Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The terror excuse

An increasing number of mainstream sources are allowing themselves to say what some of us have long suspected: The NSA's expanded powers never protected us from any terror plots. The new Atlantic piece is conclusive:
A Republican-appointed judge and President Obama’s own handpicked Surveillance Review Group both came to the same conclusion last week: The National Security Agency’s controversial phone-records program has been of little real value to American security. Yet its defenders continue to insist that it is necessary, clinging desperately to long-debunked claims about foiled terror plots. Their stubbornness fits a decade-long pattern of fear trumping evidence whenever the word “terrorism” is uttered—a pattern it is time to finally break.
In other words, instead of vacuuming up sensitive information about the call patterns of millions of innocent people, the government could have followed the traditional approach of getting orders for specific suspicious numbers. As for those “dozens” of attacks, the review groups found that the NSA program “generated relevant information in only a small number of cases, and there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome would have been different without the section 215 telephony meta-data program.”
Just a couple of years ago, any blogger expressing such an idea (excuse me while I clear my throat: A-hem!) would have faced sighs and eye-rolls and groans. When will it be safe for mainstream writers to drop the other shoe? When will it become permissible for normal, civilized folk to suggest in public that the surveillance state was erected for political control?

File the following item under the heading "Rationalization springs eternal." The story referenced above evinced a memorable pro-NSA remark:
On the other hand, critics of NSA invasions of privacy have produced no evidence that these invasions of privacy have every actually affected the life of anyone, going on ten years now.
In other words, it's all right if I sneak a camera into your bedroom in order to watch you have sex, as long as your life isn't harmed or directly affected. It's all right to violate the Constitution as long as no-one notices any inconvenience.

Conventional metrics may not suffice to measure an injury done to free speech. Consider the case of a person who would like to take part in a protest movement -- and then he or she thinks: "Wait. The NSA has access to all of my emails, to all of my texts, to all of my telephone calls. Is there anything in there that can be used against me? Should I keep a low profile?"

I have no doubt that plenty of people have already asked themselves such questions. In that sense, free speech has already been stifled -- very subtly. If circumstances worsen and the need for protest becomes more urgent, many more Americans will weigh their desire to act against the possible penalties.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration and the major media continue to deceive.
Sunday morning brought out former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell on CBS Face the Nation to say this:
I think that is a perception that’s somehow out there. It is not focused on any single American. It is not reading the content of your phone calls or my phone calls or anybody else’s phone calls. It is focused on this metadata for one purpose only and that is to make sure that foreign terrorists aren’t in contact with anybody in the United States.
Morrell also stated that there was “no abuse” by the NSA and that Ed Snowden was a “criminal” who has shirked his duties as a “patriot” by running. Now Mike Morrell is not just some voice out in the intelligence community, he was one of the supposedly hallowed voices that Barack Obama chose to consider “reform”.
A lot of people were hoping that the President's review board would result in actual change. Morrell's message: Forget it.
Then, Sunday night 60 Minutes showed that fluffing the security state is not just a vice, but an ingrained habit for them. Hot on the heels of their John Miller blowjob on the NSA, last night 60 Minutes opened with a completely hagiographic puff piece on and with National Security Advisor Susan Rice. There was absolutely no news whatsoever in the segment, it was entirely a forum for Rice and her “interviewer”, Lesley Stahl, to spew unsupported allegations about Edward Snowden (He “has 1.5 million documents!”), lie about how the DOJ has interacted with the court system regarding the government surveillance programs (the only false statements have been “inadvertent”)...
Rice went on to proclaim herself a proud "pragmatist" in the tradition of -- get this! -- Henry Kissinger.

Good lord. Has the Democratic party actually become so corrupt that our leaders openly brag about using Henry the K as a model? At one time, Kissinger was despised by pretty much everyone everywhere. Even Nixon didn't really like him.

Sometimes I wish we could send the Obots of 2008 a message from the future. How do you think they would have taken Rice's "Kissinger" remark?


CBarr said...

"On the other hand, critics of NSA invasions of privacy have produced no evidence that these invasions of privacy have every actually affected the life of anyone, going on ten years now."


We have been and intend, to collect every secret personal detail on your life that could possibly be used against you. And we'll store this information in a cross referenced easily searchable archival system that will be retained forever. For the rest of your life this information about you will be available to whoever retains political power at that moment.

No evidence that anyone's been hurt yet, so why should you care?

prowlerzee said...

Tell that to my elderly mom who had her phone cut off last year for "security reasons." My aunt was visiting, having traveled from Israel to attend the internment of my father's ashes. Apparently, a grieving sister's calling family members across the US and speaking in Hebrew is suspicious behavior.
We had to fight for days during a sensitive time to have her service restored. Maybe some would classify that as a mere inconvenience, but if we accept this absurdity how long before we're all living like the characters in the old British TV series, The Prisoner? Under constant and complete surveillance?

Michael said...

Osama bin Laden has won. 9/11 has terrorized us into destroying ourselves.