FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cranking Up the Washington Lie Machine

by DAVE LINDORFF

Just for the sake of argument, let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment and pretend (I know it’s a stretch) that the Obama administration and the apologists for the nation’s spy apparatus in Congress, Democratic and Republican, are telling us the gods’ honest truth.

They have, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, “amped up” their defense of the NSA’s massive spying program, claiming that not two, but 50 terrorist plots have been foiled thanks to their metadata mining and their intrusive monitoring of our phone and email conversations and website browsing activity.

Think what that means: for years now, the Jihadists have known that the US spy apparatus is ubiquitous, and that it is able to track all their communications. Of course they knew this, because they would have seen all these plots being foiled (the real ones, not the many ones that were created by FBI or CIA provocateurs and plants), and, not being stupid, they would have put it together and realized that the plots that depended upon a lot of phone calls and internet communications were getting busted up, while ones that were handled either solo, or that were developed by careful word-of-mouth communication and courier were managing to succeed.

But we poor schmucks, the American people, have been left in ignorance, imagining that our carefully crafted and painstakingly memorized six or eight-digit passwords, including at least one letter and one number (or if we’re really good, some symbol or other), were doing the job of keeping our online lives private and that our unlisted numbers, or our decision not to list an address with the phone company, were keeping our telephonic communications secure.

Ho ho! Were we fooled!

But really, are we going to believe this nonsense about 50 NSA-foiled plots?

The reason the NSA’s success rate at defeating terror plots leapt overnight from an initial unimpressive two to an impressive 50 is that it turns out that the American people were really not very happy or grateful about learning that they had surrendered all privacy to Big Brother in return for the alleged disrupting of one wacko who had a dream, though poorly conceived, of bombing the New York subway, and the belated capture of another guy who had already allegedly done all the target-scouting work for the successful massacre in the hotel and train station of Mumbai, in India. That’s clearly not a great record to stand on, so now we’re being told by the NSA that actually it wasn’t just two plots that were foiled by their Orwellian spying, it was two score and 10. Much better, right?

Except… we don’t get to learn what those alleged busted plots were. If they were as hairbrained as the underwear bomber’s plan, which succeeded only in scorching his own privates, or as poorly conceived as the Times Square bomber’s plot, which succeeded only in burning some of the upholstery in his SUV, we don’t really have much to show for the freedom we’ve had stolen from us.

And we’re not going to learn what most of these alleged foiled plots were because…they’re secret.

We do know that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were briefed on at least some of the plots, including the first two that were offered up to us as demonstrations of the NSA’s prowess, have concluded that the NSA was exaggerating. They report that those first two plots were actually foiled by tips from British police, who had broken up plots in that country through good police work and then passed along evidence about plotters they were linked to here in the US. There is really no reason to believe that’s not the case with the other alleged NSA “triumphs.” It’s highly likely that they were all busted by solid police work and that the NSA was and also-ran in the process, playing a cameo role, and at best providing post-facto evidence to use in any prosecution, if that (as was the case in it’s “success” after the Mumbai massacre).

In reality, the biggest threat to America today is not terrorism, which is really a much more minor problem than drunk driving (and one which would subside if the US stopped trying to be a global empire), but rather a government that has become increasingly unhinged, unmoored from the people and the Constitution, and thoroughly unprincipled — ready to lie without hesitation and acting in the interests of the rich and the powerful, instead of in the broad interests of the majority of the population.

We have reached a point where trust in the government is so low that the default assumption of most ciizens is that the government is lying — and they are correct. Our government lies about the extent to which it spies on us, it lies about the integrity of the IRS, it lies about wanting to rein in the banks, it lies about “winning” the war in Afghanistan, it lies about the Social Security program going bankrupt, it lies about the US not torturing captives, it lies about chemical weapons use in Syria, it lies about not deliberately killing innocent civilians, including women and children, with its drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan, and it lies about nuclear power being safe (and about there being no radioactive fallout in the US from the Fukushima disaster). That’s just a partial list. You can add your own to it, I’m sure, with little difficulty.

As the president said in one of his rare moments of accidental candor: “If people can’t trust, not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges to make sure we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and the rule of law, then we’re gonna have some problems here.”

Exactly. And that’s one reason we do have problems. Based upon a towering stack of evidence, the people of the United States, left, right and center, now profoundly do not trust the government.

But the real reason we have a problem is that the government — the executive branch, the Congress and the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court — don’t trust the people. Hence the spying, the amped up police departments with all their swat gear, tanks, and soon drones, and the laws making any expression of protest a crime. Look at the way the federal government orchestrated the brutal crushing of the Occupy Movement. Police in paramilitary and SWAT garb, armed with flash-bang stun grenades, rubber bullets, truncheons, saps, gallons of mace and even sonic weapons, using night-time assaults, mass arrests, and keeping the media at bay, cleared out Occupy actions across the country, city by city, under the direct guidance of the Department of Homeland Security. What was that but fear of the people? Look at the way the full force of the US government’s spying, diplomatic and legal apparatus have been brought down on whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden for simply telling the truth. What is that but fear of the people knowing the truth?

Today I drove past a couple of people in the neighboring village of Flourtown, PA, who had set up some signs on a sidewalk along the main street calling for the impeachment of “Big Brother Obama.” People driving past in their cars in this town, which had voted for Obama both in 2008 and 2012, were waving and honking their horns. I though, “Hey, this is great. Obama’s starting to be seen the way G.W. Bush was seen, as a Constitutional criminal.” Then I noticed that the protesters were from the Lyndon LaRouche cult, the National Caucus of Labor Committees.

Amazing! To think that the US has sunk so far into fascist-style police statism, that the LaRouchies, who used to just seem like paranoid kooks, are now looking sane and prescient.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail