June 14 Update: The intelligence claque that runs the U.S. government has been on the attack the last few days, claiming that its spying activities have foiled numerous terrorist attacks both here and abroad. They can’t quite get the story right. One of their pet poodles on Capitol Hill claimed that the programs had “thwarted 10 possible terrorist attacks” while another claimed that the number “far exceeds 10.” Meanwhile, the Director of the NSA is modestly touting “dozens” of attacks foiled.
Jeez, guys, could you at least get your stories coordinated?
On a separate note, both the claque and much of the Washington media establishment have come together to denounce Edward Snowden as a traitor. They seem to prefer attacking Snowden to answering the real questions his revelations raise. But, hey, when was the last time you took John Boehner seriously?
I’ll leave it to the courts to decide Mr. Snowden’s ultimate fate, but keep in mind that many of the people defending these spying programs have been lying to you routinely for years. That alone would be cause for caution in assessing their claims, but my own suspicions go beyond that. Both Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who have been critical of the NSA’s activities, have challenged NSA Director Keith Alexander’s claims that “dozens” of attacks have been avoided as a result of the programs.
“We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence,” the lawmakers said in a statement Thursday.
Contrary to Alexander’s assertion, they said classified information they have reviewed suggests that “all of the plots that he mentioned appear to have been identified using other collection methods. The public deserves a clear explanation.”
Believe the Washington establishment if you choose, but keep in mind these are the very same people who have squandered your tax dollars, brought you record deficits and endless war, and dishonored everything this country stands for. Not everyone is buying their baloney. Here are three alternative points of view you may want to think about, one from Peggy Noonan on the right, Ruth Marcus in the center, and Kirsten Powers on the left that I think come a lot closer to the truth of the matter.
If you haven’t already read my last posting, I encourage you to do so now and then come back and read this one. If you have read that last posting, I want to alert you to an important and encouraging development you should be aware of and will hopefully support.
Today a coalition of 86 civil liberties organizations and Internet companies, including well known ones like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla (the makers of the Firefox web browser), FreedomWorks, and the American Civil Liberties Union, joined together to seek swift action from Congress to address the recent revelations of unchecked domestic surveillance.
In an open letter to lawmakers, the groups are calling for the creation of a Congressional investigating committee similar to the 1970s Church Committee that helped expose official wrongdoing back then. The letter also demands legal reforms to reign in domestic spying and calls for public officials responsible for this illegal surveillance to be held accountable for their actions.
You can find out more about this initiative here and you can sign the letter to Congress here. While sending an individual letter or e-mail to your Congressional representatives is definitely something I would encourage as well, that needs to be backed by supporting this kind of more organized campaign by groups that cross the political spectrum.
Act now while you still have the right to act! Let government officials in Washington know they are accountable to you, not you to them.