Journalist says Obama suddenly declared massive “terrorism threat” after downplaying al-Qaeda for years.

Kit Daniels
August 6, 2013

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke Edward Snowden’s revelations on the NSA’s domestic spying, said that Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) exploited the recent “terrorist threat” on U.S. embassies in order to promote the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping.

On the August 4 edition of MSNBC’s Meet the Press, Chambliss fully endorsed the NSA’s drag net, which surpasses the scale of Big Brother in 1984, and suggested that the surveillance obtained led to the closing of 19 embassies and consulates across North Africa and the Middle East.

“These programs are controversial, we understand that, they’re very sensitive, but they’re also very important because they’re what allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to,” Chambliss said.

“If we did not have these programs, we simply would not be able to listen in on the bad guys.”

Chambliss further said that these recent “terrorism threats” are a “good indication” that the NSA’s Stasti-style spying is “important.”

In response to these statements, Greenwald told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that Chambliss’ comments were ludicrous.

“For eight straight years, literally, Democrats, every time there was a terrorist alert or a terrorist advisory issued by the United States government in the middle of a debate over one of the Bush-Cheney civil liberties abuses, would accuse the United States government and the national security state of exaggerating terrorism threats, of manipulating advisories, of hyping the dangers of al-Qaeda, in order to distract attention away from their abuses and to scare the population into submitting to whatever it is they wanted to do,” Greenwald said.

“And so, here we are in the midst of one of the most intense debates and sustained debates that we’ve had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance and suddenly an administration that has spent two years claiming that it has decimated al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates throughout the world.”

Greenwald also pointed out that Chambliss, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is a leading NSA loyalist.

Chambliss and Graham both exploited the terrorist threat, Greenwald said, within mere hours of the embassy closings in order to defend domestic surveillance.

“What that has to do with the ongoing controversy about the NSA is completely mystifying,” he said.

“Nobody has ever questioned or disputed that the U.S. government, like all governments around the world, ought to be eavesdropping and monitoring the conversations of people who pose an actual threat to the United States in terms of plotting terrorist attacks.”

“The controversy is over the fact that they are sweeping up billions and billions of emails and telephone calls every single day from people around the world and in the United States who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism.”

Greenwald also brought up the persuasive argument that many analysts made that when an agency collects everything indiscriminately, it becomes harder, not easier, to detect actual terrorist plots.

“If this agency really were devoted and if these surveillance programs were really devoted to finding terrorism, they would be much more directed and discriminating, but they’re not,” he said.

“They’re indiscriminate and limitless, and that’s one of the problems.”

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