New Yorkers Running For Their Lives on 9/11
Are the Leakers Endangering National Security?
As I listen to the media chatterboxes scream bloody murder over revelations that the National Security Agency has been monitoring the phone calls of US citizens in an attempt to foil terrorist plots, I am amazed at the combination of naiveté and self-importance exhibited by many of the commentators. To listen to them talk about their fears that the government may be spying on them one is forced to question the extent to which these people have a grasp on reality.
I have some questions for them: If you are not engaged in a criminal enterprise or a terrorist plot what are you worried about? And if you are worried about someone listening in on an embarrassing conversation, why don’t you just stop whacking off on the phone or dangling your weenie in cyberspace like former Congressman Weiner? And do you really believe that your personal privacy should be given a higher priority by our government than protecting the nation from a devastating terrorist attack? Do you believe that the Obama Administration is using the effort to defend the American people against terrorism as a smoke screen to disguise his real purpose, which is to spy on the American people and create files on everybody because he is a tyrant that wants to enslave us all?
If you believe these things you are a paranoid ignoramus, or a self- righteous libertarian, which are dangerous personality disorders that can lead you to do some really crazy things. Like expose classified documents and other government secrets which are lawfully held and that you have sworn not to disclose as a condition of accepting employment under the threat of severe legal sanction should you violate this agreement. This is what Edward Snowden agreed to of his own free will when he applied for a Top Secret security clearance and took a job working for the Central Intelligence Agency, and later as an independent contractor providing computer related services.
Predictably conspiracy theorists on the left and right, who view our government as an oppressive apparatus out to reduce us all into some kind of new age slaves – despite the fact that we voted for them and can easily remove them with our votes – have declared Snowden and his ilk to be heroes. If we listen to the conspiracy mongers in the press and elsewhere one would think we were living in a police state, where a dissenting opinion will land you in a dungeon somewhere or in front of a firing squad – since that’s what happens in a real police state. It is all absurd!
However people who believe this hysterical Tommy Rot and applaud Snowden for breaking his confidentiality agreement also view him as a champion of the American people in their struggle to free themselves from an oppressive government. But I agree with the lawyer/journalist/legal scholar Jeffry Toobin who observes: “For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” This is also a fitting description of and prescription for Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame and his partner in crime Private Bradley Manning.
Listening to young progressive broadcast journalists like Chris Hayes and others on MSNBC – the liberal/left counterstatement to that burlesque on journalism FOX News – who are all over this story as if they think it is a new Watergate, we see how far afield some of them have gone. Chris Hayes pronounced with great pomposity that he never gave Facebook and Google permission to give the government access to his information, and conclude that these social media corporations “are in trouble.”
It is hard to imagine how anyone could be more clueless. If he thinks these companies are going to suffer any substantial loss of business over this he is thoroughly deluded. Most Americans think thwarting terrorists is more important than the concerns that exercise him. And they don’t care if the government has to look at their phone and internet records to do it; especially since they feel they have nothing to hide. I think the response of Lawrence O’Donnell after quietly listening to Chris Hayes’ passionate fulminations on this question is typical of most Americans: “I have heard nothing among the things you point out that scares me,” he calmly pronounced. To which I say “ditto!”
Furthermore, the press doesn’t rank that high in the opinion of average Americans – which is a tragedy because we need a strong independent press – so these Prima Donnas who can’t resist preening before the cameras had better watch their step! They could be engaging in self-immolation. Especially if people get the impression that they are endangering national security by publishing classified intelligence documents. For instance there are claims from the intelligence community that this type of electronic surveillance has foiled terrorist plots in 20 different countries as well as the USA.
When compared to this record, concerns from average citizens about somebody in the government snooping on their lives sounds trite, if not ridiculous, since many of these peopled don’t even find their lives interesting themselves; let alone some government intelligence official trying to uncover a terrorist plot. As I wrote in “Barack Obama and the Global Jihad, posted on December 16, 2011, “The measures President Obama is taking to wage war against the Jihadists is neither unprecedented nor unconstitutional.”
What Americans who are concerned with protecting civil liberties for the majority of law abiding citizens should really be worried about is what will happen to our democracy if the Jihadists should succeed in detonating a dirty bomb or nuclear weapon in a heavily populated American metropolis. Should this ever happen, we will lose all of our civil liberties with popular consent! People will be so frightened by the horror of it all they will agree to anything if they it will make them safer.
The three times Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, Thomas L. Freedman echoes my sentiments exactly in a June 12, 2013 column titled Blowing a Whistle. “Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 – abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11…not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because…I believe that if there is one more 9/11 – or worse, an attack involving nuclear material – it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there is another 9/11 I fear that 99% of Americans would tell their members of Congress: ‘Do whatever you need to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.”
They Jihadist are at work recruiting soldiers for Al Islam 24/7
To join the fight against the “Great Satan”
And they have an unlimited number of fanatics to recruit from!
Those Libertarians and other anti-government hysterics who argue that the NSA survelliance programs are unconstitutional because they violate the privacy rights guaranteed under the 4th Amendment should first of all read the text, and then they should bear in mind that the Constitution “means” whatever the Supreme Court says it means at any given time.
The history of constitutional law leaves no doubt about that assertion. We have but to consider the Court’s decisions in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and Brown V. the Board of Education in 1954 to find irrefutable evidence for this claim. Hence when the text of the 4th Amendment prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizures they purposely left room for interpretation depending upon the conditions that prevail at the time. And I have no doubt that were they confronted with a shadowy, sinister, deadly, enemy who have already committed mass murder against American citizens and are preparing to do it again – or far worse – once they get the opportunity, the architects of the US Constitution would find the NSA survelliance program entirely reasonable!
The burden of proof in demonstrating that the program is unreasonable falls on the critics. For as Abraham Lincoln said during the terrible Civil War: “The constitution is not a suicide pact!” And as for the likes of Private Bradley, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, and this guy Snowden: I think they should be tried under the espionage act and hung for giving aide to the enemy during war time – preferably on Prime time television in order to discourage others that may be thinking about following their example!
The know it all whiners who think these leakers are heroes, defenders of our freedom, glibly assure us that Jihadists terror attacks can be checkmated without the kind of electronic surveillance the NSA is conducting………but suppose they are wrong?
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
June 17, 2013