Why did it take so long to get (bin Laden)? We had the first important clue in 2002; why did we only get to him in 2011? The reason is that professional interrogators, intelligence operatives, and investigators were marginalized, and instead of tried and tested methods being used, faith was placed in enhanced interrogation techniques.
The NSA And Constitutional Governance
If you have not seen the NSA-related video linked in Number 385 of this newsletter, you should do that now. Well-produced and extremely informative, it is now joined by another long video that presents valuable additional information on Snowden. The newcomer has vaguelycinéma-vérité overtones, possibly because the producers assume it takes a certain gravitas to explain the NSA to a nation that will not want to believe its most trusted public servants could be so naughty.
The upshot of the film is that some important people belong in prison.
Is Snowden among the important guilty parties? Surely. See this video of Senator Rand Paul; he’s a severe critic of the NSA’s errors, and cannot exonerate Snowden.
That is not to say that Snowden had a rational option when he made off with those secret files, nor is it to believe that Snowden somehow endangered the USA. On the contrary: he has endangered people whose vision of the best future for their homeland is literally unconstitutional.
Obviously the NSA needs ombudsmen who can help decent employees who believe their bosses are misbehaving. The problem: the current NSA knows how to get to people, which means the ombudsmen would come under very skillful pressure to evade their responsibilities.
The NSA is needed because good surveillance is vital to the nation’s defense.
That said, the NSA should be profoundly embarrassed because its records contained, on September 10, 2001, all the facts necessary to tell the FBI to intercept the jihadis before they struck the next day. The NSA had what it needed to protect United Flight 93, The Pentagon, and The World Trade Center, yet it did nothing (and claims today that it could do nothing because it was not big enough). (See also this newsletter, Number 67, under the headline, “The New Stratification…”. In that instance, the CIA was prevented from talking to the FBI. Then there’s the book review in Nr. 232.)
So the USA has a huge problem: its information-gathering and law enforcement agencies are not functioning according to the ground rules, and they do not articulate rationally. The NSA is demonstrably ineffective yet insatiable. As it gropes for more data, the colossus will never stop pushing the constitution aside. The citizenry will repeatedly find it must impose the ethics of Liberty on the NSA — even as the benefits of surveillance remain unavailable.
The alternative to prosecuting an interminable sequence of reforms of the NSA would be to permit the emergence of a fully-empoweredStasi-like Ruling Elite.
That suggests that the enemies of Liberty include many of the architects and administrators of the USA’s wretchedly coordinated defenses.
The USA has indeed had to cope with the shocks delivered by Islamofascism while hindered by mediocre chief executives. They allowed bureaus, agencies, and authorities to compete for bragging rights and funding. The result has been more, not better, civil servants milling about in inarticulate urgency. Moronic bureaucratic restrictions and rivalries have sapped the defensive strength.
The remedy is not to be found in a Leader, but in coordination. In fact too much faith in the wisdom of a heroic rescuer is a danger. Recall the familiar cynical “You never want a good crisis to go to waste” sophistry of political professionals who embrace and exploit trouble.
The next person to occupy the White House must know — must have the unshakable conviction — that the nation can be protected, especially in time of war, without eroding the Bill of Rights.
This newsletter’s advice to US voters: be sure that you know exactly where your candidate stands on the primary concerns.
The Tramp Abroad Sends A Dispatch From Ankara
The AK Parti has lost its grip on power, which equates to a major blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The real surprise is the pro-Kurdish HDP party that surpassed the 10% threshold (required for seats in Parliament) with nearly 13%.
The AK Parti expected to get nearly 50% of the votes, but barely squeezed past the 40% mark. The main opposition CHP Republican People’s Party garnered 25% of the vote, and the Nationalist MHP gained in this election, rising to approximately 17% of the vote. A dozen other fractious parties earned the remaining 5% of the vote.
The AK Parti will have to enter into a coalition to be able to create a government. Nearly all of the parties claim that this election result will forever bury the idea of having a powerful presidential system in Turkey. This is the first time in the last thirteen years that the AK Parti could not govern alone.
Links Courtesy Of The Tramp Abroad
So the US Environmental Protection Agency has declared fracing safe, in that it does not make potable water toxic. It can make water too nasty to drink, but only if it’s not properly conducted. So will fracing be unbanned? (Ed.: fracing is an acceptable alternate spelling offracking. No, that was not realized here until The Tramp provided this Link.)
Mexican drug dealers are shooting at US law enforcement helicopters that are in US air space. It would be a good idea if DEA and CBP teams had better defensive support to protect them from offensive fire coming from Mexico. It’s time to talk to the Mexican authorities.
ISIS is not at all what you think: “…the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war”. Yes, The One Leader was utterly wrong to declare ISIS “not Islamic”. (Source.) And, to put it charitably, he is “leading” the fight against ISIS from way, way behind.
Islamofascists versus Pamela Geller.
Planetary geology is in its infancy, and some folks are suggesting alternatives that avoid explaining the surfaces of astronomical bodies in terms of Earth’s model. Consider two videos that present interesting evidence, some of it from laboratory experiments: One and Two.
Fact: the federal government of the USA will continue surveillance of the public as long as it possibly can. Some evidence for that cynical view is to be found here.
Do you remember Ralph Nader? He killed the General Motors answer to the VW, the Corvair, and he has been running for president ever since. Well, Hillary has lost him, and that means Mrs. Willy is going to have some problems with the green geriatrics.
AGW update: how odd that earlier instances of data-fiddling were overlooked, and now the Gore-Hansen cultists are getting called on it. Is that a sign of progress? No….
You say your life is a pushcart on the road that leads to a leprous lacuna? Well, you need spirituality! Yes, Pilgrims, that’s just the ticket to a smug attitude of superiority that will shrink your social circle down to admiring sycophants and chronic losers! Get all you need here, and manifest your karmic dominance with the insouciant sangfroid of a latter-day Delphic vesicle!
The New York Times has its problems with SEAL Team 6, and Commentary is unhappy about that: “Call them a ‘global spying force’ or the Pentagon’s ‘manhunting’ outfit if you like, but does the Times or its no-doubt shocked liberal readership think America can fight terrorists on their home turf without such a force?” (Source.) There you have the makings of a really angry debate. This newsletter gives the topic a low recommendation because only Islamofascists have excellent reasons to object to Team 6’s activities.
If you hope for peace and stability in the Middle East, you will want to consider the thoughts found in this commentary. It is an honest attempt to be realistic about a region in which realism is frequently pessimistic.
For those of you planning to enter politics, here’s a tip that just might be helpful.
This newsletter believes the American Red Cross is not the premier US charity. That opinion could be wrong, of course, but the view from here is unchanged: if you want to help people, do consider supporting The Salvation Army.
Here is an attempt to provide information on what the NSA is doing (and seems likely to keep doing, Congress be damned). Full disclosure: the videos in this suite are too inclusive and technical to interest the great majority of computer users.