General Keith Alexander Is An Opportunistic Coward
from the shielded-in-shame dept
In all that we’ve written about General Keith Alexander, former chief guy at the NSA who has overseen the most egregious overreach in domestic spying American history, we’ve learned a great deal about him. For instance, we know logic eludes him, after he insisted that we need more spying because current spying is encouraging terrorism. We also know he doesn’t give a damn about the whole freedom of the press thing, what with his support for press gag orders. And we know he’s a man of limited imagination, having told Congress he just can’t think of any other way to keep you and I safe without the NSA’s massive surveillance programs.
You know what else Keith Alexander is? A coward. I say that absolutely knowing that I’ll probably get killed in the comments for suggesting a man who signed up to serve the public, serve in the military, and serve in intelligence is a coward. Well to hell with anyone who suggests you can’t call a man who serves a coward. Where were all of you when Edward Snowden was getting lambasted in the exact same way? Still, accusing a man like Alexander of cowardice requires an explanation. Get yourself started by watching this clip of his appearance on CNN.
“It’s going to get more dangerous. I would rather be sitting here in the hot seat defending what we’re doing than sitting here in the hot seat after a terrorist attack and you asking me ‘how did we fail the country?’ It’s a bad place out there. They’re trying to kill us. These are some of the tools. If you take away some of the tools, it is my assessment after forty years in the business, and today is my fortieth anniversary in joining the army, it is my assessment that it is going to get tougher. And these leaks have hurt us. They will get tougher.”
Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way. All this harm that has supposedly been done by Snowden’s leaks turns out to be smoke and mirrors, as far as what the government is willing to prove is concerned. Now that that’s out of the way, perhaps unlike some of my colleagues here, I too believe there is a very real danger from international terrorism. That said, a blanket statement about how bad things are and how “they” are trying to kill us is about as useful as a rectum on a houseplant. Nobody is arguing that there isn’t at least some degree of danger, the argument is over how far we’re willing to let our government go to protect the liberty at which they’re chipping away, nevermind the way we comport ourselves as a member of the international community.
But it’s the first part of that statement that really pisses me off and it’s that same part that reveals the cowardice inside Alexander. This constant hint-dropping of how much more difficult it is to prevent the next domestic terrorist attack now that the public is aware of the massive surveillance program is a pretty clear attempt at innoculation of responsibility. It’s as if these spy chiefs looked at the damning of public officials that occurred after 9/11 (far too little of it, in my opinion) and decided to shield themselves from possible future criticism by proactively blaming Snowden’s leaks for forthcoming attacks. Read another way, his hot seat comment reads to say: if sometime in the future, thousands of Americans end up dead in an attack, don’t come blame us, you took our tools away from us.
For me, it’s hard to imagine a more cowardly statement. Is Alexander so afraid to face potential failure that he would scapegoat someone who, at the very least, thought he was doing his patriotic duty? Would he have the intelligence community sidestep their responsibility simply because the public now recognizes the NSA’s overreach? Would he cast off his duty simply because sunlight has finally marked his underground lair?
That kind of chess-piece positioning isn’t the act of a patriot. It isn’t the act of a hero. It’s the act of a coward, which is exactly what General Keith Alexander is, and I’m happy to treat him like one. After all, the brave thing to do is to understand that freedom comes with danger and to bear that danger gratefully and willingly.