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On Brothers and Bums

Update: Kent’s Imperative gets deeper into some of the issues mentioned below.

A number of visitors write and ask me why I have it out for my old profession/employers/cohorts. Clearly I am disgruntled and left under a cloud.

The fact of the matter is that I’m not and I did not. I rose faster and higher than most do. I worked on some neat things, I made some good friends, I traveled, and I took a few trips around the proverbial block. I wouldn’t change much if I had a chance to do it over again, and getting back into the mix is still an option if I feel like speeding the ruin of my health.

Most of the people I worked with and for were great, but many were not. Many were bums, or worse. A funny thing happens on the way to protecting the nation: you begin to think your s*** doesn’t stink. Some people carry this too far and think they can get away with all sorts of mischief. Some get it in their heads that they are not working on a mission, that they ARE the mission.

The results are predictable. Failures – when they’re even viewed as such – can be explained away via any number of logical fallacies. In fact, true masters of post hoc ergo propter hoc can turn a failing effort into an even larger doomed enterprise by pointing out that if they only had more money and more people . . .

The flaws that plague any bureaucracy are also present in the IC, though I doubt Dr. Peter ever envisioned that his theories could be taken to such extremes. The fact that both Peter and Parkinson are alive and well in private bureaucracies is merely a detriment to greater profits; that they are so prevalent in the IC is a detriment to our security.

There are any number of books that will point this out, though this piece of commentary serves as a nice primer (found while cleaning up the ol’ hard drive).

I love my old profession and I love my old colleagues (not in a Brokeback Mountain sort of way). It is not a perfect business, but there are plenty who try to make it so. Change doesn’t come easy and it rarely comes from the inside, hence my poking and proding. They know I occasionally kid because I love, and that my critiques are reserved for those who deserve them.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.