Washington Post Columnist Says 'Complainers' Will Be At Fault For Next Terrorist Attack

from the shut-up-and-have-your-constitutional-rights-violated-people dept

When last we wrote about Washington Post columnist and knee-jerk defender of the surveillance state, Walter Pincus, he was writing bizarre, factually incorrect claims about Glenn Greenwald (claiming Greenwald was associated with Wikileaks when he was not). When this massive error (on which Pincus based his entire column) was pointed out, Pincus eventually, grudgingly admitted to being wrong, but somehow couldn't figure out how to update his story.

While a long and detailed "correction" was eventually placed on the article, Pincus continues to blindly support the surveillance state, and his latest column whines about how the NSA may have to stop violating the 4th Amendment and suggests that this will lead us to being attacked again. Even worse, he argues that this will be the fault of "complainers" while his poor friends at the NSA will take the blame:
If there is another attack, today’s complainers may be as much at fault as the intelligence community, which nonetheless will get most of the criticism.
The crux of his argument is actually the preceding sentence, which is based on a flawed belief that the more you collect, the more likely you are to find the threats:
If the White House and Congress make changes now under discussion, it looks like the NSA may be collecting fewer dots and a smaller number of people will have access to all of them — so connections may be missed.
Of course, connections may be missed for any of a long list of reasons -- including the reasons that connections were missed that would have highlighted the 9/11 terrorists: the intelligence community screwed up. Having more information is generally not the solution, because that just makes it harder to find the relevant information. Even more bizarre, Pincus' argument is the equivalent of saying that we should have no privacy at all, because it might stop a single terrorist attack, despite no evidence to support that.

What amazes me about these defenders of the surveillance state is that they seem to have no concept at all of a "cost/benefit" analysis. To them "more" is always better, no matter what the costs. The idea that there are costs to doing all this doesn't even enter into the equation. This makes for poor policy and incredibly dumb analysis.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    What amazes me about these defenders of the surveillance state is that they seem to have no concept at all of a "cost/benefit" analysis. To them "more" is always better, no matter what the costs. The idea that there are costs to doing all this doesn't even enter into the equation. This makes for poor policy and incredibly dumb analysis.

    Thank you! This needs to be said over and over again.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    Who are the terrorists again?

    At what point do these public individuals become the terrorists? Holding the country hostage with vague threats of violence and attacks occurring if we stop spying on our own people...

     

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  3.  
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    AricTheRed (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    I am sooooo using this one on my kids!!! and co-workers too!

    Just imagine it. Long car trips, when odering them to clean their rooms (or cubes), or do chores(or their jobs). 'Complainers' Will Be At Fault For Next Terrorist Attack!

    It is on you kids, your incessant whining and complaining will be THE reason We are labled "The Great Satan" so stop complaining befor Al Queda car-bombs us and your room really does look like a bomb went off in it!

     

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  4.  
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    Jim, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    When the next terrorist attack occurs, it will be the NSA's fault for worrying about trying to control the Internet, instead of doing their real jobs.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    It's gone much, much, too far and far too much has been revealed by the Snowden documents to believe that the NSA will continue to do business as usual. They will be reined in.

    None of these major corporations are really happy with being tied to the NSA. I suspect Microsoft will have some serious fallout over it. One of the Vista RCs had the still labelled NSA key areas named for what they were. While Microsoft probably did not do that without a court order, it remains known they are there. In the year coming lots of countries and corporations around the globe are going to be saying, our data stays here in the contract and lots of hardware is going to be chosen because it isn't an American product. Major corporations are going to feel that in their bottom line, like Cisco that reported a 40% drop in profits for the quarter in China.

    When corporations start seeing their precious profit drop, they start looking for solutions. These will be political solutions so those politicians not for changing the NSA picture will suffer lack of support through campaign contributions and other aids. Politicians always look to see which way the winds blow.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    If there is another attack, today’s complainers may be as much at fault as the intelligence community, which nonetheless will get most of the criticism.

    Well, given all those wonderful dots they're connecting, and the critical nature of having all these dots, can this asshat please explain to me (at a minimum):

    the Boston Marathon bombings
    Benghazi
    Madrid train bombings
    London bombings (should I go on?)


    Are the above attacks the fault of the complainers or retarded "dot-connectors" having too many fucking dots and no pencil?

     

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  7.  
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    Mark Gisleson (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    To Pincus's credit

    He was more critical of the BS leading up to and during the Iraq War than almost any other columnist I can think of.

    He's very old, very pro-defense establishment, but he's not half the hack his boss, Fred Hiatt is.

    Agree with you that this is a bad column, but I think it lacks context. Pincus did a better job of trying to slow the rush to war than Glenn Greenwald, Marcos Moulitsas and all the other bloggers combined (myself included).

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    Oh Yeah?

    If there's another attack, The Washington Post will be entirely to blame.

    Take that, Pincus.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    But if they stop collecting the data, how will they spy on their ex's?

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Who are the terrorists again?

    We passed that point the day after 9/11. By every definition I have heard, large portions of the government qualifies as "terrorists."

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    some people are too stupid to realise that things are often worse when too much of whatever is collected. others are just trying to make themselves look good in the eyes of the collectors, mistakenly thinking they will be thought more of. and even more are just too stupid, period!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:32pm

    That's right, people that are judgmental of the excuses used to violate 'inalienable rights' should be at fault, you know the fucking terrorists that are responsible for atrocities...The Washington post continues to lose credibility as a 'news' organization.

     

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  13.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    We are under constant terror attack, so when will the NSA stop terrorizing the American people by attacking our rights?

     

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  14.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Re: To Pincus's credit

    "Pincus did a better job of trying to slow the rush to war than Glenn Greenwald, Marcos Moulitsas and all the other bloggers combined (myself included)."

    ?que?
    just how did that 'slowing' the rush to war work out, exactly ? ? ?

    further, i SERIOUSLY doubt 90-99% of the people who were protesting against the illegal invasion of iraq, know SHIT about pincus, but i bet most of them had heard of -and been influenced by- greenwald and moulitsas ( as much of a demo-shill as he has become)...

    even further, i give NO QUARTER to a spook-shill who has been plumping for them for DECADES... fuck him with a backwards pine cone...

     

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  15.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    When a person has a budget which is very large, and very secret (an therefore unassailable), he never has to worry about the cost side of things. Such a person may never have had to develop the thought-processes associated with "cost/benefit" analysis.
    Perhaps this is even more likely to be true if that person has the ability to make adjustments to bank accounts ... and happens to be the owner of the bank account in question.

     

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  16.  
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    Puddly Poo, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Yes it is because the NSA

    Was prevented from capturing my 8 year old's Animal Jam messages that 20 more Saudis will have to kill a bunch of people. Got it.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Questions for them

    Isn't 12 years more than long enough to exploit a tragedy? Taking away our freedoms is simply giving the victims of 9/11 a second death.

    Also, if these spy programs were really that effective in stamping out and preventing terrorism, then why is Al Qaeda still at large, and why did the Boston Marathon Bombing happen? Had they've actually done their jobs instead of trying to control the public, Al Qaeda would've been dissolved years ago, and the only injuries and fatalities in the last Boston Marathon would've been on accident.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    "You should never allow yourself to forget when considering official secrecy and its analogues that you are the intended target of official secrecy and those that doubt it and those that swallow the patriotic defenses for this sad construct are preparing in their minds and trying to prepare in your minds to become model citizens in a national security state. And that's a destiny that I think you should reject while you're lucky enough to be able to do so."
    -Christopher Hitchens

     

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  19.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    AC, I suspect most of the planning for these attacks was probably done in face-to-face meetings. The meetings minutes, if they existed in a written form, were not distributed electronically. Thus there was very little electronic trail to follow.

    The fallacy of the NSA's spying methods is it assumes all communications and plans will be set by email and discussed over the phone. Anyone with any sense knows this is stupid even without any knowledge of the NSA's efforts. As much as possible the planning will be done in a manner so that SIGINT is useless. One of the reasons the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a success was that the actual plans were never sent by radio to the units involved. Thus, the SIGNIT from reading the diplomatic codes did not indicate the attack targets only that war was imminent. Any terrorist who has read the history of SIGINT would know to avoid sending any plans, etc. in a manner that could be easily intercepted.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 3:00pm

    FOR THE QUEEN!

     

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  21.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    I don't care if there are 10,000 more terrorist attacks; our rights are not negotiable. Only a coward would sell out his principles for the sake of safety.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Mark Gisleson (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re: To Pincus's credit

    i SERIOUSLY doubt 90-99% of the people who were protesting against the illegal invasion of iraq, know SHIT about pincus, but i bet most of them had heard of -and been influenced by- greenwald and moulitsas ( as much of a demo-shill as he has become)...

    But unlike Greenwald and (Markos) Moulitsas, members of Congress and people in the Pentagon did read Pincus.

    I'm not nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize, just saying that he was an establishment voice for reason at a time when the establishment had gone batshit insane. Also, he's 83 years old and entitled to his opinions.

     

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  23.  
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    Ac, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 5:54pm

    Search

    Well if Walter Pincus feels this way, I say anyone that lives within 100 miles of him should visit him and search his house, as more searches make the country safe.

    Have fun guys and tell us what you find.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Daemon_ZOGG, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 8:25pm

    "Washington Post Columnist Says 'Complainers' Will Be At Fault For Next Terrorist Attack"

    Well. They don't call it the "Washington Compost" for nothing. On a side note however, Walter's comments are protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution. That is the only respect Walter will receive from a fellow citizen. The rest of me will curse his soul to the ends of the earth. ;P

     

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  25.  
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    Rusty Crawford, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 8:56pm

    "Washington Post Columnist Says 'Complainers' Will Be At Fault For Next Terrorist Attack"

    Truth and transparency is the new order of business for the government or it needs to be shut down. The government has done so much killing on the planet it is paranoid. Every one of us on the planet is an equal fragment of creation. No one is above or below any other fragment, no matter how smart or ignorant, rich or poor. Thinking you are separate than everyone else is the problem, we are all the same creation. Wake UP from the illusion of separation.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 2:08am

    Re:

    Why did James Clapper tell me it's about 30 bucks or they rip out my fucking spleen?

    I took the 30 then lost it after a Washing Post reporter mugged me.

    :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Robert Sherman, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 2:41am

    Re: Anonymous Coward's post

    Civilization's defense against terrorists is, and always will be, imperfect. But the more information we have, the less imperfect our defense will be. That incremental difference could mean life as opposed to death for you and me and our loved ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    The next terrorist attack already occurred, it was called the Boston Marathon Bombing. Wholesale disregard for the Fourth Amendment did nothing to prevent it, or catch those responsible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Reality Check (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Anonymous Coward's post

    I have no doubt your heart is in the right place but here is what you said:

    "But the more information we have, the less imperfect our defense will be."

    Sorry sir, but that is simply not true.

    This statement is true:
    "But the more accurate, relevant and accessible information we have, the less imperfect our defense will be."

    Going by pure volume is useless, and in fact, studies have shown that finding and/or accessing the relevant information is harder, when the volume of pure information increases.

    But regardless, the NSA isn't really gathering the information to stop terrorism. (Unless you believe that they really are that misguided, and truly we are doomed either way.) The NSA is feeding the information to other agencies to stop people from using or distributing illegal plants or infringing on copyright, or having a fermented or distilled drink before they have the required number of birthdays (as determined by the state).

    Eventually the information will be used to market products and services, and focus on political allies or opponents, or to control sources of unacceptable information.

    If they really wanted to stop terrorism, they could do it within a legal, transparent framework that would allow them to gather accurate and relevant information, in a manner that makes the information accessible, instead of buried behind gigabytes of other useless information. (Sometimes referred to as 'investigating').

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 11:30am

    Re:

    In terms of costs and benefits, I would rather be "responsible" for the next terrorist attack because I complained, instead of responsible for the next step into an Orwellian dystopia because I did not complain.

     

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  31.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 6:30pm

    Bull

    You know how you 'defend against terrorism'?

    You refuse to bow down to it and be terrorized.

    You look at the lives lost to it, mourn the dead, and then move on with life, refusing to live in fear just because some people were killed.

    Keep in mind, the purpose behind terrorism isn't to kill people, that's just the method, no, the purpose behind terrorism is to make the target act in fear, to make them panic, and lose all ability to think and analyze events and threats rationally.

    Scrambling about, being willing to do anything, sacrifice any right, all as long as it 'makes you feel safe'... that is a complete and total success on the part of the terrorists.

    Take some basic safety precautions if you must, but the second a special law is created, the second a current law is bent, broken or circumvented, the second the sacrifice of a basic human right is considered 'acceptable collateral damage in the war on terror'... as soon as that happens the 'war' has been lost, and the terrorists have won.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Brazenly Anonymous, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Anonymous Coward's post

    Civiliation's defense against totalitarian dictators is, and always will be, imperfect. However, should we be willing to yield the restrictions on our governments, that defense will fail entirely. We aren't just talking a single tragedy, totalitarian dictators are prone to genocidal actions and living under one essentially constitutes a life of slavery for a large portion of society.

    Terrorists, by contrast, are a rather minor threat. A small risk for the people of the land of the free. When did so many cowards come to live in the home of the brave? I bring these two up because they are related. Freedom requires the bravery to take on some of life's risk, either through personal minimization steps (pay attention, fight back against the gunman), or through accepting that some risks are unavoidable and death is, eventually, inevitable.

    Now, given all the above, I do understand that there are a great number of people who would rather live as slaves than risk death. However, the NSA has yet to demonstrate that these programs actually work, actually protect you in any way. By defending them, you yield your freedom and your allegiance far too easily, and thus will fail to purchase any meaningful protection. Even if you are not willing to stand with those of us who would risk death for are freedom, at least hold out for a better deal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Anonymous Coward's post

    Ahh, I see...so collect as many dots as possible, under the guise of "because "

    Then when another happens ANYWAY, the excuse is "well, it'll always be imperfect."

    The incremental difference you refer to is the erosion of our rights that we're so prepared to die for (unless it involves a terrorist attack, then we cower in a corner).

    Land of the free* and home of the chicken shit cowards who don't mind living under a totalitarian police state.

    Grow a set of testicles - you've got a better chance of hitting the lottery than being involved in a terrorist attack.

     

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  34.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Anonymous Coward's post

    However, what we're doing now is just trading one set of terrorists for another. Net decrease in terrorism: zero. Every single thing we've done in response to terrorist attacks has been exactly what the terrorists want us to do. All we are doing is further empowering the terrorist act itself.

    The best defense is to not freak out over terrorist attacks at all. That's also the most rational response, as the risk of terrorist attack is several order of magnitude lower than equally deadly risks we take with a smile every day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2014 @ 9:41am

    LOL

    NSA didn't prevent any terrorist attack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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