Ladies and gentlemen, Wednesday was quite a day for outright government lies and half-truths coming to light from your favorite spook-filled domestic spy village and mine, the National Security Agency. NSA Director General Keith Alexander was on the stand once again, and what he had to say was quite interesting.
“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, told Gen. Alexander of the 54 cases that administration officials have cited as the fruit of the NSA’s controversial domestic snooping.
“These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” he said.
The Vermont Democrat asked the general to admit that only 13 of the 54 cases had any connection at all to the United States, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” replied Gen. Alexander, who is both director of NSA and commander of the U.S. military’s Cyber Command. In response to a follow-up question, Mr. Alexander also acknowledged that only one or two of the cases cited by senior officials at previous hearings had actually been foiled by the NSA’s vast database. (Source)
Wait a minute…that directly contrasts with what was said only months ago!
Intelligence officials said Tuesday that the government’s sweeping surveillance efforts have helped thwart “potential terrorist events” more than 50 times since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and the officials detailed two new examples to illustrate the utility of the programs.
Everyone take a moment to catch your breath, as I’m sure the shocking revelation that the NSA would intentionally mislead a judiciary committee after Edward Snowden released the damning evidence of unconstitutional (I don’t give a damn what a secret court says) spying on Americans has knocked the wind out of your lungs. Yet here it is, laid out for us by the head of the NSA.
Now I didn’t buy into it the first time. Not to boast or anything but after I heard NSA Director General Alexander testify the first time that the warrant-less mass-collecting of phone calls had stopped no fewer than 50 terror plots you could call me…skeptical. Yes, I know. I went way out on a limb with that one.
From my earlier article:
Did anyone notice if there was a bulletin posted on Monster.com (do people even use that site anymore?) and college job boards from the NSA looking for Interns majoring in Creative Writing? Seems like they are probably working around the clock on creative ways to invent terror plots that were foiled. This is the anti-terror equivalent to “having a girlfriend in Canada” that no one can verify exists.
I’d also be interested in seeing what the definition of a “terror plot” is, since they have broadened the definition of the term to include quite a bit of everyday activity by normal Americans who might be “engaged in combat” without knowing it.
So this all comes as sweet, sweet vindication of my crass doubting of the NSA. I’m like a modern-day libertarian Nostradamus. And isn’t it refreshing to hear honesty for once out of the mouth of a government official?
Now, on to the bad news. Because the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is classified to everyone but the very top officials in the government and military (assuring that all sorts of underhanded goings on occur within), the constitutionality of this intrusion onto liberty cannot be challenged. Article over at Huffpo on this can be found here.
Summary: the program doesn’t work, while infringing on the basic 4th Amendment rights of Americans, and the constitutionality of the practice can’t be challenged because a secret court ruled it so, thus it will never go away. If there is anything more government than that, I don’t know what it is.
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