Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Charlie Hebdo Murders Do Not Justify NSA Domestic Spying



Over at Defense One, an article cites various members of Congress who are using the murders of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists at as an excuse to derail efforts to reform and rein in National Security Agency (NSA) domestic spying. From Defense One:

"To me, Congress having oversight certainly is important, but what is more important relative to these types of events is ensuring we don't overly hamstring the NSA's ability to collect this kind of information in advance and keep these kinds of activities from occurring," Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told National Journal.

Corker said that in recent months, public support for the NSA has been fading as national security risks increase, a dangerous prospect for stopping future terrorism plots. The only way public opinion changes, Corker says, is for the American people to be reminded that threats still exist.

"I think events like [the shooting in Paris] and people's recognition that the only way to keep those from happening is through outstanding intelligence-gathering. That alone, unfortunately, does shape people's opinions," Corker said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also sent out a strongly worded statement following the attacks, urging Congress to reevaluate its attitude toward the national security community.

"I fear our intelligence capabilities, those designed to prevent such an attack from taking place on our shores, are quickly eroding," Graham said. "I believe our national security infrastructure designed to prevent these types of attacks from occurring is under siege."

The senators are overlooking one important fact: NSA domestic spying hasn't prevented any terrorist attacks in the United States. As I report in my article, "Abolish the Intelligence-Industrial Complex":

In response to [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden's revelations, NSA director Keith Alexander essentially lied to Congress when he claimed that the NSA's spying had contributed to thwarting 54 terrorist plots.  In January, 2014, the New America Foundation think-tank issued a report that concluded that NSA domestic spying had had "no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism." It certainly had no discernible impact on thwarting the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 or the would-be Christmas jetliner bomber in 2009.

Also in January, President Obama's own Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) issued a report on the NSA's domestic spying program that damningly found, "We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation." The report added, "Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack."

In addition, I pointed out:

Similarly, in December President Obama's own hand-picked Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies issued a report that found the NSA domestic spying was "not essential to preventing attacks." But more importantly, the Review Group worried if there is another significant terrorist attack that "many Americans, in the fear and heat of the moment, might support new restrictions on civil liberties and privacy." They added, "The powerful existing and potential capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies might be unleashed without adequate controls. Once unleashed, it could be difficult to roll back these sacrifices of freedom."

The Review Group was prescient: Now the NSA-enablers in the Senate are trying to use the Charlie Hebdo tragedy to scare Americans into foregoing their constitutional right to be free from pervasive government surveillance.

NEXT: Forgetting Federalism, Oklahoma And Nebraska Demand That Colorado Ban Marijuana

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  1. NSA domestic spying hasn’t prevented any terrorist attacks in the United States.

    And if it had … ?

      1. Abolish that stoopid Clapper as well.

        1. I agree, that damn Clapper is contributing to the obesity “epidemic”. People should at least have to walk their fat asses over to the light swith when they want to turn off the light.

      2. Now, now, let’s not be hasty…


        1. Patience is certainly a virtue. And incidentally, the murders also do not justify criminalizing deadpan Gmail parodies in New York or any of the other assaults on freedom of expression going on in the United States, however subtle and whatever the pretext might be. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

      3. Abolish the NSA

        Right you are. I’ll take it a step further and say we ought to abolish the whole alphabet soup of bureaucracies. None have constitutional standing to exist unless the Commerce Clause really is broad enough to regulate the interstate economic effect of a butterfly flapping it’s wings.

  2. The Judge said it well the other night.

    “The Administration decided to stop torturing terrorists and torture the Fourth Amendment instead.”

    1. How does one torture a corpse? Necromancy?

      1. “Arise chicken constitution!”

      2. Someone will try to find a way to do this to the Fourth Amendment.

  3. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,
    go to tech tab for work detail ????????

  4. If anything they argue against domestic spying. France has many fewer privacy protections than the US. Despite this, France couldn’t prevent the attack. The attack shows domestic spying doesn’t generally prevent these attacks. In order for domestic spying to prevent an attack the attackers basically have to announce on the phone their plans and the police have to see that announcement through all of the noise. And this is not how it works. The attackers almost never announce their plans in so many words and even when they do the chances of the authorities picking up on that fact in time to stop it are virtually nil.

    These attacks are very hard to prevent once you have people bent on making them in your country.

    1. I’d suggest they are impossible to protect against, especially on an unarmed populace.

    2. France has many fewer privacy protections than the US. Despite this, France couldn’t prevent the attack.

      They have lots of privacy protection against those evil market entities like Google and Yahoo, just not against their benevolent government overlords…

    3. How about infiltrating with spies & informers, the old-fashioned way?

  5. Charlie Hebdo Massacre NSA Domestic Spying Privacy And Civil Liberties Oversight Board Privacy Fourth Amendment Edward Snowden John McCain Lindsey Graham Senate

    Wait, no Peter King (R-IRA)?? You just KNOW he has to have said something jaw droppingly statist.

    1. I thought he said something stupidly Peter Kingish yesterday?

  6. And lets not forget the leader of this attack was a known radical Islamists who had been sentenced to prison for recruiting fighters to send to Syria. He was released from prison early. Like the Boston bombers, these guys were known nuts and were obviously dangerous and the authorities did nothing to stop them. Exactly what additional information could domestic spying have provided to stop this? When the police can’t or won’t stop known radicals from conducting attacks, no amount of privacy violations is going to get them to do any better.

  7. Never squander a crisis by not stealing liberty from the people and increasing government power!

    Trying to prevent crime, KILLS LIBERTY, and the only people who’d make that trade are pearl clutching, pants shitting pussies and those who gain power from it!

    Fuck Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham!

  8. Because the Total Surveillance State did such a wonderful job stopping that pressure cooker bombing in Boston from….

    Ohhh….awkward moment.

    1. Listening to FoxNews this AM, I heard Hasselbeck say “When are we going to put cameras in every mosque in America and Europe?”

      They believe that spying is the solution.

  9. This is the way that statists always respond to their failures: they absolutely will not even contemplate the idea that their policies just don’t work. They just insist that, well, what we need is more laws, a bigger budget, a Czar, more draconian punishments, more technology, more training, etc. etc.

    And of course for people to stop bringing up that damn Bill of Rights thingy. Compelling state interest!

  10. If we really wanted to reduce the threat of Islamic terrorism, we could try not importing any more Muslims. It’s not a panacea, but it couldn’t hurt. Oh, wait, I forgot the dogma: immigration is always a good thing, and all religions are equal. Never mind.

    1. Let the strawman-on-strawman violence commence!

    2. “It couldn’t hurt.” Except for the good people it keeps out.

      I guess we also need to make sure legal immigrants aren’t allowed to breed, either.

      1. There are more than enough good people in the world who want to come here who aren’t Muslim.

        I really dislike the argument that says “Oh, but on balance, immigration is good, because most of them aren’t gangsters or future welfare cases or religious nuts, and won’t have kids who are.” Why not be more selective? Why should we let anyone in who’s dangerous or a burden on the taxpayer? Screw “averages,” let’s be more selective. We’re not exactly suffering a labor shortage.

    3. immigration is always a good thing, and all religions are equal. Never mind.

      All cultures are equal, no one is right and no one is wrong, unless your culture is western culture. In which case you have an obligation to tolerate anyone and any values they promote.

  11. It would be a damn shame if Lindsey Graham were to be forced to go double anal on a pair of rusty chainsaws. A damn shame indeed.

  12. Look, if you can’t even find the terrorists among the people that have been to jail for being terrorists, I don’t know what the NSA can do for you.

    In the future, if France has any sense, people who want to join ISIS should be branded as ISIS members on their forehead and permanently exiled to ISIS territory, upon pain of being shot on sight if they return to France. Everyone’s happy, more or less.

  13. Said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re not doing anything your grandmother wouldn’t have you do, then you should be Far more worried about what Google and Facebook and other websites are collecting about you than what the NSA is collecting. The permissions you give to these online entities give them Legal access to just about everything you say or do on online. And that’s just what They Admit to. The Cloud is a bigger threat to your security and well being than your government is. I pay my government to protect me and keep the bad guys at bay. And they damn well better.

  14. In January, 2014, the New America Foundation think-tank issued a report that concluded that NSA domestic spying had had “no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.” It certainly had no discernible impact on thwarting the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 or the would-be Christmas jetliner bomber in 2009.

    NONE of which implies the degree of effectiveness or ‘success rate’ of NSA’s work… or lack of it.

    Without the data (which they probably won’t share with us, all of that crap is conjecture, even if tons of people share the same conjectures.

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