May 27, 2020

Wherefore Art Thou Distraction Material

Why the name, Distraction Material?

Distraction Material’ originates from a report [1] produced by Booz Allen Hamilton. According to the Washington Post, Booz Allen Hamlilton are one of the largest and most successful contractors for defense and intelligence agencies’ [2]. This company is famous to most as the former employer of Edward Snowden and also known for being a highly profitable spy agency, subcontracted for intelligence work by the US government [2] [3] [4]. From the NSA (National Security Agency) to NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and many more offices inbetween, the US goverment use Booz Allen Hamilton’s services for all manner of exploratory work. This particular report focused on the impact, declassification of specific documents has on operations security.

The internet was still in it’s infancy when this report was produced in 1998 and one key aspect that was questioned was how the internet would affect the desire for declassified materials. The use of the Internet could reduce the unrestrained public appetite for secrets” by providing good faith distraction material’ [1]. Considering the report also states The use of the Internet could have rebound effect and fuel a more voracious public demand for ever more material. May facilitate more FOIA requests by providing a shopping list of available materials.’ [1] indicates the person who produced this report for Booz Allen Hamilton actually had no clue what could happen in the future regarding the declassification of documents and was simply guessing.

To be fair to this Booz employee, in some ways both sentences are true. The internet has both distracted some from real life, science and facts. It has also provided science, facts and real life to people who wouldn’t have had such access before.

Could a situation like Snowden’s have existed prior to the internet? In my opinion, not on the same scale, but that is a discussion for another day.

[1] [2] [3] [4]