The times they are a’ changing. I was asked to comment on the recently published Reference: Protecting Sensitive “Open” Information and do so gladly. The author of that work means well, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the substance of what he expouses. It is simply not reasonable nor feasible in context.
I know this better than most because I have been here before. In 1990-1994 Winn Schwartau sparked a public debate and ultimately testified to Congress on the likelihood of an “electronic Pearl Harbor.” Congress chose to ignore him just as it had ignored all the well-documented warnings on Peak Oil, Peak Water, AIDS, and so on in the late 1970’s. Peter Black and I and others published articles outlining how easily America could be taken down, and how irresponsible the government and the private sector were being about the fundamentals of information security and data integrity.
Finally, in frustration, I recruited Jim Anderson, at the time the top information security scientist at NSA, Winn, and Bill Caelli, at the time, in Australia, the top global authority in the English language on this topic, to the best of my knowledge. They offered up recommended spending plans and a specific range of suggestions for assuring information security into the future, I cross-walked all that, and the below letter with attachment was the result.
We did not receive the courtesy of a response and were of course ignored.
At the time, the entire focus was on how irresponsible we were for illuminating the vulnerabilities–what everyone missed then, and continues to miss now, is that the government cannot be trusted to be intelligent or have integrity. That is why democracies demand public intelligence in the public interest.
After a lifetime in the secret world, demonstrating self-restraint (largely enabled by being unconscious throughout most of my career of how insane and/or criminal most of what the secret world does actually is), I have come to the conclusion that the elites and the experts are neither elite nor expert. They are abusive of the public trust and use secrecy and information asymmetry to loot countries, disenfranchise publics, and avoid accountability.
What this really means is that in the absence of public intelligence in the public interest, the elites and the experts are creating a world that does not work for most, that is horribly unjust for most–including a growing proportion of the US public–where a national security “state” is nothing more than an excuse to keep on spending on war for the profit of a few at the expense of the many. Our Democracy has been destroyed by Their Empire.
In a democracy, the government must fear the public and the public must be so well-informed as to keep the government from being insanely criminal. The US is not a democracy, and the US Government is not competent at its Constitutional duties, and on the national security and homeland “security” side of things, so far over the line and out of control as to demand a public tax strike if not a public work strike.
The *last* thing we need right now is public self-restraint. All that does is allow the government to spend more, harm more, lose more. We have a government that NEEDS to go into bankruptcy, and be placed in receivership Of, By, and For We the People.
At this time, there is no better authority to consider than Norman Cousins, writing in The Pathology of Power:
* The tendency of power to drive intelligence underground; to become a theology, admitting no other gods before it; to distort and damage the traditions and institutions it was designed to protect; to create a language of its own, making other forms of communication incoherent and irrelevant; to spawn imitators, leading to volatile competition; to set the stage for its own use.
* “Governments are not built to perceive large truths. Only people can perceive great truths. Governments specialize in small and intermediate truths. They have to be instructed by their people in great truths. And the particular truth in which they need to be instructed today is that new means for meeting the largest problems on earth have to be created.”