I’ve got a little link backlog. Let’s do something about it!
- Earlier this week Jay Rosen wrote a remarkable essay about the recent kerfluffle in the right-wing blogosphere over charges that AP reporters in Iraq had made up a source. The excitable warbloggers, understandably dejected that they’ve lost the battle both on the ground and in the American public, grew excited at the thought of MSM blood. But it turned out the entire charge was bogus — the source was real.
Rosen parses the motives and suggests that the warblog crowd would have done their cause a favor by being more critical of the Bush administration’s reality-evasion from the start:
For Bush supporters who soldier on, the choices resemble what the go-getters from Enron faced: confront the bad accounting that’s gone on for years or adopt even more desperate measures to conceal losses and keep your hand alive. But if the AP had fabricated a source and relied on that source 60 times, maybe the tables could be turned again and the reckoning put off….
If you really wanted Bush to succeed in Iraq, and you noticed that he could never be wrong or accept that bad news bearers could be right, this was a warning sign that the warbloggers themselves, as friends of the president’s project, should have taken the lead in discussing. Why didn’t they?
The children of Agnew have been fully on his side, soldiers in his struggle, happy warriors with Bush because they believe in their red state bones the press is biased against them. Like him they also disbelieve the bad news on principle, and then find someone more loyal to look into it.
- Michelle Goldberg’s recent Salon interview with Chris Hedges on fundamentalism in America and his new book, American Fascists, is also a great read: One passionate reporter who’s immersed in a fascinating subject interviewing another, equally obsessed.
- Finally — this one’s a month old, but I’m just catching up — Clive Thompson’s New York Times magazine piece on open source spying. Can wikis and blogs really help the intelligence establishment do a better job assessing terrorist threats? It seems outlandish, but it grows on you the more you think about it (and read Thompson’s explanations).
This passage rung my Dreaming in Code bell:
The blog seemed like an awfully modest thing to me. But Meyerrose insists that the future of spying will be revolutionized as much by these small-bore projects as by billion-dollar high-tech systems. Indeed, he says that overly ambitious projects often result in expensive disasters, the way the F.B.I.’s $170 million attempt to overhaul its case-handling software died in 2005 after the software became so complex that the F.B.I. despaired of ever fixing the bugs and shelved it. In contrast, the blog software took only a day or two to get running. “We need to think big, start small and scale fast,” Meyerrose said.
One of the big problems the agencies have, even with their closed networks, is persuading intelligence officers to share information. On the one hand, their desire to protect sources is understandable; on the other, the information doesn’t do the U.S. any good unless it gets circulated to people who can assess its significance.
Is this the sort of information that is safe to share widely in an online network? Many in the intelligence agencies suspect not. Indeed, they often refuse to input sensitive intel into their own private, secure databases; they do not trust even their own colleagues, inside their own agencies, to keep their secrets safe. When the F.B.I. unveiled an automated case-support system in 1995, agents were supposed to begin entering all information from their continuing cases into it, so that other F.B.I. agents could benefit from the collected pool of tips. But many agents didn’t. They worried that a hard-won source might be accidentally exposed by an F.B.I. agent halfway across the country. Worse, what would happen if a hacker or criminal found access to the system?
[tags]journalism, fundamentalism, intelligence, open source spying[/tags]
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