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Washington Does Not Like Snarky

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To: Jofi Joseph, Washington DC

Dear Mr Joseph:

I read of your firing as a low-level national security adviser in the White House thanks to your "snarky" tweeting about various Obama administration officials above you in the pecking order.

I understand you are contrite and a bit embarrassed and said that your tweeting escapade as @NatSecWonk started as innocent fun and turned into something else. Even the New York Times reporters who told your story on their front page seemed hard pressed not to treat it comically. The headline was: "White House Official's Career Twitters Out." Twittering out is hardly a dignified downfall. In the annals of schadenfreude over the downfall of promising national office holders via the internet, at least you did not tweet anyone images of your penis.


Jofi Joseph
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From here on out I'm going to treat your situation seriously, since I feel your predicament is instructive. I know you and your wife certainly see it as serious, since she remains on the Washington national-security-state power merry-go-round.

On the Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night, yours was not the only Twitter-based story. Maddow gave much more time to, and was quite laudatory about, a tweeter named Tom Matzzie, a man who once worked for MoveOn.org.

Mattzie made blow-by-blow tweets from a Washington to New York Acela train of a loud, off-the-record cell phone interview being given in the seat directly behind him. The interviewee, Michael Hayden, as you must know, was the NSA director under President Clinton and CIA director under Presidents Bush and Obama; he now works for the Chertoff Group, which according to its website, "provides business and government leaders with the same kind of high-level, strategic thinking and diligent execution that have kept the American homeland and its people safe since 9/11."

When Hayden was informed via his cell phone that an ordinary schmuck had just done a surveillance job on him from the seat ahead, the master spy introduced himself and graciously posed with Matzzie for a photograph. As any good spy knows, it's important to always remain cool and make the best of things when caught with your pants down. (The photo is at the end of this missive.)

In your case, you assumed the role of an anonymous insider making snide comments about Hillary Clinton on Benghazi, John Kerry, Susan Rice and others. This is how you described yourself: "Unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks. A keen observer of the foreign policy and national security scene. I'm abrasive and bring the snark." Snark comes from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, and the word is defined as "an imaginary animal (used to refer to someone or something that is difficult to track down)."

Here's your August 9 tweet concerning UN Ambassador Samantha Power -- or "Sam" as you refer to her:

"It's pathetic how @AmbassadorPower keeps tweeting on Syria when her own President refuses to do anything about it. You've sold out, Sam."

The question whether or not Ms. Power has sold out is a good one that should be dealt with seriously. The late Howard Zinn and others have criticized her for downplaying US collateral damage in her genocide book. President Obama, as you point out, opposed her on Syria by deciding against bombing raids and, instead, went with the Putin peace plan directed at eliminating chemical weapons. You may have felt she did not fight hard enough for bombing.

Ambassador Power, as you know, is a formidable writer with a Pulitzer Prize for her book called A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide and the author of Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World, an admirable biography of the Brazilian UN diplomat tragically blown up in George W. Bush's grand national security blunder in Iraq.

Since she advocated US military force against Syria, my question concerning Ms. Power is whether she is a true humanitarian who understands the evil of our current world so well that she sincerely sees the US military as a tool for good -- or whether she's just another academic like Henry Kissinger seduced (no pun on her name intended) by power. The jury is still out.

This gets me to the point of this letter -- the lofty struggle between Power and Truth. This struggle is played out every day in Washington DC as the United States must balance the much beloved Myth of American Exceptionalism and our imperial, military history with the realities of diminishing resources and the challenge of fairly distributing those resources. This involves decisions about war and peace and critical funding to fix rotten education systems, a health care system designed to line the pockets of insurance companies, crumbling infrastructure and a stressed-out environment. It seems to me, these are the really important national security problems.

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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)
 

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