TagNational Intelligence

The Revolt of the Comic Books

revolt of the comic books

Excellent article on the attempts of superhero comics to deal to critique American politics, and how they fail:

The Superhero Registration Act is a straightforward analogue of the USA PATRIOT Act; the rhetoric of its opponents could have been cribbed from an ACLU brief. But under scrutiny, their civil libertarian arguments turn out to hold very little water in the fictional context. The “liberty” the act infringes is the right of well-meaning masked vigilantes, many wielding incredible destructive power, to operate unaccountably, outside the law — a right no sane society recognizes. In one uneasy scene, an anti-registration hero points out that the law would subject heroes to lawsuits filed by those they apprehend. In another, registered hero Wonder Man is forced to wait several whole minutes for approval before barging into a warehouse full of armed spies from Atlantis. Protests about the law’s threat to privacy ring a bit hollow coming from heroes accustomed to breaking into buildings, reading minds, or peering through walls without bothering to obtain search warrants. Captain America bristles at the thought of “Washington … telling us who the supervillains are,” but his insistence that heroes must be “above” politics amounts to the claim that messy democratic deliberation can only hamper the good guys’ efforts to protect America. The putative dissident suddenly sounds suspiciously like Director of National Intelligence Mitch McConnell defending warrantless spying.

I haven’t read Ellis’s Black Summer yet (I have issue 0, just need to find the time), but I suspect it falls into the same trap: Horus’s murder of the president is little different from the US’s invasion of Iraq.

Full Story: American Prospect).

(via American Samizdat).

The Banality of Truth: The government finally admits pre-9/11 bumbling

On Tuesday Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told the House Judiciary Committee things that, had a government official said them in the days, weeks, or months following 9/11. would have sparked public outrage-and may have significantly blunted the push for greater police and surveillance powers like the PATRIOT Act.

McConnell told lawmakers that “9/11 should have and could have been prevented.”

Full Story: Reason Magazine.

See also this piece by the same author:

It is now clear that senior FBI officials, Maltbie and Frasca, did know about Moussaoui’s arrest. They knew the case so well that they denied Samit’s request to seek a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to search Moussaoui’s computer and belongings. Because Samit never made the explicit link to Afghan terror camps, the FBI could not claim a ‘foreign power’ was directing Moussaoui, the test for an intelligence warrant from the court. But had the bureau taken Samit’s fears of mayhem seriously, it could have sought a plain vanilla criminal warrant on Moussaoui based on probable cause. Samit was told that pressing too hard to obtain a warrant would hurt his career.

This decision not to seek a warrant gave rise to the myth that the ‘wall’ between overseas intelligence and criminal investigations made the PATRIOT Act necessary. This myth is cherished among right-wing radio talkers and has now morphed into a clumsy justification for the White House’s warrantless wiretaps. It is pure fantasy. Samit cited ‘obstructionism, criminal negligence and careerism’ by top FBI officials-not domestic spying restrictions-as the factors that stopped his investigation.

(Emphasis mine).

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