Need To Know

Osama bin Laden was hangin’ out in his crib, when without warning a world of hurt fell down on him. Did the American people know what was about to go down? No. Did the government of Pakistan know a raid was coming? Probably not. Does anyone remember years ago when the U.S. government announced that they were tracking ObL’s mobile phone? ObL stopped using it, so he could no longer be tracked that way. Need To Know restrictions were an important part of this mission

‘Original long-form birth certificate’? We didn’t have Need To Know. Pictures of ObL’s corpse? I’d like to see them only because I’m morbid. But I don’t have NtK. I don’t think we need to know every detail of our military operations.

And speaking of military operations, the less said the better. I’m a liberal. I believe in the Rule of Law, and American Ideals. But I’ve also read The Prince and I’ve seen Munich. After 9/11 I wished the government and the media would have just shut up. If I were a terrorist that had just pulled off an audacious attack, I’d be pretty nervous if my enemy didn’t say anything. And more-so when my compatriots started getting dead. Nasty? Yes. ‘Unfair’? Yes. Illegal? Probably. Not the way liberals are supposed to behave? Definitely not. But sometimes distasteful things are necessary. I think it’s easier to work toward Equal Rights, establishing UHC, making sure our population is educated, and so forth when there is not the distraction of war. Wars are so noisy!

But of course Americans don’t trust their government. Right or Left, it doesn’t matter. There’s always something not to trust. And with televised destruction we get to cheer like we’re watching the Super Bowl. We wouldn’t stand for our enemies being prosecuted quietly.

Except this time. Of course we didn’t know we were standing for it until after the fact. Because we didn’t have Need To Know.

The biggest problem with Need to Know is determining what we should know and who should determine it. I think history shows that people in power will abuse secrecy more often than not for their own purposes.

I like a world with the cacophony of ideas and knowledge crashes about us, and it is up to the individual to engage or disengage as they see fit.

I think the alternatives would include preventing your observation here, and my response.

I like noise!

I think there’s a difference between ‘Need To Know’ and ‘We Don’t Want You To Know’. For example, the public had every right (read: ‘need’) to know of Nixon’s monkeyshines. But it would have been inadvisable for a government spokesperson to say, ‘We know ObL is hiding in a fortified compound in Pakistan.’ I’m coming from an operational viewpoint, rather than a political one.

I concur, however it is reasonable to know about it afterward (even with a fair amount of time passage.) This allows for operational security and ethical scrutiny to coexist about as best as it may in the real world.