Yochai Benkler writes: The spate of new NSA disclosures substantially raises the stakes of this debate. We now know that the intelligence establishment systematically undermines oversight by lying to both Congress and the courts. We know that the NSA infiltrates internet standard-setting processes to security protocols that make surveillance harder. We know that the NSA uses persuasion, subterfuge, and legal coercion to distort software and hardware product design by commercial companies.
We have learned that in pursuit of its bureaucratic mission to obtain signals intelligence in a pervasively networked world, the NSA has mounted a systematic campaign against the foundations of American power: constitutional checks and balances, technological leadership, and market entrepreneurship. The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. The American body politic is suffering a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body.
First, the lying. The National Intelligence University, based in Washington, DC, offers a certificate program called the denial and deception advanced studies program. That’s not a farcical sci-fi dystopia; it’s a real program about countering denial and deception by other countries. The repeated misrepresentations suggest that the intelligence establishment has come to see its civilian bosses as adversaries to be managed through denial and deception. [Continue reading…]