Rep. Peter King Says Referring To NSA Activity As 'Spying' Or 'Snooping' Is Slander
from the oh-really? dept
Rep. Peter King — whose past “hits” have included demanding that the Treasury Department add Wikileaks to its terrorist list, that the Boston bombings showed that we needed even more surveillance, and that reporters who report on leaks like the Ed Snowden leak should be prosecuted — is apparently upset with President Obama’s comments last week concerning how the administration is looking to deal with NSA surveillance.
Now, we were disappointed in those comments as well, but mainly because they were mostly meaningless trifles, designed to appease the public with promises of more transparency, rather than an actual promise to cut back on spying on every single person in the US. Apparently King is upset on the other side of things, believing that even the tiniest amount of increased transparency means that Al Qaeda will win:
The President’s announcement today that he will pursue “reforms” to National Security Agency counterterrorism programs is a monumental failure in presidential wartime leadership and responsibility. These programs are legal, transparent and contain the appropriate checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government. These intelligence tools keep Americans safe every single day.
America is at war with Islamist terror groups that kill and maim innocent civilians. The current threat to the Homeland is just as high as it was before 9/11. It is difficult to imagine past war leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill willingly surrendering signals intelligence tools that are needed to fight our enemies. We need a president who defends our intelligence programs, explains them appropriately to the American people, and uses every legal capability in his arsenal to defeat al Qaeda.
It’s difficult to know where to start with this, since it’s almost all ridiculous. The programs are not at all transparent, don’t appear to contain any significant checks and balances and are of questionable legality. Furthermore, multiple Senators have pointed out that there is no evidence that the hoovering up of all phone records has done anything to “keep Americans safe every day.”
The second paragraph is just pure fearmongering based on nothing — especially the claims about the threats being just as high today as they were before 9/11. Of course, what’s even more ridiculous here is that King was a long time supporter of foreign terrorist organization, the IRA, including supposedly endorsing an attack on a police station that killed nine people. I wonder if he felt that the UK government should have used the same secret surveillance techniques against the IRA?
King wasn’t done there, apparently. Following that statement, he went on Face the Nation and apparently said with a straight face that the public referring to the NSA’s activity as “spying” or “snooping” was slandering the NSA and somehow diminishes their patriotism. Really. The man is apparently serious.
“These people in the NSA are patriots,” King said. “Probably what’s annoyed me the most over the last several months is people casually using words like ‘spying,’ ‘snooping,’ ‘what is the NSA up to now?’ Does anybody think General Alexander wants to snoop on America? I think that demeans the whole political dialogue, and that’s why I wish the president would be more outgoing and defend the NSA lot more than he did.”
“This has really been a slander on the thousand of good men and women who every day dedicate their lives to our country, and particularly General Alexander, who is as patriotic as anyone I have ever met in government or anywhere,” King said. “There is too much loose talk here. Every time i hear ‘snooping’ and ‘spying’, it just drives me crazy. We know what these men and women are doing, and they’re absolutely dedicated patriots.”
Meanwhile, King is not the only one in Congress who is upset that the President even hinted at reforms and transparency. House Speaker John Boehner issued a slightly less inflammatory statement arguing that the President must not back down on keeping the program intact, despite the fact that (again) there is no evidence that it has been necessary in stopping a single terrorist attack.
Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president’s red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face.”
Actually, I thought our priority should be protecting the Constitution — including the 4th Amendment — but it appears that many members of Congress have forgotten that little requirement.