James Clapper

This will be handy for Matt McCarten

Foreign Policy has an article on “How to Justify Any Policy, No Matter How Bad It Might Be“.

This will be real handy for Matt McCarten as he deals with the two David Cunliffe’s, the one who tells business in private he will be moderate, and the very public lurching left David Cunliffe.

I think they may well have interviewed Winston Peters for some of these techniques.

Whatever your circumstances might be, here’s a simple 10-step program for excusing bad behavior. (It may also come in handy in your personal life, if you’re not good at resisting temptation or making sound decisions.)

Step 1: “It’s a lie. It never happened.”

When accused of bad behavior, the first instinct of many politicians (or their supporters) is denial. Bill Clinton told us he “never had sex” with “that woman” (Monica Lewinsky), and the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria at first denied that chemical weapons had even been used. Similarly, when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked him about the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s first response was to deny it was happening, a lie he later described as the “least untruthful” statement he felt he could make. Step 1 is tempting for an obvious reason: When a bald-faced lie works, the problem goes away.

Step 2: Blame someone else.

If you can’t hide what happened, blame it on someone else. This line of defense has at least two variants. The first option is to acknowledge that wrongdoing occurred, but pin the blame on one’s opponents. Once the use of chemical weapons was confirmed in Syria, for example, Assad’s defenders tried to pin the blame on the regime’s opponents. Similarly, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan now seems to think any criticism of his government or domestic political setback is the result of some sort of foreign conspiracy.

The second variation is to admit that somebody did something wrong, but pin the blame on subordinates. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie claims he knew nothing — “Nothing!” — about Bridgegate, while George W. Bush administration officials claimed that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were just unauthorized acts by low-level enlisted personnel. If you successfully make someone else the fall guy, the people at the top can skate away scot-free.  Read more »

Tin Foil Hat Brigade over reacts

Over the weekend the tin foil hat brigade went all nuts over Prism, a system that apparently the NSA can use to spy on people, including New Zealanders.

Predictably Kim Dotcon’s PR maestro and embedded journalist David Fisher had to write something about it all on behalf of his large German friend.

Mr Dotcom, who faces extradition to the US on charges of copyright violation, said he believed the GCSB sifted through Prism data with his details prior to the arrest. “It certainly did involve Prism. GCSB relies heavily on US spy technology. The Five Eyes have one brain and it sits in the US.”

Papers released in the Dotcom court case support the links to the Five Eyes network but crucially have the name of the intelligence system doing the actual spying deleted. The papers were released after it emerged the GCSB illegally spied on Mr Dotcom in the lead-up to the unlawful raid in which he was arrested.

Documents show analysts tasked with organising the spying marked it as associated with the Five Eyes network. One document, classifying it as “Secret”, listed the five member nations and stated: “Please enter into [name of system redacted] and mark as priority.” The accompanying list is called “Selectors of Interest” and details a long string of information similar to that used in Prism. It includes cellphone numbers, driver licence details, email addresses, passport numbers, internet protocol and real world addresses.

Read more »