Feb 8, 2011

When governments know less than their citizens

The traditional asymmetry of information between people and their governments has been upended in recent months. It's unlikely to ever be restored.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

“Obama said to fault spy agencies’ Mid-East forecasting” was the wonderfully passive-voiced headline from the New York Times on the weekend.  The President, and members of Congress, had wanted to know why the United States’s $80b-plus intelligence agencies had failed to anticipate the fall of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali or how fast demonstrations would spread to Egypt.

A bit harsh, perhaps – after all, it’s not like they failed to anticipate the collapse of communism or anything.

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