Living in Omelasville

John Scalzi, discussing the outrageous behavior of the adults in the football program at Pennsylvania State University, sets the tone for today's piece. He describes the cowardice of all those who knew of the abuse of the young boys taking place and failed to take the appropriate steps to stop it:

I'm a science fiction writer, and one of the great stories of science fiction is "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," which was written by Ursula K. LeGuin. The story posits a fantastic utopian city, where everything is beautiful, with one catch: In order for all this comfort and beauty to exist, one child must be kept in filth and misery. Every citizen of Omelas, when they come of age, is told about that one blameless child being put through hell. And they have a choice: Accept that is the price for their perfect lives in Omelas, or walk away from that paradise, into uncertainty and possibly chaos.

At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia - or at very least the illusion of their utopia - was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made."

There are too many people, most of them far from State College, Pennsylvania, who have put innocents at risk in pursuit of their career Omelas. 

There are the dimwits who masterminded and carried out Fast and Furious, a program by which federal agents charged with enforcing our gun laws compelled sellers to ignore those laws and , thereby put weapons in the hands of Mexican cartels.  The  gangsters  used them to carry out crimes in Mexico and the U.S., including the murder of a U.S. border  patrol agent and a significant number of Mexicans.  So their conduct endangered innocents in Mexico and the U.S. and rightly infuriated our Southern neighbor, the citizens of the border states and our own Border Patrol, among others.

Not only did these agents and their bosses  go to great efforts to hide Administration involvement , they lacked the decency to  acknowledge and make amends to the families of those murdered.  Proving that Obama may not create a classless society, but he sure has created a classless administration, his Attorney General Eric Holder finally got around to "apologizing" to the family of the murdered agent. He did it by releasing to Politico (apparently now the semiofficial news outlet of the administration) a "private letter" addressed  to the family, a letter the family had not received.  Matthew Boyle of the Daily Caller reported:

Politico reported Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder sent a "private letter" to the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, apologizing for his death. But friends of the Terry family question the Department of Justice's apparent decision to leak that letter to media before both his parents had read it.

"Eric Holder has told the grieving family of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry that he is 'sorry for the loss of your son' and offered to meet with them," reporter Tim Mak wrote.

Holder's letter, Mak wrote, praised the fallen Border Patrol Agent: "Brian was a hero who served his nation bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice. I agree with you that the tactic of allowing guns to 'walk,' as was permitted in Operation Fast and Furious, is completely unacceptable."

Politico hasn't published the letter in its entirety. And friends of the Terry family told The Daily Caller on Thursday that they haven't received it.

"He never sent a letter," Lana Domino, a Terry family friend, told TheDC on Thursday.

"I talk to them daily," Domino added. "They never received an apology. They never received a letter."

The shielding of the officers and agents involved, and the professed ignorance of the Attorney General in a matter certainly within the purview of his office, is done for one reason -- to keep the agency officials' substantial power and perks of office.  In  better times, the miscreants would fall on their swords, slit their wrists in hot baths or be displayed hanging from gibbets on town walls.

The biggest lies have the greatest reward in Omelasville even though they certainly will result in the death and immiseration of the most innocents.

Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post explains as she refutes the Sarkozy-Obama suggestion that Netanyahu lied:

Since Iran's nuclear weapons program was first  revealed to the public in 2004, Israel has provided in-depth intelligence  information proving Iran's malign intentions to the likes of Sarkozy, Obama and  the UN. And for seven years, the US government - Obama included - has claimed  that it lacked definitive proof of Iran's intentions.

Obama wasted the  first two years of his administration attempting to charm the Iranians out of  their nuclear weapons program. He stubbornly ignored the piles of evidence  presented to him by Israel that Iran was not interested in cutting a  deal.

Perhaps Obama was relying on the US's 2007 National Intelligence  Estimate about Iran's nuclear weapons program. As Israel said at the time, and  as this week's IAEA report proves, it was the NIE - which claimed that Iran  abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - not Israel that deliberately  lied about the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. It was the US  intelligence community that purposely deceived the American government and  people about the gravest immediate threat to US national  security.

Israel, including Netanyahu, was telling the truth.

 Earlier this week, AT's own Ed Lasky laid out in depth the sad story of the 2007 NIE, how it was authored and why it was so totally wrong, here quoting the Wall Street Journal in 2007:

[T]hree former State Department officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source[authored the NIE]. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Additionally, Brill's work as the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the feckless group that has averted its eyes - and worse - from Iran, Syrian and North Korean proliferation efforts) was disparaged by no less than Richard Armitage who characterized it as bullshit. What happened to the three stooges? Well, it is government work so they have been rewarded for their failure. Nothing succeeds like failure in this topsy-turvy world.

Van Diepen has moved up in the administration of Barack Obama.

Vann H. Van Diepen has been Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) since June 2009. From February 2006 to June 2009, he was National Intelligence Officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, advising the Director on those issues, serving as the Intelligence Community (IC) spokesman on them and producing National Intelligence Estimates and other IC analyses.

From September 2005 to February 2006, Mr. Van Diepen directed the State Department's Office of Missile Threat Reduction.

Ken Brill has also done well for himself - if not in the real world. He heads this government group in the Obama administration:

The National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC) is the primary organization within the U.S. Intelligence Community for combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. 

NCPC works with the Intelligence Community to identify critical intelligence gaps in counterproliferation collection or analysis and then develops solutions to help close those gaps. Through its Innovation Fund, NCPC also works to find and fund new technologies to help combat proliferation. Additionally, NCPC works to identify "over the horizon" proliferation concerns and creates strategies to ensure that the IC is well-positioned to address them.


Did he suddenly find competence? Count me skeptical.  So we have two of the three playing key roles in the government and who are responsible for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons-because...why? They certainly failed big time in 2007 - grievously so. Now the world has to live with the consequences of their failure. The third drafter of the NIE was Tom Fingar who parachuted out of Washington into a job at Stanford. He will at least do less immediate damage there but he did do some further damage (a parting shot?)  right before he left office. He was the official responsible for briefing Barack Obama regarding future global risks before Obama assumed office.

Perhaps the "three stooges," as many suggest and I believe, jiggered the evidence because they wanted to stop President Bush from  military action.  There was no indication whatsoever, however, that such action was on the table.  Stronger sanctions might have been under consideration, but the NIE report, widely circulated and uncritically accepted by the media opinion setters made any such effort futile.

So the consequence for the  totally inaccurate NIE assessment is that military action -- the only course of action remaining -- is more, rather than less, likely. The children to be punished will come from Iran and Israel and elsewhere.

Update:  JMH, a Just One Minute poster, notes that both Thomas Fingar and Valerie Plame are on the Penn State university  school of Foreign Affairs Advisory Board

John Scalzi, discussing the outrageous behavior of the adults in the football program at Pennsylvania State University, sets the tone for today's piece. He describes the cowardice of all those who knew of the abuse of the young boys taking place and failed to take the appropriate steps to stop it:

I'm a science fiction writer, and one of the great stories of science fiction is "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," which was written by Ursula K. LeGuin. The story posits a fantastic utopian city, where everything is beautiful, with one catch: In order for all this comfort and beauty to exist, one child must be kept in filth and misery. Every citizen of Omelas, when they come of age, is told about that one blameless child being put through hell. And they have a choice: Accept that is the price for their perfect lives in Omelas, or walk away from that paradise, into uncertainty and possibly chaos.

At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia - or at very least the illusion of their utopia - was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made."

There are too many people, most of them far from State College, Pennsylvania, who have put innocents at risk in pursuit of their career Omelas. 

There are the dimwits who masterminded and carried out Fast and Furious, a program by which federal agents charged with enforcing our gun laws compelled sellers to ignore those laws and , thereby put weapons in the hands of Mexican cartels.  The  gangsters  used them to carry out crimes in Mexico and the U.S., including the murder of a U.S. border  patrol agent and a significant number of Mexicans.  So their conduct endangered innocents in Mexico and the U.S. and rightly infuriated our Southern neighbor, the citizens of the border states and our own Border Patrol, among others.

Not only did these agents and their bosses  go to great efforts to hide Administration involvement , they lacked the decency to  acknowledge and make amends to the families of those murdered.  Proving that Obama may not create a classless society, but he sure has created a classless administration, his Attorney General Eric Holder finally got around to "apologizing" to the family of the murdered agent. He did it by releasing to Politico (apparently now the semiofficial news outlet of the administration) a "private letter" addressed  to the family, a letter the family had not received.  Matthew Boyle of the Daily Caller reported:

Politico reported Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder sent a "private letter" to the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, apologizing for his death. But friends of the Terry family question the Department of Justice's apparent decision to leak that letter to media before both his parents had read it.

"Eric Holder has told the grieving family of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry that he is 'sorry for the loss of your son' and offered to meet with them," reporter Tim Mak wrote.

Holder's letter, Mak wrote, praised the fallen Border Patrol Agent: "Brian was a hero who served his nation bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice. I agree with you that the tactic of allowing guns to 'walk,' as was permitted in Operation Fast and Furious, is completely unacceptable."

Politico hasn't published the letter in its entirety. And friends of the Terry family told The Daily Caller on Thursday that they haven't received it.

"He never sent a letter," Lana Domino, a Terry family friend, told TheDC on Thursday.

"I talk to them daily," Domino added. "They never received an apology. They never received a letter."

The shielding of the officers and agents involved, and the professed ignorance of the Attorney General in a matter certainly within the purview of his office, is done for one reason -- to keep the agency officials' substantial power and perks of office.  In  better times, the miscreants would fall on their swords, slit their wrists in hot baths or be displayed hanging from gibbets on town walls.

The biggest lies have the greatest reward in Omelasville even though they certainly will result in the death and immiseration of the most innocents.

Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post explains as she refutes the Sarkozy-Obama suggestion that Netanyahu lied:

Since Iran's nuclear weapons program was first  revealed to the public in 2004, Israel has provided in-depth intelligence  information proving Iran's malign intentions to the likes of Sarkozy, Obama and  the UN. And for seven years, the US government - Obama included - has claimed  that it lacked definitive proof of Iran's intentions.

Obama wasted the  first two years of his administration attempting to charm the Iranians out of  their nuclear weapons program. He stubbornly ignored the piles of evidence  presented to him by Israel that Iran was not interested in cutting a  deal.

Perhaps Obama was relying on the US's 2007 National Intelligence  Estimate about Iran's nuclear weapons program. As Israel said at the time, and  as this week's IAEA report proves, it was the NIE - which claimed that Iran  abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - not Israel that deliberately  lied about the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. It was the US  intelligence community that purposely deceived the American government and  people about the gravest immediate threat to US national  security.

Israel, including Netanyahu, was telling the truth.

 Earlier this week, AT's own Ed Lasky laid out in depth the sad story of the 2007 NIE, how it was authored and why it was so totally wrong, here quoting the Wall Street Journal in 2007:

[T]hree former State Department officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source[authored the NIE]. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Additionally, Brill's work as the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the feckless group that has averted its eyes - and worse - from Iran, Syrian and North Korean proliferation efforts) was disparaged by no less than Richard Armitage who characterized it as bullshit. What happened to the three stooges? Well, it is government work so they have been rewarded for their failure. Nothing succeeds like failure in this topsy-turvy world.

Van Diepen has moved up in the administration of Barack Obama.

Vann H. Van Diepen has been Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) since June 2009. From February 2006 to June 2009, he was National Intelligence Officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, advising the Director on those issues, serving as the Intelligence Community (IC) spokesman on them and producing National Intelligence Estimates and other IC analyses.

From September 2005 to February 2006, Mr. Van Diepen directed the State Department's Office of Missile Threat Reduction.

Ken Brill has also done well for himself - if not in the real world. He heads this government group in the Obama administration:

The National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC) is the primary organization within the U.S. Intelligence Community for combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. 

NCPC works with the Intelligence Community to identify critical intelligence gaps in counterproliferation collection or analysis and then develops solutions to help close those gaps. Through its Innovation Fund, NCPC also works to find and fund new technologies to help combat proliferation. Additionally, NCPC works to identify "over the horizon" proliferation concerns and creates strategies to ensure that the IC is well-positioned to address them.


Did he suddenly find competence? Count me skeptical.  So we have two of the three playing key roles in the government and who are responsible for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons-because...why? They certainly failed big time in 2007 - grievously so. Now the world has to live with the consequences of their failure. The third drafter of the NIE was Tom Fingar who parachuted out of Washington into a job at Stanford. He will at least do less immediate damage there but he did do some further damage (a parting shot?)  right before he left office. He was the official responsible for briefing Barack Obama regarding future global risks before Obama assumed office.

Perhaps the "three stooges," as many suggest and I believe, jiggered the evidence because they wanted to stop President Bush from  military action.  There was no indication whatsoever, however, that such action was on the table.  Stronger sanctions might have been under consideration, but the NIE report, widely circulated and uncritically accepted by the media opinion setters made any such effort futile.

So the consequence for the  totally inaccurate NIE assessment is that military action -- the only course of action remaining -- is more, rather than less, likely. The children to be punished will come from Iran and Israel and elsewhere.

Update:  JMH, a Just One Minute poster, notes that both Thomas Fingar and Valerie Plame are on the Penn State university  school of Foreign Affairs Advisory Board

RECENT VIDEOS