“Together, we all prevail”

For a 1,500-word Shane Harris piece that could be part of Lawfare’s Empathy for Wiretappers series (brought to you by NSA contractor Northrop Grumman!), Stewart Baker blames the White House failure to mount a vocal defense of NSA on John Brennan’s departure.

“I think actually this is the first signal that John Brennan is gone,” said Baker, the former NSA general counsel. “I think that if Brennan had still been there he would have immediately appreciated the importance, and communicated that to the president, of defending the program.”

John Brennan, of course, played a key role in rationalizing Dick Cheney’s illegal wiretap program, and therefore not only has a stake in protecting NSA, but also in insisting that the current program — which is just a rehashed version of the illegal program — is critical for detecting terrorists.

By comparison, Lisa Monaco, whom Baker implicitly criticizes (and the article explicitly notes) for her silence in the face of NSA’s problems, headed DOJ’s National Security Division from 2010 2011 until this year, and so likely had to deal with the aftermath of the phone dragnet problems, the full brunt of the Internet dragnet problems (which purportedly got shut down under her tenure), and the upstream collection problems — all three “features” of the illegal program that never got shut down when it moved under FISA Court supervision, and got called “bugs” when DOJ (Monaco!) had to reveal them.

And while the piece provides interesting new details about White House’s chilly relationship with a man they’ve nevertheless given vastly increasing amounts of power to,

The weak backing from top administration officials has aggravated the relationship between Alexander and the White House, where he has never been warmly embraced.

[snip]

Alexander has never been especially close to Obama or White House officials. Some thought he had tried to amass too much surveillance authority without appreciating the legal constraints on his agency, according to a former administration official. “I don’t understand why the White House didn’t throw Alexander under the bus,” the official added.

It actually doesn’t consider whether the Administration might be pursuing a conscious strategy of weakening Alexander’s considerable power (I have no reason to believe they are, but I can imagine why they might want to weaken someone who has only expanded his power since 2005 and got caught in serial fuck-ups as well).

It also doesn’t consider the possibility that one reason NSA employees are dispirited is because they’re learning about programs that violate the self-image they’ve got of their Agency.

Former intelligence officials who remain in regular contact with those still in government say that morale at the NSA is low, both because of the reaction to leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden, which put the normally secretive agency under intense scrutiny, and because of budget cutbacks and the continuing government shutdown, which has left some employees furloughed without pay.

Ah well. The NSA spokesperson is issuing slogans, so all is well in the national security world.

An NSA spokesperson downplayed any rift between the agency and the administration. “National security is a team sport. For us, collaboration is built into the very fabric of who we are,” said Vanee Vines. “There is no truth to rumors of dissension between NSA and the administration regarding the Agency’s mission to help defend the nation and save lives. Together, we all prevail.”

Together, we all prevail.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

17 Responses to “Together, we all prevail”

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel Somehow info-sharing didn't manage to prevent the hack of FBI and DHS info. https://t.co/bD0A0WiIQh
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @sethwulsin God, that most unforgiving of Emergency Managers.
15mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel More important to MI GOP than fixing Flint's lead pipes: banning anal sex. https://t.co/ybIvpLyPUE
28mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @iduncan: By combining attack and defense, a reorganization at the NSA will mark a major change in how it does its job https://t.co/RT3h
32mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @dandrezner: Nothing Cam Newton did last night deserves the opprobrium that should be rightfully directed at Aqib Talib. https://t.co/3D
36mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @caulkthewagon Clintons are entitled to NH's vote after all.
57mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Also a very common thing https://t.co/77RYGCMwqP
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @jsd_west Petraeus knows where more Obama secrets are buried than Hillary.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @jsd_west Never heard anything more ridiculous. You know Petraeus did info-finding trip between FBI interview & resignation?
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @josephfcox When I read about it I wondered whether gangs and mafia have already exploited it.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @josephfcox: If hacker behind the DHS/FBI accurately described how he got the data, the DoJ has a serious, almost embarrassing, lack of …
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @froomkin: EXCLUSIVE: Top Hillary Clinton advisors & fundraisers lobbied against Obamacare https://t.co/F93gwzglKu by @lhfang https://t…
1hreplyretweetfavorite
October 2013
S M T W T F S
« Sep   Nov »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031