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REAL SOLUTIONS FOR EDUCATION

death and life of education

What happened to the adage about following the money in coverage of the NSA surveillance revelations?

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by Ken

It's one of those adages reporters are supposed to have echoing in their heads: Follow the money. But it doesn't always (often?) happen in the journalistic big leagues, especially when it's money that's connected to Big Money. Prudent journalists, which is to say jouralists with a watchful eye on their careers, generally know better than to go crashin' around in them thar woods.

Which has led David Sirota to ask, in the column "How Cash Secretly Rules Surveillance Policy": "Have you noticed anything missing in the political discourse about the National Security Administration''s unprecedented mass surveillance?"

David notes that the hoopla occasioned by the NSA surveillance revelations has indeed included discussion about "the balance between security and liberty" and "at least some conversation about the intelligence community's potential criminality and constitutional violations." But there hasn't been much talk about "how cash undoubtedly tilts the debate against those who challenge the national security state."

He points out that coverage of Edward Snowden sometimes includes references to his employer, security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, deriving 99 percent of its multibillion-dollar revenues from the federal government, and he notes that we are told both that "there are high-minded, principled debates about security" and that there's a "massively profitable private industry [estimate at $56 billion a year, he notes] making billions a year from the policy decisions that emerge from such a debate." But "few in the Washington press corps are willing to mention that politicians' attacks on surveillance critics may have nothing to do with principle and everything to do with shilling for campaign donors."

For a taste of what that kind of institutionalized corruption looks like, peruse InfluenceExplorer.com to see how much Booz Allen Hamilton and its parent company The Carlyle Group spend. As you'll see, from Barack Obama to John McCain, many of the politicians now publicly defending the surveillance state have taken huge sums of money from the firms.

These are just examples from two companies among scores, but they exemplify a larger dynamic. Simply put, there are huge corporate forces with a vested financial interest in making sure the debate over security is tilted toward the surveillance state and against critics of that surveillance state.

In practice, that means when those corporations spend big money on campaign contributions, they aren't just buying votes for specific contracts. They are also implicitly pressuring politicians to rhetorically push the discourse in a pro-surveillance, anti-civil liberties direction.

Which doesn't mean that the "military-intelligence community" is pulling the strings that oeprate all surveillance defenders. "Instead, there's something much more insidious and reflexive at work."
As anyone who has worked in Washington politics and media well knows, the capital is not a place of competing high-minded ideologies. In terms of the mechanics of legislation and policy, it is a place where monied interests duke it out, where those with the most money typically win, and where a power-worshiping media is usually biased toward the predetermined winners.

In the context of money and national security, there is a clear imbalance -- there are more monied interests in the business of secrecy and surveillance than there are organized interests that support transparency and civil liberties. That imbalance has consequently resulted in a political environment so dominated by security-industry cash that the capital's assumptions automatically and unconsciously skew toward that industry's public policy preferences. Those preferences are obvious: more secrecy, more surveillance, and more lucrative private contracts for both.

If the simplest explanation is often the most accurate, then this financial imbalance is almost certainly why the pro-surveillance terms of the political debate in Washington are so at odds with public opinion polling. Big Money has helped create that disconnect, even though Big Money is somehow written out of the story.

What would it take to write Big Money back into the story? As far as I can see, probably nothing short of Bigger Money.

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Original author: KenInNY
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Ben Stein is such a douchebag. He has a mental disease and definitely has a defect.

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