Sunday, January 31, 2010

now that's what I call wanktankery

Perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on the British wanktank movement. Here's an example of the US version. It turns out that the people responsible for a break-in at U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's office, who apparently posed as telecoms company technicians in an attempt to "tamper" with the phones, were led by a character who was an "Undergraduate Fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies". He later acted as "assistant director" of a program at Trinity Washington University whose purpose was:
to introduce students in liberal arts colleges to concepts in intelligence studies and potential careers in intelligence

Is it out of place to note that the FDD is one of the stops on Alexander Melegreaou-Hitchens's World Tour of Wanktankery? And does anyone wonder if renta-quoting seems a tad dull compared to actually getting your G. Gordon Liddy on? Give him time; yer man also acted as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program, which is close enough to being a media "terrorism expert" for folk music.

I'm amused by the descriptions here and here; their defence is that they "wanted to know how they would react if the phones were inoperative". According to witnesses, they fiddled with a phone, called it or pretended to on a mobile device, and announced that they couldn't reach it, presumably in order to claim that there was a fault and they were there to fix it.

Strangely, for people with absolutely no evil intent, they seem to have replicated a 1950s MI5 bugging operation; declare there was a "fault" on the phones, then arrive posing as telephone engineers. Of course, the key element was that the real thing could ask the phone company to stage a deliberate fault, something this lot appear to have missed.

It does make you wonder why we're having a USA Day thanks to Boris Johnson. Surely it can have nothing to do with Dan Ritterband's past directorship of Policy Exchange, which shares an address with the Centre for Social Cohesion, Douglas Murray's aggressive neo-con thinktank and AMH's current gig.

Ritterband's LinkedIn profile describes him as Communications Manager of the Conservative Party; he's also Boris's marketing director, and a major figure in Michael Howard's 2005 election campaign and David Cameron's leadership campaign. Which means that he's responsible for a significant percentage of the most vomitous public speech of the last decade.

(If you've ever wondered how Bill Roggio gets his access, btw, wonder no more.)

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