Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

National security, bureaucracy, and politics. -- nice little article. (And since I went to bed before posting this, the article looks like it got posted on slashdot.) The source document linked to, the one with the guidelines, seems to focus more on "Look, if people around you are acting all crazy and out of character for them, DO step in and tell someone, because it could lead to them completely flaking out on us, and we'd really rather talk to them about their problems when they're merely disturbed rather than having to arrest them and deal with the aftermath when they're at the point of 'Well, no one on my side cares about me' and then go off elsewhere."

That source document about watching out for erratic behavior in someone with access to classified material (not just your garden-variety co-worker, but someone who has the access and therefore the responsibility to be accountable for their actions) focuses heavily on intervention and trusting one's gut feeling about "something here is not right" rather than going down a checklist and reporting your perfectly stable but quirky co-worker as being OMG NO A POTENTIAL SPY ... but if someone insane in a bureaucracy decides to institutionalize the guidelines that way, it could well wind up being as gnarly as the article spins it to be.

I just keep thinking that all the institutionalized firm lists of things that were probably intended to have been seat-of-the-pants checklists are what's destroying the public trust in the country. On the one side there are the people who trust in the law and the goodwill of the people enforcing it. On the other side there are the people who love the country, but fear the bureaucracy. On the other other side are the people who believe that They are out to get Us, and generally believe that only stricter laws and tighter enforcement can create safety. On yet a fourth side are people who have experience in the field, damn good instincts and stats to back that up, pointing out problems and hoping for discretion and facepalming as people with all the right intentions and none of the fucking clue go barging about fucking up and making the problem worse than it was before in the name of solving it.

I read the linked article, and then I read its linked sources, and I was on the brink of writing an essay about why I don't think that the linked article is right -- why I think it's full of unbased panic and what they fear is happening right now is unlikely to happen. And then I thought about the last time I did that, and I shut the hell up and sat on my fingers, because I remember what happened.

And that's when another little insight hit me. I said to myself, "I bet some of the people in the FBI, perhaps the ones who wrote up that document, are yelling and screaming and fuming and probably drinking right now, because there's so much panic going on in the country, there's so much insanity going on in the higher government, and if everyone would just calm down and play nicely, the country would actually be prepared to deal with the external enemies and seek out the actual people who are a danger to us within our borders."

The language in that list of guidelines spoke to me clearly, because it's the language of the kind of people who have earned my trust and loyalty a thousand times. It said "I want the best for these people, and here is a condensed list of my experience in fighting the problem; fly by the seat of your pants because you have to, and I wish I could give you my instincts." I looked at it, and I knew in my heart that this is the same tone I have read from devoted people who put effort above and beyond the call of duty into keeping their area of responsibility as safe as possible. These are words you hear from people who work within the rules because they have to, even though it would be easier to go around them. They know that one slip leads to five more, and even though it hurts to work within the rules, they'll be glad of it in the long run. And they know, by the instinct that comes of long experience, when it matters enough to say "fuck it all" and break the rules.

There are people higher up who don't have the experience, and they're being fucking idiots. They always will be. The difference is where their idiocy lies. Clinton was an idiot in his personal life. That might or might not have made him a liability -- how far would he be willing to go to cover it up? Could that weakness be used as leverage against him? I can see the fear and outrage about having him in office over that. It's one thing to philander and then own up to it when questioned. It's another thing to do so and then to try to conceal it when confronted, under oath.

Bush appears to be a complete idiot at foreign relations. I think that's a far worse kind of idiot to have steering the country. I don't think the people that he's listening to right now are people who have that trustworthy in-depth experience at avoiding all kinds of crazy shit. I'm just praying that eventually sanity and experience will win out.

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