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Monday, May 29, 2006
Part of an afternoon with Verlyn Flieger

A month or so ago Verlyn Flieger, a widely known Tolkien scholar who teaches at the University of Maryland, gave a talk where I work in the McKeldin library building. I went up and listened to the first part. I found myself unable to immediately write anything about it to the web log. Largely because I am not a Tolkien person. I only grudging read the books (I did read the Hobbit when I was ten) a few years ago after my sisters convinced me the movies would only make sense that way. I was somewhat lost for perspective. Slowly parts of it set me thinking, which I will get to in a moment. Let me provide first a brief gloss of the talk which involved the recent turns of Prof. Flieger's work.

She started out with a quick audience check - (how many folks here have read LOTR, the Silmarillion, History of Middle Earth?) Even among this self selected group it was far from universal. Interrupted Music, her latest book, began in a sense three years ago while she was researching the oral tradition meme in LOTR. Tolkien's self references to "the book" an amalgam of things overheard and recorded salted through out the trilogy were more than caprice; it was the construction of a meta-myth within a [coherent] narrative: Bilbo's book [Bilbo's red book]. The matters in the appendices of the LOTR trilogy are commentary to that purported book, by a further commentator. Tolkien's idea of a book behind the book was his organizing conceit or literary device. The Compiler (Tolkien) of Bilbo's book, the Hobbit and LOTR,  presents it as translations out of runic of a portion of a further book the Red Book of West-march. Early drafts show this was an integral approach from the beginning not the afterthought that it may seem like. The purpose was to create  a mythology to "dedicate to england." (from a Tolkien letter to pulisher Stanley Unwin). The context for this ambition was the Lost England Movement focused on objects in the 18th century and then literature in the 19th. Oral traditions are the antiquarian munitions in a "mythological arms race" (phrase belongs to a Tom Shippey) Rooting nationalism as it exists in Myth  rediscovered or otherwise manufactured. Tolkien's English myth cannot be a British myth, which has Arthur; Celtic and French (Frankish not Norman at that) already. It must be English: Anglo-saxon and pre Christian. Mallory's Arthur is pure Christian allegory. Prof Flieger mused at this point on Tolkien's desire to eradicate [by degree] the overwhelming Frenchness of european mythology.

The model for Tolkien was the Kalevala Kalevala - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Nordic myth reborn. Authenticity depended on complexity, on process: Narrator -> Story -> Survival (of the story/text) -> Translation -> Compilation. A body of coherent lore modeled on a compiled work, i.e. the Kalevala, would allow Tolkiens's work to have the same purpose. The [published] novel would form an extract from this work, the" book". The whole work was to be an act of nation creation. He needed a logical provenance trail for the story from its projected origins to the reader. A whole theatrical cast of transmitters was needed to get it in print, and he was prepared to create them. Initially he desired that LOTR and the Silmarillion be published together; so it would more obviously form this whole. That Stanley Unwin wouldn't do this created a problem. In response his framing became more elaborate - inserting himself ever more into the published novels. In early editions LOTR was literally (by stipulation) a red book. Tolkien was aware of course of the medieval manuscripts that commonly carry the names like the white book of the middle-march and such. All this was basis for scaffolding of actual texts - the ones published, against those postulated.

Here Prof. Flieger turned to the Notion Club tales story (unpublished) and the mother of all story arcs. CS Lewis and Tolkien arranged at early point in the 1930's that one would write a space travel  and the other a time travel story. Lewis's became Out of the Silent Planet. At some point Tolkien conceived of using his as the relation between print story and the full imagined story. How his Red Book would enter this world of England and [not insignificantly] ring up sales and readers in the process. It seems to have involved transcendent breaching consciousness of early ages brought about by some sort of mystical pairing. See Verlyn Flieger - "Do the Atlantis story and abandon Eriol-Saga" - Tolkien Studies 1:1. In the end it fell to Christopher Tolkien: with the publication of the History of Middle Earth to bring about a partial completion of Tolkien's ambition, by at least recording its structure. {this somewhat understated completion to her talk certainly underscores the value of communicating your passion to others, particularly your own kith and kin}. The general discussion here is also covered compactly in a chapter of a brand new anthology I added to U. MD's library only today : Verlyn Flieger -- Tolkien and the Idea of the Book. The Lord of the rings, 1954-2004 : scholarship in honor of Richard E. Blackwelder / edited by Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull. Milwaukee, Wis. : Marquette University Press, c2006. 283-299.

"Shippey's concept of the mythological "arms race," the pervasive ambition of European cultures to stake a claim to nationhood through myth." as she terms it in the Tolkien Studies piece linked above, is what stuck with me afterwards. All the variations of the 20th and 21rst century nation state can be read as responses to the demands of mass culture. Fascisms as just one 'solution'. A valid object of historical study only if we regard the problem it was a solution for as being solved or moot. If the problem still wants a solution then Fascisms are not objects of historical study, but live among us and offer themselves to us still. Nationalism seems to me curiously to be a thing and its opposite. Something that can be used to effect the building of smaller cultural entities into a modern nation state, and be used to explain the process by which large nation-states desire to fracture into smaller ones. Either the term nationalism has become so broad in meaning and scope that it has lost its explanatary power, or there is something about the concept that is not captured by its everyday usage. The period of transition to modernism perhaps required an aggregating nationalism to be successful - to survive. With the completion of the initial transition phase to modern, the strategy of non dominant nations may be to become smaller and more focused on selected myth.

Tolkien wanted a work, his work, to serve the psychological purpose of a national mythology. He spent the better part of his life organizing and nursing this English mythology into being. How did he expect it to be received and used - what did he expect it to do? England was largely through its transition to modern mass culture at the point he wrote. Did he fear a collapse, a hollowing out of national identity without a backing mythology. Without a preservation of, at least, the form of traditional modes of thought and feeling. From his perspective did the final outcome of mass culture seem less than certain? An important question to answer is how England got where it did without such a thing. If it did, Tolkiens achievement may have been to manifest in fiction a sensibility that was always present. England propelled itself through the modern and beyond, enveloped in a sense of everydayness that never picked up, or succumbed to a victimhood brought about by the politics of resentment or fear that prevailed in more strident mass cultures. The United States (which has never struck me as strident) has nothing but national mythology endlessly elaborated, relentlessly shared. Our greatest quest as a people, is to seek to find whether we are anything, have any truth, beyond our myths.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006
A compact post

 I haven't managed to finish the longer post I was working on, but it's just as well. A coworker was looking over Ajr here earlier. "Oh no," she said, "your posts they are too long - I have to scroll. This is not good." She used to write PR copy for BASF. Professional level technical writing. I have to assume she's on to something.

 For today then, a compact post exhibiting approved weblog behavoiur.  Set aside whatever you are doing. Aside whatever you are thinking. And consider only; the destabilizing brilliance of  Joe Frank . As heard on the radio here and there, on WFMU at 6:00pm Thursdays Archives for Joe Frank WFMU for instance, but other places and times as well (Its syndicated you see.) At one time a co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, Joe Frank currently works a different approach to radio. You could call him the anti-Howard Stern, or perhaps call Howard Stern the anti-Joe Frank. This and other points remain unclear.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Boca Chica

 It took a few moments when I first read this headline to realize that it involved me Personal Data on Veterans Is Stolen. Being the most minor of cogs in the machinery of the American nation I am more used to the daily news not pertaining to me. Except for the occasional article describing the slipping purchasing power of the lower middle class.  Something along the lines of "the great unwashed - even un-cleaner and more pathetic than before..." But even unconsciously willed I began to push that 26 million veterans figure through the primitive tabulations and manipulations the competency of which I possess. This returned the notion that, as big as the US Military is, this places the early point of this list back about 25 years.  This was confirmed about four paragraphs in  "...affected veterans include anyone discharged after 1975 and some of their spouses..."

 I especially like the part where the head of the VA claims his bureaucracy didn't even tell him for two weeks Department to Investigate Theft of Veterans' Data - New York Times : "The head of the Veterans Affairs Department expressed outrage today over being kept in the dark about the theft of computer data on 26.5 million veterans, as he himself came under heavy criticism from Capitol Hill."

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Thursday, May 18, 2006
Mal-intended intell

Its been two or three weeks since I wrote about the US Intelligence, but not much has happened and it hasn't been in the news much so it should be pretty easy to catch up. Lets review. Mr. Goss rather abruptly leaves his job as DCI. This happens on a Friday after meeting with Mr. Negroponte (the DNI) and the President. That he was leaving seems to have come as a surprise to Mr. Goss. His resignation right then a surprise to Messieurs N and B. A managed resignation declined. By Monday (or Tuesday) Mr. Foggo was out, Mr. Murrey, and a Mr Nine Fingers following. General Hayden late of the NSA is selected to suit up and go in. Hayden will have the ideal partner in Stephen Kappes, who is slated to be deputy director. Kappes well liked within the agency was one of the first men out during the purges The CIA's Mission Possible.

About then the USA today writes a story which had sort of been around in a infra-dimensional way for a while and all heck Breaks loose Data on Phone Calls Monitored. Almost immediately President Bush denies its all that widespread Bush Says U.S. Spying Is Not Widespread - New York Times Hayden the man who set up this program (not that anyone is saying it does exist) up and defends it The Globe and Mail: CIA nominee defends phone-data mining while admitting it may need some over-site like control CIA Pick Open to Wiretap Oversight. Bobby Ray Inman whom I mention in a previous post admits it may have problems Defense Tech: Ex-NSA Chief Blasts Taps, Calls for CIA Breakup and says not just once In TWN News: Michael Hayden, Bobby Ray Inman, and Richard Armitage. To no ones particular surprise, It is reported Cheney pushed it Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping - New York Times. Through all this some isolated voices doubted its wisdom and efficacy. Both the CS monitor Mining data to nab terrorists: fair? | and Slate took the time explain social network data mining How the NSA Does "Social Network Analysis". Going into the start of this week Michael Copps FCC Commissioner Wants Phone Cos. Probed - Yahoo! News, a commissioner with the FCC, issued statement , and 5/15/06 Commissioner Copps Calls for the FCC to Open an Inquiry Into the Lawfulness of the Disclosure of America's Phone Records. No one else on the commission seems to have been observed in public recently.

Next ABC news "blogs" that a source has told them that or some similar program is being used on them, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. This does not reduce the MSM outrage factor The Blotter. Lost in this shuffle, a report that the German government has been doing the same thing to German reporters for a decade or more German 'CIA' used reporters as informants | . As the week and this story unfold the Telcos Wiretap update: big three telecoms sued while government invokes state secrets begin to back away Verizon Denies Turning Over Local Phone Data - New York Times from commenting to any fact set, even as Attorney General Gonzales steps forward [newshour pbs interview. Two Senate hearing loom on the horizon which threaten to hash this out. Sen. Spector's hearings that he is organizing on signing statements Bush challenges hundreds of laws - The Boston Globe and national security letters Secrecy Privilege Invoked in Fighting Ex-Detainee's Lawsuitnow are very relevant Hearing vowed on Bush's powers - The Boston Globe. Even more immediate the Hayden confirmation hearing will allow a scrimmage of sorts, but should end with his confirmation Hayden Hearings to Focus on Surveillance (Hayden is just doing his job) . One curious note was sounded by Sen Orrin Hatch who announced midweek that the FISA court has been aware of all this all along and Congress briefed. Is he on message or off; everyone else seems midway towards outright denial and defensive noncommittal Hatch: Court Briefed on Bush Surveillance - Yahoo! News.

What does any of this mean. Porters Goss's managerial incompetence and the virulence of his staff left him unpopular, and vulnerable How the CIA Came Unglued. The San Diego connections (Inc.) made him discardable [TPM various]. At that point like a chess game after a major piece is sacrificed, things moved quickly on to another phase of the game. The question now is how much of the new "Security State" apparatus is moved into the DoD and how much will be retained without. Clash Foreseen Between C.I.A. and Pentagon - New York Times. Regarding the apparent Domestic Spying the polls I've seen have been inconclusive. I think most people don't feel they know enough about it. I suspect many don't want to know. Its easier when you can just believe its about 'other people'. Enough is known, and meaning can be drawn from what we are told we cannot know to make some judgments.

There are two basic arguments against this domestic surveillance. First practical: Too much data, too many false positives. Ars Techinca on has a good rundown on these techinical grounds. TIA (aka Topsail) unveiled: the real scope of the NSA's domestic spying program. They (Hannibal) among other things puts forward the idea that if electronic data had been more comprehensively defined into law not only mp3's and mpeg movies ebooks but personal data and meta data related to it. then its property transferability and unreasonable nature of invasion of privacy concerns might be much clearer NPR's morning edition touched on this as well Lawyers Debate the Legality of Domestic Spying. Ill defined rights are likely to bring about moral hazard. Of ethical concern I can see a problem with two parts. At the outset temptation plus ability for abuse will will equal abuse, and temptation realized; debasement. The phase one pattern analysis is clearly just prep work for a phase two involving actual interception - you don't know whether you have a false or true positive until you go there, and once you do, well it's all good isn't it. Via TPM see this article NSA killed system that sifted phone data legally - indicating that a pre 11 Sept. 2001 test program would not even have allowed for unencrypted data to be viewed by analysts until a potential threat was seen. If you simply allow people to sit in front of this data and try to think of things to do with it you will have spying on critics, because people are talking (leaking) to them. Examining the opposition, their networks and their fundraising. A corrosive movement towards subpoena-less warrant-less administrative-fiat way of proceeding justice. Early Warning by William M. Arkin - Signing statements and national security letters, a thin highly abstracted way of nodding backwards towards the law, the constitution is not due process it is not rule of law. Together with a slow reducing identification of the welfare of the state with the welfare of the regime, it is a symptom of moral corruption.

A reason for may exist. One beyond or at least more particular than "Islam is out there." Data mining and Social Network Analysis used correctly is probably a powerful and effective tool. It obtains what you ask of it. My bias here is that I believe it does work. So one asks: is the Government aware of specific cells within the U S that went dark after 11 September 2001. That they know they need to find somehow. Even at this point I can't see the latter reasons for mass data tracking of American citizens obviating concerns raised. I find myself where David Ignatious finds himself. Spy Tools In Need Of a Law Either we find a way use these tools genuinely within the Law, or we don't use them. To do otherwise will void the social compact under which we came together.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Victor Dao

Earlier this week there was a small item on the 11:00 pm tv news A man had been fatally shot outside his apartment in Takoma Park in the course of a robbery. An older man in his sixties. It was said by some interviewed that he complied with the request for money but was shot anyway. That was grim enough. Then the next morning at work there was an email from our head of Access Services (what fancy libraries call reference and circulation) that noted that Victor had worked here in McKeldin library the past five years as a shelver. The Washington Post carried a small article on this in that mornings metro section.

McKeldin is a big building, but I've worked here a while and I know everyone else who also works here, at least by face. I knew that once I started to think about it I would remember his. Eventually I did.

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Friday, May 12, 2006
Reference is to the image of Colt 45 pistols

Blessed be the Peacemakers. I can tell from my referer logs that a large percentage of page views to Atomized still come from people looking for pictures of Ra5c's. A Navy two engined supersonic photo-reconnasaince plane commonly called the Vigilante, now part of aviation history. I was in the last of the RVAH squadrons, Heavy 7, which called themselves the "Peacemakers". Some of these hits come from people I know and haven't heard from in quite some time. Which is nice. At the moment; though, I have no new pictures to share.

What I have is a link to the museum being set up for the USS Ranger USS Ranger Museum Foundation I think all the old Forestal class carriers are out of service now. The USS Ranger CV 61 - Wikipedia was commisioned back in 1957. There an area on the site for air wing Squadron patchs, they didn't have one for RVAH 7. I can fix that, I thought, and uploaded the squadron patch to the photo-albums page. So why is the background pink? Artifact of it having stated life as a gif. The background layer changed from neutral to pink when I changed it to a jpeg. The orignal gif was lost on the shredded hard drive of my old computer along with many of my other pictures (it occurred to me latter the original gif is up on Atomized Sr, I'll guess I'll swap it out if it bothers people. I pledge one day I will buy a new scanner and continue digibitalizing the photos I jammed into the bottom of my seabag when the Squadron decommisioned, and I left NAS Key West. Along with other stuff as I find it. I have a grey grainy black and white photo with eight slightly darker smudges on it; still recognizably RA5c's. A picture which I'm confident marks the last time there were that many vigi's in the air at one time. Three of them appear to be RVAH 7's (lopsided blue star on tail). Also the next scanner will have to scan slides; I have a slide of shipyard workers welding steel plates over the bow after the accident. A night shot with sparks flying from the arc welder. I always liked that one.

I can spread rumors of more museums. Down in San Diego, the Midway, an even older carrier than the Forestals is being outfitted as a museum too The Midway :: San Diego's Aircraft Carrier Museum. For this one they are putting together an Air Wing sub musuem and their web site confirms they are restoring a Ra5c Vigilante SDACM USS Midway Aircraft Restoration Hangar. I read just last week that someone is planning on making the USS Oriskany one of the WWII vintage Essex carriers into a musuem - on the ocean floor. The Mount Everest of the Scuba world is how they're framing that Vietnam veteran is scuttled to be an Everest for divers - World - Times Online. (update Washington Post has this story too now Veterans Reunite for Fla. Carrier Sinking.

There is a web site that tracks the world of Navy ship museums Preserved Naval Vessels in the US - Looking down the list just at aircraft carriers I see that there are already museums for two Essex class, and the Midway, the transitional carrier. Plus in a further list for new projects I see that there are plans to preserve three of the cold war Forestals - The first of the 'Super Carriers".

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Go between

I felt I couldn't note the untimely passing of Grant McLennan one of the founding members of Australia's Go-Betweens until I set myself down and attempted to relearn the chords to Cattle and Cane. That went about as well as it ever does, but I've crossed that bar well enough to go on. Here is a link to the BBC's piece BBC - 6 Music - Go-Betweens legend dies. Go-Betweens are not only one of my favorite bands but; moreover, I believe I also like every band that also likes them. Like most rock bands these days they named themselves after a Harold Pinter play

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Saturday, May 6, 2006
Whose Ombudsman?

I've been aware for a while that there are many who have little faith in the Washington Post's current Ombudsman. This is Deborah Howell who has only somewhat recently replaced Michael Getler who replaced Geneva Overholser. I read the Ombudsman column regularly and had been disinclined to comment. The column is  thankless job I'm sure. At the same time I don't want to let pass several problematic turns in the column recently. 

 First: several months ago a bizarre assertion that Abramoff directed money to democrats, implicitly, as much  as to republicans. Latter adapting the line that what she, and the Post, meant was that maybe some money from Abramoff's network of lobbyists ended up with some democrats. This caused a infamous online ruckus, The Post seems to blame it on Ill-behaved bloggers, American Journalism Review - Coping with Jerk Swarms. The American Journalism Review notes in passing that Howell demonstrated some hesitancy in correcting the initial assertion.  Since she (and the AJR; American Journalism Review - Too Transparent? ) is inclined to go easy on herself, forgive me if I also settle easily on the notion that this tasted like an attempt to position this as a story would unfold as an equal opportunity scandal. An assertion more obviously spin now than it was then. But it was still pretty obvious at the time. A confection on a paper tube straight from the White House's cotton candy spinner. Subsequently Ms Howell attempted to describe a baffling distinction between the Washington Post and the so she could beg-off explaining how a unqualified and avowedly partisan Web logger briefly got  hired by the Post as a columnist. Frankly unless she could have demonstrated that has its own ombudsman and that the average reader should know this. I can't understand what she thought she was saying. It was one of the weakest things I've ever seen in print. Only shortly after this came "the Good Leak". A no less than astounding editorial A Good Leak . PRESIDENT BUSH was right... dredging up old discredited Iraq war WMD foundationals only a day or so after  a news division article had reexamined this and still found it wanting. So egregious was this that the New York Times ran an editorial headlined a Bad Leak in a seemingly obvious counterpoint A Bad Leak - New York Times. Howell offered spirited nationalizing justification largely along reiterating lines of the original editorial [Two views of the Libby leak case. 16Apr06, b6] , using the "wall" between the editorial and news desks as means of simply waving off the news story's facts, and side-stepping the implicit hypocrisy of labeling a leak good (or bad) in a very public manner, without having a general principle behind it. The only thing seen was an ad hoc punishing leak dripped out to keep the bigger lid on a little longer.

 As with any large city daily incidents that might be questioned still occur. On one Sunday a puff piece by a pair of experienced writers Donations for a Congressman, Profits for His Wife . Tuesday a incredulous Letter to the Editor An Unethical Arrangement for a Lawmaker's Wife, the following Saturday an editorial opening daylight between the Doolitles and the Washington Post's earlier apparent approval faster than Starbucks opens coffee shops The Doolittles' Rich Deal : How one congressional couple collected campaign checks...-- and put $215,000 in their pockets . It doesn't seem that Ms. Howell even noticed that happening. I haven't seen her refer to it. The day that several Washington Post Reporters won pulitzers she rightly named  A Day to Celebrate in the Newsroom. I found myself wondering that considering that since there are those who feel Dana Priest should be prosecuted for printing what she did for that story; whether someone from the Post ought to weigh in on whether that was a good leak or a bad leak.

 All this sent me to a dictionary to find out what an ombudsman is and what they do. Ombudsperson is clearly a valid substitute.

Ombudsman (from the good folk at Merriam-Webster):  
1.  A man who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization.
2.  A government official, especially in Scandinavian countries, who investigates citizens' complaints against the government or its functionaries.
{ Ombud means "commissioner, agent," coming from Old Norse umbodh, "charge, commission, administration by a delegacy," }

An impartial mediator working for a common good seems a fair assessment of the nominal usage. But I suppose the real question is: who does she think she's working for?

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Thursday, May 4, 2006
The time I met Bobby Ray Inman.

Every time I write about military or national intelligence I always feel I should toss in this pointless anecdote I have about the time I met Bobby Ray Inman. I remember it just like it was 25 years ago. But first one more thing about the heart of the previous matter. What can a grand and a half of manpower and a billion dollars do for you? Run system and program analysis, to determine the quality of the collection and analysis? Identify and acquire the communication and data management equipment needed to at least physically allow true IC information sharing? Bust enough balls so that you can actually make decisions on what information it is you need, and buy the big ticket black boxes that will collect it? Or, again, to be a production unit for artificial intelligence?

I have trouble visualizing what a thousand people can accomplish. UMCP libraries has between three and four hundred on staff, and we are an agency in a coordinating milieu. We share our opac database with all of the state's sixteen other college libraries. Double that personnel figure to encompass the stake-holders of this database. If, say, a national entity were to walk away from a portion of their mission charter, if the Library of Congress were to suddenly give up doing serial and series authority work, how many people here and elsewhere would it take to reproduce that coordinating functionality? But of course LC would never do that and my friend Robert would not have to circulate an online petition to keep them from doing that.

One day I had to deliver some documents to the office of someone named Sumner J. Shaprio. He wasn't in. but some other men were there. A Captain, his EA, who I knew by sight. A man named Burkhalter, I think, and a man I didn't recognize. This man reached out and started to take the packet the documents were in away from me. Saying "Oh I'll take that for you, sailor." I snatched it back out of his hand. Why? Well, it was an eyes-only sort of thing, and he wasn't Sumner J. Shapiro. The other two men froze when I did this. The man in front of me, who was Bobby Ray Inman, just looked puzzled as I stood there clutching the documents now with both hands. Finally he said with a light chuckle "Its ok, I think I'm cleared for it." About that point the tunnel vision I was afflicted with started to subside, and I begain to re-observe my surroundings. I saw the four gold stripes going around his sleeve, and further, the one thick gold band that was there with it. "Say", I thought to myself, "this here is a four star Admiral. Those guys can be kinda touchy." The Captain who was looking a little pale at this point said: "just give him the documents, please." Naval officers, they are so polite. My job being done, I went back to my office, hearing someone say as I left "who was that guy?" I don't know what they thought the difficulty was. My job after all wasn't just to walk around and hand such documents to the first stranger I saw.

Moral of this story: I've never known what to do with the ever-present disparity between my understanding of duty and things, and other peoples'.

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Monday, May 1, 2006
Intelligence reorganization

I typed a note for myself back in November: "National Intelligence Bureaucracy = politicized layer cake." It was a thought for a potential post that never went anywhere Getting Spy Reform Wrong. I need a theory of bureaucratic organization, I remember thinking, and I don't have one. I thought I remembered Maryland taught a course like this. I actually looked through some old course catalogues but didn't see it. I should look for a book on the topic, something that outlines various basic models for various intended purposes. First, I suppose you have to decide what sort of animal you have. A director of national intelligence or director of central intelligence. I recall from my days as USN petty officer the DCI ran The Agency, with the assistance of strong deputy directors. He also stood at the head of a handful of agencies; governing them precariously through a coordinating board, but also through the prestige of being the conduit of briefings to the executive branch. The various agencies are largely organized around functional concerns - how they collect intelligence and what type Open Source Intelligence - .

The point man to the President will either deputize coordinate or headline. The CIA took as its brief, the task of being the primary analytic agency and the chief instrument of covert international response, regarding the other agencies as suppliers of data. Various inherent considerations pushed this structure apart: the legal difference between domestic and foreign collection. Military, tactical and strategic matters of the enemies order of battle and its existing capabilities, against national strategic, more matters of potential adversaries (or competitors) potential capabilities. Further there is the divide between judicial, and preventative action (criminal vs war). The procedural wall between due process, admissible evidence and immediate action. Even without bureaucratic balkanization different types of analysis were going to be performed on data by these agencies, information sharing was never going to be complete. Now new agencies have been created and added - counter terrorism office and the department of homeland security. The Intelligence Reform Act has created a large coordinating bureaucracy: the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) positioning it at cabinet level neither as far as a Cabinet Secretary nor as close as National Security Advisor, essentially to replace the former "second hat" of the Director of Central Intelligence. David Ignatius Fix the Intelligence Mess would have you take a look at the organization chart, IC actor list , and boards that now structure US intelligence.

The man at the center of all this, John Negropontes, now faces the judgement In New Job, Spymaster Draws Bipartisan Criticism - New York Times of an apparently unimpressive start Negroponte's Office a Work in Progress. This assessment comes at the point of presentation of a budget for approval Intelligence Director's Budget May Near $1 Billion, Report Finds . The budget is the key. Not only for the fact that all other things being equal - in national intelligence you get what you pay for. You build programs for the information you want, you extract data from people of other cultures and languages. You regard nothing collected as complete in itself. Everything is disparate data until analyzed and assessed. But also budget is decision. It appears from the ODNI org. chart that there is an attempt being made to overlay categories deriving from the logical process of collection and examination rather than simply method. It should be understood that no true coordination can occur without budgetary ownership. How much personnel, information, and space would the DNI need to control the purse strings of his or her 16 agencies and offices. The answer apparently is: 1,500 employees with a $1 billion budget) Spooked by red tape | News.

Sliding from endemic to political problems Judge Richard A. Posner in a Washington Post article by Walter Pincus Intelligence Redo Is Harshly Judged disagrees with the reforms with a coherent skepticism. He believes IC will resist this reform because it is largely a bureaucratic reorganization merely adding a layer across the top, and because the IC contains 3 very different work and career cultures embedded in agencies with "profound political imbalance[s]. All the worse for the ODNI appearing to build within itself the manpower to re-interpret and re-write analysis coming from below. Posner goes into more detail on this in his own essay for the AEI The Reorganized U.S. Intelligence System after One Year.

This brings us to the apparent overt politicizing of intelligence seen currently in Porter Goss's war with CIA. Purges, lie detector tests, and party loyalty questioning Moves Signal Tighter Secrecy Within C.I.A. - New York Times . Little of this has the remotest legitimacy. This punishment of the community is not only dangerous Politicizing intelligence? |, but appears purposeful. Taking policy failures stemming from ideological world views and blaming it all on group-think How We've Improved Intelligence and bad analysis(ts) . To say that believing Iraq had WMD was the universal consensus opinion, that no one said or thought different. To speak as though to certify no pressure ever existed on intelligence as statements by the Senate Intelligence committees or its chairman have. All of this is to make U S professional intelligence a dog whipped of its natural purpose and chained to guard the junk yard of assessments made elsewhere. When the Congressional committees charged oversight with deliberately delay and partition reports that would describe and trace these actions to keep them overlooked until after an election, they are hindering democratic outcome ( You'll remember how Sen. Roberts (R-KS)... .

If the press attempts to fill the gap, they run up against a regime policy of zero information and zero accountability. Even when they cannot identify exactly who has talked to the press about what they will separate people on undetermined grounds as they seem to have with senior analyst Mary McCarthy (not the author/essayist). Fired from the CIA within days of retirement after being made to take a lie detector test, leaving her twisting in the wind for days under the acquisition that she was one who leaked to Pulitzer winner Dana Priest. Only after her lawyer releases a statement denying this the does the Government acquiesce to this - without further clarification.

By then the right commentarait had chewed her up.

Among all this I kept looking for signals of political - process -autonomy in the details. The DNI and his principle deputy are appointed by the president; with the advice and consent of the Senate. I would expect to fixed terms and ones that would overlap the term of President's, so that each administration is relieved of the burden of pushing political appointees into all of ODNI's offices. This distance and preservation of independent outlook is crucial when confronted with an imperial presidency, afflicted by cult of empire and exceptional order, directed downward by the grundnorm of fear.

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2006 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 6/6/06; 11:29:18 PM.