No, the New Terror Threat Doesn’t Justify Mass Spying on Americans
The congressmen who take the most money from the military-industrial complex – I mean uber-hawks – like Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss say that the new terror warning shows that NSA spying is needed, after all.
On the other hand, a variety of people – including former CIA agent Barry Eisler, and Guardian columnists Michael Cohen and Glenn Greenwald – say that the terror alerts are political theater to try to distract attention from the embarrassing leaks about out-of-control mass surveillance on Americans.
Initially, it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a real new terror threat because the government’s mass spying doesn’t keep us safe . In fact, it distracts energy and resources away from actual counter-terror measures which would actually help to protect us … and thus makes us more vulnerable to terror attacks.
Indeed, if the risk of terror is increasing again, it’s because the government has squandered its intelligence resources on political shenanigans – and on counter-productive anti-terror strategies – instead of focusing on keeping us safe.
(It may also have something to do with the fact that the U.S. government is directly supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria and many other countries.)
Of course, terror warnings have long been used for political purposes. For example, FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, a top constitutional and military law expert, Time magazine, the Washington Post and others have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”. Indeed, the former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge admitted that he was pressured to raise terror alerts to help Bush win reelection.
The threat from Al Qaeda – while real – has been greatly exaggerated. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – also a top foreign policy advisor to President Obama – told the Senate that the war on terror is a “a mythical historical narrative“. (And statistics arguably show that many terror attacks are actually carried out by non-Muslims.)
Is it entirely a coincidence that the current terror scare comes mere days after a new, widely-quoted Pew poll revealed that Americans are now more concerned about civil liberties than terrorism?
(And see this.)
And right after NSA boss Alexander was publicly booed and ridiculed?
It might be. But false threats have long been alleged to promote political agendas. For example, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld made false claims exaggerating the threat posed by Russia’s weapons in the 1970s to justify huge increases in military spending.
And there is a mountain of evidence that government officials intentionally lied about Iraqi WMDs.
And most people don’t remember, but the government also tried to falsely blame the anthrax attacks on Iraq as a justification for war.
Other historical examples include:
- The U.S. Navy’s own historians now say that the sinking of the USS Maine — the justification for America’s entry into the Spanish-American War — was probably caused by an internal explosion of coal, rather than an attack by the Spanish.
- It is also now well-accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to the Vietnam war was a fiction (confirmed here).
- Two lies were used to justify the 1991 Gulf War: the statement that Iraqis murdered Kuwaiti babies and the statement that a quarter of a million Iraqi troops were massed on the border with Saudi Arabia (see also this article)(technically, the statement about Kuwaiti babies did not come from the U.S. government, but from a public relations firm hired by the government).
(That is also why governments from around the world have used false flag incidents for thousands of years to sell their people on whatever wars they wish to launch.)
In any event, it might be smart to take the claim that the new terror warnings justify NSA spying with a wee grain of salt.