Dwight Eisenhower is an underrated president, especially when it comes to understanding the ways in which national security issues often provide cover for violations of basic liberties and fiscal sanity.
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey reposts Ike's most memorable presidential speech—his farewell address where he warns against the "military-industrial complex":
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
That speech is strong stuff—and a reminder than presidents didn't always speak in gaseous platitudes.
Morrissey, who also writes for The Week, notes that today's "threat is the intelligence-industrial complex, and the manner in which we had already surrendered to it before the NSA took advantage of the complacency."
And over at The Daily Beast, John Avlon notes that Ike was skewered as "a conspiracy theorist" for suggesting that the military-industrial complex might some day screw everythin up. But here we are, in an era where the public and private spheres mingle promiscuously and expensively:
There 1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Throughout the D.C. area, 33 buildings containing 17 million square feet of office space have been built since 9/11—the equivalent of 22 Capitol buildings. But despite the growth of government national-security workers, some 500,000 private contractors also have top security clearances.
This might be defensible if private contractors actually saved taxpayer dollars, but they don't. According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, contractors made up 29 percent of intelligence agency workforce but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of personnel budgets. Consider the fact that Snowden made $122,000 a year in his brief Hawaii-based gig for Booz Allen Hamilton, offering evident tech savvy but only a GED. The average annual salary for a person with a GED is only $37,200. This isn't an industry interested in belt-tightening.
I don't have a problem with contracting stuff out, even for and including defense. But it sure makes my blood boil to realize the ways in which so many military contractors and their towel boys in Congress waste the taxpayers' money. This sort of dynamic without proper accountability is godawful and it'd be nice to see more than a handful of politicians of either party denounce it and reform it.
Watch "Why We Still Like Ike: Dwight Eisenhower's Underrated Presidency":