Unfortunately Chertoff is by no means alone. In the shadow elite era, many top power brokers play roles that influence each other to the detriment of the public interest. The media feature “experts” who have actually crafted a “coincidence” of roles that the audience hears little detail about until after the fact. The result is that we — the public — are led to believe we are getting impartial advice when we may well be getting a self-serving agenda.
Chertoff has frequently sounded the alarm about cyber-war threats, warning that current policy might lead to the next “Pearl Harbor”. But we have to look at his website to find out that one of the Chertoff Group’s areas of focus is “Data & cyber security, including detection, encryption, computer forensics and data recovery”. And this is a huge business: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker recently said that the federal government spends as much as an estimated $14 billion a year on cyber-security work.
So with Chertoff’s “coincidences of interest” (as it is ironically dubbed) in mind, we looked at the results of a Google search of “Chertoff Cyberwar”, which is what an average reader might search if they wanted to learn more about where Chertoff stands on the issue. Out of twenty stories this year (ones published before the WikiLeaks dump), 17 make no mention whatsoever of Chertoff’s role other than “former Homeland Security Chief”. These stories come from various trade publications as well as web reports from major news organizations including the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, and the Guardian newspaper.
And key to their success is the way they intertwine state and private power. Booz Allen, the Chertoff Group and Clarke’s Good Harbor Consultants are classic creations of the shadow elite era, populated by former government officials regularly sought out by the media for “expert” analysis.
But once a financial interest enters the picture, how can one not wonder if he’s actually speaking from the pocketbook? His “expert” advice is inevitably compromised.
The onus is on reporters and editors to make those interests clear.
And perhaps researchers and academics too.
In the shadow elite age, when power brokers can have a dozen roles of influence, criss-crossing and sometimes overlapping, sorting through them to pick the most telling ones is both more difficult – and more imperative – than ever before.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.