One of my favorite accounts on Instagram is the U.S. Department of the Interior. During the Trump years, the Interior Department was a battleground, as oil pipeline board member Ryan Zinke repeatedly attempted to let the oil companies fuck everything up in their endless quest for oil (Zinke left over ethics concerns related to oil companies and is now consulting for oil companies).
But throughout all this, @usinterior remained pristine, posting only the most gorgeous and idyllic HDR images of U.S. National Parks (that Ryan Zinke was trying to dig up for oil). It was nice, despite all the oil stuff, to be reminded that the U.S. is a land of great beauty and that there is a government agency supposedly in charge of keeping it beautiful (when it’s not being run by Ryan Zinke). I understand, in that regard, why the Department of the Interior has an Instagram, and I appreciate it.
What I do not understand or appreciate is this:
I’ve been trying to separate in my head why these two things are so different to me. The Department of the Interior and the CIA are both on Instagram for the same reasons: they want to promote their work in a positive light. The problem is that the DOI’s work is (ostensibly) making sure people don’t litter in Yellowstone, and the CIA’s job is spying on and killing people.
You may say this is being unfair, that if I’m not judging the DOI on its worst behavior (like when Ryan Zinke used it to sell bits of Alaska) then I shouldn’t judge the CIA on its worst (dozens of coups, targeted assassinations, drone strikes of weddings). The difference to me is that in an ideal world, the Department of Interior’s function is still an important and positive one, whereas the secret service of any government is inevitably going to do shit that should not be on Instagram. But it’s in the department’s interest to, you know, “humanize” its employees (many of whom dehumanize America’s enemies for a living), so this is what you get. CIADate: where operational security means you have to crop the faces out of your PR pictures.
There is only one appropriate response to this stuff, best summed up by this comment on one of the Agency’s recent posts:
@arcadian_ego: This weird romantic PR angle you guys are trying is scaring the shit outta me more than any freaky candestine shit I’ve read about Allen Dulles
In conclusion, unless the CIA pivots to using their massive, oversight-free fleet of Predator drones to capturing cute pics of mountain goats in the Absaroka mountains, I don’t think they should get to post on Instagram. Here’s a picture of a bison doing a little jump.