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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 17, 2014

 
Hey, today is the "Beware the Military Industrial Complex" speech anniversary

by digby

Yeah. For real:
It’s a coincidence, White House aides say. President Barack Obama did not deliberately schedule his big NSA speech for Friday to mark the anniversary of Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that the “military-industrial complex” posed a potential threat to American democracy.

Eisenhower’s Jan. 17, 1961, speech portrayed the country as locked in a struggle of “indefinite duration” — he meant against Soviet Communism, though the label could apply today to Islamist extremism. He also noted that a vigorous military, and the industrial and technological apparatus that supports it, were necessary.

But then the former five-star general shocked Americans with this:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
He went on:
“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
It shouldn’t have been quite such a surprise.

“He really had been trying to hold back the national security state all along, or parts of it, what he considered to be unnecessary,” explains Evan Thomas, author of “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World.”

Eisenhower would tell aides “I know those boys” down at the Pentagon and worry that “one day there’s going to be a president that knows less about the military than I do,” according to Thomas.
Judging by the president's speech today, it's pretty clear that he hasn't been trying to hold the secret surveillance state back. From the NY Times yesterday:
[A]fter he won the election, surveillance issues were off his agenda; instead, he focused on banning interrogation techniques he deemed torture and trying, futilely, to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “There wasn’t really any serious discussion of what N.S.A. was up to,” said a former intelligence official, who like others did not want to be named describing internal conversations...

Feeling little pressure to curb the security agencies, Mr. Obama largely left them alone until Mr. Snowden began disclosing secret programs last year. Mr. Obama was angry at the revelations, privately excoriating Mr. Snowden as a self-important narcissist who had not thought through the consequences of his actions.

He was surprised at the uproar that ensued, advisers said, particularly that so many Americans did not trust him, much less trust the oversight provided by the intelligence court and Congress. As more secrets spilled out, though, aides said even Mr. Obama was chagrined. They said he was exercised to learn that the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped.
Update:  I just watched the speech. I think the intelligence services must be breathing a big sigh of relief this morning. More later.
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