It suddenly occured to me why the NSA and others in the security apparatus are getting away with murder. It's because they are doing what they do, unobstructed and unled. I didn't invent the phrase but I need to put it into Cobb's Rules: People don't have weaknesses, they just overuse their strengths. Well it's more appropriate to say that people have blindsides, and they tend to fight in one direction. It should be plain to see by anyone that Mr. Obama is blind when it comes to intelligence services and spycraft.
What we know is that the President is obsessed with the international perception of America as a military bully, which is why he has been moving as quickly as humanly possible to drain the world's battlefields of American soldiers. But he also has to maintain his image as the leader of the Free World. Contrast that with someone who pursues an unabashed American geopolitical strategy and agenda. So Obama must *do something* and as his drone strikes and victories at Natanz and Abbotabad make clear, he'd rather do something covert. In this way Obama replicates the worst aspects of the Reagan and Carter years, having a large and capable military that fought the last war and now sits on their thumbs. In the meantime, spooks, spies, wiretappers and covert operators are in full force in an attempt to dox, blackmail and assassinate our way towards security. It's not going to work.
In fact, I believe I see the unintended consequences of an image maintenance policy at the White House which supercedes a well-balanced national security policy. That is a set of intelligence agencies in the US government that are getting rubber stamps from a leader they don't respect. In other words, I believe there isn't a coherent direction coming from the top down, but that there is a patchy management of a million wishes coming from the agencies up.
Who is the strong hand showing continuity from this cast of characters?
Kerry is clearly in place because of Clinton is gone. You can be certain that the history of the Obama administration is now undergoing a strategic rewrite in the minds of the Clintons - a deadly force to reckon with. The 3am phone call has happened. Rice, McDonough, Blinken and Holder are all a political choir to back up the President. Without him, they are non-entities. Hegel is a political creature, and none of these people impress me as those of the calibre of Richard Holbrooke. Leon Panetta bounced from DCI to SecDef after two years and then just got bounced out. Clapper is clearly the career man here, as in Brennan. These are the guys who are not political trapeze artists. A nod goes to Dempsey, but how does the Secretary of Defense end up in a Senator's pocket? This looks to be a National Security Council that serves the whim of the President and the wants of the Intelligence Community, none of whom any of us can figure to have much respect for the hands that feed them. So I think they have run amok as if they actually were the last line of defense America has. Not enough generals here, I think.
The more I think (these anti-fragile days) about the number of systems in place and the ability and willingness for this small crowd of actors to alter the pace and direction of their use the more clear it becomes that Snowden's leak is more substantive than the initiative of the President in determining the future of how this unleashed beast works.
We already know that Obama comes from the kind of Chicago politics that can be deadly to American citizens, and that he's willing to execute them as terrorists without due process despite not having what I consider (without much review) a proper domestic terror court. More clearly i should say that when I proposed a domestic counter-terrorist court rather than the abuse of an open court, I expected more disclosure than what the FISA court is providing, and the movement of NSA and other agencies towards domestic suspicionless surveillance is a gross overstep which defies the public's confidence in what the FISA court might have been.
The bottom line is that the programs are already in place, and they are the way Obama likes them, secret. He is just the sort who would capitalize on secret advantages and powers which play to his strengths as a campaigny politician. And as we saw with his ACA, he will break arms to make Congress whistle his tune. Obama does not have the strength to roll back NSA's programs, just as he would continue to support TSA despite their security theater, buffonery and affront to American air travelers. This is just another pothole in Obama's second term. He'll try to make us get over it, because the alternative must come with some ugly admissions. He doesn't have enough people left to throw under the bus, and it's a long way to 2016.
And Walmart is still out of bullets.