More than a decade ago, Osama bin Laden appeared in a brief video to speak about several issues. One of them was to advise the Islamic world that they should expect the U.S. military to be defeated by Islam, the Taleban, and its allies in Afghanistan. The other was to suggest that Muslims should be prepared to watch the U.S. government strangle the civil liberties of Americans in the name of prosecuting its war against the Islamist mujahedin.
A dozen years on, the late-al-Qaeda chief’s first prediction has come true. The U.S. military is leaving Afghanistan after an utter defeat inflicted on it by America’s two most lethal enemies, the Islamist Mujahedin and Barack Obama’s administration.
And in the last week, we have learned that the bin Laden’s second prediction has come to pass in the Obama administration’s expansion of a Bush-era program to collect electronic information on U.S. citizens who are entirely unrelated to the war against the Islamists. The Obama-expanded program authorizes the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect, exploit, and store in databases all the electronic communications of all Americans. The administration’s defense of the NSA program is that this comprehensive collection effort against U.S. citizens stopped one terrorist attack; namely, that of Najibullah Zazi against the New York subway system. The media already have begun to chip away at this claim, noting that publicly available data shows the British and/or the Pakistanis intelligence services appear to have first brought Zazi to the attention of U.S. authorities.
Apparently realizing that the Zazi example might be a weak reed to lean on, Obama‘s Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper, is telling the media about the “grievous harm” the leak of the ongoing NSA program has done to U.S. security. Clapper clearly is hoping to stoke the patriotism of Americans and win their support for the witch hunt to identify the leakers that NSA started by asking the FBI to conduct a criminal investigation. Using this tack, Clapper, NSA, Obama, the judges, and the senators and congressman of both parties who approved the collection operation are hoping to distract Americans from their intentional shredding of the 4th Amendment, as well as the last bits of trust Americans had in the federal government.
My own view is that Americans ought not to fall for this diversionary effort. Despite Clapper’s tearful whining about the terrible blow the leak has and will deliver to U.S. national security, he is being intentionally deceitful. He is playing to the stereotype most Americans hold of the mujahedin as men who are uneducated, medieval lunatics out to indiscriminately kill all Americans and destroy all of modernity. This, of course, is another sadly effective lie that has long been preached to Americans by both parties. That the Islamists view Western society and lifestyles as libertine and pagan is undeniable, but their skills in the use of such tools of modernity as weapons, communications gear, computers, the Internet, etc. are first rate – ask the U.S. generals defeated by them and Obama in Iraq and Afghanistan. The one place where there will be no surprise that the Obama administration is collecting all of the electronic communications of 309 million Americans is in the headquarters of al-Qaeda and its allies. They assumed that reality long ago, and have tired to adapt their communications security to respond to the challenge.
If Americans are surprised by Obama’s deliberate attack on the Constitution, they have only themselves to blame. From his first months in office, Barack Obama has consistently demonstrated his contempt for Americans and their Constitution, as well as an intention to have his administration – and especially Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department – treat them in a lying and lawless manner. For example:
- Holder’s perjury, if perjury is lying under oath or to the Congress, about the Fast-and-Furious Program, which was meant to be the opening act of Obama’s attack on the 2nd Amendment and which killed a U.S. Border Patrol officer.
- The Obama administration’s aggressive campaign of lies – led by Nancy Pelosi – meant to disguise the disastrous economic impact of Obama care.
- The use of Obama’s health care plan to violate the First Amendment rights of the tens of millions of Americans of all religious persuasions who oppose abortion.
- Obama’s shameless exploitation of dead movie-goers in Colorado and dead children in Connecticut to seek to destroy the 2nd Amendment (while protecting his wealthy, violence-inculcating Hollywood friends), perhaps sensing that his administration’s lawlessness would eventually drive any American with a lick of commonsense to have an AK-47 in the closet.
- Susan Rice’s lies about what happened at Benghazi. (Anyone who is or has been in the Intelligence Community knows Rice knew the truth about Benghazi but knowingly lied for Obama and Mrs. Clinton by using the talking points doctored-up with the okay of now-CIA Director John Brennan.)
- Holder’s perjury, if perjury is lying under oath or to the Congress, about his direct role in the Department of Justice’s operations against FOX’s James Rosen and the Associated Press.
- The IRS’s deliberate and probably White House-directed effort to prevent Tea Party groups and other American conservatives from effectively participating in the 2012 presidential election, perhaps ensuring Obama’s small victory margin. (Imagine for a moment, what Holder and the Department of Justice would be doing to destroy the IRS and lynch its leaders if it had hamstrung Black, feminist, pro-abortion, environmental, Hispanic, and pro-homosexual groups during the 2012 election.)
- Clapper’s perjury, if perjury is lying under oath or to the Congress, in telling the House’s intelligence committee that no “intentional” collection of U.S. citizens’ electronic communications was occurring.
This partial summary of the Obama administration’s lawlessness is deeply troubling, but pales in comparison to the Obama-authorized expansion of the NSA collection operation exposed last week. That operation strikes at the very heart of what the Founders believed was essential for the survival of our Republic; namely, Americans’ trust in and affection for their federal government. From here on out, not one American can be sure:
- That his/her communications with a doctor are not being read by the Health and Human Services Department, the IRS, and any other Obama goon who is playing in the enforcement of the administration’s heath care disaster.
- That his/her communications with a lawyer about a case involving the federal government are not being read by the Department of Justice, White House political operatives, federal judges, or other federal government officials. Indeed, how do we know that the Department of Justice did not read the e-mail of those who prepared the first challenge to Obama care that reached the Supreme Court? And how do we know they are not reading the e-mail of those who prepared the First Amendment-related challenge to Obama care now working its way toward the Supreme Court?
- That his/her communications with a priest, minister, rabbi, or imam are not being read by an administration led by a man and a party, and supported by the mainstream media, that lust to remove all traces of all religions from the public square.
- That his/her inquiry about or order for a weapon via electronic means is not being placed on a federal government register of gun owners.
- That his/her opinions expressed in the various means of electronic communication are not being inserted into a dossier that could be used to smear or blackmail him/her if it becomes politically useful to do so.
The foregoing are just the reaction of this non-lawyer to what seems to me to be the most fierce, varied, damaging, and prolonged attack on the U.S. Constitution that I have seen in my lifetime. Those smarter in the law and more politically savvy, I am sure, will try to find a brilliantly deceitful way to disguise the Obama administration’s well-documented authoritarian bent and actions, but I am not sure Americans are going to buy it this time.
What Americans will do about the attack on their Constitution it is another story. Impeachment and conviction of those elected officials – Democrat and Republican – and the judges who authorized, expanded, or condoned the all-inclusive NSA collection program seem absolutely necessary, as does the firing of those senior bureaucrats and military officers in the Intelligence Community, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice who designed the operation. Is this is enough to restore Americans’ trust in and affection for their federal government? Well, I guess we will have to wait and see. One thing does seem clear, however, and that is a failure to remove those responsible for deliberately violating the 4th Amendment would draw some very ominous battle lines in American society.
June 10, 2013
Michael Scheuer [send him mail] is the author of Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq and Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes. He recently resigned after 22 years at the CIA. He served as chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit.
Copyright 2013 © Michael Scheuer