If the Post were truly in the muckraking business and not the semi-official propaganda organ of the Beltway, I'd surmise that they were simply waiting for President Obama to hang himself. Obama, you may remember, last week seemed to categorically deny that anything untoward was going on in Police State USA. His exact words, however, were very carefully parsed:
"If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails."Which could be interpreted to mean if you are not aware of abuses, then your cluelessness is your own problem. I know something you don't know. Nonny nonny boo boo.
Since the Washington Post is the semi-official organ of the Establishment, they've probably spent the last several months agonizing over what Edward Snowden handed to them on a silver platter. They had legions of lawyers poring over every syllable. They provided advance copies to every government apparatchik for his or her vetting and approval, prior to publication. The article admits that NSA officials spoke to them only with "the permission of the White House." There was no actual official leaking going on, they want you to know. Their continued access to power remains safe and secure. In the end they decided to run with the story, because it did not, in the grand scheme of things, make any politician look too terribly bad. Incompetent, maybe. Evil? No way.
The article was essentially framed around the theme "Shit Happens." At most, it exposed mind-shattering stupidity and arrogance, which are not crimes. These people are only human. And besides, we already had a huge hint about their rank ineptitude when intelligence hack James Clapper told Congress that his spooks don't ever "knowingly" eavesdrop. Sometimes the data just comes floating into their line of vision. There is so damned much of it, they can't avoid it.
And funny? How about that time when the NSA mistook the Beltway area code for Egypt's, temporarily confusing the moneyed Swamp People with impoverished denizens of the desert? Boy, did they ever get egg on their faces. I imagine they're still rolling in the aisles over that wacky caper. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
And Deputy Attorney General James Cole acknowledged in his own recent Congressional testimony that "every now and then there may be a mistake." I guess when the government vacuums up so many trillions of our communications that they had to construct a whole new building in Utah in which to store them, a few thousand privacy violations every year constitutes a mere Now and Then.
Of course, the thousands of violations that they self-reported were confined only to the Fort Meade, MD headquarters -- and thus are likely tp represent only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of what is more likely to be truly evil stuff.
But for now, this story will make our abusers look like harmless idiots. A couple of wacky hacky heads will roll to appease the masses. And Booz Allen will continue laughing all the way to the bank. And Obama will continue laughing up his sleeve.