We now live in a post 9/11, post Benghazi world, where the Al Quaeda need not terrorize us with bombs, embassy invasions, executions, or massive terrorist spectacles of the type orchestrated a decade ago. No, now they only need to allow one of their messages to be “intercepted” by the NSA to spread wide-spread fear and panic causing massive over-reactions by our government in the name of maintaining “an abundance of caution.” However, if all it takes to spread terror today is a phone call, then the terrorists really have won.
This type of phone-in threat reminds me of a student pulling the fire-alarm at their school to create a state of “emergency” to get out of class. When we stop everything, and close down embassies because of a perceived threat, the terrorists are winning, because they are getting us to change how we function or cease to function as a society. These types of “phone-in” threats, apparently intercepted after the mass-media has already reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring everyone’s communications world-wide, seems a practical way for Al Quaeda to spread disinformation and threaten many from afar without a single terrorist act actually being committed. They can literally sit on their couch, and use the NSA’s own monitoring equipment, and our Nation’s political leaders reactions to their messages against us, and get the US to cease diplomatic efforts abroad. Such over-reactions to potential non-threats is counter-productive to the efficient functioning of the government as a whole.
But it is apparently a win-win situation for the political players involved on both sides of the conflict. Even the NSA is getting some free advertising and perhaps even a bump in it’s own “approval ratings,” for all it’s hard work at monitoring everyone foreign and domestic regardless of sufficient probable cause. A potential threat intercepted by the NSA right after the biggest threat to their legitimacy and continued political support just seems too good to be true. They barely survive a budget block in Congress recently aimed at cutting all funding to the surveillance program, and then discover correspondence of a top AL Quaeda leader that apparently legitimizes their monitoring efforts (even if they technically aren’t Constitutional and their monitoring activities and espionage are a clear violation of International Law). How convenient for them.
Likewise, President Obama is ensuring he and the State Department will not be accused of ignoring the potential dangers and warning signs of a potential terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate or embassy this time around. But at the end of the day, the NSA is still violating the fourth Amendment rights of every American and our Democratic President is supporting them with lame arguments. And he wonders why his approval ratings are at an all time low, and why he has become the brunt of jokes by all the late night talk show hosts.
But if he shows he is not soft on terrorism to the Conservative “hawks,” and if he can get John Kerry to accomplish something in the Middle East, and Republicans Lindsey Grahm, and John McCain somehow manage to settle the civil war in the making in Egypt, then he will have somehow managed to pull-off quite a political feat. He will have actually solidified a “bipartisan” foreign policy legacy of reestablishing peace in the middle east, Americanizing the Egyptian revolution, and perhaps then no one will remember his “Obama-care” was D.O.A., and that Detroit went bankrupt under his reign. Clearly, he should thank the terrorists for being so stupid (or astute), for using their electronic communications devices to spread fear and terror with nothing more than their voices amplified by the monitoring of the NSA, the propagation of their threat by the global mass-media, and the politicalization of their message by the President of the U.S, just so he can show us all what “an abundance of caution” looks like. From where I’m sitting, it looks an awful lot like an over-reaction for a specific political purpose to me. A public service announcement would probably have been sufficient.