In the Arena

The Empretzeled Secretocracy

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Fred Kaplan has a smart (as usual) response to the Washington Post’s massive series about the proliferation of secret agencies. The main problem isn’t that our privacy is being threatened. It’s that this proliferation, by its very nature, can’t do the job it was intended to do:

It’s not that secrets are bad, or that contractors shouldn’t be involved in this sort of thing, or that (gee whiz) a lot of people have Top Secret clearances. It’s that, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, improving intelligence became an urgent issue, the money spigots opened up to make it so, and everything remotely connected to the issue was slammed behind walls of secrecy.

There were good reasons for doing all that. But it has spiraled out of control. And without control, it’s not just wasteful, it doesn’t just create a new sort of garrison—more worrisome than those things, it doesn’t solve the problem that it was intended to address.