Federal Security Bureaucrats Terrorize Capitol Hill


New TSA regs image

Yesterday, the heads of various spy agencies testified before the Senate intelligence committee that Al Qaeda will try to attack the U.S. in the next six months. As the Washington Post reported:

"Al-Qaeda maintains its intent to attack the homeland—preferably with a large-scale operation that would cause mass casualties, harm the U.S. economy or both," Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told the committee in a hearing convened to assess threats against the country…

Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), committee chairwoman, to assess the likelihood of an attempted terrorist attack on the United States within the next six months, Blair described it as "certain." Each of the four other officials, asked the same question, agreed with Blair.

The New York Times article headlined, "Senators Warned of Terror Attack by July," reported:

"The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11," said Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director. "It is that Al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect."

OK, here's my problem. Of what possible use is this kind of testimony? It does no good for public safety because doesn't tell Americans what kind of attack they should be looking out for; it just sows generalized angst. Now why would federal security bureaucrats want to increase public anxiety?

(1) Call me cynical, but one possibility is that the heads of the various security agencies are trying to protect their budgets by scaring senators and public. More fear = more money.

(2) Or it's a cover-their-behinds move—if there is some kind of attack, then they can sadly say "we told you so" and then ask for a budget increase and a further reduction in civil liberties. If nothing happens, they can claim (a) our agencies' amazing vigilance prevented an attack but for security reasons we can't tell you about it, or (b) just let their dire predictions drop down the memory hole and repeat them later when budgetary threats reach Code Red.

And then look at Panetta's reported testimony—I am glad that the CIA director doesn't think we're in store for another 9/11 scale attack, but on the increasing difficulty of detection issue, it needs to be pointed out that the 9/11 attacks were not detected.

Look, I realize that the U.S. has enemies who are trying to terrorize us and that the federal government has the duty to protect the country from harm. I just don't see much use for the kind of budgetary and CYA security theater that took place yesterday on Capitol Hill.


NEXT: Cap-and-Trade Dead?

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  1. Call me cynical, but one possibility is that the heads of the various security agencies are trying to protect their budgets by scaring senators and public. More fear = more money.

    You keep using that word – “cynical”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    You might be confusing “cynical” with “realistic.”

  2. I like the list of forbidden items in that sign. If I can’t carry a pocket knife, then nobody else should be allowed to possess Hello Kitty paraphernalia.

    1. What? My girlfriend can’t bring her Hello Kitty vibrator next time she comes to visit me?


      1. Why are you using your girlfriends vibrator?

        1. Because he can!

  3. Now why would federal security bureaucrats want to increase public anxiety?

    Beyond the cover-their-asses angle, just think if one of these guys came out and said “shit, dudes, this is all overblown. The threat is actually pretty low.” Don’t you think some “get-them-terrorists!” CongressAsshole would jump down their throat? I would say that there is an unspoken rule for any of these guys going in: you have to say there is significant danger at the very least, or you are going to get hammered.

  4. What possible use is this kind of testimony?

    We cannot allow foreigners to steal our domestic economy-destruction jobs, dammit. The American government can wreck the economy without their assistance.

    1. I may be all-powerful, but even I cannot destroy the economy on My own. Fortunately, I have minions to help with that holy mission.

      1. I’m working as fast as I can, Your Worthiness!

  5. Could somebody with more free time than I go back and catalog every government statement since 9/11/01 which indicates that a terrorist attack will occur in the next x months and then verify each prediction? I suspect there are plenty such statements with maybe a handful being validated if you count lighting your shoe on fire and blowing up your underwear as terrorist attacks.

    1. CMS, that’s a good question, but there are some added dimensions which you didn’t consider.

      The possibility that the govt warnings about impending terrorist attacks were actually valid (ie, based on good intel), and that the attacks failed to materialize due to government actions (disrupting terror cells), or other changing circumstances.

      That the government can’t realistically reveal more info about the nature or timing of the threat without tipping off the jihadists what we know, who we’ve compromised, etc.

      That the previous warnings were based on information planted by AQ to see what we’d do, when there was no actual plan of action on their part.

      That’s the problem with public oversight of intel — you never get the full story, and only get a partial story decades after the fact. The only opportunity for meaningful public oversight are after things go terribly, horribly and publicly wrong (ie, Bay of Pigs).

      1. But not likely.

        The government tends to publish it’s successes.

  6. from wiktionary “1. of or related to the belief that human actions are motivated only or primarily by base desires or selfishness.
    2.skeptical of the integrity, sincerity, or motives of others.
    3.bitterly or jadedly distrustful or contemptuous; mocking.”

    I think Mr. Bailey’s use of the term “cynical” works real well.

  7. Didn’t they get rid of the vulture TSA logo a while back?

  8. So my Hello Kitty thong is right out?

    1. Not sure about the thong but it sounds like you are.

          1. I dunno that model looked pretty hot.

        1. My favorite part is how the color patch on the taint makes it look like he got his period.

    2. I’m on to you…Suki.

      1. Nearly got him/her/it. Keep it up Warty. You’ll blow the lid off this story one day.

    3. If that’s where you keep your .45 and switchblade (I know I do!), apparently so.

      1. So what you’re saying is your thong has ample storage space? Just think what will happen if Cosmo is right and boyshorts are the new thong.

        1. Boyshorts? Like this? Well, um… if that’s the case…ah, what were we talking about again?

          1. Oh, right. The seven weirdest things women do with their vaginas. Good thing HuffPo is there with that hard hitting journalism…

            1. There really only one weird thing women do with their vaginas: Let any regular on this board anywhere near them.

              1. Oh good, you’re out of your meeting. That last post was me trying to fill in for you. No pun intended.

                1. You are hereby deputized to shock and horrify in my name.

            2. This quote from Jennifer Love Hewitt broke my brain:

              “After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady,” she said. “It shined like a disco ball so I have a whole chapter in there on how women should vagazzle their vajayjays.”

              1. Aren’t crystals, kind of sharp, or at least coldy angular? And what kind of glue would you use on the, um, undercarriage? And a friend of hers? “Oh, that break-up was terrible… you want to come over and glue stuff to my labia in order to cheer me up.” WTF?

                Women wonder why guys often treat them like some sort of alien species. Exhibit fucking A. No guy has ever called a friend of his to come over and bedazzle his cock after a bad break up. Well, no straight guy.

                1. I have to admit, I’d be interested in seeing that, and for more reasons than just the fact that I’d like to see Hewitt naked.

                  I mean, vaginal chandeliers just aren’t the sort of thing you run across all that much. Of course, I’m somewhat provincial.

                  1. The concept doesn’t bother me so much as the “friend coming over” part. I’ve known my best friend for 15 years and we’ve never seen each other with our shirts off… and we go to the gym together.

                    Fucking boundaries people.

                  2. As usual, JLoHew is behind the trend. This was part of the whole Brazilian revolution of the aughts. People were (apparently- I don’t look at my friends’ vulvas) getting little rhinestone hearts or initials post-wax.

                    1. Me? I like to hang the little crystals in the braids in my pubes. No glue necessary. And it makes me feel very special ; }

                    2. Wasn’t this of one the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood?

                      Am I right, ladies? Am I right?


                    3. BTW, there is an interview from the george lopez show with ms. hewitt talking about vagazzling her va-jay-jay. It’s on youtube.

  9. The WoT is the same as the WoD or the WoP or the WoW or the Wo whatever they pull outta their asses next. When the foundation of an action is based on lies, the lies have to get bigger and scarier to justify the continuation of the war. The escalation of bullshit also keeps away the pain that comes from admitting the truth.

  10. Oh, dear me, I nearly forgot: Terrorizer

  11. For a moment there, I thought the headline meant that the heads of the security agencies were holding Congress hostage.

    What would their threat be?
    “If you don’t give in to our demands, we’ll release one Congressman every hour.”

  12. I would like someone to stand up there and say, “I feel the threat is very real. We should stop prosecuting pot heads and internet gamblers and direct those same resources to defending this country. If we just tax people more to pay for it instead of redirecting the resources we already have, the terrorists will win because they will have harmed our economy further by impoverishing the American people through excessive taxation.”

    Maybe it would still be more resources than necessary but it would be not only Constitutional, but good for other liberties.

  13. If the underwear burner is indicative of the threat posed by our enemies I for one am not very worried.

    1. The terrorists aren’t the ones you should worry about. I’m a good deal more wary of the congresscritters.

  14. More fear = more money.

    That might be a solid equation generally, but in this case, whose more fear?

    The public knows there’s a constant background noise of Muslim wackos trying shit. And of course there’ll be some trying in the next six months. There always is now. It’s part of the scenery.

    So the “generalized angst” is unaffected. If it moves, it moves with events, not with warnings of them, because there are enough actual events to make vague warnings between events superfluous.

    And Senators know that warnings are just the idiom in which “intelligence” talks to them now, because they got bitched at for not talking that way before. The words don’t register as warnings, face value, with anybody. There’s no rube audience whose anxiety fluctuates with the rhetoric of the security bureaucracy.

    There is, however, an audience who’s inspired by that rhetoric to postulate an imaginary world of rubes it’s aimed at, that they’re not part of. Maybe that’s who it’s for, and what it’s meant to do. That is what it does.

  15. I think terrorism could be a real threat, certainly to 9/11 levels. But what we need to do to meet that threat isn’t what a lot of this is about. Some of it is theater to justify the existence and budgets of various agencies, some of it is politics, and some of it serves other interests, like the drug war and other government-control wishlist items.

    My preferred approach would be to phase ourselves out of Middle Eastern affairs, since there’s no strong national security reason for continue to meddle around out there, while simultaneously kicking the shit out of anyone who wants to bring terrorism into the U.S. It’s not a total illusion, and not every effort will be as inept as the most recent attempt.

  16. Those statements are useless Ron. But that is all they have and all they ever will have. If they knew what the attack was going to be and what the likelyhood of it happening, they would by definition know where it was coming from and go stop it.

    1. Yep, and this is why it’s so critical that we have the ability to interrogate captured foreign enemies. Those are the guys we get the most valuable intel from, because we just don’t have anybody on the “inside”.

      Also, there is a reasonable middle ground somewhere between being terrorized and being in an ignorant stupor of denial. If the military brass had been more in touch with reality and taken Malik Nadal Hassan a bit more seriously when he was giving his lectures about pouring boiling oil down the throats of the infidels, maybe they would have been able to keep him from killing 13 of his men.

      1. “”Those are the guys we get the most valuable intel from,”””

        Probably not. There’s a credibility issue when you ask them questions, and a greater credibility issue if you apply much pressure to get an answer.

        The best intel comes from comm intercepts, when they don’t know we are listening and have no vested interest in lying.

    2. I agree, if they knew, they would do something about it, and we would hear about it after the fact.

      They take vague intel, and try to use it to predict a future attack. It’s not that they know an attack is coming, but they have reasons to believe. Could be predicated on the amount of comm chatter. Their predictions are not reliable, but the lesson they learned after 9/11 is to mention it every time they think it’s possibility, or risk looking like they were caught with their pants down.

      It’s about covering their ass.

  17. Feinstein: “Mr. Penetta, do you agree stuff will happen if we don’t do stuff?
    Penetta: “Yes, Senator, stuff will happen if we don’t do stuff.”
    Certainly makes me feel safe.

  18. “It does no good for pulblic safety”

    I’m not sure “PULBLIC” is a word

    I think you must have meant “PUBIC”

    1. TG: Fixed. Thanks.

  19. “…the 9/11 attacks were not detected….”

    Unless, of course, you don’t count the FBI office in Minneapolis that was ignored when they reported about suspicious men taking flying lessons and insisting that they didn’t need to learn how to land.

  20. TSA Agent: Sir, do you have anything to declare?
    Francois: Just my carry own.
    TSA Agent: It says here that you are Belgium.
    Francois: Yes.
    TSA Agent: Are you circumcised?
    Francois: Th- that is a little personal, don’t you think?
    TSA Agent: Sir, just answer the question.
    Francois: No. I am not.
    TSA Agent: I’m afraid I’ll need you to step aside.
    Francois: What?
    TSA Agent: Step aside and disrobe, sir.
    Francois: You are putting on surgical gloves ?!?
    TSA Agent: This is no more easy for me than it is for you.
    Francois: Where is that finger going?
    TSA Agent: Regulations state that I have to place my finger between your penis and foreskin and move the digit around 360 degrees clockwise 360 degrees counter clockwise in order to check for explosive devices and plastic bags carrying paraphenila?
    Francois: That feels very uncomfortable.
    TSA Agent: I urge you to cooperate.
    Francois: Now what are you doing?
    TSA Agent: Phase two which requires me to peel back the skin.
    Francois: I can’t believe this is happening to me.
    TSA Agent: Now, there, it is done. May you enjoy your flight, sir. Have a good day.
    Francois: I don’t believe that is possible.

    1. Not too far out. When I worked in a max prison we had an inmate busted for carrying a flexible, razor blade knife concealed in his foreskin.
      It’s amazing too what some guys can keyster.

  21. yes, we have terrorist trying to attack us…it is our own “intelligence” agencies. Kurt Haskell, the lawyer on the plane with the underwear bomber…”the governement keeps lying and lying”.


  22. Can someone post a link to the faux TSA poster? Want to print that bad puppy and post it …

  23. Sir – while I admire your cynicism it is misdirected – the bureaucrats are no more than props in this situation.

    The question already had a foregone answer. If you want to know who wanted the statement made, ask who asked the question. The whole CYA thing above doesn’t hold any water – doesn’t matter if we were “warned” – the intel agencies asses are still on the line no matter what – it’s their job to be paranoid and it’s their job to stop these things.

  24. 1 week ago, the push for full body scanners in airports began in earnest.

    They encountered resistance from those who for some strange reason don’t want a random stranger staring at their naked body as a condition of being allowed to fly, (radical Non-exhibitionists, presumably).

    Within days comes the announcement that some unamed, unformed threat is imminent.

    Hmmm…. Coincidence, or very convenient timing?

    Note: I predict muslim women in burka’s, being forced into full body scanners will enrage radical muslims and lead to more, not less, attacks.

    1. I just want to know, how much would it cost for me to be able to go to the airport and force some minimal-wage TSA drone to look at a scan of my schwanz?

  25. We’ve had 3 attacks in the last year. No kidding we’ll have another. They’ve now adopted the lone wolf approach, since we seem to have stopped other tactics.

  26. I hate dat wabbit!

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