All of a sudden the airwaves and media sources are full of info on the alleged “threat” of a large scale attack by Al Quada.
The news media is gushing over the ‘high levels of chatter’ suddenly being heard, while noting these same “channels” had been largely quiet recently. Not a one I’ve seen has had the slightest question of any of this is real. And there are many reasons/ways it may well not be.
The NSA spying programs as “outed” by Snowden.
And what has been the government response to the strong and growing concerns by the American people with these spy activities?
The gov’t has repeatedly claimed that these NSA programs are invaluable to protecting us from terrorism. But these claims are always very short on details – “classified” don’t you know – we can’t possibly reveal details … but in the few cases where details have come to light its been shown the NSA programs have had nominal input into preventing attacks – often it is other information and evidence that is the key factor.
Add to the NSA issues, the Benghazi debacle – another “phony” scandal according to the President, which they cannot seem to get away from no matter how hard they’ve tried to bury it.
And what might be the perfect way to attack BOTH the NSA and Benghazi scandals?
Why yes – you win a gold star if you answered “gin up an Al Queda ‘attack’ threat, based on ‘chatter’ that can be attributed to the wonderful and all-knowing power of the NSA programs … and then close a bunch of embassies etc., to show you’ve learned your lessons from the Benghazi disaster.”
The most obvious first question is to ask why the heck Al Queda, knowing FULL WELL the NSA is listening in, would suddenly start talking about a major attack, after months of silence, in ways that could be easily monitored.
Two, why would the administration, who has claimed disclosure of the NSA programs has damaged our security, unleash an all out, high profile, campaign disclosing the extent and results of their secret intercepts, rather than quietly taking behind the scenes action? If Snowdens revelations were so damaging, why are they here immediately verifying to the enemy they are listening to them in almost real time?
There are some obvious potential reasons:
NSA-Gate, Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate and all the rest of the “phony” scandals. All of this blathering about intercepted chatter and imminent major attack is the perfect way to divert and deflect attention on the NSA programs and Benghazi failures and coverup.
This “fingerprint” … of diverting focus from the scandals, pimping up the ‘threat’ of a newly revitalized al Queda, burnishing the importance of NSA, and rehabilitating the Obama admin’s terrible handling of Benghazi … if you look closely, is supported by significant, clear evidence confirming this theory.
Almost every public comment on the al Queda chatter and evidence of attacks, is couched in terms of supporting the value of the NSA spy programs and that Susan Rice and the Obama administration suddenly learned their lessons about protecting our people and are now finally on the case. Add the long list of politico’s and government sources who have promoted the meme of a “newly revitalized” “stronger” etc., al Queda – increasing their importance and thus their relevance as an enemy.
And there is one more important “trigger” – a huge reason for the pro-NSA people to go to such extremes to protect the NSA … while there is bi-partisan support for the NSA … more importantly there is strong bipartisan backlash against the over-reach of the NSA.
As evidenced by the vote a week or so ago on the Amash-Conyers anti-NSA bill. 94 Repub and 111 Democrats voted for the bill to severely restrict the NSA program – 205 total bipartisan votes, which,in a big scare to the President and NSA supporter,s was narrowly defeated … by just 12 votes!
Much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands immediately commenced, from the President, and from the NSA proponents, about how important the NSA was. We’ve heard the claims of the attacks thwarted increase from a few dozen when the NSA scandal began, to most recent more than 300 attacks prevented. Never of course with any but the barest of details in proof.
Now, a week after this historic, close vote to reign in the NSA … we suddenly get word of all this massive chatter and word of a planned major attack.
Why now you ask? Well – according to those behind all this it IS President Obama’s birthday. Really? Do they think we are all that stupid – that’s the best excuse they could make up?
Ah, but you probably need some examples – some proof of my theory that this whole thing is a manufactured attempt to divert attention from the NSA and Benghazi scandals and portray the NSA as our savior.
Well here you go … excerpts from a single Reuters story touches each of the bases I’ve noted – first support for how wonderful the NSA is:
“There is an awful lot of chatter out there,” Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He said the “chatter” – communications among terrorism suspects about the planning of a possible attack – was “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.” A National Security Agency surveillance program that electronically collects communications on cellphones and emails – known as intercepts – had helped gather intelligence about this threat, Chambliss said. It was one of the NSA surveillance programs revealed by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to media outlets.
Those 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.”
And even more commentary in support of the NSA – note how the Al Queda ‘threat’ is pumped up and embellished first, followed by the “we’re the NSA and we’re here to help you…” theme:
‘SERIOUS THREAT’ … “This is the most serious threat that I’ve seen in the last several years,” Chambliss said.
The threat also has prompted some European countries to close their embassies in Yemen, where an al Qaeda affiliate that is considered one of the most dangerous – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – is based.
Interpol, the France-based international police agency, on Saturday issued a global security alert advising member states to increase vigilance against attacks after a series of prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.
“Al Qaeda is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11, because it’s mutated and it spread and it can come at us from different directions,” U.S. Representative Peter King, a Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “And al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is probably the most deadly of all the al Qaeda affiliates,” he said.
“Republicans and Democrats alike on Sunday television talk shows said the threat was serious and sought to defuse the controversy over the NSA surveillance programs, which critics say are an invasion of privacy and civil rights.
“The good news is that we picked up intelligence. And that’s what we do. That’s what NSA does,” U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“We’ve received information that high-level people from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack,” he said. U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, another Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, characterized the security threat as being based on specific intelligence…
And the “learned our lesson” meme:
Senator Lindsey Graham said on CNN that the actions taken to close the embassies and issue the global travel alert showed that the Obama administration had learned lessons from last year’s attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. “Benghazi was a complete failure. The threats were real there. The reporting was real. And we basically dropped the ball. We’ve learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration is doing this right,” he said.
By gosh we all learned our lesson with the Benghazi disaster, and these intercepts by the NSA of this big scary attack by al Queda, and the gubmint’s strong and immediate response – closing this handful of embassies over the weekend – proves it.
Perhaps I’m full of it and clueless. But I think not.
First the huge unasked and unanswered question … why, knowing their are under tight surveillance, has Al Quda suddenly, after months of silence, become such “chatty Kathy’s” ?
But even disregarding this huge question … what is the likelihood that a major Al Queda operation would be discovered just days after an eye-opening and historic BI-PARTISAN anti-NSA vote that came within 12 votes of passing … just 12 votes out of 422 votes total.
What is the chance it is strictly coincidence, that just days after this very close vote about restricting the NSA, that suddenly the NSA just happens on “chatter” … from an al Queda that knows they are listening and who have been largely silent for months … about a large imminent attack? Chatter that directly reinforces the NSA’s reason for being?
And why do the comments of almost every politician quoted, in some form or another directly reference that the NSA programs:
“had helped gather intelligence about this threat” …
“allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter” and that;
“If we did not have these programs then we simply wouldn’t be able to listen in on the bad guys.”
What information are these politico’s more interested in getting out, the threat itself, or that it was the NSA we have to thank and without them we would be all but helpless?
Even if my theory is wrong here, that the Obama administration and pro-NSA folks have not ginned this whole thing up to divert attention from the numerous current scandals, and the failures in Benghazi … there is yet another very large elephant in the room.
And that is; why al Queda would break their long-standing operational security, knowing more than ever about the NSA programs listening to them, and talk about this highly significant, high profile attack out in the open. And in what appears to be a large amount of communications – a lot of “chatter?”
One thing al Queda is not, is stupid. They do not suddenly let their guard down and let the NSA easily intercept their communications … not when they’ve gone to such great lengths in the past to hide from the NSA.
Which leaves two possibilities in my view…
One, they are feeding us the information they want to … which is the perfect counter to knowing you’re being listened to … in attempt to mislead us as to actual plans.
The more insidious option is they have realized they can cause just about as much damage – as much or more fear than blowing a few people up, by simply TALKING about attacking. Costs next to nothing to them, carries no risk, yet for those who take the bait, forces a ramp up of fear, and a huge waste of resources and assets.
Used judiciously they can get much mileage, and create a lot of collateral damage, eventually undermining the credibility of their enemy – eventually putting them in the proverbial “boy who cried wolf” position where no one listens to them.
And along the way, each time they pull this stunt, the sheep who run to wave their arms and cry about the threat a “revitalized” and “stronger” al Queda present, burnish the reputation of al Queda with every story ….
We’l still see an occasional underpants bomber to be sure – the current threat worry is surgically implanted devices. But these have little chance of creating large scale damage or loss of life – just enough to maintain their credibility as a threat, and make these occasional security breeches to incite fear credible as well.
We cannot beat them at this game of “whack a mole.” The best response is to stop spending billions and billions worrying about them and simply go on about our lives.
Al Queda is simply not a real, significant threat to cause large scale damage any longer. Certainly they can kill tens or dozens of people, perhaps even a few hundred if they were able to pull off a massive car bomb in the right place.
Their ability to bring down an airliner is highly unlikely. They cannot fill a pair of underpants, or surgically implant, enough explosives to likely bring a large commercial aircraft down. They might manage to blow a hole in it, and you could lose some people, but even that is unlikely.
Even if they were successful in down an airliner, it will be without control … it is all but impossible they will ever again get control of an aircraft. A death toll in perhaps the hundreds.
It may sound callous, but when we weigh the risks and likelihoods, the chance of dying in any al Queda attack are infinitesimally remote. The risk of any large scale al Queda attack at all is almost zero. The risk of another 911 is in my opinion almost exactly zero.
When we weigh those real risks vs the costs, both in cubic dollars and in freedoms and privacy, we have let al Queda win. We spend billions and billions on a threat that is extremely remote, and get virtually nothing in return.