Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It would be good if the Russians had the rest of Hillary's emails

Note: If you viscerally disagree with the title of the post,  you might be better off visiting FoxNews or - recommended for people with blood pressure or rage issues - Disney.

The private email server of former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has given us many hours of debate and kept some FBI agents busy. At least, this way they couldn't do any real damage, the K-Landnews TheEditor grumbled, the Russians have the 30 000+ on Wikileaks anyway. And look, there are 1 300 only with REUTERS stories, neither classified nor classy.

As with any activity or discussion around "national security", there is an unlimited supply of real and faux experts, a limitless source of propaganda and fearmongering virtually drowning out reasonable voices.

The big problem with "national security" discussions, with the exception of a narrow sliver of technical data and know-how, is that most claims are unfalsifiable. They cannot be proven wrong, and they cannot be proven right. Add to this the system of making information classified, and the field is wide open for the most outrageous claims and "experts". 

Not only do we have a field where political games can be played, we also see that the classification system is abused to silence whistleblowers (Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Manning, and others) and activists at the same time as more powerful citizens get away with a slap (Petraeus) or a wag of the finger (Mrs. Clinton).

Abuse of the system is not limited to the U.S., far from it. A bogus treason complaint against German journalists by the chief of the country's domestic intelligence service made international headlines, while the case of an old man fed up with lax security at the NATO job he had held for decades did not register outside of the country.

And these are not even the big (or as Donald Trump might say, yuge) cases, like the Pentagon Papers under a Democratic President, or a criminal Republican successor of your choosing.

If you, unlike the rest of us, gets to see documents classified anywhere from confidential to top secret and beyond, at least admit that there is a fun aspect to this power. Who would not enjoy the curious looks of the other workers on the same floor when two burly, 6 foot 5 marines escort an officer holding a briefcase to his or her important office? **
And, if you do this long enough, you inevitably get to see a news report or a talk show on one of the topics and realize: they don't know.
Depending on your character, you may get hooked for the rest of your days, or you decide to get out.
But the knowledge that much of what you see and read is nowhere near the full picture will never leave you.

So, the Russians should get all of Mrs. Clinton's emails, and the president's too if the Russians hand over Mr. Putin's.

Why do we make information classified and then invite Russians to take a close look at our wargames and exercises? By the way, they reciprocate the favor.
The answer to this is simple. At some point during the Cold War, politicians made NATO and the Warsaw Pact militaries agree to this. Because they saw the danger.

American inspectors, by definition, would not pass a Russian background check, and vice versa. Yet, they got to see secrets of the other party. They had cameras, too. Very rarely do the media mention any of this.

So, yes, dear Western citizens. Russian officials get to see secrets you would go to prison for. Same applies to you, dear Russian nationalists.

You also may want to keep this in mind during the media blitz covering the upcoming NATO summit in Poland.

What classifying information really does is this: it falsifies the present, as well as the past for a classification time of up to 100 years or so in some countries, and in doing so limits the options for decisions on our common future.

[Update 7/7/2016] As a lucky co-incidence, a link to a documentary about the crisis around Able Archer in 1983 popped up in the blogster's TL.
Say thank you to the "traitors" (a Soviet colonel and a NATO worker) who were instrumental in saving us from this one.

** [NSFW] Classified documents can actually give males a hard-on. Although that typically happens only a few times and disappears with routine handling.

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