Thanks to a recent speech by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) making fun of his (unofficial?) title at the Dept. of Homeland Security (“Director for Lessons Learned”) even my favorite bloggers are are piling on to attack Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker. I understand why it’s almost irresistible, but I think it’s wrong.
I am no close friend of Stewart Baker‘s, but I have had dealings with him over a period of years starting when he was the General Counsel of the NSA. I have a great respect for his intelligence, integrity and for his legal skill — three comments I would make about far too few members of the current administration. You want competence in government? This is your guy.
Stewart and I disagree on many many issues of substance, but unlike the man he currently serves, Stewart has always been willing to engage with his critics and indeed is a regular speaker at Computers, Freedom and Privacy — a place where his views regularly put him in a minority of little more than one.
There’s evidence for the proposition that the post-9/11 Baker is a lot more hard-line than the guy I got to know in the cryptography wars. I suspect our views today diverge even more than they did when I knew him better. Nevertheless, I would have far more confidence in this government, and sleep much better at night, if we had a government full of people of his caliber.
Leave off, guys.
UPDATE: Someone wrote in to say that the “director of lessons learned” is a Stuart Baker, who is not the Stewart Baker I know. Being in London with a very unreliable and slow wifi connection leeched off a nearby hotel, I lack the tools to verify/disprove this contention but thought I should mention it. Anyone who finds out more is invited to comment.