This letter makes me sick at heart. The very people who were supposed to defend our country, who even now parade onto talk shows and give interviews about the NSA scandal like people of authority, stand revealed as corrupt and depraved.
They failed to prevent 9/11. Perhaps even then the volume of data was so great that they simply didn’t notice, or were unable to integrate, the information they had. But they should have been able to learn from their failure, and instead, they covered it up, and their cover-ups and their lies have cost many thousands more lives. Michael Hayden, Dick Cheney, Robert Mueller, and all the people who have made it so easy for the NSA to lie to us for so long, shame on all of you.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
The NSA had collected critical information (relating to calls made by AA-77 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar from the US to Yemen) that could have thwarted 9/11, but decided for unknown reasons not to share that information beyond the NSA. They then covered it up, instead of admitting it so that we could learn from it and improve what we were doing.
Before 9/11, the NSA had developed a surveillance program called THINTHREAD, which would have integrated intelligence findings while automatically encrypting all US persons’ communications, and which would have required a court order based on probable cause for their decryption. Gen. Michael Hayden, the same Hayden whose understanding of the Fourth Amendment was so poor that he insisted that it doesn’t contain the words “probable cause,” scotched THINTHREAD in favor of unencrypted bulk surveillance of Americans (STELLARWIND), and a boondoggle called TRAILBLAZER that previewed our occupation of Iraq by failing massively while massively enriching Hayden’s contractor friends.
Now, thanks to their addiction to mass collection, the NSA has admitted that it is indeed drowning in data it cannot process. Its apologists scurry round spreading fear about reforms that would actually make their work more restrained and effective, and in a last, desperate throw of the dice, they are invoking the shadow of 9/11 – the same 9/11 that their bulk surveillance failed to thwart last time around. These days, the only terrorist attacks they seem capable of thwarting are the ones they gin up in advance, but no matter: making the NSA conform to the Constitution will not KEEP US SAFE.
You know that on this blog I tend not to use the swears. This time, I do use the swears:
I am fucking pissed off. What a fuckup. What a gargantuan, despicable, offensive fuckup.
These clowns gleefully threw the Constitution on the fire, and gave us NOTHING in return. We’re not safer. We’re certainly not richer. We have lost so much, so that a few people could become extremely rich and powerful, and our corrupt system is now incapable of holding them personally to account. Yet still they yammer on, clamoring for more funding for an NSA that doesn’t work, a TSA that doesn’t work, an FBI that chases imaginary plots instead of focusing on locking up actual criminals. They have played on our fears to make us exchange realistic risk assessment for a meaningless, nightmarish pantomime where we, the American people and indeed the people of the whole world, have to accept the loss of every freedom we hold dear in order to “do whatever it takes” to “catch the bad guys.”
I’m sick of it. Aren’t you sick of it? I am goddamn heart-sick of it.
It’s been more than thirteen years since my fiancee and I went out and bought our first TV and brought it home and watched stunned as the towers burned.
Thirteen years of watching the victims of 9/11 being used to justify horror after horror. Mass roundups of Muslims. Torture. Detention, even of US citizens, without trial, and now assassinations too. War in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, now apparently drone warfare fucking everywhere, and a constant stream of broken people being dropped back here like flotsam and told to get on with their chewed-up lives.
“If this was the day after 9/11,” says that bloviating fuck John McCain, “we wouldn’t even be talking about these [surveillance] programs.” I bet not. We were too busy putting up flags, grieving, and praying that we and those we loved wouldn’t be next. But grief, as we all know, has stages, and that state of mind doesn’t last thirteen years.
“The victims of 9/11 would have wanted us to do whatever it takes.” No, they fucking wouldn’t. Do you think we’re all scared six-year-olds hiding underneath our stairwells, waiting for Big Daddy NSA to tell us that everything’s OK and we can come out now?
Fuck that. You like us just where we are, cowering every time you say Boo, and you have no incentive to stop us until we tell you the game is over.
You’re the six-year-olds here, standing there with the Constitution on a skewer over an open flame and hollering, “9/11 MADE ME DO IT.”
Just quit it. We’re sick of it. We’re not going to freak out any more over a few seventh-century-loving lunatics. We have seen the real danger to our way of life, and it’s you, and people like you. Your juju has lost its mojo, so quit throwing 9/11 in our faces, and pretending like your juju is ever going to come back.