Monday, October 02, 2017


We often hear that it is the "consensus of seventeen different intelligence agencies” that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.  For the moment let’s ignore whether or not that claim is true and focus on a different issue it raises.

Namely, why are there seventeen different intelligence agencies?  That seems like a lot.  I can understand that you would have three of them.  One for the military, one for the FBI, and a final one for everything else (and maybe a fourth one to surveil the other three).  But seventeen…?  That doesn’t inspire confidence at all.  In fact, rather the opposite.  If there are so many, maybe it’s because none of them is getting it right on a consistent basis.  

If you were at a hotel and you asked the concierge “Do you have any restaurants in this hotel?” and he replied “My good sir, we have seventeen restaurant in this hotel!” you might think something was amiss and eat elsewhere.  Suppose you were looking for a math tutor and asked a friend of yours “Do you have a math tutor for your son?”  If he replied “My good sir [hmm..seems to be the same guy], my son has seventeen different math tutors!” you probably wouldn’t hire any of them.  And if you asked a woman “Do you have a fiancé?" and she responded, “I have seventeen fiancés” you might want to clarify that you meant people and not cats.

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