Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Secret Ops, Domestic Spying OK — As Long As Someone's Watching the Watchmen

wired.com

Last spring, President Obama showed us the limits of Change. Sure, he banned the harsh interrogation practices condoned by his predecessor, and he will most likely close the prison in Guantánamo. But when he fought a lawsuit against the warrantless wiretaps that the Bush administration began, Obama was essentially saying he would keep relying on the notion of "state secrets." And you know what? That's OK.

Abruptly pulling the plug on US intelligence operations, even if they may eventually be deemed illegal or unconstitutional, is neither practical nor desirable. If we want a successful clandestine service—and we do—a certain amount of opacity is not only acceptable, it's necessary. This isn't business; this is spying. But that doesn't mean letting those agencies do whatever they want. The most effective remedies for US intelligence excesses will be discipline and oversight, not radical transparency.

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