The political theorist Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil” to describe her highly controversial thesis that “the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.” [source: Wikipedia]
Arendt argued that Adolf Eichmann’s crimes resulted “not from a wicked or depraved character but from sheer ‘thoughtlessness’: he was simply an ambitious bureaucrat who failed to reflect on the enormity of what he was doing. His role in the mass extermination of Jews epitomized ‘the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil’ that had spread across Europe at the time. Arendt’s refusal to recognize Eichmann as “inwardly” evil prompted fierce denunciations from both Jewish and non-Jewish intellectuals. Her argument, which has been criticized by many, came out of her coverage of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 for the New Yorker.” [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]
Whether or not you accept Arendt’s thesis in regard to the perpetration of the Holocaust, it is impossible to deny the thoughtless, faceless, bureaucratic banality implicit in the briefing slides below support her thesis. These official briefing slides, leaked from the Snowden Archive and analyzed by Glen Greenwald, clearly describe in antiseptic, logically-disconnected, powerpoint detail how the employees of NSA and its cohorts plan to use cyber operations as a covert means to coerce the American people, as well as foreigners, into accepting the totalitarian premises of the emerging American State.
Many of these dirty tricks are as old as Sun Tzu; but others, like the slides describing the ‘ANCO Key Skill Strands’, are a jumble of gobbledegook collages mixing real and pop psychology and sociology. Indeed, the opaque references to the controversial “Hofstede Dimension” (which are popular in some business consulting and marketing circles) in these slides suggests the hidden presence of half-baked Bayesian statistical analyses to infer node of targeting opportunities, with all the false positives implicit in such subjective calculations.
Nevertheless, the intent is clear: The language and logical banalities of these government briefing slides are clearly subversive of the spirit and language of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Yet every employee of the U.S. government, including those individuals in the NSA who have put together this system of infowar systems, has taken sacred oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. This oath is a condition of his or her employment.
While you may quibble over the use of the term ‘evil,’ to describe the ambitions of such faceless bureaucrats, it is also impossible to deny that these ambitions are thoughtlessness violations of their sacred oaths on such a wide scale as to make them, to put it charitably, morally challenged.
24 Feb 2014, 6:25 PM EST
Phi Beta Iota: We would normally post the entire article because of Chuck Spinney’s yellow highlights, but out of token respect for the well-intentioned but intellectually and morally challenged individuals who have mandated public posting of classified documents now in the public domain, we abide by that restriction.