Hart: Our spying-industrial complex needs to be reviewed

Hart: Our spying-industrial complex needs to be reviewed

January 13th, 2017 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns
300 dpi Doug Griswold illustration relating to cyber privacy and security. (Bay Area News Group/TNS)

300 dpi Doug Griswold illustration relating to cyber...

Photo by Griswold

Ron Hart

Ron Hart

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Here is what we learned about this administration in the wake of purported Russian "phishing" of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta's email. Valuable DNC secrets were protected by an elaborate set of fail-safe passwords, namely "password." This followed years of high-level DNC meetings where attendees openly discussed their mothers' maiden names, the names of their first pets, and their favorite movies on their Facebook pages.

The hacking of government computers has been going on for years. CIA Director John Brennan's AOL account was hacked. Twelve federal agencies, including the White House, IRS, State Department and Defense Department, have been hacked just since 2009. To President Obama, apparently this was no biggie.

But if a hacker hacks DNC political hack John Podesta's Gmail account, then Obama orders a very public investigation. If you cyber-attack government, that is OK and you get a stern warning to "cut it out."

Keep in mind, the DNC is a private organization; all of the 12 hacks mentioned above are our government. So hack our government and you get told by Obama to "cut it out." Monkey with his political machine? Sanctions!

The ever-petulant Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats. Trump is not even president yet, and he's already getting foreigners out of America. He has declared himself the best president-elect — ever!

In essence, getting the intelligence agencies to doctor the Benghazi report — and arguably George Bush's team spinning yellowcake and WMD stories in Iraq — show how partisan these agencies have become. Some intelligence group changed the talking points on Benghazi to blame a YouTube video so it didn't hurt Obama leading up to his re-election in November of 2012.

The real lesson learned in the intelligence communities' intel report sweepstakes was to please the president when he asked them to look into this.

I'm walking a narrow plank here and might get arrested next week for questioning these clandestine agencies, but we should determine if we have too many of them. What's worth stealing from our government? You look at Joe Biden and cannot imagine someone wanting to know what he knows.

A two-year investigation by The Washington Post, published in 2010, discovered a "Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine."

The investigation's other findings included:

- Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

- An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances think Edward Snowden.

- In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001, collectively about 17 million square feet of space.

- Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. These are terrorists who don't have cable TV or processed cheese; maybe tracking their money is not the issue.

- Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing some 50,000 intelligence reports each year — works routinely ignored except by foreign agents who hack in and read them.

Stories abound that our CIA got Nelson Mandela jailed. The intel community also provided "intelligence" that led to our mistakes in Syria, Libya and Egypt. We still need a strong, secular Arab leader in the Middle East to enforce order. But we invaded and occupied Iraq, found and hanged him. The intel community also told us to go into Iraq because Saddam Hussein had WMDs and had to go. This totally destabilized the region.

Saddam famously had body doubles. If the CIA can find one, I have a plan for them to stabilize Iraq again.

Contact Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.

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