Instructive Dreams


Bill Keller is the venerable elder, polishing the brass, turning the achievements of his watch into a reverie of instructive dreams, telling tales from back-in-the-day. The trouble is the cautionary tales rarely address the progress and evolving needs of the new way. In this case, how the outcry of politics over secrecy has little to do with the issues being puffed up and touted as failures.

Philosopher meet empiricist. Secrecy has returned as a tactical strength in operational policy. It helped established BP $20 billion escrow. It has lowered the rhetoric of international hostility. It enabled drone attacks to be successful and its best example is the termination of bin Laden, achieved not only without a leak, but with feints and actions that utterly concealed a mission unfolding in full force.

To counter these successes, successes in which secrecy worked the way it should, to enhance national security (although the death of bin Laden without due process remains worrisome for many), Republicans have raised a frontal attack to obscure and question this success. Call it swift boating secrecy.

But empirically, on the ground, little will change. Breaching secrets has important uses (many cited here!), as many as secrecy does. The key is to realize they are not diametrically opposed to each other, or mutually exclusive. One will not crowd out the other. Both leaks and secrets are safe. But we are thankful for the review.

~I am much less concerned about the lack of due process in the killing of bin Laden than I am in the lack of due process for the thousands killed on 9/11 and other al Qaeda attacks.
     Attacking civilians without warning and without provocation renders due process moot, in my opinion.

~Whether killing Bin Laden was in the interest of the United States, may be uncertain for at least another few centuries. But useful next November, if Pakistani nukes aren’t sneaked into US cities before then.

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