“NSA program” not vindicated.
One thing struck me immediately about the recent al Qaeda threat warning, when U.S. officials claimed that the Hoover-like NSA surveillance program was what enabled us to detect the threat. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was emphatic in making this claim:
Those [NSA] programs “allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter,” Chambliss said. “If we did not have these programs then we simply wouldn’t be able to listen in on the bad guys.”
What struck me was that this simply isn’t true – at least, not in terms of the comprehensive implication Chambliss seems to suggest. Continue reading “The curious case of the al Qaeda threat warning”
On 28 July, Jonathan Tobin asked, at Commentary, if the U.S. would release terrorist killers as a precondition for talks – the measure Secretary of State John Kerry was demanding of Israel.
A couple of days later, in an almost supernaturally handy turn of events, we had the answer: yes. The U.S. did exactly that at the end of July, agreeing to release five Taliban terrorists we’ve been holding at Guantanamo, in order to jumpstart the initiative – mainly ours – for talks with the Taliban.
Daniel Greenfield points out at FrontPage that in June, Continue reading “U.S., setting example for Israel, releases Taliban terrorists”
Trading liberty for “security.”
It wouldn’t be an American political scandal if there weren’t an element of farce in it. There is a whole periodic table of farce in this one, so it’s hard to choose, but I guess I pick, as Farce Number One, the inability of U.S. national intelligence to find Edward Snowden after he fled overseas and checked into a Hong Kong hotel. I’ll let you know if that changes.
I imagine readers have a clear picture of what’s going on with this NSA collection scandal, but let’s clarify one aspect of it. The phone data collection involves metadata only, at least as far as we have been told; it’s not about collecting the content of phone calls. The collection of data on emails and other web-brokered information is about content, as well as about metadata. NSA is collecting content from our online correspondence.
So it is inaccurate to say that NSA isn’t collecting content created by presumed-innocent citizens with First and Fourth Amendment rights. NSA is doing exactly that. This form of collection doesn’t Continue reading “Stuff and nonsense: The NSA data mining”
There are a lot of things going on in America today, from inclement weather in northern Virginia to the uneasy high-fiving over the record Dow close of yesterday, to my own efforts to refinance my house (a fax-intensive operation, to say the least).
But the most important thing may well be the filibuster Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is conducting in the U.S. Senate right now. Officially, Paul is holding up the confirmation vote for John Brennan as director of central intelligence – which is, in its own right, a foolish and ill-judged appointment, but Paul has already endorsed the appointments of both John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, because he thinks the president should have as much latitude in that area as possible. Paul’s real concern is, rather, Continue reading “Mr. Paul goes to Washington”
Pundits have for weeks been erroneously comparing the issue of “killing Americans” with drone strikes abroad to the brother-against-brother character of the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865. It’s time to point out that the Civil War is a false analogy to the drone-execution issue. This false analogy muddies the waters, and the public debate over executive privilege and the people’s rights needs to proceed without it.
There are two basic aspects of the Civil War that make it different from the War on Terror, in the ways that matter to the drone issue. One is an obvious feature of the Civil War: Continue reading “UPDATE: The Civil War is not analogous to the killing-Americans-with-drones problem”