The NSA ‘Scandal’ & The Anti-American Alliance

The NSA ‘Scandal’ & The Anti-American Alliance

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago but it hasn’t been published until now.

The non-existent, hyped up “NSA Scandal” is a transparent attempt by a small group of committed Anti-American activists that they hope will gut an effective tool protecting the country from terrorism. What you’re witnessing isn’t another Obama scandal like Benghazi or the IRS scandal, but another chapter in the alliance between anti-war libertarians and anti-war radical leftists to take down what they perceive as an American Empire.

The high profile players in the “NSA Scandal” myth include leftitst activist Glenn Greenwald, leftist filmmaker Laura Poitras, WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, anti-war libertarian former Congressman Ron Paul (who praised Snowden’s ‘great service’), Ron Paul’s son Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On one hand, it seems like an ideologically diverse group–from pro-free market libertarians like the Pauls to leftists like Greenwald–but they are all longtime allies on the “anti-war” issue.

The term Anti-American is pretty broad, so let me define that term in a very specific way that applies to all the players in the “NSA Scandal” story. I use ‘Anti-American’ because I see the common threads as going after America’s strength in a fundamental way. Here are key components:

  1. They see the United States as a failing, flailing empire; the cause of most of the problems on the world stage.
  2. On the specific issue of terrorism, they view the United States as the main problem and the cause of Islamic terrorism.
  3. Because of these views, they focus their criticism on the United States and usually drop context of how other nations act.
  4. They want to see an America with a greatly reduced military.

The “NSA Scandal” is another attempt by this group to weaken U.S. defenses in general and on terrorism, explicitly and specifically. Just like WikiLeaks’ release of the “Collateral Murder” video a few years ago–an effort supported by all the key NSA Scandal players mentioned above–their hope is to gain attention and traction among the general public and force the United States to drop its defenses.

The players in the “NSA Scandal” aren’t shy about sharing their philosophy out in the open. Here’s Glenn Greenwald, speaking at the Socialism 2011 conference in Chicago:

Al-Qaeda hoped a single attack on U.S. soil, very minimal in scope compared to the level of deaths that the United States has been bringing to the world for decades–from Vietnam to illegal wars in Central America–would trigger bankruptcy-inducing policies. Ironically, the only thing that can truly strengthen America’s national security is a weakening of America.

Here’s Ron Paul in 2010 in a House floor speech defending Julian Assange and attacking the American Empire:

Few are interested in understanding the relationship of our foreign policy and our presence in the Middle East to the threat of terrorism. Revealing the real nature and goal of our presence in so many Muslim countries is a threat to our empire, and any revelation of this truth is highly resented by those in charge.

Paul’s 2010 speech also made claims about Assange that are being echoed today almost verbatim in defense of Snowden, showing once again the “NSA Scandal” is the same old Anti-American screeds and excuses with little more than a fresh coat of paint:

It has been charged by experts that Julian Assange, the internet publisher of this information, has committed a heinous crime, deserving prosecution for treason and execution, or even assassination.

In the Snowden affair, the only America politician to defend him has, again, been Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul has been trying to get support among non-fringe conservatives for this view, but as Rand Paul said to Alex Jones in an interview in 2009comparing this view to his father’s:

I’d say we’d be very very similar. We might present the message sometimes differently. I think in some ways the message has to be broadened and made more appealing to the entire Republican electorate because you have to win a primary.

Many people forget that the libertarian movement sprang from the 1960s radical anti-war movement. Side note: this is one reason hippie-hating Ayn Rand eschewed the Libertarian Party. Libertarian trailblazer Murray Rothbard discussed this in interviews like this one:

…here at last was not a namby-pamby “peace” group like SANE, which always carefully balanced its criticism of the U.S. and of Russia, and which also took pains to exclude “undesirables” from antiwar activity; here was a truly antiwar movement which zeroed in on the evils of American war-making; and here was a movement that excluded no one, that baited neither reds nor rightists, that welcomed all Americans willing to join in struggle against the immoral and aggressive war that we were waging in Vietnam. Here at last was an antiwar Left that we could be happy about!

Note that Rothbard was excited that the radicals in the SDS were “zeroed in on the evils of American war-making” without trying to balance that criticism. This brazen context dropping is a key component of the anti-war movement’s Anti-Americanism. It works to their advantage because the United States is clearly the worst country on the planet–when you don’t compare it to every other country on the face of the earth.

The 1960s radical paranoia of the left and the libertarians came crashing into the world of cyberspace on Sepetmeber 11th, 2001. Hours after jihadist terrorist took down both towers of the World Trade Center, a frantic email went viral. The email came from John Perry Barlow, head of the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF. The sky-is-falling email read in part:

Control freaks will dine on this day for the rest of our lives. Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America…

The problem the EFF saw was America, not the jihadists; a view echoed many times by Ron Paul and other anti-war libertarians and leftists in subsequent years. As Heather MacDonald from Manhattan institute explained:

Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, epitomizes the rise of the sixties counterculture into today’s opinion elite, for whom no foreign enemy could ever pose as great a threat to freedom as the U.S. For Barlow, the problem isn’t the obvious evil of Islamic terrorism but the imputed evil of the American government…

Cut to today. This is exactly the “America as Empire” ideology that animates Edward Snowden, whose laptop sports an EFF sticker–something that John Perry Barlow himself bragged about on Twitter.

This worldview allows Snowden and his crew to attack the NSA and ignore the terrorists that its programs are stopping. Greenwald and other antiwar radicals are using their hyped up NSA Scandal myth as a means get Americans to forget what happened on 9/11. They want to pressure the United States to disarm unilaterally in the war on terrorism. This isn’t mere folly; it’s life and death.

What Heather MacDonald wrote ten years ago has been proven true today [emphasis added]:

Recognizing that the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were acts of war entails certain consequences. First, the campaign against al-Qaida and other Islamic terror organizations is really war, not a metaphor, like the “war on drugs.” Second,it is a war unlike any the U.S. has ever fought. The enemy, mostly but not exclusively foreign, is hidden on American soil in the civilian population, with the intention of slaughtering as many innocent noncombatants as possible. The use of military force abroad, while necessary, is by no means sufficient: domestic counterterrorism efforts by the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies are at least as essential to defeating the enemy.

When these agencies are operating against Islamic terrorists, they are operating in an unprecedented war mode—but most of the rules that govern them were designed for crime fighting. The tension between the Justice Department’s and FBI’s traditional roles as law enforcement agencies and their new roles as terror warriors lies at the heart of the battle over the Bush administration’s post-9/11 homeland-security policies: critics refuse to recognize the reality of the war and thus won’t accept the need for expanded powers to prosecute it.

While the anti-NSA fearmongers like Greenwald/Poitras ally Bill Binney express shock and outrage that the agency expanded its power post 9/11, that is exactly what they had to do to fight the new terror threat. More prescient writing from 2003 by MacDonald:

Most of the changes in the law that the Justice Department sought after 9/11 concern the department’s ability to gather intelligence on terror strikes before they happen—its key responsibility in the terror war. Yet the libertarian lobby will not allow the department to budge from the crime paradigm, refusing to admit that surveillance and evidence-gathering rules designed to protect the rights of suspected car thieves and bank robbers may need modification when the goal is preventing a suitcase bomb from taking out JFK. But of course the libertarians rarely acknowledge that suitcase bombs and the like are central to this debate.

Anyone throwing in with the anti-American left/libertarian cabal attacking United States military intelligence would do well to consider the source. The stakes are huge: nothing less than the security of the United States from jihadist terrorists. The NSA program has been praised by people who are aware of the details as doing a tremendous job of balancing concern for American’s civil liberties with the new reality of global terror. The Greenwald/Paul axis wants to tear this down and have no actual solutions to replace it with.

6 Comments

  1. Wow. So I guess since I view the NSA as having violated the rights of US citizens, I’m anti-American. Because normal people can’t possibly believe this is a real scandal. They’re obviously aligned with some cabal that is offensive to your political sensibilities.

    But you see I actually think this scandal does EXIST. Like a LOT of my fellow Americans, I actually expect the NSA to abide by the law. You know, the ones which govern it. I noticed that you didn’t mention the laws that govern the NSA. Could that be because it would completely undermine everything you just wrote? Well, since you didn’t bother, I will

    USSID 18: It’s the statute that forbids the NSA from COLLECTING on US citizens on US soil. So forget about whether or not the NSA accessed our emails or phone calls or whatever. They weren’t allowed to COLLECT them in the first place. They broke the law.

    EO 12333: It’s the Executive Order forbidding NSA from COLLECTING on US citizens on US soil. So they violated the EO that governs their mandate.

    And just so you know, people who violate these can and have gone to prison. And your claim that people who believe the NSA broke the law (and they did), are attacking the military, is outrageous. of course, I suppose disagreeing with you, means my ten years of military service is meaningless. Except I’m not a libertarian or a leftist. When I took my oath to the Constitution, I shed all political agendas and became a Constitutionalist. So tell me something, since you speak so brazenly about the military, how long did you serve?

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  2. You’re the second person who seems to have taken this article personally, when I thought it was 100% clearly about Greenwald, Poitras, Paul and so on. This isn’t even an article about the NSA itself, it’s about those people. So, I didn’t mention the law in this article because it’s not about that.

    I didn’t serve in the military; I’ve been ineligible since I lost an eye when I was young; not that this is relevant to anything I said in this piece.

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  3. But your opening statement was this:

    “The non-existent, hyped up “NSA Scandal” is a transparent attempt by a small group of committed Anti-American activists that they hope will gut an effective tool protecting the country from terrorism. What you’re witnessing isn’t another Obama scandal like Benghazi or the IRS scandal, but another chapter in the alliance between anti-war libertarians and anti-war radical leftists to take down what they perceive as an American Empire.”

    Your entire premise is based on assumptions you’ve made that are simply NOT true. Just like Jay Carney, you are NOT the arbiter of what is important to average Americans. This is NOT some hyped-up non-scandal. This IS a scandal like Benghazi and the IRS. And if you can’t see that, then you are not paying attention.

    This is why I brought up the laws that the NSA was violating. Because your post is irrelevant. Even if there was a cabal of anti-Americans out there taking advantage of this scandal, it wouldn’t matter. Because the NSA still broke the law. They violated the rights of US citizens. They violated their own mandate. And nothing you write can justify that. Except what you did write, seems to marginalize those who deign to criticize the NSA. Frankly, it looked something I would read on RedState or in the reverse, on the KOS.

    Perhaps you should consider why someone else took it personally. Maybe it has to do with the underlying implication that if you disagree with the NSA collecting on US citizens, you are aligned with “anti-war libertarians and anti-war radical leftists”. Because you said it yourself, it’s “a small group of committed Anti-American activists”. Large numbers of average, normal American citizens couldn’t possibly be upset with the NSA over this. Only they can, and they are. And it isn’t because of some small group of imagined anti-Americans.

    (And whether or not you’ve served yourself is relevant, when you start bandying our name around as an emotional club to bolster your argument. Especially one like this. Most of the service members I know are NOT ok with spying on Americans and they are disgusted by the NSA scandal.)

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  4. You quoted me without seeing what I said — I was referring to ‘ a small group of committed Anti-American activists’ and I go on to name who those people are. This article is about those people and what I perceive as their motives.

    You may not think it’s a valid point of inquiry but I do.

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  5. My concerns are to specific programs of the NSA. Under Bush, we were told that the NSA would monitor calls from the US to foreign jurisdictions. To me, that made sense for intercepting calls from terrorists within the U.S. communicating with terror cells or leaders outside the U.S. However, we have since learned that the NSA is collecting meta data on all emails, phone calls, etc. beginning either under Bush or Obama. Mark Levin has explained that the NSA does not need to collect this data as it is already in the hands of private companies (phone companies, internet providers, social networks, etc.). If the government needs this information on particular individual(s), the government can seek a court order and get the data from the private companies. There is no reason for the government to collect the data and store it on all citizens and use it at their whim.

    It is interesting that our government has no interest in collecting information on illegal aliens and fail to act to prevent real threats (Boston Bombers), but collects data on citizens and harasses them (Gibson Guitars, Tea Party Groups). This should trouble everyone and put this data collection under scrutiny.

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  6. THANK YOU, this is what I have been thinking for quite some time now and you are the first I have seen to articulate it under a byline. Was the NSA starting to overreach? Perhaps, and we must be alert to that eventuality. However, the anti-American left has run with this, unchallenged, for a couple years now and these are some very partisan actors with very selective standards for behavior that always apply only to US national security. Anythng the US does is an “illegal war,” etc, yet the implicit opposition in said war is always somehow legal? Snowden, Assange, and Greenwald are Putin’s trolls as far as I am concerned, and libertarianism is sometimes a beard for hard leftists who lack the courage of their true convictions.

    The NSA must be subject to strict civilian oversight, but their accusers have been getting away with murder, conjuring ever more outlandish accusations with virtually no pushback.

    Reply

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