Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA Director described the safeguards in place regarding the sweeping collection of phone data. Mr. Hayden, in my humble opinion, is a close as we get to an objective voice. His description of what happens is persuasive if the safeguards he refers to are still in place. That has proven to be a very large IF!
There is a contextual problem. If the recent revelations regarding the IRS, DOJ, EPA, FBI or OSHA serve as a benchmark for how quickly political concerns can overwhelm systems, safeguards and ethics, Mr. Hayden’s description, while relevant, is no guarantee against the potential for political greed overwhelming those systems and safeguards. The ethics, apparently, have already been overwhelmed!
Government employees are not supposed to use private e-mail to conduct government business but we have at least two cabinet level appointees who have done so. Adding insult to injury, Lisa Jackson’s pseudonym received awards for ethics; you just can’t make this up. The fundamental perception that systems, policies and procedures are something we can rely on to blunt political agendas should be viewed as what they are; in tatters, right before our eyes.
The IRS is supposed to deal fairly with all Americans regardless of orientation, we know how that went. Democratic Senators blew the dog whistle publically in letters to the IRS requesting specific targeting. The President demonized those same points of view publically. Where is the policy, procedure or protocol that justifies what happened? Where is IRS protection from political influence? Where is the price to pay for what we now know happened?
The Department of Justice is supposed to take seriously the concept of blind justice. There is ongoing evidence that is not the case, the evidence has been swirling around the department for some time: Black Panther Party, Fast and Furious, FBI participation in the IRS scandal, contempt of Congress, targeting the media; well you get the point.
Benghazi should have been addressed within the standard protocols that existed for such a situation; nothing happened. Somebody called off the resources available; two stand down orders through two different chains of command! How does that happen? Where was the President? Where did the talking points really come from? On the latter, John Brennan is my personal prime suspect.
There are supposed to be firewalls on information procured by the IRS. To me the pregnant question is; if five government departments, IRS, FBI, OSHA, ATF and EPA all found themselves on the doorsteps of an individual American who had applied for 501C status; how did that happen? Who coordinated that? Who passed on the information? 17 contacts with federal departments is not a coincidence. How did the information get from the IRS to everyone else? How is it that leaked donor information got to opposing groups for the singular purpose of harassment? Who did that? Oh, it’s against the law alright, but that didn’t stop anyone. Political greed overwhelmed the law. The law was only applied as convenient, ignored when not.
We have the proof that policy, procedure and protocols, while necessary, are no defense against political greed. So while Mr. Hayden may rightly have confidence in the systems he left behind, we have proof that they are incapable of standing up to political greed and the absence of a commitment to ethical standards.