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That is an amazing non-sequitur.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic) Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises.

Perhaps I should explain my reasoning a bit then.

midas007: It seems like just another lie

tptacek: I don't think he's lying. I don't think he understands what he's saying.

me: To paraphrase President Nixon, the President ought to know whether or not he himself is a crook.

So if tptacek is correct in that Obama doesn't actually understand what he is saying, the universe divides into two possibilities. In universe (1) Obama is so dumb as to be incapable of understanding the issues involved. In universe (B) Obama has the capability to understand the issues but has for some reason chosen not to exercise it.

Because Obama is a scholar, I assert that (1) is unlikely. Thus Obama, like many of us when confronted with complex but ultimately tractable problems (such as optimal Pokemon strategy), has made a conscious decision not to immerse himself deeply in the issue.

This represents a problem for Democracy because the President is our civilian leader who is supposed to be in command of the military. If in fact it is the military/intelligence that is leading him, then the Presidency has failed.

C.f. Reagan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Contra_affair


Hrm. I can either argue with you about your continued lack of logic (moving from a non-sequitur to a false dichotomy where you presume a world of two types of people), or I can make a larger point. So I'll do the one that's more productive:

> This represents a problem for Democracy because the President is our civilian leader who is supposed to be in command of the military. If in fact it is the military/intelligence that is leading him, then the Presidency has failed.

Democracy is not a government of presidents. It is a government of people. I agree that you can usefully argue that "the Presidency has failed", but the existence of the Presidency was always a hack, in software terms. It was never a well-designed system; it was a convenience which has been subject to feature creep due to a long history of abuse and counter-abuse. Try to put yourself in the Founders' shoes and seriously think about the question of why the executive branch needs to be headed by a single person; it doesn't. It was just easier that way.

To fix this, the response isn't to whine about NSA overreach or Presidential doublespeak. It's to actually establish a democracy.

(P.S., it is inaccurate to characterize the POTUS as in command of the NSA. He is responsible and accountable for them, but he is not in command. The continued incapability of HNers to internalize basic facts listed on Wikipedia suggests either, how did you put it, that they are either "dumb" or choosing "not to exercise their capability" in understanding their government. I think I like your false dichotomy after all.)


POTUS is Commander-in-Chief of the US military. NSA is an organization under the US Department of Defense.

POTUS can fire the head of the NSA. Truman fired Macarthur.

It's an interesting discussion the extent to which reality matches the law, but according to the US Constitution Obama is in command of the NSA.


The Department of Defense is a civilian structure. It is not a military. This is a meaningful distinction, not least because it means NSA personnel do not necessarily waive the same constitutional rights that members of the United States Armed Forces do, nor do they necessarily swear to obey the POTUS, which is an explicit difference between the civilian and military oaths.

The authority that the POTUS has over the NSA is more analogous to that of a CEO over a departmental division than that of a general over a battalion. As I said, the POTUS is responsible and accountable for the NSA, in the same way he is responsible and accountable for what our diplomats and ambassadors say to foreign governments, in the same way he is responsible and accountable if the FCC fails to secure network neutrality.

One of the more interesting consequences of this is that, if you were to place the USAF under the authority of the NSA, it would not violate the principle of civilian control of the military.


The authority that the POTUS has over the NSA is more analogous to that of a CEO over a departmental division than that of a general over a battalion.

This is getting tiring.

Take a look at this list of former Directors of the NSA and count how many are ranking uniformed military officers. Spoiler: since the founding of the agency, all 17 of them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_the_National_Secur...


It looks especially silly when the NSA has never been credited as reporting any vulnerability to any vendor, ever.

They could at least throw a few over the fence and get their names in some advisories to at least pretend there is a shred of truth to this.




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