Feinstein & Rogers justify NSA Spying with Syrian Rebels (Voted to Arm Syrian Rebels)

Senator Diane Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers took to the airwaves on Sunday to warn that Americans are less safe than two years ago and that al-Qaeda is growing and spreading and that the US is menaced by bombs that can’t be detected by metal detectors.

Call me cynical, but those two have been among the biggest detractors of the American citizen’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure of personal effects and papers. I think their attempt to resurrect Usama Bin Laden is out of the National Security Agency internal playbook, which specifically instructs spokesmen to play up the terrorist threat when explaining why they need to know who all 310 million Americans are calling on our phones every day.

CNN’s Candy Crowley interviews them

Now, obviously there are violent extremists in the world and the US like all other societies is likely to fall victim to further attacks by terrorists. But if they could not inflict significant damage on us with 9/11 (and economically and in every other way except the horrible death toll, they could not), then it is a little unlikely that this kind of threat is existential.

In fact the number of terrorist attacks in the US has vastly declined since the 1970s (as has violent crime over-all), as WaPo’s chart shows:

(The chart shows each attack as a number and does not show fatalities; obviously the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 would be prominent in that case. But the fact is that foreign terrorist attacks kill almost no one in America these days. You’re far more likely to fall in your bathtub and die than to face terrorism).

Rogers makes a big deal out of the fighting in northern Syria as a threat to the United States and says “thousands” of “Westerners” have gone to fight there. But Rogers is just obfuscating by mentioning vastly exaggerated statistics.

The number of Americans estimated by the FBI to be fighting in Syria? 24. Two dozen. That’s it.

The Syrian civil war has nothing to do with the US, and is a local struggle rather unlikely to involve hitting America (more especially since, as Rogers carefully avoids mentioning, the US is committed to arming these rebels to fight against al-Assad.)

That’s right. Mike Rogers voted to give arms to the Syrian rebels. And while he may hope they don’t go to the al-Qaeda affiliates (as happened when Ronald Reagan gave $5 billion to the Afghan Mujahidin in the 1980s), he has no guarantee that won’t happen and is willing to take the risk. If Rogers were really, really concerned about the Jabhat al-Nusra, he wouldn’t be risking upping its firepower with Americans’ tax dollars as a justification for monitoring who your 15 year old daughter calls on her cell phone.

Let us say that again. Feinstein and Rogers just came on television to scaremonger the American people with the Syrian jihadis, and both of them voted to give the Syrian rebels millions of dollars in arms.

That’s a pretty good racket. You support the jihadis abroad and then point to jihadis abroad as the reason for which you have to get into the underwear of the American people.

Then they brought up Iraq, which is another local struggle. Dick Cheney repeatedly warned that if the US left Iraq, the terrorists created by the US Occupation (he didn’t put it that way) would follow us home. But it was never very likely an allegation. You could easily get an attack in the US by a disgruntled Sunni Iraqi. But that the Sunni Arabs of Iraq are gunning for the US? No sign of it.

Is there more extremist radicalism in the world than a few years ago?

I’d need to see a quantitative study before I agreed with the proposition. For instance, in 2002-2006 there were a lot of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi security managed to tamp them down and you don’t hear about that now. Likewise Algeria lost 200,000 people to a civil war between secularists and fundamentalists in 1992-2005, but is now sullenly calm. There were millions of deaths in central Africa in the 1990s. While the situation isn’t good, there is nothing on that scale now. We are almost certainly looking at a much calmer world in 2013 than we were even 15 years ago.

I’d also say that that isn’t the right question. If the question is, are there more capable people plotting to hit the US mainland, I think it certainly is not true. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seems to have a thing. Core al-Qaeda is devastated. The rest are involved in local struggles.

They even brought up the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut (as a threat to America?) That would have been nice of them if they hadn’t gone on to accuse the Quds Brigade special forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of committing terrorism all over the world. Don’t you think probably that the Sunni group that hit the Iranian Embassy was targeting the IRGC attaches there, who are allied with the Lebanese Shiite group Hizbullah and encouraged it to intervene in Syria?

So Feinstein and Rogers win either way. They can instance Iran as a terrorist threat to the US mainland even though there’s no evidence of that. Then when Sunni enemies of Iran strike the Iranian embassy, that is also portrayed as a threat to the US.

My head is spinning.

Feinstein and Rogers swore to uphold the US constitution, which contains that pesky 4th amendment. They’ve broken that vow. Voters, you know what to do.

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21 Responses

  1. Prof. Cole, you are absolutely correct. I was appalled when I heard this propaganda being foisted on the American public by these two shills for the spooks. Utter nonsense! How are these foreign jihadis supposed to attack the U.S.? Are the planning to rent flotillas of pontoon boats and putt across the Atlantic Ocean to attack New York? If we have an Immigration Dept. doing its job, we should have no worries. Anyone who hears this nonsense and is scared, has a malfunctioning bullshit detector!

  2. I don’t watch the Sunday shows, so from what the Senator and Rogers said, could you please indicate just how scared I should be? The old Bush color-coded system can be used as a handy guide.

    • State of the Union is not the only member of the fawning corporate media. Yesterday Face the Nation was stacked with anti-diplomacy-ratchet-up-the-sanctions advocates. No dissenting voices. Of course, Meet the Press is just as phony. The only point that justifies watching these shows (if you don’t become nauseated) is that you know who the enemies and the termites within are.

  3. Dr. Cole, your new website is not displaying properly. I tried it in both Firefox and IE. No margins. It was even worse yesterday with the actual posts being cutoff.

  4. TonyS

    Terrorism is the greatest non-threat to American citizens in the history of our nation. ‘Nothing to fear but what the USG demands’.

  5. “Senator Diane Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers took to the airwaves on Sunday to warn that Americans are less safe than two years ago and that al-Qaeda is growing and spreading and that the US is menaced by bombs that can’t be detected by metal detectors.”

    Americans are less safe today because of the likes of DiFi, Mike Rogers and the warmongers and protofascists in Congress.

    “Feinstein and Rogers swore to uphold the US constitution, which contains that pesky 4th amendment. They’ve broken that vow. Voters, you know what to do.”

    Their votes to give Dubya authority to wage war on Iraq also violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

  6. Just who will be rebutting these to fear mongers? I’m betting you may never hear a peep from a skeptic. Just why didnt “state of the nation” go directly to AIPAC to hear this crap?

  7. Fortunately Dianne Feinstein will not be running for re-election. Unfortunately, I cannot vote against her (again).

  8. It is politicians like Feinstein that make us less safe. A supporter of neoconservative policies, and the police measures that are a consequence of pursuing those policies. She’s a disgrace and a danger to the country.

  9. “The number of Americans estimated by the FBI to be fighting in Syria? 24. Two dozen. That’s it……”

    The State Department has indicated that the actual number is unknown.

    We know that 33-year old Nicole Mansfield of Flint, MI was killed in action by the Syrian Army.

    We also know that Eric Harroun, a U.S. Army veteran, served with an al-Nusra Front unit and received a $100.00 fine and three years of probation after being plea-convicted in a United States Distric Court of illegal munitions transfer. His plea agreement remains under court seal and his father had earlier leaked to the media that his son was a CIA operative.

    There are reports of up to 100 British subjects fighting with rebel forces and up to 60 Americans as well as some Canadians.

    A broad cross-section of Americans are donating funds to the Syria Support Group (www.syriasupportgroup.org) who have a State Department license to collect such donations for non-lethal aid to the Free Syrian Army. They are acting as an implementing agency for State Department funding of the Free Syrian Army and have acted as a liaison bewteen FSA leaders and the U.S. government.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars of funding by the international community has been received by rebel forces within Syria.

  10. Time to reconsider who the enemy of the state really is….

  11. Sometime ago I stopped watching the fairytale unfold.

  12. Truth be told these two including boehner seems to had a lot of left over turkey stuffing from the holidays. and actually believe we have an appetite for more.
    This really reminds me of Mary Shlleys Frankenstein..we create a monster that unknowingly causes havocand results in the death of the good doctor by the not enthused by science villagers.. However.,.here we have the Good doctors knowing the outcomes. created this mess. and want the poor villagers who have developed an aversion to BS to stop circling their castle.

    The electronic frontier has a good link to contact these..quoting bush..evil doers and let them know your displeasure.
    No more Turkeys and shtuffing tuffing Please..!
    link to eff.org

  13. As of the time I post this,
    nobody commenting here has brought up the reason for this TV appearance.

    Congressman Rogers made the key point about 3/4 of the way through the segment Dr. Cole posted.
    Essentially, he said (paraphrased):

    “Look, if we actually did our oversight job,
    then it would take those analysts who would have to brief us
    away from the much more important work of
    tracking terrorists and protecting us.
    Thousands of hours would have to be spent preparing “dog and pony show” briefings,
    just so that we could understand what these agencies are up to.

    “In other words,
    we two Intel Committee heads,
    who are the American people’s principle defense
    against abuse by an out-of-control Intelligence Community,
    believe it would be a waste of precious time of the scarce intel analysts
    to have to provide us ‘Oversight folks’ with enough information to be able to conduct informed, meaningful oversight.”
    You can agree or disagree with them on whether that’s a good reason for not providing real oversight.
    But first, when they give their excuses, listen to them.
    How about a little sympathy ?
    It’s hard, being a Member of Congress.

  14. The reality that Glenn Greenwald has documents still to be released hopefully keeps them awake at night.

  15. Mike Rogers is the same guy who repeatedly told us, on repeated visits to his office, that he KNEW there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Did he apologize for lying? NO! He is evil. He’s only in office due to gerrymandering. Our district would NEVER elect someone like him!!

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