Mike the Mad Biologist

I’ve read through the Washington Post article on our bloated, inefficient national security-surveillance apparatus–what Atrios characterizes as a system “to transfer money and power to elites while cementing the existence of a giant and extremely opaque patronage system. One with surveillance capabilities.” This caught my eye as it sounds like a serious security risk (italics mine):

Among the most important people inside the SCIFs [sensitive compartmented information facilities] are the low-paid employees carrying their lunches to work to save money. They are the analysts, the 20- and 30-year-olds making $41,000 to $65,000 a year, whose job is at the core of everything Top Secret America tries to do.

Meanwhile, at the higher echelons:

SCIF size has become a measure of status in Top Secret America, or at least in the Washington region of it. “In D.C., everyone talks SCIF, SCIF, SCIF,” said Bruce Paquin, who moved to Florida from the Washington region several years ago to start a SCIF construction business. “They’ve got the penis envy thing going. You can’t be a big boy unless you’re a three-letter agency and you have a big SCIF.”

SCIFs are not the only must-have items people pay attention to. Command centers, internal television networks, video walls, armored SUVs and personal security guards have also become the bling of national security.

“You can’t find a four-star general without a security detail,” said one three-star general now posted in Washington after years abroad. “Fear has caused everyone to have stuff. Then comes, ‘If he has one, then I have to have one.’ It’s become a status symbol.”

Anyone think this might be corrosive to morale? That maybe someone making $41,000 per year might be tempted to divulge information? Or for that matter, perhaps not even do a good job?

Less security bling, more decent salaries please.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris
    July 19, 2010

    More data does not mean better data—whether in the form of intelligence briefings or microarrays and deep sequencing. I think computers are making it very easy for all of us to be intellectually lazy.

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