From Bruce Schneier’s Blog: On Why the US Intell Agencies are Schmendrick City

From reading the news closely, there is some cooperation between NSA and CIA, but then again there is some fighting and even downright, jaw-dropping subversion. If z’s job is x and z said y about the situation, but newly-arrived p bellies up to the bar in country v on z’s turf, and says negative y, that z and his boys know nothing, and can prove it, that’s a fight in which the bad guys (worse guys?) win. You would think that American intell people (“Romans are people who kill other Romans.”) would cooperate during war–take Afghanistan for example–but in many cases they did not. They were too busy fighting each other. Result? I am sorry to say it, but Afghanistan is about to go into the loss column. If you are focused on the fight with the foreign enemy, and you are in this kind of internecine turf-war environment, the war then becomes strange, even surreal.  One starts to think like this: the Taliban have no business getting in our fight, and one notices that a lot of money is involved. The Taliban wear plastic shoes in the winter, and they are so poor that they don’t matter. Afghanistan is like a stage set for a battle between Americans. The Taliban are props. The prizes are large.

Rogers almost lost his job as DIRNSA because he went to talk to Trump (and the leaders lacked the data). Flynn lost his job because of a straight-up political assassination. I am not saying that Flynn is an angel of light. I know someone who used to work for him. He rubs some people the wrong way, and he took the step of getting directly involved in a political campaign. Some people hate his guts. So when the NSA had some info on him that could be used to eject him from his job, the people privy to those tid-bits could not resist their desire to stick a knife in their former colleague, who, by the way, was extremely good at his job of defending the country. America rolls on.

Snowden got a bad evaluation at CIA and went rogue. His psychological profile is much like Timothy McVeigh’s, the difference being that the building Snowden blew up is not in Oklahoma City. Snowden hates the person who was his boss in Geneva, and his betrayal of his oath and his home is just hatred written large. The CIA and NSA are deeply antagonistic towards Russia, so Snowden went there out of spite.

Robert Hansen, who is mentally sick, betrayed America in the most injurious way. If he had only been arrested today and spoke of personal privacy, I think some people would listen and actually believe that he is a good guy. He is not a good guy at all. Some of these people who are talking about privacy and rights are the scum of the earth.  Julian Assange is a good example.  Having two warrants out for your arrest for rape is not normal.

Chelsea Manning is not exactly cut from the same cloth because she told her boss that she was no longer on the team. She tried to warn her supervisors that she was not OK. But she too was probably motivated by anger, by being gay and not being accepted. That kind of reminds me of Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald has been an important catalyst to Snowden’s perfidy, and Greenwald tells people up front that he wants them to be as angry as he is. But he is not as broken up about government spying as he is about not being accepted for being gay– his status as an outcast, as the condemned. Again, America rolls on.

Personal antagonism has increased between some people who work in U.S. government agencies, just as it has gotten worse in U.S. society. The number of people with high clearances has mushroomed, and this is an important factor in the increased number of leakers. The system has branched out like an unsecure computer network with unsecure routers. Contractors make things worse because they are not controlled to the same degree as military people. That is why you have so many military folks in the NSA.

There is no mystery. There is no new epic battle between Russian and American intell agencies. A lot of people had to neglect their jobs for Snowden to do what he did, and the same goes for the CIA. Look at the OPM disaster: no one cared enough to encrypt the personal information of everyone in the U.S. intell community. The belly laughs in Beijing must be just as big as their astonishment. A lot of Americans failed by omission in this particular disaster, and the reasonable explanation is that they just didn’t care.
The elephant in the room is China, which no one wants to talk about because they are winning, and they treated an American President with amused contempt when he tried get off his plane in Hangzhou last year. Every day they get stronger as people in the U.S. government fight each other and knock the U.S. down. It is a comfortable story to say that some mysterious battle is going on that is not our problem. This is not the case at all. A clear and present danger to the U.S. is in front of everyone’s eyes: that U.S. intell agencies are not doing their jobs well because of intensified internal fighting, and, perhaps in some cases, bloat and apathy.


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