Intelligence Wizards

Kevin Drum is incredulous over the bizarre incident whereby several European countries, reportedly on the request of the United States, worked together to force the presidential plane of Bolivian head of state Evo Morales to make an unscheduled stop in Vienna.

Did we really, seriously, strong-arm the governments of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to deny the president of Bolivia permission to fly over their airspace? All because some moron in one of our intelligence services that supposedly tracks every communication on the planet decided that Evo Morales was serious when he joked about taking Edward Snowden home with him from Moscow?

Kevin’s upset about the diplomatic consequences of this stunt, which he should be. But I find myself continuing to wonder if the behavior of U.S. intelligence agencies in dealing with the aftermath of the Snowden leaks is doing more to undermine confidence in their competence to appropriately handle sensitive surveillance tasks than anything done by Snowden himself.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.