Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Posts tagged ‘US government’

CDC works toward the president

Dem Führer entgegenarbeiten — Working toward the Leader — was one of the most important neologisms of the early Third Reich. No one really knew what Hitler wanted to do — not even Hitler himself — and the organs of state were in turmoil, certainly incapable of providing rapid guidance at the local level to the government’s plans. So everyone’s obligation was to surmise what the Führer’s ultimate objectives were, and work toward accomplishing it, without needing specific instructions.

Compare that to these recent decisions of the completely apolitical Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

CDC abruptly cancels long-planned conference on climate change and health

The Climate and Health Summit, which had been in the works for months, was intended as a chance for public health officials around the country to learn more about the mounting evidence of the risks to human health posed by the changing climate. But CDC officials abruptly canceled the conference before President Trump’s inauguration, sending a terse email on Jan. 9 to those who had been scheduled to speak at the event. The message did not explain the reason behind the decision.

CDC Indefinitely Postponed LGBT Youth Health Summit After Election

To be fair, the reason seems to be that they needed the resources to focus on their conference on disease transmission by refugees and illegal immigrants.

 

The secret government

According to Spiegel, Obama has told Angela Merkel that he knew nothing of “possible eavesdropping” by the NSA on her cell phone — which has been going on for over 10 years — and that he would have stopped it immediately had he known. So we have to assume one of three possibilities:

  1. Obama has decided to double down on the diplomatic affront by baldly lying to the leader of Germany.
  2. Cynics are right: Everyone spies on everyone, and everyone in the higher echelons of government knows about it, so Angela Merkel has felt obliged to collude with Obama to deceive the media and the public.
  3. Obama owes Edward Snowden an apology. The NSA was not working for the US government. It was out of control, slipping the leash of democratic control. Obama was himself naïve to think that he could simply order an investigation. Think back to what Obama said in August about the NSA and Snowden:

And if you look at the reports — even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward — all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused… If you are outside of the intelligence community, if you are the ordinary person and you start seeing a bunch of headlines saying, U.S.-Big Brother looking down on you, collecting telephone records, et cetera, well, understandably, people would be concerned. I would be, too, if I wasn’t inside the government…

But people may have better ideas and people may want to jigger slightly sort of the balance between the information that we can get versus the incremental encroachments on privacy that if haven’t already taken place might take place in a future administration, or as technologies develop further…. And so those are the kinds of things that I’m looking forward to having a conversation about.

It’s a typical insider fallacy. He has access to secret information, so he assumes he understands everything that’s going on, far better than the deluded privacy obsessives who have the misfortune of being “outside of the intelligence community”.

So, maybe the president should consider whether it might not have been important after all for a concerned citizen to take matters into his own hands, if even he needed the German news media to let him know what his spooks were up to.

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