“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 Twitter10Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook1Google+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 @dj_hematite Either a way of marking each page of a legal document or a way of authorizing the Executive to do outrageous things.
7mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV Ex-officer says she was discharged for reporting burn-pit danger | Military Times | http://t.co/9lSqbkz4SJ http://t.co/jmW9JHzxS8
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Tee hee hee. Whichever of my readers has been Bates stamping Wikipedia, I thank you.
11mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel So Eric Holder is going to give BoA free money to pay off a "fine" that they will write off on taxes and had incentive to do anyway?
28mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @maxkeiser: BoA expected to borrow $16.5 billion forgivable, 0% loan from Fed to pay U.S. (i.e., itself) over mortgage bond fraud http:/…
30mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @banditelli Not sure I'd eat brussel sprouts in CA except for Turkey Day for that reason. Maybe glaze them in cider vinegar, though.
33mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @banditelli What season is it?
35mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @susanzalkind: Dzhokhar Tzarnaev's friend Dias Kadyrbaev is changing his not guilty plea in a hearing tomorrow. This is a huge turn arou…
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Reup: Eric Holder very careful to call violence caused by protestors violence, but violence caused by cops "force." http://t.co/RArNgAg1m2
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel "Where are Mo'Ne Davis' role models" http://t.co/nQaaXmRWra
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel "Other women on [SI] home page are NFL cheerleader, model wearing swimsuit, & another model getting ice bucket dumped over her head." (1/2)
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @Landrovalic November 28, 2012 complete shutdown. http://t.co/4I2mrvP2M4
1hreplyretweetfavorite
October 2013
S M T W T F S
« Sep   Nov »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031