A week after the US House comes within a few votes of ending one of the massive NSA spying programs, here comes the Obama Administration citing vague Al Queida threats, issuing a worldwide travel alert and closing all our embassies in Arab countries.
Sure, and it was coincidence when all throughout the 2004 campaign the Bush administration kept raising and lowering the alert levels and the media kept dutifully leading with that news, back before the color-coded alert system was tossed out.
But what if there really is an attack this time?
Yea, what if. What if the people who run government said there was no domestic spying, and you believed them, and then Edward Snowden proved that there was. Then what if the government said, OK, we do that, but that's all we do. We just collect lists of phone calls (Prism program), not the phone calls themselves. And you believed them.
Then the next week Snowden proved that they do collect the phone calls and can search them at any time, and the government says OK, but that's all we do. We aren't recording everybody's emails and search histories, browser histories, and chat sessions or anything like that (XKeyscore program), and you believed them again. And the next week Snowden proved that they lied to you again.
What if the government said they'd prevented "dozens" of attacks with NSA spying, and said it was "more than 50," and you believed them, and then after they got their headlines out of it, a few people in the media look into it and it turns out they might have prevented one. Might have.
How many times does the government have to lie to you before you stop believing what they say? How many Battleship Maine, Gulf of Tonkin, yellowcake uranium, Times Square bomber, underwear bomber, shoe bomber, La Guardia airport bombing stories do you have to swallow before you realize the government has been jerking you around with this whole terrorism thing all along?
Ana Marie Cox has a column in The Guardian that lists all the prominent American Liberal politicians who are hiding under their desks until this is all over (The New Mexico strategy -- I'm always pointing out how the non leaders in our New Mexico legislative delegation do this on anything controversial.)
Cox goes into how it's much easier to evoke fear in a populace than it is to explain to them the consequences of giving up their right to privacy.
"An attack could produce the desperate acceptance of a security state in
an instant," she writes. "But it is difficult to imagine the incidents that would spur
momentum towards a broader movement for and understanding of the right
to privacy. And if you can imagine America coming to that – whether it
looks like 1984 or Singapore – well, by then it will be too late."