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fizrat
I'll start this off with a blatant opinion: this is what journalism should be. Well, except for the gimmicky web interface...

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-sec...beyond-control/

The Washington Post has just published an exhaustive (and exhausting) story about how the federal goverment's intelligence programs have ballooned since 9/11, creating redunancy and more information than is feasible to process. It raises many questions, a few of which I'll start off here:

1. Is it justifiable to have such a huge portion of the government out of sight and unaccountable? What does this mean for democracy in the US?

2. Can massive secret government structures like this present a threat to the civil liberties of American citizens? Could this intelligence and surveillance bureaucracy be turned against us?

3.Should we curb the military and intelligence spending as part of deficit cutting (or for other reasons)?


Those are the ones that most concern me, but feel free to add your own.
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BaphometsAdvocate
QUOTE(fizrat @ Jul 19 2010, 01:32 PM) *
I'll start this off with a blatant opinion: this is what journalism should be. Well, except for the gimmicky web interface...

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-sec...beyond-control/

Try this link :: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-sec...-control/print/
moif
1. Is it justifiable to have such a huge portion of the government out of sight and unaccountable? What does this mean for democracy in the US?

Justifiable by which standards? If survival of the state as a viable enterprise means employing dirty tricks, then dirty tricks are justifiable.

I don't think there is any democracy in the USA. Your elections give you no real choices.


2. Can massive secret government structures like this present a threat to the civil liberties of American citizens? Could this intelligence and surveillance bureaucracy be turned against us?

Yes and yes, but this was also the case from 1945 until 2001. If the stakes are high enough, we have no rights.

Intelligence agencies and other such systems are becoming what the military once was. Like the armies of old, they are the real method by which states now wage war. Military power is still useful but becoming less so with every passing year, because the pampered populations can't stomach pain. I don't mean this as a judgement on others.


3.Should we curb the military and intelligence spending as part of deficit cutting (or for other reasons)?

I think a process of natural selection will do this for you. Like Marius, reforming the chaotic Roman army into effective legions, pragmatism and central political control will polish the current plethora into efficiency.
Dontreadonme
1. Is it justifiable to have such a huge portion of the government out of sight and unaccountable? What does this mean for democracy in the US?

All three questions can be summed up in the same answer, as they are of a similar bent. Unaccountable bureaucracies [especially those that deal in intelligence or military operations] eventually, if not expeditiously, result in abuse. There's no other way around that. Today's climate is unlike the past; in the past journalists would voluntarily hold a story out of concern for national or tactical security. That isn't happening today. The same holds true for our security apparatus.

The easy answer is the one Moif gave. If it's for the good of the nation [or security, or fighting terrorists, or whatever] then it's OK to be secret and unaccountable. The problem lies in the very real fact that once these apparatus' gain their charter and/or their freedom of action, they will not voluntarily revoke it. Power gained must be maintained, even if it involves conjuring threats to justify their existence. National security secrecy is fine when warranted....it is tyranny when not.

Our nation is not at risk of falling asunder to terrorists attacks. Our institutional reaction has proven to help them succeed beyond their wildest expectations.
moif
QUOTE(DTOM)
The problem lies in the very real fact that once these apparatus' gain their charter and/or their freedom of action, they will not voluntarily revoke it. Power gained must be maintained, even if it involves conjuring threats to justify their existence.
Small fish get eaten by big fish, and thats what will happen with time. Just as the OSS became (or was replaced, depending on how you look at it) with the CIA, so will many of these current agencies eventually be absorbed by the central power from which they derive their authority, namely the state, the biggest fish of all. They won't have any say in the matter, they will go voluntarily or face the consequences.


QUOTE(DTOM)
Our nation is not at risk of falling asunder to terrorists attacks. Our institutional reaction has proven to help them succeed beyond their wildest expectations.
For the state, terrorism is merely a means to an end. The real threat you face, and probably why these many agencies have suddenly mushroomed is because 21st century realpolitik requires the USA to be all powerful in any and every sphere of conflict. Since the state requires the ability to kill its enemies, whilst maintining a politically acceptable veneer of civilisation, then terrorism is a convenient excuse to build up a 'new model army'.

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