Richard Armitage on transparency

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Something that’s interesting about this comment is that it’s exactly the problem that arises for any rational reader after reading Glenn Greenwald.

~ by Servetus on August 5, 2016.

13 Responses to “Richard Armitage on transparency”

  1. So am I correct in thinking that RA is saying that he basically feels Hillary Clinton is hopefully a politician who believes she is doing the right thing for the right reasons and therefore RA feels any emails deleted or withheld should not be leaked or exposed because they are secret for good reason and ‘the people’, for whatever the reason – security and such, whatever – are not worse off and may be better off not knowing? (I’m not agreeing or disagreeing as I haven’t formed a real opinion on it – just wanting to know if I am on the right track of what RA is tweeting).


  2. In pondering his comments – would you believe it’s the best part of my day?!- I think it’s less about transparency and more about ontology.

    I think this is the link between the final tweet and the political ones. Whether he’s bragging or not, the choice of the word “become” is interesting, not the least because it’s Dolarhyde-esuqe- but to me suggesting a conscious choice of evolution to somebody who sees the “best” in people. It suggests he was previously of another disposition – perhaps, a more cynical?

    But I like the question of “what do we need to know.” Is he suggesting that what we know leads to our becoming? I also find the example he gives of the politician a little unnerving – internal acknowledgment they may be wrong but outward conviction. That’s really what we want from our politicians, right? Are politicians “redacted” beings?

    “Rise daily to fight for their citizens” – was he being facetious or hopelessly optimistic. I don’t think anybody savvy in politics believes that.


    • Hmm. I see the connection between tweets 2 and 3 as tenuous insofar as there were 10 minute between them; they were originally connected in his mind but do not represent, I suspect, a complete stream of consciousness. Similarly, between tweets 4 and 5 there are seventeen minutes, and then another six minutes before the final tweet. So I think there are thoughts in there that connect those tweets in his mind that are not apparent to us. In particular, I think the pause between 5 and 6 relates to him asking the question about “what I would do” and since he has such impractical ideas about empathy, he comes up with a really problematic answer. What he would do is not what a politician would do and vice versa.

      I agree re w/you re: use of verb becoming (although indomitably is a weird choice of adverb).



    • In general, though, if we want to read these tweets as one coherent unit, I think they are more about knowing than becoming, perhaps because they appear to be about Berlin Station rather than Hannibal. (And the background problem of that series is whistleblowing.) The question of who should “know” (and what they should say about what they know — the question of redaction) is initiated with the problem of “equivocation” in intelligence services and then twisted to fit Clinton (who has never been a member of an intelligence service). The question of whether the ambivalent honesty of intelligence people is lying doesn’t really apply to her — her issue wasn’t lying, it was diverting messages to her own server. If she made the US vulnerable, it wasn’t because she lied.

      [So right away there are two problems for me — first of all, how much and what does Armitage “know” about Clinton. Second, the real problem that connections Clinton to intelligence which is the problem of hacking, but I have to discard that because there’s nothing in the text that points there. As an addendum I would say that one problem for readers interpreting this text that has been apparent all afternoon is that his audience doesn’t know precisely what he means by Clinton’s email decision or what his attitude toward that is — his statement is so neutral that it is ambiguous. As a result his twitter stream has been full of obnoxious material about Clinton of varying validity, and several people have tried to correct him on this point or that because of what they believe him to be saying.]

      Now he pauses ten minutes, but it seems like he could be extrapolating as to what Clinton thought. Still, because of the subsequent tweet, it’s unclear who, if anyone, he is citing in the quotation marks of the next tweet (should this be a hypothetical Clinton? or is it, as you say, a hypothetical politician), but it is not clear that it is connected to intelligence at all. Again, more info about what he believes to be the case about Clinton would be helpful here. I’m entirely willing to believe that that is something she could have said, or extrapolate to her making that decision in her mind, although IMO it doesn’t relate well to the problem of the private server, but I read it not as “I will act forcefully even if I am in doubt,” but rather “I will follow my convictions but be aware that I may not be right,” i.e., I thought it was a call for humility.

      Then seventeen minutes pass, and he’s back on the topic he started with, the question of what equivocation / lying is — is redaction of documents or testimony lying? He also returns to the problem of what we need to know vs. vulnerability, without coming to a conclusion.

      In part this is why that last tweet is such a problem. There is a pause, but it appears to be an answer to the questions he raises about knowing and telling.

      It occurs to me in thinking about this that maybe it’s a statement about Hillary Clinton. I think Sparkhouse said this above but after thinking about it some more I find it slightly more plausible. “I’m going to try very hard to see the best in her” or something like that. That is offensive in its own way, but whatever.

      In any case, to me, the last tweet suggests to me that what he “knows” doesn’t matter because he’s taking an inexorable moral stance of finding the best in people (“indomitably”). This is the same thing he apparently expects of politicians — the first thing they should care about is following their convictions about what is right in forwarding their constituents’ interests. That is not only naive, it is also IMO largely wrongheaded and part of what is wrong with US politics at the moment (way too many people all over the political spectrum insisting on moral purity and absolute rectitude and unwilling to acknowledge that not everyone agrees with them as to the nature of the good and that we all have to live in the country together and compromise from time to time). Politicians should seek to serve and understand their constituents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean following their convictions at all times (even if I would argue that probably no politician should be doing anything they consider severely morally wrong — or at least that they should resign in that instance).

      In terms of who is “redacted,” I don’t think he is talking about politicians in general or Clinton in particular, because of the long pause. I think he’s talking about lying / vulnerability.

      But I’m not wedded to this, so I will think about it more.


      • I didn’t even notice the timestamps until you pointed them out.
        Now that I notice them, I think 1-2 together, 3-4 together, 5 & 6 separate.
        I don’t enough about the Clinton thing to comment in depth but i think her invocation could be first thing that popped into his mind when thinking about what to reveal. Who knows they may have been mentioning her on CNN when he was typing this up … Because as you say not much of a connection now between Clinton and intelligence as of right now. A different story when she’s President.
        But another weird phrase – “fielding the truth”. Jeez Louise, Richard, I don’t know whether it’s you being deep or just misusing words – I do it all the time!
        I think the quotation tweet could be something he’s reading. Sounds vaguely religious. But again he kinda loses me with his pitch about politicians – I agree with you re problems with politicians following their convictions. But he’s never been shy about preferring feelings to the cerebral, has he? I think that’s part of his charm – a man so comfortably in touch with his feelings.
        The fifth tweet would make more sense directly after the Clinton tweet.
        The sixth tweet could be completely unrelated to anything before it. it sounds likes he’s answering a question he read – nothing to do with redaction or Clnton. It’s a self-affirming statement said with great conviction! Hence our word “indomitable”!
        “To the very end” – sounds very ominous! Like he’s about to off himself or be offed 😐- is he channeling Daniel Miller?


        • Interesting point about response to something that has been said — and it’s sort of hard to read Twitter for that. I’ll go back and look, when I get a chance.


  3. Afterthought: I wonder if he at all connected the problem of “redaction” with his own tendency to “redact” himself.


    • Lol … He’s just being indomitable ☺️ But I agree with you re the weird choice of indomitable. But he obviously meant to use it otherwise it would be redacted!

      What if all the deleted tweets was some weird performance piece or immersion into this Daniel Miller role?!

      Do you think he sees redaction as a “problem” or is it a process of creation for him? A way for him to create meaning, even create being?


      • that works for a character or maybe even for a person, but I think a reading of these tweets that takes that view is strained. Redaction here is used to modify facts / knowledge.


        • But testimony is an act; it’s a performance. Redaction is a great tool of testimony. We redact because we think we’re telling the audience what they need to know.


  4. Afterthought 2: I admit I ignored this story yesterday, but I wonder if this is a partial context. We know he reads the Guardian.


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