Saturday, June 05, 2004

Slate's soft headedness

Slate has a silly article comparing the success (or failure) of the CIA to the success (or failure) of the war on poverty. It argues that
But intelligence is not a uniquely human endeavor. The war on poverty, too, is human and imperfect. The bureaucrats who wage that war, like those who wage the war on terror, strive to do better. The difference is, Bush doesn't let them measure their progress by goodness, decency, community, caring, funding, and "hidden successes."
Which means that Bush requires the departments engaged in the war on poverty to demonstrate results, but keeps the CIA's operations under wraps. Someone should hand this guy a copy of any book discussing codebreaking during World War II, and he would see that the code breakers took tremendous pains to ensure that the enemy did not know what codes they had broken. They even went so far as to not attack enemy ships, and to let their own soldiers die, to keep the fact that they had broken the codes a secret. If the enemy knows that you have broken their code, they will switch to another channel and your advantage will disappear. Even a historical text is too Boring for Slate, I would also recommend Neal Stephenson's excellent Crytonomicon, which covers similar ground.

The war on hunger will not be compromised by transparency.

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