Over and over again, the talking heads who ostensibly represent us keep saying that both foreign and domestic all-encompassing spying is needed in order to protect American lives. Yes, they are repeating this argument ad nauseam, but there is almost no concrete evidence to support this claim. About all they have been able to come up are two possible examples and even these two have been roundly debunked!
This dragnet of spying somehow didn't develop any key information to thwart the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber, the mass shooting at Fort Hood (called a terrorist act by some), the attempted Times Square Bombing OR the Boston Marathon Bombings. In each case, the investigation hinged on civilian reports and/or good old fashioned detective work. If the various surveillance programs administered by the NSA are so damn effective, how is it that the authorities were caught flat-footed in each of these cases?
In fact, with the government and contracted spooks slurping up so much information from Americans, it is just as mind-boggling that no one seemed to have any foreknowledge to try to thwart the following mass shootings:
- Virginia Tech University
- Amish School
- Tuscon, AZ
- Lakewood, WA
- Wisconsin Sikh Temple
- Aurora, CO
- Christopher Dorner Shootings
To be fair, it could be assumed that not all of the alleged assailants had strong phone and internet record footprints, but not a one of them? Heck, we know from press reports that some of the culprits did, in fact, post rantings or manifestos on the internet. More than one of the alleged shooters purchased weapons and/or ammunition online.
My point here is that, if the authorities could point to a few concrete and unequivocal examples of how this widespread dragnet had saved a number of lives here and there, they would have some sort of leg to stand on (though a handful of cases out of MILLIONS of people being spied upon would still be a very weak argument). But they can't even muster that! All they can offer are nebulous words WITHOUT clear examples.
I don't know about you, but by perusing the brief lists above -- there are scads more heinous incidents I could have included -- it is really obvious that one of two things is true. Either the authorities are genuinely inept spies OR they are collecting this voluminous data for reasons other than to protect us.
Neither explanation offers much comfort!