Have you stopped beating your wife? It’s a yes or no question, Sir.
To the allegation that DNI Robert Clapper lied to Congress concerning NSA collections activities, here’s a letter written to the New York Times by the General Counsel of DNI:
“Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower” (editorial, Jan. 2) repeats the allegation that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, “lied” to Congress about the collection of bulk telephony metadata. As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true.
Senator Ron Wyden asked about collection of information on Americans during a lengthy and wide-ranging hearing on an entirely different subject. While his staff provided the question the day before, Mr. Clapper had not seen it. As a result, as Mr. Clapper has explained, he was surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans’ communications. In that context, his answer was and is accurate.
When we pointed out Mr. Clapper’s mistake to him, he was surprised and distressed. I spoke with a staffer for Senator Wyden several days later and told him that although Mr. Clapper recognized that his testimony was inaccurate, it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified.
This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person’s state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure. Indeed, it would have been irrational for Mr. Clapper to lie at this hearing, since every member of the committee was already aware of the program.
ROBERT S. LITT
General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, Jan. 3, 2014
Which is why Clapper corrected himself when he was given the opportunity, not only in person but through the attorney representing his office. The only correct answer that Clapper could have given in that setting is ” I can neither confirm nor deny these activities in this setting.” That’s it. Of course, if Clapper gave that answer, the conspiracies would be reneiwed. No one, not even the president can discuss classified information on national television. There are forums for this, but CSPAN is not one of them. Unlike Snowden, Clapper seems cognizant of the oath he swore. As the letter points out, the members of the committee know just as much about this program as does Clapper.
Furthermore, Senator Wyden, just before Clapper states that the NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on Americans, says that there is information that the NSA has hundreds of thousands of dossiers on Americans. This is an absolute impossibility. I have built dossiers. I have worked with NSA certified Army signals specialist. This is simply not happening.
Does anyone find it the least bit troubling that Edward Snowden, hero to both the Left and Right (the Left because they see his actions as a smack to the military/intelligence industrial complex and love a good black helicopter conspiracy; the Right, because they are assured, despite the evidence, that the NSA is reading their emails and wantonly violating their 4th Amendment rights), seems to have lied about everything on his way to a job with the NSA and even after, continues to lie?
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. I was finally spurred on by Snowden’s most recent slap in the face to America: His tongue in cheek questioning of Russian arch-villain Vladimir Putin during a game show in Russia.
The article states: Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States–referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world.
We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist,” he said. “But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States…Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law and society.
All of which of course, lies, to be sucked up by the vacuous sorts that populate today’s America. If Snowden’s appearance on a game show asking a question such as this of Putin does not offend an American, I question that person’s patriotism. If that person gives me a quote about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels, well, I say the first refuge of a scoundrel is cowardice masquerading as patriotism. Don’t tell me Snowden’s actions are those of a patriot.
Snowden must not care about such people as Alexander Litvinyenko, Russian defector and former FSB agent who fled to England following his accusations that the Russian government conducted a Black Flag attack against an apartment building that killed 300 Russians and that he claimed was a pretext for subsequent Russian attacks against Chechnya. In 2006, someone administered a to Litvinyenko a lethal dose of the radioactive isotope, Polonium 210. He was in Britain at the time he received the poison.
But Snowden didn’t ask Putin about this case, nor why MI6’s (Britain’s domestic intelligence service) only suspect in the murder is the deputy of the Russian state Duma, and former KGB agent Andrey Lugovoy. The British government requested extradition of Lugovoy; Russia refused.
The Russian government is well on its way to building a fascist state, and if one reads the comments posted by Americans in articles about Snowden, it’s easy to see that these Americans fully support the fascists and criminals running the show is Moscow. Putin has surrounded himself with former KGB cadre, well versed, indeed possibly the best in human history, at media manipulation, psychological operations, propaganda, and pulling the strings of foreign societies in order to steer them in a desired direction. I can see from the comments in these articles that here in America, we’ve raised a whole new generation of duped. The future seems bleak. The strength of any democracy is a strong, self-sufficient and enlightened middle class. That is crumbling before our eyes, but it’s not the financial realm that worries me.
Let me address an issue that’s been nagging me since Snowden leaked the intelligence: Few, if any, have a clear picture of what the NSA does. Snowden alleges the NSA violates constitutional rights, yet courts have not established consensus on the matter. The Supreme Court has refused to hear cases concerning NSA collection until lower courts hear the cases first. Before you waste your time worrying about what the NSA could do, worry about what other agencies can do. I know people who’ve had their entire bank accounts reduced to zero from thousands of dollars by state tax agencies for failure to pay taxes. No warrant. No trial. No face to face talks with agents of the state. Now that’s real power, not theory and conjecture. Pay your taxes. Moreover, the stories he relates are well covered in books which are years, even decades old. First, there’s The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford. Then there’s Chatter, published in 2006 and written by Patrick Radden Keefe. I highly recommend Chatter, as it is written more recently than The Puzzle Palace. I myself can stomach Bamford only in small doses. NSA has in recent years cut off his access to interviews so now Bamford has declared war on the agency and never misses a chance to rip them ,droning on about the danger of metadata while never mentioning that virtually every major business collects metadata, and blaming NSA, not Snowden, for so much data being stolen by Snowden from NSA. Nor does Bamford’s impotent self-awareness remind him that the reams of reports he gathered from the government about NSA under the Freedom of Information Act, some which included info on himself, may be indicative that rule of law is still being observed in some branches of government. But he has to make money some how. Keefe is extremely balanced in his analysis and writes that during all of his investigations, he constantly encountered the same problem we see with the issue of Snowden: The stories and accusations were always veiled behind conspiratorial theory, not hard evidence. The NSA could read my email. The NSA may have dirt on the Supreme Court Justices, that’s why the court has refused to hear recent cases bought against the agency. Possibly, the NSA brought down David Petraeus.
Even if there are illegalities revealed by Snowden’s massive leak, Snowden had no way to know the all of the contents of the materials he leaked–there’s hundreds of thousands of documents. Oddly enough, some of the documents leaked by Snowden are actually court documents authorizing NSA activities; he probably didn’t even know they were in his leaked material, given that it’s impossible he reviewed all of it. Allowing that there may be illegalities, Snowden essentially carpet bombed and entire town to kill one terrorist. Americans simply do not understand their own laws, the legal system, or the bureaucracies of government. Of this, I am a first hand witness. how many times I’ve been told by a suspect I had in custody that I’d made a terrible mistake, because I hadn’t read them their rights. Miranda Rights, that is. They had no clue as to what those rights entailed and when they were due them. Most Americans probably couldn’t name all 50 states on a map. Because we as a people are failing, and yes the government too. And when the government of a democracy fails, we can blame the people, just as when it succeeds we can give them credit. But seeing the bogeyman in every government activity hides the reality: Government is mostly inept and inefficient, not razor sharp and ultra-capable.
Repeat this until you understand it: The NSA does not read your email, the NSA does not read your email…Unless it has a warrant based on probable cause on a foreign national. If you don’t think it’s a good idea we be able to listen in on and track people in Bangladesh plotting to blow up American airplanes and Soldiers, you’re insane, not a champion of liberty. Those who think the NSA should give up this capability basically want the NSA to give up capabilities that every other advanced nation has. And those nations don’t have nearly the number of legal protections for citizens that the US does. In other words, despite what Putin tells you, the Russian security services, the FSB, has more power in regards to Russian citizens than the NSA has ever had in regards to Americans. American intelligence spies on allies? This is news? Ancient news, yes. Written about decades ago. How can one be a whistleblower on information on which whistles were blown so long ago?
Sift through the thousands of documents on the internet, I mean documents released directly from American intelligence or State Department servers, to Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. Find me one, just one, document that relates directly the contents of a conversation or an email from a US citizen that does not involve a foreign national. Where are Petraeus’ emails? The supreme court justices’? You’ll find generalities and inane information–because the NSA was not reading Petaeus’ email. It was the FBI, not the NSA that looked at Petraeus’ email. But any company’s network technician has the ability to mine old Outlook emails for examination. This was not hyper-advanced technology, nor was it the NSA. And the NSA is most assuredly are not reading the emails of the pimply-faced computer geek with a GED, no job, and thousands of hours logged on YouTube. But when Russia releases its own intercepts of the cell phone conversations of our ambassadors, where’s the outrage?
We’re fully hypnotized by the decades of propaganda handed us from foreign intelligence services and our own intelligentsia. The end of course, is not far off, and the self-immolation has already begun. Defected Russian agents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and others who lived under the Soviet regime were routine agape at the credulity and instinct to self destruct in the West, the urgent desire in the West to give away everything that had been built.
But enough of this. What I really want to talk about is the trail of lies that Snowden left behind him. All through Snowden’s life and career there is evidence of his lying and fibbing to get what he wants. Some of these stories are admitted lies on his part. Others are suspicious to those who know better.
Let’s look at the questionable statements or activities by Snowden:
- It’s believed that Snowden used to post under the screen name, The TrueHOOHA on Ars Technica. On the forum at Ars Technica, Snowden, writing anonymously, says that those who leak classified information should be “shot in the balls.” He criticizes the NY Times for repeatedly running stories about leaked classified reports.
- Snowden recruited into the US Army in the 18 X program, in which people can enter the Army for Special Forces training. He did not complete the training, and was discharged. Snowden says he broke both his legs in a training accident. Sure he did.
- Snowden is obsessed with making up implausible stories. He stated that while he worked for the CIA, that the CIA got a Swiss banker drunk, and after his arrest told him that the CIA would help him if he’d cooperate in advancing American interests. Ueli Maurer, the Swiss Federal Council President says this story is dubious.
- While working as a system admin for the CIA, he was suspected of trying to access classified systems he was not authorized to view. Snowden says he was trying to report flaws in the system; again making himself out to be the hero.
- Snowden says he specifically sought employment at NSA so that he could leak intelligence. How can a person be justified in leaking when they seek to release info of which they can’t possibly know the content?
- Snowden, in a fantastically selfish act, obtained the passwords of 20-25 coworkers at NSA, telling them he needed them as part of his job as an admin. He used these passwords to obtain the classified data with which he later helped the Russians, but which harmed Americans. Snowden, again lying, says he didn’t steal passwords. Multiple reports say he did. He wants us to believe he’s a super hacker. In reality he’s a schemer who threw people he worked with under the bus to satisfy his massive ego. And he continues to lie about it.
- Apparently, Snowden was never even qualified to have the job he used to shaft America. His resume claimed he took computer classes at John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He claimed he was close to getting a Master’s degree. None of it was true.
But of course, Americans now obsessed with conspiracy believe what Snowden says about the NSA. They also believe what this GED-holding liar says about the Constitutionality of it all, as if he’s now not only a master spy, but a legal expert. Snowden, like Putin, masterfully plays to the psychic infantalism so common in America, particularly on the internet and in the minds of those who favor Ron Paul.
I’ve noticed that when it comes to discussing the decisive topic of fighting the global terrorist threat, the ideological left tries to shut down argument by stamping “Case Closed” on crucial points that are clearly up for debate.
For instance, consider water boarding. Those who oppose water boarding justify their argument primarily by using two deceptive arguments.
First, they use the term “torture” to replace the term water boarding. There is no room for discussion, apparently, as to if water boarding should truly be considered torture. To the opposition, it just is. We should ask ourselves if holding down suspected terrorists and tickling them until they spill the beans is also torture.
Secondly, the opposition duress that water boarding does not work. The argument implies that real intelligence is not gained from those under the duress of the declared torture.
There are several issues at stake here. First, if water boarding is truly torture, how did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed withstand 183 sessions of water boarding without going mad? Moreover, how did he suffer through this ordeal without providing any intelligence of significant value to the CIA? KSM states that he provided false information to the CIA in order to shorten the water boarding sessions, while this is a possibility, it seems equally if not more possible that KSM gave up important information concerning the al-Qaeda network and its operations. Under duress, it would seem easier to state the truth rather than make out of whole cloth a plausible untruth. But even if KSM did provide false information, does this take away from the truths he provided? of course he lied to the CIA. He was and is an arch-terrorist. But given his universally accepted role within al-Qaeda, (no one I know of believes KSM was not part of AQ, not intimately involved in the planning of the 9-11 attacks, and not responsible for beheading Daniel Pearl), KSM possessed vital knowledge concerning al-Qaeda operations around the world.
Suppose a terrorist is being water boarded, and provides the location of a terror cell which is plotting to blow up several public transit hubs in a large city. He also makes up facts during his interrogation, hoping to shorted the session. Let’s, for the sake of argument, say he makes up ten facts. He may even say that the Man in the Moon is providing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. But a few days later the terror network is busted, its members arrested and bomb-making material seized. Do any of the lies take away from the fact that the water-boarding did its job? That a terror attack that could have injured or killed hundreds and severely damaged the confidence of a population has been stopped?
Of course, those against water boarding will say that terrorists subjected to it won’t give up the location of terrorist cells, they’ll just use the time-proven “brainstorming” method for making stuff up. I say that’s absurd. The former counter-terrorism chief of the CIA says that the method worked, that KSM gave up information that led to verified results. In fact, information gained from the KSM interrogation led directly to the identification of Osama bin Laden’s courier, which then led to OBL’s death.
Again for argument’s sake, let’s assume the utility of water boarding is debatable. That trained CIA interrogators wasted their energy on 183 water applications on KSM without ever gaining anything of value. But now, ask this question to those against the technique: What if you knew water boarding would save the lives of 200 people in a planned terrorist subway bombing? You absolutely knew this would work and stop the event. Humans can argue anything, I realize, but to make a point, let’s assume that it is beyond doubt that water boarding could stop this catastrophe.
I say that whomever refuses to water board in such a case is a stubborn, ideological monster.
It seems that whatever the arguments against water boarding, the argument that it doesn’t work is one of the least valid. It is similar to the vegetarian argument. When animal rights groups began protesting, suddenly, meat became bad for us. There is little science to back this assertion, but it was important because people wouldn’t stop eating meat if they thought meat was good for you. And so it is with water boarding. If people really believed that water boarding could save innocent lives, most of them would be all for it. So it was important to make the argument that it doesn’t work without actually referring to the facts.
But the facts are in. The CIA and JSOC tracked down Bin Laden using evidence gained from the water boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Other terror plots were broken up before their fruition because of the intelligence gained from KSM’s interrogation. Before we condemn harsh tactics (what could be harsher than shooting a terrorist or Taliban member? ) we should at least ask ourselves the important question: Does the tactic work?
The New Left–heck the Old Left for that matter–fears the CIA. To the average liberal, the CIA is Cloak and Dagger in the most literal sense, comprised of Soldier of Fortune subscribers and balaclava clad torturers. It’s their own fault. They ostracized the agency, just as they did the military, back in the 60s. The intellectual elite from Ivy League schools by and large have been excised from the military and from our intelligence agencies. That’s they want to keep it too, because military recruiters aren’t allowed on most of those campuses.
Now we have one of our best defenses against terrorism in a complete state of disarray. The CIA’s morale by most accounts is very bad. Instead of working on improving collection methods, the administration and the Justice Department want to scrape the bottom of the barrel for agents who’ve committed the horrible act of pouring water on KSM. Oh, and he was really, really tired, too and they wouldn’t let him sleep. Obama appoints a bureaucrat who knows little about the intelligence field, in the form of Leon Panetta then proceeds to ravenously tear into what is really the President’s best friend; no President can make adequate decisions without good intelligence. Demonizing the CIA after 911 and two wars is plain stupid and borne of fear and ignorance.
What a waste of money, time and lives. We’ll pay for decades for this president.
There isn’t much good news for the new president these days. But he could easily make things better for himself. According to a new report, General Stanley McChrystal will request more US troops be sent to Afghanistan. He’s admitted that the current “strategy” isn’t working. Should Obama grant McChrystal’s request and send more Soldiers, it seems plain that this war’s ghost will last at least until the end of his current term, and that will not bode well for another election to office. All the other issues piled on top of this certainly don’t help.
Obama could continue the current ground war for six months, order a deescalation of troops and declare boldly that the US will pursue and kill any Taliban members or members of any other extremist groups should they threaten America. We need not stick around to change Afghanistan. I won’t say it can’t be changed, but I will say it’s not worth the price.
Obama though has already chosen the typical Democrat sideshow when it comes to dealing with extremists: Blame the CIA then start tearing it apart. Carter did it (read Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars), Clinton “gutted” the agency in the words of Tom Clancy and here we go again. The witch hunt will drive talented people from the CIA to places where hey can make more money (the average CIA operative makes about $35,000 a year) and are not in danger of being killed or sent to federal prison for pouring water on mass murderers or keeping them awake for too long.
Those bad, bad Neocons from the Bush administration were even worse than we suspected. Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein tell us so, and how could we not believe any of the words that pour from Pelosi’s botoxed face?
She just seems soooo happy, nowadays! Everyone’s forgotten the fact that Nancy likes to waterboard bad people–unless her new and shiny president doesn’t. And he doesn’t. So Nancy doesn’t, and never did.
An Ultra-Black Operation has recently been outed. And myyyy goodness it’s a whopper. Makes the US government’s use of biological weapons in mass experiments on American citizens look like paddy cake. Know what Cheney knew about, and didn’t even have the decency to tell Nancy? Huh? Can you guess? The US military was trying to kill Al-Qaeda’s leadership! The nerve!
Now, this super-secret plan didn’t actually manage to kill anyone. The US government decided that using Predator drones was better, quicker and safer. But still. Nancy should have been let in on everything that she could possibly use to take the heat off herself.
Now let’s take a look at the way our military is killing our enemies everyday. It’s the program that’s killed hundreds if not thousands of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, endorsed by Bush and Cheney. And Nancy knew about it, too! We need an investigation!
Obama released the Bush administration’s “torture” memos. Expect the ACLU to be in full sue-everyone mode. They can make a ton of money off this–and they will.
The memos outline aggressive techniques used by CIA interrogators, including the much publicized but little understood water-boarding technique.
Also touched on are things like stress positions and sleep deprivation–all of which every single US soldier has undergone in Basic Training. US Army Rangers are almost starved. According to the wikipedia entry on Ranger School, common maladies suffered by potential rangers in training are as follows:
It is not uncommon for soldiers to lose 20-40 pounds. Military folk wisdom has it that Ranger School’s physical toll is like years of natural aging; high levels of fight-or-flight stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol), along with standard sleep deprivation and continual physical strain, inhibit full physical and mental recovery throughout the course.
Common maladies during the course include weight loss, dehydration, trench foot, heatstroke, frostbite, chilblains, fractures, tissue tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles), swollen hands, feet, knees, nerve damage, loss of limb sensitivity, cellulitis, contact dermatitis, cuts, and insect, spider, bee, and wildlife bites.
I was watching Keith Olberman the other day, not because I wanted to, but because all of the TVs in the chow hall had his disenchanted mug on them. He looked very distraught as he reported that Obama will not authorize prosecution of those named in the memos.
Keith needs to read about some of the things that happened while our SOG and SEAL guys were fighting the Vietcong in Vietnam. Keith thinks the Bush era is somehow comparable to Mao’s China or Stalin’s USSR. He really does.
See, I’m betting that Keith was one of the last guys picked for kickball in school. I’m betting he never played sports, despite being a former commentator for ESPN.
I think Keith would do well to experience the real world. Get out and smell some fresh air. Climb a mountain. Get attacked by an enraged chimpanzee, well fed on lobster and ice cream. Then, he’d know how tough things can be. He’d stop worrying about the CIA keeping Islamic assassins awake for 24 hrs.
He may even come to realize that US soldiers–teenagers many–put up with CIA “torture” techniques everyday.