Tag: Counter-terrorism

Covering Up Incompetence

A while back, I blogged about the Rahinah Ibrahim case. In short, a Stanford University Ph.D. student found herself barred from flying into the United States because she was on a no-fly list. She challenged this and tried to find out why she was on the list. The Feds refused to divulge this information and even added her daughter to the no-fly list to prevent her from testifying in the federal case. They said revealing why she was on the list would compromise national security.

Well, we found out why Dr. Ibrahim was detained: the Feds fucked up:

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error.

FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

What happened next was the real shame. Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. Again and again they asserted the so-called “state secrets privilege” to block the 48-year-old woman’s lawsuit, which sought only to clear her name.

Holder went so far as to tell the judge presiding over the case that this assertion of the state secrets privilege was fully in keeping with Obama’s much-ballyhooed 2009 executive branch reforms of the privilege, which stated the administration would invoke state secrets sparingly.

This cover-up has been going on for seven years through two Administrations. And what, precisely were they covering up? A paperwork error. There was absolutely zero danger to national security in just admitting that they messed up, that they placed a scholar on the no-fly list by accident. But the reflex to lie, to cover-up, to deceive is so strong in our government that they engaged in a a ridiculous expensive seven year legal struggle to prevent this information from coming out.

This is the danger of creating things like the “states secrets privilege”. If you give any human beings that kind of an umbrella, they will put anything they want under it, including pointlessly detaining a PhD student because they checked the wrong box on a damned form.

But … you know … maybe they have a point. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for us to find out how arbitrary, stupid and error-filled this no-fly list is. Because if we find that out, we might question the entire massively expense security theater our government has built. And we can’t have that, can we?

The VIPR in the Grass

What could possibly go wrong:

As hundreds of commuters emerged from Amtrak and commuter trains at Union Station on a recent morning, an armed squad of men and women dressed in bulletproof vests made their way through the crowds.

The squad was not with the Washington police department or Amtrak’s police force, but was one of the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads — VIPR teams for short — assigned to perform random security sweeps to prevent terrorist attacks at transportation hubs across the United States.

With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.

T.S.A. and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms. The teams are also raising hackles among passengers who call them unnecessary and intrusive.

So let’s get this straight: armed teams of federal agents will show up in random locations and search anyone who looks suspicious. And I’m sure they won’t at all turn people over who have drugs or anything. And this is different from a police state because … Obama?

The VIPR teams started in 2005. But under Obama — stop me if you’ve heard this before — the program has been massively expanded, quadrupling in just the past four years. This is precisely the mission creep we feared when TSA was created in the first place. How long will it be before TSA teams are doing random traffic stops or random street searches? Just how much of our freedom are we prepared to surrender in the name of “security” or just plain apathy?

Don’t answer that question. I’m afraid the answer is “all of it”.

Chipping Away

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is a rare politician who truly respects civil liberties. Many of them would burn the Bill of Rights in a second if they could. And in places of the world not covered by our Bill of Rights, the powers that be are eternally grateful that they are under no constraints. Almost all parties and philosophies agree on this: you, the citizen, can not be trusted.

Three stories to illustrate this popped up in my feed over the weekend.

First, Senator Leahy –one of the few exceptions to the general rule — has proposed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Video Privacy Protection Act. This would establish, once and for all, that law enforcement can not read your e-mail without a warrant. Most law enforcement agencies have interpreted the old ECPA, which predates e-mail, to not protect it. They often use the excuse that because your mail is stored on someone else’s server, they aren’t really rooting around in your papers.

As you can imagine, some people don’t like this:

But, of course, law enforcement freaked out and it appears that Leahy has backed down, delaying hearings on the bill for now (funny how he really wanted to push through PIPA despite massive public protests, but a few law enforcement people get upset about respecting the 4th Amendment and things get delayed). From Declan McCullagh’s coverage:

The delay comes two days after a phalanx of law enforcement organizations objected to the legislation, asking Leahy to “reconsider acting” on it “until a more comprehensive review of its impact on law enforcement investigations is conducted.” The groups included the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

[….] A person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have been expressing their displeasure about requiring search warrants. The department is on record as opposing such a requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations.

Of course it would have “adverse impact” on criminal investigations. So do lots of things — but those are the rules law enforcement plays by in a free society. It’s not built to make law enforcement’s life easy.

Our civil liberties are not conditional on their being convenient to law enforcement. They are intrinsic to us as human beings; given to us by God, if you’re a religious person. Just last week, we saw that Barack Obama — the liberal Law Review Defender of the Little Guy — has tripled warrantless surveillance. And we’re supposed to wait until his ilk have their say before our e-mails our given even the thin protection of a warrant requirement (electronic warrants are rarely refused).

Oh, it gets better. Techdirt again on a former Register of Copyrights:

One of the reasons why we live in such an innovative society is that we’ve (for the most part) enabled a permissionless innovation society — one in which innovators no longer have to go through gatekeepers in order to bring innovation to market. This is a hugely valuable thing, and it’s why we get concerned about laws that further extend permission culture. However, according to the former Register of Copyrights, Ralph Oman, under copyright law, any new technology should have to apply to Congress for approval and a review to make sure they don’t upset the apple cart of copyright, before they’re allowed to exist. I’m not joking. Mr. Oman, who was the Register of Copyright from 1985 to 1993 and was heavily involved in a variety of copyright issues, has filed an amicus brief in the Aereo case (pdf).

Aero, in case you didn’t know, uses antennas to capture over-the-air broadcasts and then streams them to devices. The TV networks are suing, claiming this violates their copyright (cable companies have to pay them fees for over-the-air signals). I’m not entirely sure that the television companies are wrong here. I think it’s likely that they have the law on their side.

But … the idea that technology should have to be pre-cleared is insane. It’s, frankly, a communist idea. I’m not engaging in hyperbole. When my dad was finishing the War College, I helped him research a paper on why the US has such a huge technical edge on the Soviet Union. A big reason, he thought, was their relentless controlling and politicizing of all technology, which crippled innovation in the name of politics. Science and innovation thrive on an open market of ideas. In this case, Oman wants to cripple technology so that monied interests won’t have their toes stepped on.

But, the thing is, we are lucky to live in the United States. Something like Leahy’s bill is likely to eventually pass (although possibly compromised). Oman is a marginal figure. There’s danger, yes. But we always have the option of getting involved and forcing our politicians to respect the Constitution.

Over in Europe, they have no such shield. A EU working group’s memos on keeping terrorism off the internet have been leaked. Check it out:

* “Knowingly providing hyperlinks on websites to terrorist content must be defined by law as illegal just like the terrorist content itself”

* “Governments must disseminate lists of illegal, terrorist websites”

* “The Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 of 27 May 2002 (art 1.2) should be explained that providing Internet services is included in providing economics instruments to Al Qaeda (and other terrorist persons and organisations designated by the EU) and therefore an illegal act”

* “On Voice over IP services it must be possible to flag users for terrorist activity.”

That might not sound unreasonable to some (it does to me). But keep in mind that who, precisely, is defined as a terrorist organization is highly politicized. For example, our government just decided that Mujahedeen-E-Khalq will no longer be classified as a terrorist organization despite clearly being one. But because they oppose the Iranian regime and have flooded Washington with money and lobbying, we’re going to look the other way.

Yeah, no way that will bite us in the ass.

But see the larger picture. If the EU authorities decides, to use a dopey example, that the Tea Party is a terrorist organization, people could be punished for having an old hyperlink on their blog. This is SOPA applied to terrorism.

It gets worse:

* “Internet companies must allow only real, common names.”

* “Social media companies must allow only real pictures of users.”

Our governments are trying to do this, too, under the duck blind of “anti-bullying” legislation. The real reason is that they don’t like anonymous criticism; some have openly admitted this. I’m sure that criticizing local authorities under your own name will never result in any legal harassment or “three felonies a day” searching for some obscure law you’ve violated.

* “At the European level a browser or operating system based reporting button must be developed.”

* “Governments will start drafting legislation that will make offering… a system [to monitor Internet activity] to Internet users obligatory for browser or operating systems…as a condition of selling their products in this country or the European Union.”

Yes. Because no one could ever get another browser.

The counter-terrorism agency is mad … that their plans have been leaked. In fact, you’ll find that is often the case. The people who wish to destroy our freedom hate it when their real plans and ideas become known.

SOPA showed us that we are powerful when we want to be. But we must remain vigilant. We can not rest on our laurels while Congress, the EU or anyone is in session. Because the freedom-eaters never rest.

Obama the Decider

You know, if our politics were in any way sane, this piece, about how the Obama Administration decides on drone strikes, would be a big fucking deal. It came out two weeks ago and I’ve been tossing it around in my head while I waited for the liberal explosion of rage that would accompany an article indicating Mitt Romney was even planning something like it. I’m still waiting.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.

You really really should read the whole thing. It’s not just about the drone strikes, although that is the heart of the article. It shows how Obama addresses almost every aspect of the War on Terror. It talks about how he left loopholes in his “bold” closing off of Bush policies, how they keep civilian casualties down in drone strikes*, and how they have navigated the legal waters. It is an absolute must-read if you are going to debate the War on Terror.

(*They, no kidding, conclude that any male of military age near a terrorist target is also a terrorist. By that standard, if Ted Kaczynski has decided to revisit his old haunts at Berkeley, any professors killed in a drone strike … well, we won’t go there. But I’m reminded of cops questioning and arresting people in the wee hours because they must be up to something if they’re out at that hour.)

On the one hand, I’m encouraged that the President knows what’s going on and is making decisions based on pragmatics, not on ideology. It’s nice to know that there is a process to this and the President ultimately is taking responsibility. On the other hand, this “pragmatic” approach has led us to a point where the President of the United State and a Noble Prize Winner now has an enemies list from which he designates people for assassination. It has expanded the executive power of the President even further into regions that, according to an excellent piece by Andrew Napolitano, are unconstitutional and dangerous.

It’s important to remember, in this discussion, that evil is not usually done by people rubbing their hands together and cackling insanely. It is done by people who think their actions are justified and for the best. And for all the Obamaites who read this and are impressed by the process … imagine that process in the hands of someone else. Imagine Sarah Palin making these decisions.

This is not about Obama. It’s never about Obama. It’s about the process. People like me focus on process — sometimes obsessively — because we believe that a good process will, in the long run, produce better results. When a President assumes this kind of power, you never know what will happen five, ten, twenty years down the road.

There’s one other thing that bothered me about the article and it took me a week to put my finger on it. It’s the overwhelmingly positive spin. We get sentences like this:

Aides say Mr. Obama has several reasons for becoming so immersed in lethal counterterrorism operations. A student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, he believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions. And he knows that bad strikes can tarnish America’s image and derail diplomacy.

Student of Augustine and Aquinas. Nicely done. This frankly reads like a piece written by Obama’s staff. There is little, if any, criticism. And much of the information comes from classified, unnamed sources — the kind of sources Obama would come down on like a ton of bricks if they were leaking something he didn’t want coming out. So in the end, this is not a hard-bitten piece of investigative journalism. It’s a puff piece aimed at re-election.

Look, taking out terrorists is a nasty business. They hide in crowds and among innocents. They claim the mantle of God and declare holy wars. Their biggest leaders don’t strap on bombs themselves but inspire younger dumber people to do so while they surround themselves with women and children. No on ever said this was going to be pretty.

But I’m not convinced it has to be quite this ugly.

Update: All you need to know about the Left wing response to this: Democratic Hub’s list of Obama accomplishments? Half of it consists of people he killed.

The TSA Follies: A Trifecta

You ever get the feeling that the TSA is trying to piss us off?

A few readers have pointed to a story on Facebook, posted by a Montana mom who was flying home from Kansas with her two young children and their grandmother.

According to the poster, she and her kids got through the checkpoint without trouble but grandma had triggered the alarm. She went through the scanner again, but the screener could not firmly ID what was setting off the alarm, and grandma was asked to have a seat and wait for a pat-down.

This is when the 4-year-old ran over to give grandma a hug:

Do I even need to tell you the rest of the story? I don’t, do I? They yelled at the child, forbad the mother from talking to her, patted her down. When the 4-year-old understandably resisted, the TSA threatened to shut down the airport, demanded the mother calm the child, etc., etc. All under the that grandma had passed the kid a gun, which she was storing in her little pants, apparently. Consumerist contacted the TSA who confirmed the basics of the incident but said that TSA agents followed “proper procedure”. For all of us familiar with TSA — hell, those of us familiar with many law enforcement agencies — we know what that means. It means what TSA inscribed on this complaint form.


This isn’t about security. This is about power. Power and control. The TSA’s absolute power and control, and passengers’ lack of same.

Exactly. This agency is not really accountable. They have been given almost no restrictions on their budget or their authority. We were warned about this when the agency was created and we didn’t listen. Thank God they are at least restricted to … oh, crap:

A new program in Houston will place undercover TSA agents and police officers on buses whose job it will be to perform bag searches, watch for “suspicious activity” and interrogate passengers in order to ‘curb crime and terrorism’.

Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee unveiled the program, labeled Bus Safe, during a press conference on Friday.

Wait, a minute, you say. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee? Isn’t she a big liberal? Why, yes she is. She’s a big liberal who loves the Security State. She worships TSA and was furious when a law was passed that would allow airports to replace TSA with private contractors. Put a pin in that for a second.

Immediately after the program was launched, TSA began questioning passengers. This is an addition to the 9000 check points they put up last year to do random searches of vehicles. And do you want to place bets on how many terrorists they caught against how many people they caught with drugs or some other illegal item?

Now back to the pin: private agencies. Imagine how the situation with the 4-year-old; or the situation with Amy Alkon; or the situation with the video blogger; or a hundred other situations would have played out with a private security agency — a business. Instead of ignoring the problem, the liberals would gone nuts. Sheila Jackson Lee would have been on TV demanding the agency be fired. We would have non-stop press coverage uncovering donations the agency made to politicians. They would have been held accountable. And because of that constant unending threat of accountability — because the people providing the service could be fired — the abuses might not have happened in the first place. And if they were exposed by the media for letting guns and bombs through, they’d also be fired.

Neither party has an interest in this. Both are supporting TSA. The only way we will reclaim our liberty is to demand it, regardless of who is in power. We the citizens have to take care of this. Because no one else will.

Why you can not take them seriously

Where’s the anger from the perpetually mad leftists these days? Man, did the left howl about the Patriot Act when that was passed. Evil Boosh-Hitler and his fascist government tactics violating the rights of terrorists! Never mind that fascism is a disease of the left, and Bush while a big government lover, never rose to the level of the left and their desire to have government control all aspects of the rube’s lives, or that terrorists really are dangerous and deadly. Team Obama decides to ratchet up the scary government in what seriously amounts to a near fascist move, and we get nothing….

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. intelligence community will now be able to store information about Americans with no ties to terrorism for up to five years under new Obama administration guidelines.

Until now, the National Counterterrorism Center had to immediately destroy information about Americans that was already stored in other government databases when there were no clear ties to terrorism.

Giving the NCTC expanded record-retention authority had been called for by members of Congress who said the intelligence community did not connect strands of intelligence held by multiple agencies leading up to the failed bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counterterrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of datasets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement late Thursday. “The ability to search against these datasets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

The new rules replace guidelines issued in 2008 and have privacy advocates concerned about the potential for data-mining information on innocent Americans.

Look, while not comfortable with it, I think some aspects of the Patriot Act where necessary because the terrorists need to be dealt with, but my support was always predicated on the premise that someone was really paying attention and the first time government abused these powers, there would be hell to pay. After all, it was obvious that the LSM so desperately wanted to help their partners in crime in the democrat party nail Bush, that even the appearance of impropriety would result in massive coverage implying the most negative possible scenario, and that would keep these powers somewhat in check.

Fast forward a few years, and not only is the Patriot Act still around, but now the LSM doesn’t quite care that much about improprieties. And when the left decides to do some seriously scary things like this, and there is no way you make the case that collecting information on citizens using the weak argument that a database you can mine might help you catch a terrorist, it results in nary a peep. Oh, privacy advocates are worried. Shit, this is the time to scream about fascist moves by government people.

“It is a vast expansion of the government’s surveillance authority,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said of the five-year retention period.

The government put in strong safeguards at the NCTC for the data that would be collected on U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes, Rotenberg said. These new guidelines undercut the Federal Privacy Act, he said.

“The fact that this data can be retained for five years on U.S. citizens for whom there’s no evidence of criminal conduct is very disturbing,” Rotenberg said.

“Total Information Awareness appears to be reconstructing itself,” Rotenberg said, referring to the Defense Department’s post-9/11 data-mining research program that was killed in 2003 because of privacy concerns.

The Washington Post first reported the new rules Thursday.

Tracking suspected or know terrorists and keeping data on them is one thing. If carefully scrutinized to prevent abuse, and abuse is punished, I can live with that. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the horrible times we live in and our inability or lack of desire to really do what would break the terrorist’s will to keep doing these sort of things. But collecting information on people – and we are unclear if the intent is to collect information on everyone or just certain people, but I am inclined to assume that once they can do a few, they will just do all people – is a whole other sort of game. It is frightening. Even if it is just for 5 years.

Tyrannical government starts with 2 things: the first is the attempt to disarm the populous, and the second is the collection of information about the people so you know who will give you grief and needs to be dealt with. Fast & Furious anyone? And now this. And yet, no anger from the LSM or the left. After all, Obama will just use it to sick Media Matters on conservatives or to see whom to hit up for donations in these idiot’s minds, and all that stuff is awesome.

Look, I am not saying that the right doesn’t do dumb things, but shit, and yeah, this is a hypothetical where I reverse the order of the political party holding the WH when things happen, if I was insanely angry at Obama for Passing the Patriot Act, and he was followed by Bush whom did something like this that takes it to a whole new level of scary, I would be howling at Bush too. My guy or not. Not gonna happen on the left though, because the anger was never over any fear of government abuse of power, but simply because the guy in the WH had the wrong letter next to his name.

The Obama administration said the new rules come with strong safeguards for privacy and civil liberties as well. Before the NCTC may obtain data held by another government agency, there is a high-level review to assure that the data “is likely to contain significant terrorism information,” Alexander Joel, the civil liberties protection officer at national intelligence directorate, said in a news release Thursday.

Yeah, sure. Because there isn’t any history at all of government, once it has access to a gimmick to bypass the proper process, has never abused it. The argument that we should collect data on everyone and that they will only look at it when they suspect something suddenly, with all kinds of precautions to prevent abuse, might appease some, but if you didn’t like the previous ability to collect information on suspects and actual terrorists, this expansion of power should leave you even more scared and angry. And I am not getting any of that from the usual suspects, when to me now the power and the ability to abuse definitely have crossed a threshold of tolerability.

Detention Hall

I’ve been warning for some time that the regime of indefinite detention of terror suspects — started by Bush and continued by Obama — would not stay confined to foreign terrorist (it never really was, as Jose Padilla could tell you). Well, here we go:

Either Monday or Tuesday the Senate will vote on a bill that allows the US military to imprison civilians with no formal charges and hold them with no trial.

The ACLU reports even US citizens wouldn’t be immune as the legislation aims to declare national territory part of the “battlefield” in the War on Terror.

The bill gives the President unilateral power to detain anyone, mandates detention of civilians outside of military control and transfers control of detention to the Department of defense.

Mark Udall and Rand Paul are trying to strip this provision from the defense bill and Obama is threatening a veto. The ACLU has more here.

McCain and Levin — the authors of this provision — respond here. Almost all of their points address concerns that we’re not giving the President enough power to declare anyone to be a terror suspect and turn him over to DoD indefinitely. The closest they come to addressing civil liberties concerns is a claim that they are simply codifying what the President is already doing:

No provision in the legislation expands the authority under which detainees can be held in military custody. On the contrary, it codifies detention authority that has been adopted by two administrations and upheld in the courts. The bill states clearly that it does not expand or limit the president’s authorities under the original 2001 authorization of the use of force against al-Qaeda.

Even if this were true — and the ACLU thinks it isn’t — the detention power the Presidents have assumed since 9/11 already goes too far, is too arbitrary and has no review or oversight. To call it “Star Chamber justice” is to insult star chambers. It grants our president the power no president should ever have: the ability to declare someone an enemy and throw them into a prison for as a long as he wants. This includes American citizens caught on American soil.

Notice something else about the McCain-Levin op-ed. It includes a plethora of phrases that Terror Warriors use to try to frighten us into surrender:

the unprecedented kind of war that came to our shores on Sept. 11, 2001 … the threat posed by al-Qaeda … al-Qaeda terrorists who participate in planning or conducting attacks against us …

Whenever I see these asides in an article, post or speech, I know what follows is likely bullshit. They are the War on Terror’s answer to liberal asides like “corporate power” and “wealth disparity”. They are the grease for the multi-pronged dildo that is to follow.

Al-Qaeda is waning as a threat. This President has taken out their nominal leader and most of their upper echelons. And the response is … to increase our government’s anti-terror powers? What McCain and Levin are unwittingly revealing is what civil libertarians have been claiming all along: that this was never about terrorism; this was about increasing government’s power.

Security, Inc.

The LA Times has one of the periodic exposes of how bloated the security and anti-terrorism sector of our economy has become. As we’ve noted many times, it seems that policy and spending are driven not by a comprehensive overlook of the terror threat but by people sitting around, having a few drinks and imagining what terrorists might do.

On the edge of the Nebraska sand hills is Lake McConaughy, a 22-mile-long reservoir that in summer becomes a magnet for Winnebagos, fishermen and kite sailors. But officials here in Keith County, population 8,370, imagined this scene: An Al Qaeda sleeper cell hitching explosives onto a water-skiing boat and plowing into the dam at the head of the lake.

The federal Department of Homeland Security ago gave the county $42,000 to buy state-of-the-art dive gear, including full-face masks, underwater lights and radios, and a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar capable of mapping wide areas of the lake floor.

Up on the lonely prairie around Cherry County, population 6,148, got thousands of federal dollars for cattle nose leads, halters and electric prods – in case terrorists decided to mount biological warfare against cows.

We see this sort of behavior from parents who won’t let their kids play baseball or something because they heard something from someone about some kid whose heart … I don’t know … it’s such a violent game. Here’s a nerf ball, kid. But it’s a big nerf ball so you can’t stick in your mouth and swallow it. But not too big so that you don’t try to stand on and get hurt. And put this helmet on. And drinks all your meals through straws. You can never be too safe.

Of course, you can be too safe. We’re spendings tens of billions on this, decking out local law enforcement agencies like standing armies, creating huge databases of information about our citizens and … is it having an effect? No terrorist has ever been caught or arrested with this approach; the only ones we’ve caught have been through brave actions of citizens or information from concerned relatives. The defenders of the security state are reduced to saying we have no way of knowing what plots were never attempted because of their counter-measures — the national security equivalent of “jobs created or saved”.

Large sums of Homeland Security money, critics complain, have been propelled by pork barrel politics into the backyards of the congressionally connected.

No! Really?

The problem here is that no one apart from me and Ron Paul wants to get control of this spending. Because if they do then, the second a terrorist attack happens, a zillion assholes will pop out to claim that budget cuts are the reason the attack happened. We’ve seen this before. The explosives hadn’t even cooled before people were blaming Policy X for the Undie Bomber attack. And that invective was never corrected when it turned out that Policy X was completely unrelated.

We can never make the nation 100% secure. It’s time to stop spending money like we can.