constitution. Here is my plan: All of the spying activities of the United States government should be transferred to the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense is officially the agency that is required to defend the United States from attack. Attack would include domestic terrorism.
LET THE MILITARY DO IT
The moment the assignment of monitoring potential terrorists is transferred to the Department of Defense, the spies’ budget becomes subjected to intense scrutiny from inside the Department of Defense. By transferring all spying activities to the Department of Defense, the agencies assigned to do the spying would have to defend their budgets to all the other bureaucrats inside the Department of Defense.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)