Sen. Dan Coats Uses His Five Minutes At Intelligence Committee Meeting To Rant About Media And 'Non-Trusting' Public

from the this-question-isn't-so-much-pertinent-as-it-is-long-and-pointless dept

Apparently, Sen. Dan Coats wasn’t clear on the specifics of Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee meeting. The discussion was supposed to revolve around reforms of existing surveillance programs and a general push for more transparency and oversight. Coats, however, arrived with a head full of angried up blood and proceeded to pull a complete Abe Simpson.

Each senator was given five minutes to ask questions and receive responses. Coats blew his allotment by asking a question that wasn’t a question, but was filled with contempt for nearly everyone who a.) wasn’t the NSA and b.) wasn’t a charter member of the National Surveillance Network Booster Squad.

Normally, I’d just excerpt a bit of it, but the whole thing is amazing in its complete tone-deafness. (There’s a clip of it below, which should also be viewed to get the full “Old Man Yells at Cloud Americans” experience.) What makes Coats’ pro-NSA rant even more jarring is the fact it followed directly after Ron Wyden aggressively painted Gen. Alexander into a corner about the NSA’s cell site data collections, forcing the NSA head to use the “not under this program” escape hatch.

Well, Madam Chairman, the word trust has come up a couple of times here. And I think that’s clearly something we’ll have to deal with that makes it difficult to convince the American people that very significant measures have been taken to protect their privacy.

What’s disturbing to me is that, despite the information that has been provided, declassified, made available to the public, made directly available to the media, has not resulted in always accurate analysis and presentation by the media or understanding by the public. They — they just don’t want to believe it.

I was shocked one morning in listening to a major network program, on one of the major networks, having discussed previously General Alexander, General Clapper and others at NSA [pause] that that media outlet had been briefed, given relevant, classified information to certain people who were in charge of this programming [pause] only to have, in a discussion during that program, a comment by the lead individual of, “Look. They’re listening to everything we say.”

This was after a detailed discussion about the programs — what NSA does and doesn’t do, what the intelligence committee does and doesn’t do — knowing that the leadership of those media outlets had been [?], briefed and given accurate information. And yet, because it’s pleasing to the public — because you’ve got to throw raw meat out there to those that refuse to look at the facts. This continues.

I don’t know how we address this problem. I commend you, Madam Chairman and the Co-chair, for having an open hearing here. I don’t know how many press opportunities or press people will walk away and at least give an accurate analysis and reporting of what is said here.

But it’s very frustrating to know that we have programs that comply with the law, and have been approved by the Congress, that have been approved by the President of the United States, that are saving American’s lives. And their efforts to compromise those programs, to convince a non-trusting public [longer pause] I guess my question goes to this: that is, we will be presented with a number of proposals in terms of how to further protect American people’s privacy. And what I would like to know, and what I would like the committee to know, is that your very clear and direct and unpoliticized analysis and conclusions as to what kind of compromise to your operational programs — the result, if we implemented these reforms.

What is the consequence of trying to convince a public that apparently doesn’t want to be convinced — what is the compromise in terms of operations and loss of life to those who have dedicated their life to trying to protect Americans? What are we losing by having to go through this tortured exercise of trying to get feedback to — that no matter what we say, no matter what is provided [pause] The FISA court is now looked down on as “can’t be trusted.”

Do we need another organization to oversee the FISA court, to oversee your programs? How can we trust that second organization? If we can’t put our trust in this committee, in this Congress, in this President — that what we’re trying to do here is provide protection for the privacy of American people but save their lives from another horror situation like 911.

We have proven that we have prevented these programs from going forward. We will not probably always be successful. But have you not had these programs in place, I would hate to think what we might be talking about here this morning, what kind of headlines and what kind of incidences we would have been reporting — and the public’s demand for why didn’t you, if you had the capability to stop it, why were you prevented from doing it?

A brief pause and then this bit of hilarity as Coats catches a glimpse of the clock.

I guess I don’t have a question. My time is up.

Evidentally, Dan Coats believes the best way to improve the NSA’s oversight is to shut up and stop questioning the government. Shorter version: this would be a great country if it wasn’t for all the people. Like many other supporters (and Gen. Alexander himself, who claimed that if the NSA had the bulk records collection in 2000, it could have prevented the 9/11 attacks), Coats conjured up the 9/11 Pt.2 spectre, implying that our blood will be on our hands if anything even slightly stymies the NSA’s collection activities. By the end of his non-question, he bore a startling resemblance to someone who had forgotten where he was and what he was supposed to be doing — not really the sort of image an “overseer” of national security programs should project. And by attacking the public for its lack of trust, he came across as someone who clearly shouldn’t be trusted. How ironic.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Sen. Dan Coats Uses His Five Minutes At Intelligence Committee Meeting To Rant About Media And 'Non-Trusting' Public”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
36 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

implying that our blood will be on our hands if anything even slightly stymies the NSA’s collection activities

The hysteria is so great that we are jailing teens and kids for anything that may have a very thin resemblance of something that may remind us of terrorism. We are persecuting journalists, whistleblowers, eroding Constitutional rights, ignoring Human Rights, becoming what we criticized.

I wonder if screwing up the future of generations counts as having bloods in the hands.

out_of_the_blue says:

Minion wastes reader's five seconds of attention on politician rant.

Their only goal is to speak five minutes without saying anything substantive, interesting, or incriminating. As I chanced to notice yesterday, they ALL have a maddening way of speaking slowly, about a second between each word, as if parsing each for implications. They’re surely coached on that speech pattern, because it’s not natural. — Even if you pay attention, by the time they dribble it out, you’ve forgotten the subject and are lost in trying to glean meaning from the wandering.

Listening to politicians is a fruitless use of time. That you do it doesn’t argue well for your perspicacity; that you expect others to similarly waste time shows more bad judgment, if not a certain contempt for their intelligence.

Also, “Evidentally” you still don’t use spell-check as I’ve advised.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Minion wastes reader's five seconds of attention on politician rant.

“Listening to politicians is a fruitless use of time.”

As is reading your posts. Here, for example, you say nothing except attack someone for not conforming to your point of view, fail to offer any constructive comments or suggestions of what he should be doing, and then play grammar nazi at the end for good measure.

This is why your comments get reported – they’re as useless as you show yourself to be. As I’ve mentioned before, Shakespeare has the right description of your average post:

“It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing”

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Minion wastes reader's five seconds of attention on politician rant.

@ “PaulT” — Do you seriously dispute that “Listening to politicians is a fruitless use of time.”?

Let’s have a debate, then.* YOUR position must be that listening to politicians is a a worthwhile use of time.

Either that or you just copied and quoted the first sentence where your eye stopped, in knee-jerk reaction, tossed in some contradiction and ad hom, and clicked “submit”.

THIS IS A WORTHLESS PIECE OF FILLER. The minion should have the sense to not bother trying to parse what HE says is practically babbling! — Or do you hold that it’s important to read what Coats said? — AGAIN, by attacking me for complaining about recursive wastes of time, you MUST hold opposite views to my substance, OR you’re just doing ad hom.

[* Rhetorical. I’m outta this item. But have at it: arguing for listening to politicians and parsing their babbling.]

Michael (profile) says:

If we can’t put our trust in this committee, in this Congress, in this President — that what we’re trying to do here is provide protection for the privacy of American people but save their lives from another horror situation like 911.

Wow. How does someone miss the point that badly.

In case you happen to be reading this (because, you know, I’m sure the NSA gets a copy), most of the American people DO trust that these programs were put in place to protect us. However, we don’t believe it is effective, necessary, or worth sacrificing our liberty.

out_of_the_blue says:

Speaking of Wyden, though: Greenwald today says

But there are two members of that Committee who actually do take seriously its oversight mandate: Democrats Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. Those two spent years publicly winking and hinting that the NSA under President Obama was engaged in all sorts of radical and abusive domestic surveillance (although – despite the absolute immunity protection they enjoy as Senators under the Constitution – they took no action, and instead waited for Edward Snowden (who had no such immunity) to bravely step up and reveal to the American people specifically what these two Senators kept hinting at).

It’s only that those two literally play roles as opposing the surveillance state. THEY DO NOTHING EFFECTIVE. But Mike and minions keep falling for their schtick.

Transmitte (profile) says:

After doing all this reading on this entire NSA debacle and seeing how all the people on the side of the NSA and their defenders writhing in some form of disbelief on how they have been outed and how they should be free to do as they wish when they feel like it with out freedoms made me realize something: We’re dealing with a serious amount of people who are effectively like serious drug addicts.

A light has been put on them and the threat of taking away their drug of choice has them absolutely losing their shit, and all this shrill crying, screaming and name calling from various types would be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact they are undermining our privacy, our liberty and constitution. In the name of security. If this is their idea of security, keep it, send it back, burn it.

And Diane Feinstein has been seriously coming off as the mother of all these dolts acting like “No, my baby wouldn’t do that, you’re wrong!” all the while knowing she’s lying to herself and everyone else. And now doddering Dan Coats is apparently yelling at all of us Americans for being in his NSA yard. *headdesk*

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

Never trust...

Never trust anyone who tells you to trust them. They OBVIOUSLY don’t understand that trust is EARNED.

They better thank their God that I am not president. I would literally have people hanging (is that still an acceptable punishment) for treason for all these lies and abuses.

These politicians who swear to uphold the Constitution and then trample all over it. They should be tried for treason.

Postulator (profile) says:

One hopes that someone is keeping track of the NSA’s most virulent “battered wives” in Congress, and will be making their support very public next time they face re-election.

Of course, the next challenge will be tracking and outing them in their post-election (this politician has been bought and paid for by…) careers. See which companies support the NSA’s treatment of the people, the law and the government by employing its most ardent defendants.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...