The ‘Peace Of Mind Metric’

Posted on October 2, 2013


In the immediate wake of the initial Snowden revelations about the NSA demanding and receiving millions of phone records of Americans from the telcos, the agency officials and their apologists in Congress reflexively countered the public outcry with the narrative that domestic spying saved us from terror plots and that numerous such plots were thwarted by NSA breaches of privacy.

NSA Chief, General Keith Alexander, in testimony before a Senate committee in June, made this statement –  “It’s dozens of terrorist events that these (programs)have helped prevent, from my perspective.”  Alexander also appeared before a House committee as seen in this video, where on June 18th, he claims NSA programs interrupted as many as 50 terror plots:

As you noticed, he assured Congress that programs were in place to protect civil liberties.  He had allies in both the Senate and the House. One was Senator Dianne Feinstein, who defended the NSA programs.  In one instance, regarding the significant amount of terror acts supposedly prevented, Feinstein quipped –  “There’s more than you think.”  Actually, Senator, there are quite a bit less than you think.

Then there’s Senator Lindsey Lohan Graham with this idiotic observation.  “I have no problem. I am a Verizon customer.  You can have my phone number, and put it in a database, if they get a hit between me and some guy from Waziristan, officials should investigate”.  Lindsey, Lindsey, you don’t have to go all the way to Waziristan to hook up with another guy – or are you looking for something particularly strange?

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have steadfastly expressed skepticism.  “We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence,” the two said in a statement, according to Reuters.  

Included on the list of Congressional dupes of the government domestic surveillance regime, are House members Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota).  Rogers, head of the House Intelligence Committee (what an oxymoron), writing a guest editorial in the Detroit Free Press, made this claim in June: 

“Neither program allows the NSA to read e-mails or listen to phone calls of American citizens.  Both programs are constitutional and do not violate any American’s Fourth Amendment rights.” 

On June 9th, Rogers stated on ABC’s ‘This Week’, referring to Guardian investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, that “he doesn’t have a clue” about the NSA surveillance programs.  Actually, I have heard Mr. Greenwald speak on the subject, and I would venture to say that not only is he better informed on the precise nature of the national security overreach of our government, but that he is more knowledgeable on the subject than 90 percent of Congress including the Senate. 

Bachmann, an erstwhile Tea Party diva turned shill for the government surveillance state, said this in reference to Snowden: 

“It seems to be that the problem here is that an individual who worked within the system … broke laws and chose to declassify highly sensitive classified information.  It seems to me that’s where our focus should be on how there could be a betrayal of trust and how a traitor could do something like this to the American people.  It seems to me that’s where our focus must be and how we can prevent something like that from ever happening again.”

It seems to me, Michele, lover of Big Bro monitoring of citizens, that facts have left you snake bitten.  The ‘traitor’ you referred to, performed a monumental service to Americans in derailing the bullet train of government intrusion on our right to privacy.

Fast forward to today, October 2nd, 2013, and lo and behold, this report from the Washington Examiner.

The Obama administration issued misleading figures about terrorist plots foiled by the National Security Agency’s warrantless mass-collection of records of Americans’ every phone call, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander admitted to lawmakers Wednesday: 

“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, told Gen. Alexander of the 54 cases that administration officials have cited as the fruit of the NSA’s controversial domestic snooping.  “These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” he said.

The Vermont Democrat asked the general to admit that only 13 of the 54 cases had any connection at all to the United States, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?” “Yes,” replied Gen. Alexander, who is both director of NSA and commander of the U.S. military’s Cyber Command. In response to a follow-up question, Mr. Alexander also acknowledged that only one or two of the cases cited by senior officials at previous hearings had actually been foiled by the NSA’s vast database.

“The American people are getting left with an inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs,” Mr. Leahy said. He added that details of the 54 cases, even those provided to lawmakers in special classified briefings, were “unconvincing.” “We get more from the newspapers than we do in the classified briefings that you give us,” he told Gen. Alexander. “And we get a crossword puzzle, too,” he added.  “The government has not made its case that bulk collection of domestic phone records is an effective counterterrorism tool, especially in light of the intrusion on Americans’ privacy,” the senator concluded.   

Here’s the mind fornicating quote of the meeting. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate panel that the number of plots foiled should not be the only metric by which the success of the program is measured.  “I think there’s another metric here that’s very important. … I would call it the peace-of-mind metric.”  What the deuce?

Excuse me Mr. Clapper, but I don’t find any peace of mind factor whatsoever, in the realization that my government now has everything I’m doing in the digital space monitored and that flimsy national security justifications – some of which have been revealed to be lies altogether, have trumped my civil liberties under the Fourth amendment. 

We also know now, according to Alexander’s latest admission, that the NSA is accessing domestic emails.  The AP reports that NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that not all social network searches are authorized by a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, but the agency’s actions are proper and audited internally.  So that’s the most recent firewall on this travesty, from a man whose reputation for honesty is already garbage and should be arrested for presiding over crimes against American citizens – or at the very least, removed from his position.

With every passing day, we uncover more fecklessness, deception and duplicity emanating from the fetid swamp of this emerging fascist state. James Madison saw all this coming from afar: 

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”