8 thoughts on “The curious case of the al Qaeda threat warning”

  1. You are absolutely right on this. This current situation is so totally wrong, and there is no reasonable interpretation of the Constitution that would support it. It must be changed, and very soon.

  2. They had a big telephonic sit-down of the 20 top Allahfathers of Terror, Inc.? Did they set that big conference call up through al-Verizon?

    You would think we would notice something like that. The only way we wouldn’t notice a call between the capos of the jihadi terror families, is if we are concentrating on the call from Joe in Des Moines ordering pepperoni pizza.

    But if it is something we would be expected to notice, is it not likely that the made men of Terror Inc were either using that conference call to test us, or to make us dance to their tune? Pretty cheap way to get us to close embassies and look frightened, no?

  3. But I bet the IRS and the DNC’s microtargeting program are completely uninvolved in this little bit of harmless numeric meta data….nope not a bit… But gee whiz… that’s what a 20 year archive of telephone company billing records is useful for.

    Like I have maintained since this all broke. There was ZERO reason for anyone to have and store this data. It is only useful for spying on us, because information does not spontaneously generate from big piles of data.

    One has to have a question to ask of that data, and that data had little or no general relationship to national security issues. It is sad that we have come to this. A paranoid surveillance culture does not maintain its liberty for long.

    It is not out of place to point warily at the memories of the NKVD, Gestapo, Stasi, or KGB/GRU. We are becoming that which we hate the most.

    We are in serious trouble, and it’s getting worse at an accelerating clip.


  4. Keep in mind please, love and respect your blog. But.

    Gee wilikers optcon. Maybe we should add a link to Rand Paul’s website.

    Nah, Central would never allow such as thing…better to bash Rouhani instead.

  5. jgets — ??? Please specify what is wrong with the analysis. (Or, indeed, what’s wrong with Rand Paul’s position on this topic.)

    1. There’s nothing wrong Optcon you and Paul are absolutely correct on this topic. I wasn’t being very clear,

      Let me try and explain my motivation and discouragement. I was surfing the web yesterday and it became very apparent to me that “right of center” folks are going to hand the next presidential election to the Dems on a silver platter, again.

      I think the neocon and libertarian wings of the party have declared war on each other, to the death. You understand the details, I’m certain. Only the dems can gain from the bickering.

      The neocons are so anti-Paul on foreign/domestic policy issues (Iran et al) that they would freak if he looks like he’s got a shot at the nomination.

      It crossed my mind that they might even go after you, if your positions were deemed “too libertarian” . I wouldn’t want to see you having to put up with that.

      I know I haven’t expressed the above very well, but I hope you understand what I mean.

      And, next time I post on a Friday night, I’ll make sure it’s before I visit the local watering hole…

  6. The point is that all of these surveillance programs are being pushed by the Obama administration as the necessary surveillance infrastructure for a highly regulated, fully socialist state.

    The point is that a leftist controlled government needs uncued, omnidirectional data collection of those on the right so as to vector in on the communications of a demographic they have had under intensive surveillance since 2009.

    The point of metadata collection is to ‘fundamentally transform’ our government’s basic relationship to us “as one of universal prior suspicion of the American public”. Socialist societies, by definition place inordinate importance upon control and the first step in control is to know what your ‘subjects’ are privately doing and saying.

    The point is that a leftist government believes that it “owns” and has authority over everything, including the individual.

    The point is that a leftist government believes that there no such thing as a social or commercial interaction that is not assumed to be under government supervision, in all its aspects…

    The point is that the left is unalterably opposed to genuine liberty and truly limited government.

    “This premise is actually more like the premise of Stalinism than like any other model of government.”

    That is the left’s goal. “We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders into repeatedly and gradually giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.” Nikita Khrushchev

    Sorry J.E. but we are well past the point where we need “to get this man-and-the-state business sorted out. It will kill the republic if we don’t.”

    The point is that “the Republic” is on life support and the prognosis is not promising. As the following headlines make undeniable;

    “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants” – CNET News
    “Think NSA Spying Is Bad? Here Comes The ObamaCare Database Hub” – Investors.com
    “ATF Seeks ‘Massive’ Database of Personal Info: ‘Assets, Relatives, Associates and More'” – CNS News
    “Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform” – Wired.com
    “U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms” – Bloomberg
    “Now FBI wants back door to all software” – WND.com
    “FBI pressures Internet providers to install surveillance software” – CNET
    “U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans” – Reuters
    “FEC, IRS Collude to Target Conservative Groups” – NRO
    “WH creates ‘nudge squad’ to shape thought and behavior”
    “Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords” – CNET News
    “U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans” – The Cable
    “Feds admit improper scrutiny of candidate, donor tax records, Justice declines to prosecute” – Washington Times
    “Government Tracking Movement of Every Vehicle with License Plate” – CBS
    “Apple’s Tim Cook, Tech executives meet with Barack Obama to talk surveillance” – POLITICO.com

    We are witness to the infrastructural beginnings of the type of society that Orwell predicted in 1984…

  7. OK, I get it, jgets. You raise an interesting point, and of course it’s something I’ve been thinking about in some depth myself.

    There is a lot to say about the conservative wing’s penchant for forming circular firing squads. We’ve always been bad about this. If it’s not the “fiscal conservatives” vs. the “social conservatives,” it’s the “hawks” vs. the “isolationists.” The dynamic does exist. Naturally, for each of us, whichever side we disagree with is the side that’s being strident and unreasonable, and thereby turning off the independents and moderate Democrats.

    But in lieu of an extended treatment of the topic in this comments section, I’ll make a couple of points.

    1. I’m a believer in Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not attack to the right. I’m not going to attack conservatives/Republicans who disagree with me on the NSA surveillance program. They include people whose thinking and research I admire, such as Steve Hayes and Andrew McCarthy.

    On this particular issue, I happen to have more knowledge than they do of how intelligence works. You can’t mislead me with claims about the efficacy of a particular form of intelligence, nor about what kinds of collection are required to give it its best shot. I almost never have reason to resort to this point, but in this case, it’s justified.

    What I see is that it’s possible to parse out the features of the surveillance program, and keep some while restricting or discarding others. I believe some knowledgeable horse-trading in Congress would be very healthy here.

    We need not overreact to the misuse of national intelligence (actual or potential), in the way a Congress long held by Democrats did in the mid-1970s, after Watergate had handed them a seemingly permanent ace of spades at the national-security poker table. There WERE abuses of CIA capabilities — abuses against US citizens — in the 1960s and ’70s, but Congress overreacted and hobbled national intelligence in a way that wasn’t justified. We don’t need to go that route.

    What we do need to do is critically review what’s going on with the Patriot Act, and in particular, with the expansion of some of its collection provisions under Obama. I would emphasize what everyone on the right can agree on in this regard. Some would be more enthusiastic, and some less so, but I don’t think guys like McCarthy or Karl Rove or some of the senators (e.g., McCain) would actually man the barricades to PREVENT a critical review. It would be better to have someone like Ted Cruz in the lead role, but I think with the proper impetus from the “more concerned” contingent — e.g., Rand Paul — the old-timers would give criticism and the push for revision a fair hearing.

    2. I would NOT apologize for pointing out the life-or-death significance of this issue to the future of a republican polity. Doing so is simply good citizenship. To the extent that some on the right don’t want to hear it, the task is to convince them that they do.

    The trick is not to get into personalities and bumper-sticker slogans. For one thing, the labels often don’t fit. I am the polar opposite of an isolationist, for example, but that doesn’t make me a “neocon,” as neocon has EVER been understood. Back when the Irving Kristol/Jeane Kirkpatrick contingent were the neocons, I was a paleocon — and that did NOT mean being an isolationist. It meant being more of a National Review conservative, with big dollops of Goldwater and Reagan: favoring ordered liberty and a conservative stance on social issues, seeing limited government as the way to keep social issues out of the halls of government, and wanting a muscular, more assertive foreign and defense policy.

    Today’s “neocon” and “paleocon” labels have wandered off into territory where I don’t have a place. “Neocon” has come to mean “bomb first, ask questions later” — a misrepresentation, I note, of the policies favored by supposed “neocons,” but something that in any case it takes too long to argue down. “Paleocon” has come to mean “waiting for the black helicopter to go overhead at noon,” and that too is a somewhat fruitless proposition to get bogged down in arguing. Better to avoid the labels and stick to ideas and issues.

    3. I do not believe that conservatism or the Republican Party can’t survive if there are challenges to the orthodoxies urged by some among their leadership. The persistence of the Tea Party movement is powerful evidence that such challenges resonate with millions of conservatives. Taking a step back from any given dispute, what I see — at the blogs and online opinion websites — is that conservatives are mostly able to discuss contentious issues without tearing each other apart.

    There IS a variety of opinion, at Hot Air, PJM, Townhall, NRO, Commentary, FrontPage, American Spectator, etc. Typically, there will be a majority and a minority, rather than an even split among pundits on an issue. But we tolerate differences of opinion in a way the left doesn’t, and that’s healthy and powerful.

    From what I can tell, there is at least an even split on the right as regards the NSA surveillance issue. Being concerned about it, and demanding a critical review and more active protection of our civil rights, may even be the majority opinion. I don’t feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

    4. Here is a lesson I learned from 20 years of prognosticating in the intelligence profession. Many in your audience can’t see around the next corner, as your profession has enabled you to do. Often, you’ll get knee-jerk resistance to new ideas, and sometimes it will be unpleasant or come in the form of a personal attack. But later, the same people who told you you were a fool will be singing your song back to you, as if it was obvious all along.

    It can take time for people to “get” the ideas they haven’t thought about before. Give them that time, and many of them will come around. Don’t prejudice the outcome by getting upset with them or calling them names. What’s important is laying the groundwork with the ideas. People WILL remember those ideas; in fact, they will especially remember the ones they had a strong reaction to. Craft the ideas as carefully and honestly as you can, be nice, don’t burn bridges. It takes a long rudder to turn the ship of group think. But it can be done.

    (Now, imagine if this had been an EXTENDED treatment… 🙂 )

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