Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic… only worse…

That would be the latest damage inflicted on our nation by “the 9-11 families”, a group that I kind of wish would shut up already, especially when they won’t leave well enough alone and force the nation into crap like “the intelligence reform bill” that just (finally) passed the House of Representatives. For whatever reason, people like me, who only had the good fortune to have seen the events of September 11th from a block away, rather than to have lost a family member, have no standing whatsoever, whereas the now-millionaire-families of the 2,800 or so killed… get a disproportionate voice– indeed, playing on emotional appeal that, frankly, is now being abused.
We had a 9-11 Commission that was, of course, “bi-partisan”, and hence “buried the lede” (i.e., the events of September 11th were the result of human failures… and those humans were members of the Bush Administration); accordingly, any wooden post, including the worst candidate the Democrats had by far (John Kerry) should have trounced the sitting government, but of course, the lede was buried (thanks 9-11 families). Now, we have a “9-11 bill” that will do what Americans have (wisely) avoided doing since World War II: combining our various national intelligence gathering functions under one roof (in this case, a “National Intelligence Director”). Why? Because Americans always rightly believed that the greatest threat to our lives and liberties came from our own government, and no particular foreign adversary or threat. Until now, of course. (Thanks again, 9-11 families).
The problem with our intelligence gathering is simple: it’s called human beings. With a craven government willing to manipulate data or deliberately misinterpret it for political ends, the “structure of the intelligence community” is irrelevant. Indeed, go ahead and try to get a job in our intelligence community. Watch our best and brightest be vetted from the system for teenage drug use, or perhaps a sexual dalliance somewhere, or maybe a girlfriend from some foreign venue… whose left after we vet out interesting people? Well, the people who gave us the Bay of Pigs, and told us about Iraqi WMDs, etc. (Hyperbole alert: I am well aware that there are many capable and competent people in our intelligence services. There are also people who are not so capable or competent, of course.)
A national security director won’t change any of this. Worse, read the fine print: there will be yet greater wiretap and surveillance authority against “suspected” terrorists; no rule says that can’t be you or me. With the peculiarly craven government the 9-11 families have helped reelect (see above), the odds are almost certain that the new apparatus will be used to abuse citizens and innocent people, rather than to be effective in efforts to thwart terrorism.
Well, so much for the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. The neo-millionaire families have intervened. And now, they have done harm. Serious harm. Thanks again, 9-11 familes.
(It’s a damned good thing that after the coming economic debacle, most of this won’t even seem that important.)