Bureaucracy: Teh Awesome

Chris Hayes makes the case:

But a funny thing has happened over the past six years. At a time when the press failed to check a reactionary Administration, when the opposition party all too often chose timidity, it was the lowly and anonymous bureaucrats, clad in rumpled suits, ID badges dangling from their necks, who, in their own quiet, behind-the-scenes way, took to the ramparts to defend the integrity of the American system of government.

It was the midlevel intelligence professionals in the CIA whose expertise led them to argue that Iraq had no means of acquiring nuclear material; it was the planners and country experts at the State Department who prepared a 1,200-page document about postwar Iraq outlining in depressing detail the many challenges and brutalizing exigencies our occupying forces now face. It was professional scientists in the bowels of the Environmental Protection Agency who pushed their reports warning of the effects of climate change, only to have them censored and purged. It was concerned and conscientious spooks and cryptographers at the National Security Agency who contacted reporters to raise alarms about the warrantless wiretapping of Americans. It was a midlevel career bureaucrat at the Department of Education named Jon Oberg who spent his own time--nights and weekends--studying the student loan program and discovered that taxpayers were being ripped off by private lenders to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite warnings from his (appointed) superiors, he published his results in an internal memo sent to the entire department. He retired shortly thereafter.



Needless to say, this is actually why bureaucracies are so damn bureaucratic. Important public functions should be conducted by the book, according to the rules. The alternative is less a snazzy flood of innovation than, well, the Bush administration.