Thursday, February 7, 2013

Breeding Distrust

John Brennan will go to Capitol Hill today for his confirmation hearing as the next director of the CIA.  Thanks to the news about the memo on drones, it should be an interesting hearing.

Whether or not you think killing people — Americans or not — by remote control is a good or a bad idea, or whether you think the level of secrecy around it insulates us as a people from the harsh things our government does in our name, the part that gets to a lot of people — myself included — is that the attitude of the people who knew about it turns out to be “Trust us.”  As anyone who has grown up beyond the age of ten knows, when you have to tell someone to trust you, you shouldn’t.

I don’t buy into all the conspiracy nutsery (see below), but I also believe trust is binary: you either have it or you don’t, and winning it back is not just a matter of “Well, we mislead you on this, but the next time, trust us.”  It becomes a loop.

Charlie Pierce gets to it.

It is now beyond cliche to observe that government secrecy “breeds distrust” in our institutions. What is never mentioned is that, if you breed enough distrust in the institutions — or, more to the point, if the activities of the institutions breed distrust in themselves — the trust people once placed in them has to go somewhere. And, generally, it goes into dreams and schemes and circus clowns that the people dream up themselves. The very real use of drones, and the very real possibility that they will be in general use in domestic law-enforcement before very long, because we’re more than already halfway there now, already have combined to set the paranoid imagination fully a’bloom. Government secrecy and deception blurs the line between genuine fears over the decline of civil liberties, and the wild-assed fantasies of the black-helicopter crowd. If you want to see the true destructive power of Droneworld in this country, look deeply into the Id of the democratic political imagination. There are angry, feral creatures in there, stalking the ruins, howling for blood.

There are those who will never trust the government or any elected official.  They fully believe that once someone becomes a public servant they are secretly led into the cabal and become “one of them.” They’re the ones who start looking for pods in the basement.  It’s when the rest of us start thinking that there might be something to it that we get into real trouble.

2 barks and woofs on “Breeding Distrust

  1. The drones are in use here in south Tx. They have done several news pieces on the local tv stations. What I remember is that they fly out of a base in Corpus Christi and are looking for drug runners and undocumenteds coming across.

  2. We the people have been watch by the drones for years, no they may not have been flying around quitely and unmaned but there just the same. Visit any major metropolitan city around the world. If you bother to look up from your personal communication device for two second, observe the cameras. There mounted all over the city, watching the flow of traffic and pedestrians. The raw footage is just wating in a data bank for the Authorities to rewind it and take a look.

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