“I really don’t know who WikiLeaks are, other than this Assange person.”
– NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander
If you read through the transcript of NSA Director Keith Alexander’s appearance on ABC this morning, you’re mostly reading deliberately ambiguous nonsense and overt lies, with the uniting theme being things that, if taken at face value, would please a voting majority of Congress.
Except when Gen. Alexander was asked about whether he thought WikiLeaks was real journalism or not. This question has long fascinated the state-endorsed media in America, and there are two ways Alexander could’ve plausibly gone, either insisting WikiLeaks was, as Congressmen so often say, a villainous den of data-thieves, or he could’ve dodged the question by saying, quite correctly, that who is and isn’t a “real” journalist isn’t up to the NSA. Instead we get the above quote, which suggests Alexander has barely even heard the word “WikiLeaks,” other than it being the name of the evil gerbil on South Park or something.
He didn’t just plead ignorance, he pled shocking, implausible ignorance. The titular head of the largest planetary surveillance system in the history of mankind, the guy whose agency reads all our email, has data on every phone call, etc. has never even looked cursorily into WikiLeaks, a huge global clearinghouse of leaked classified information. That’s not the “least untruthful” kind of lie we come to expect from this administration, it’s not even a reasonable lie.
Then again, what if it’s the truth?
As unreasonable as it sounds, suppose Gen. Alexander is just shockingly bad at his job, and knows less about information gathering than your average high-schooler. Suppose the person sitting in this seat of unfathomable, uncheckable power at the dawn of the information age is just a grossly incompetent buffoon who, as is so often in government bureaucracies, failed upward until he found himself at the top.
That shred of hope is sure going to make me sleep a little better at night.