Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why there is no intelligence at the heads of the intelligence committees.

The appearances of the chairs of the two congressional intelligence committees on the Sunday talk shows, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chair of the senate intelligence committee, and Republican Mike Rogers, chair of the House intelligence committee, confirmed for most what had always been suspected --   there is no intelligence at the heads  of the congressional intelligence committees. But there is a lot of lying. And the lying has become almost laughably obvious because both of them have ignored Woody Allen's admonition that when you tell the truth all the time you never have to remember anything.

Rogers tried to push the idea that the Russians helped Snowden get his documents and said he  is "investigating" that claim.  He says he thinks it may be true because Snowden was given asylum and is now living in Russia which indicates to him the possibility that somehow Snowden turned over everything he had to the Russians and that he had Russian help from the beginning. This, despite not a shred of evidence to back it up. And Snowden saying long ago that he turned everything over to journalist Glenn Greenwald before leaving Hong Kong.

Snowden has made the very credible point that carrying copies with him would serve no useful purpose. Greenwald in turn, handed copies of everything he had to the Guardian who shared some with the Washington Post and New York Times. This is either news to Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein or they are intentionally ignoring it. Maybe they just forgot.

Rogers also said he believes the Russians helped Snowden because, according to Rogers,  what Snowden did was "beyond his technical capabilities". How Rogers has any knowledge as to what Snowden's "technical capabilities" are, he didn't say. Probably because he has no knowledge of Snowden's capabilities.

Rogers went on to say he didn't think it was just happenstance that Snowden ended up in " the loving arms of the Russians". What Rogers seemed to forget  is that it was he, Rogers, along with Feinstein, Obama, and the State Department who are the sole reasons Snowden is in Moscow.

It was Rogers and Feinstein labeling Snowden a traitor and egging Obama on to deal with Snowden as a traitor, that led to Obama threatening to use U.S. military jets to intercept any aircraft carrying Snowden (a threat Obama eventually backed off), and then using the State Department to  pressure U.S. allies to deny the use of their air space to any aircraft they  suspected of carrying Snowden.  Which ended up, in Marx Brothers fashion, catching not Snowden, but the president of Bolivia.

Snowden as everyone but the heads of the intelligence committees knows,(or forgot)  had wanted to go from Moscow to either Ecuador or Brazil  or another South American country offering him asylum. It  was the United States government that kept him at the Moscow Airport for 40 days until Putin granted him asylum.

But Rogers,almost comically in an attempt to turn both congressional and public opinion against Snowden,  wanted to float the idea that Snowden might be part of some nefarious scheme involving the Russians when in fact it was Rogers,Feinstein and Obama who put him there.

Rogers then said, "Some of the things we're finding , we would call clues that certainly would indicate to me that he (Snowden) had some help".  But he couldn't say what those "clues" were. Maybe because Rogers literally didn't have a clue.

Senator Dianne Feinstein was no better.This is the chair of the senate intelligence committee about whom Democratic congressman Alan Grayson said performs " more overlook than oversight". She has also been described as treating Clapper and Alexander like "rock stars".

 Asked about Rogers assertions regarding Snowden and Russia, Feinstein said,  "He may well have had some help from Russia." Then added the caveat " We don't know at this stage". She doesn't know but she'll say it anyway.

Feinstein added another unsupported allegation by claiming that Snowden got his job at the NSA "with the intent to take as much material down as he possibly could". How she knows this she doesn't say. But, violating the Woody Allen rule,  now we have chairpersons of the intelligence committees on Meet the Press with dueling assessments of Snowden.

According to Rogers, Snowden didn't have the technical capabilities to have gotten the documents he collected and must have had outside help.  According to Feinstein, had the capabilities to have planned to get documents he didn't know existed about programs he knew nothing about and successfully planned and plotted to get hired by the NSA to get the documents that according to Rogers he didnt have the technical capabilities to get.

The problem with their insistence on continuing to attack Snowden and defend the programs he exposed is that both Republican conservatives and liberal Democrats in and out of congress, a federal judge, and now a second government oversight board have all called these mass meta data collections illegal, unconstitutional and that they have proved to have absolutely no value in fighting terrorism or preventing terrorist attacks. What they do  is violate the constitutional rights of American citizens, and is a gross abuse of section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The full court Meet the Press against Snowden continued that Sunday with host David Gregory nodding like a bobble head doll,  with Rep, Mike McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security committee saying, " I don't think  Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself"  clearly not getting the memo on the talking points by Dianne Feinstein who thinks he did have the wherewithal but maybe had help.

Then the caveat  "I personally believe he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did"  (as if what he personally says he believes matters or is some kind of evidence) and when asked if Russia was the foreign power, his answer was, " I can't answer that". But like Feinstein and Rogers he can insinuate can't he?

Here is another from the office of Buy One Smear Get One Free:

The former Deputy Director of the CIA said:

 " I don't have any particular evidence (really? you don't?)  but the disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing -- almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding this on his own".

So again we have Snowden without the capabilities of getting the documents in the first place but having the capabilities of fooling the NSA that he had the capabilities to do the job and get the analysts position, but didnt have the sophistication as to how and when to make the disclosures, adding one more head of an intelligence committee forgetting the Woody Allen rule and ignoring that all the "recent disclosures" were decided by those nefarious editors at the NY Times, Washington Post, the UK's The Guardian, and Glenn Greenwald (all working with the Russians, no doubt). Those are and have been the entities deciding what documents would be disclosed and when not Snowden.

 In spite of the fact that neither Feinstein nor Rogers had a scintilla of proof to back up anything they said, they still tried to do their best to try to turn public opinion against Snowden with the help of sycophantic journalists like David Gregory who let them use Meet the Press to get away with it without a single challenge. And unable to keep their stories straight.

According to Jane Mayer, who wrote an extensive piece on Snowden for The New Yorker,  when she called Dianne Feinstein's office for comment on what she said about Snowden on Meet the Press, her office told Mayer that Feinstein didn't stand by Rogers assertions, she was just being polite.  So smearing an American citizen acting as a whistleblower as working for and aided by a foreign government without a scintilla of proof is Senator Dianne Feinstein's idea of being polite. And this is what the country has as the head of the senate intelligence committee.

For the record, Reuters reported last week that U.S. security officials told them that "there is no evidence that Snowden had any confederates who assisted him or guided him about what NSA materials to hack or how to do so". Obviously these officials just don't know how to be polite.

But we also had Feinstein's polite defense of the meta data collection of Americans activities and  records.

 "The whole purpose of this program is to provide instantaneous information to be able to disrupt any plot that may be taking place". Did she mean like the way it zeroed in on two Chechnean brothers in the U.S. who had been radicalized,and prevented the  Boston Marathon bombing? Two hundred million text messages a day, billions of phone calls made by American citizens and meta date collection of all of America's internet activity and they missed it? 

 Unfortunately for Rogers and Feinstein a U.S. government privacy board which is part of the executive branch created in 2004 issued a report that added their voice to all the others calling the program Feinstein was defending worthless. This group went even further than Obama's White House advisory panel  and echoed the statement by senator Pat Leahy who looked at all  the documents provided to him by the NSA, and concluded that the NSA meta data program had no value whatsoever.

Their report said in part:

 " 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 counter terrorism investigation. 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".

 The italics are because in his first appearance in front of a senate intelligence sub committee, General Alexander said under oath that the meta data program had prevented or disrupted 50 potential terrorist attacks, including two in New York City which involved, according to Alexander, attacks on the New York Stock Exchange and the New York city subway system. At the time, even before the facts we have now were available, I doubted the validity of Alexander's statement since there wasn't any support by New York City Mayor Bloomberg or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who, had Alexander's assertions been true, would have been the biggest vocal supporters of the program.  There were other statements being made attacking Snowden whose validity was also called into question.  And since then senator Leahy said after looking at documents, Alexander's assertions were fabrications.

The fact is in all the years the NSA has been collecting this meta data, with all the billions of phone calls logged, billions of text messages collected and stored, tens of billions of Internet interactions recorded, there has not been one single terrorist plot thwarted, disrupted or uncovered. Ever. Anywhere. But recently Israel announced that their intelligence agency thwarted an Al-Qaeda plot to have suicide bombers blow up the U.S., embassy in Tel Aviv. According to the Israeli report, the bombers were from Turkey and were recruited by Al-Qaeda on --  ta- da! Face Book.

 Some how the NSA missed that one too. Maybe because they were too busy spying on Americans. Or their ex-wives or husbands as some records disclosed by Snowden proved.

To date,  the only people who have been caught not telling the truth (maybe Feinstein knows a polite term for that)   has been those defending the NSA meta data program and attacking Edward Snowden from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, to gross misrepresentations by General Keith Alexander, to Feinstein and Rogers themselves.On the other hand,  so far, Edward Snowden has proved to be telling the truth about everything.

Which is more evidence that perhaps the biggest threat to U.S. national  security has been the intelligence and honesty of the people  entrusted with running the intelligence show in and out of congress.  And their problems with the truth.  As the Woody Allen rule proves. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You nailed every point. Liars are so intimately familiar with lying, they assume everyone else is a liar, cheat etc. They are intrinsically motivated to win by cheating or lying.