Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Left, the CIA, and the DMV

The last few weeks have had several breaking news stories about how the CIA poorly handled the entire process of recruiting and training ‘interrogators’. (Ok, everyone knows that they were really torturers, but that pesky liability law keeps getting in the way). These stories also appeared to magically precede the Obama administration announcement for more oversight on the issue but I’m sure that is a coincidence and good journalism, not collusion. (We all know the national media is simply a detached arbiter and treats the Obama administration with the same professional reserve with which it treated the Bush administration).

The basic premise of these articles was the CIA was unorganized and inept in their attempts to train interrogators (torturers) for Gitmo and other dens of inequity during the misguided attempt to thwart international terrorism. What was found is the CIA had no real training program and very little idea as to what it was doing. The media (I would say leftist media, but is there another kind?) appear to think this is a huge story. But, hey, anyone who has ever been to the DMV would be shocked if it were any other way. All government agencies eventually descend to befuddled incompetence over time.

The real issue is the lefts perception of the CIA. The left has spent years and dedicated millions to portraying the CIA as this huge spy machine, capable of chasing Jason Bourne across the world from a lap-top in New York. Equipment so sophisticate it can hack into and use an image from a surveillance camera three blocks away and, in seconds, come up with 3D images and assign motivations to continue to track its prey. When, in fact, they are just another group of people hamstrung by too much regulation, petty bureaucrats, and budget constraints. Every real world example of the CIA shows a group of people with no more skills or power to read minds then the people at GM, Proctor and Gamble or IBM. These real world examples also show a group that has the additions burdens of Congressional oversight and government red tape that ends up making them look like the Marx Brothers instead of the Tom Clancy warriors they are so often feared to be.

The articles also said a whole lot more then they intended. Between the lines, if the vaulted CIA, terrors of the world and, according to people who also support Nancy Pelosi, the only true and viable threat to world peace are truly befuddled incompetents what does that say about the ability of a government bureaucracy to run anything effectively and efficiently? Ok, I actually believer the CIA are hard working people who make do with what they have, and more importantly the bureaucratic constraints the must operate within.

The real problems within the CIA, the DMV, the IRS, the Post Office, or any other government agency are the very nature of governments. In non-governmental organizations rules are advisable set of conditions that are altered when needed or broken when necessary. Rules within these organizations are more like guidelines. Discretion and performance can lead to a rule breaker being celebrated for a great idea or exceptional service. Within government organizations rules are laws and any rule violation, no matter how necessary or practical, are dealt with harshly (up to and including jail time) and subject to oversight. Once Congress gets involved it is the end of progress.

Why do I discuss this small news event in such detail? One simple question: do we really want the same people applying the same rules to our health care system?

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