At best. Our national intelligence apparatus is beginning to rival our military industrial complex:
What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. In interviews last week, both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns.
The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
Like I've said since I began blogging here (6 years so far), the War on Terror was won on 12 September 2001 by Al Qaeda. They managed to turn the United States into a cowardly, bankrupt, quivering gelatinous mass. In our quest for "safety", we've willingly given up our civil rights and given the government almost complete control over our lives. We've thrown away our money in two theaters of war and given the rest to billionaires and corporations, yet we can't help out the worst off among us.
I have a friend who was with MI-6 during the Cold War (probably still is), covered as a western businessman working behind the Iron Curtain (fighting an enemy with millions of times more resources than a couple goat fuckers in a cave). Some of the things I've become privy to were amazingly simple, cheap little operations that netted high-value intelligence. To this day, he can never get over the way we (CIA) operated. The term that comes up most is "cowboy", the second most popular is "arrogant". He couldn't believe the amount of money and resources we wasted in order to achieve questionable ends, so this article comes as no surprise to me.
If there's anything we do well in this country it's bureaucracy. There is probably some kind of theorem that states American bureaucracy expands relative to the amount of money available to it. After September 11th, the doors to the Treasury were thrown open. In a delirium that allowed us to abandon common sense, we bought into any suggestion that promised "more safety".
So, 9 years later, we have a military engaged on 5 continents with no clear mission aside from "get the bad guys" and an intelligence infrastructure that is so big, information coordination, distribution, and oversight happen at sloth-grade speeds. We've spent hundreds of billions of dollars for a system that does not operate any better than it did on September 10th and we are no safer than were were on that date.
It's time for streamlining of the intelligence services and a complete rethink of our military's mission (it sure as hell ain't anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency) but I can't see that happening when the Republicans can make political hay over "surrendering to the terrorists". Until a bigger portion of America reaches out and embraces reality, we will never get out from under.
Think about this. In the past 9 years, thanks to a single terrorist attack (bad as it was), we have completely changed our way of life and not for the better. To me, that defines success for a terrorist. We have yet to define what winning means to us.
I put the word "safety" in quotes because we've allowed it to be defined by the scare mongers and disaster capitalists. What exactly is safety? Who the fuck knows. A terrorist could blow your ass up in a train or a bus, or you could get run over by a bus stepping out your front door. You can die in a plane flown into a building by a terrorist or you can die in a car hit, or driven by a drunk. You wanna be "safe"? Buy a Michelin Man suit and stay in your house for the rest of your life.