Lying about the Necessity of State Surveillance for Domestic Security

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, testified before Congress on Wednesday defending their dragnet surveillance programs. Alexander contended that the data mined helped prevent “potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11,” a point that was then challenged by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall – both of whom serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Sen. Wyden and Udall asserted that “all of the plots that [Alexander] mentioned appear to have been identified using other collection methods.”

A survey released today seems to confirm those suspicions. The New America Foundation paired up with Syracuse University’s Maxwell School to examine cases of “homegrown jihadist and non-jihadist” terrorism that have occurred since 9/11. The data shows that only in two cases is NSA surveillance responsible for helping to foil a suspected terrorist plot, while of the remaining 30 cases, at least 29 can be attributed to conventional policing. Peter Bergen, director of the New America Foundation wrote in his capacity as CNN’s national security analyst that, “traditional law enforcement methods have overwhelmingly played the most significant role in foiling terrorist attacks.”

With that argument having been thrown out the window, one wonders what rationalization the Obama administration might come up with next to justify their immense and overreaching surveillance apparatus.


Links: June 19, 2013 (Snowden + Drones)

Regarding Edward Snowden – There are a lot of obvious parallels between the recent developments surrounding Snowden’s NSA leaks and the particular discourse found at The Drone Fallacy. I will elaborate further on the links and the relevance of Snowden’s leaks to understanding both state surveillance and the general phenomenon of unmonitored and excessive state policies – concerning both domestic and foreign populations. In the meantime, here are some links concerning Snowden’s case that I have found helpful. Most of the links are from the Guardian, where Glenn Greenwald first broke the story.

The Leaks:

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily GG

Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks GG

NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others GG

Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data GG


On Prism, partisanship and propaganda GG


Fisa court oversight: a look inside a secret and empty process GG [on its relation to drones, see this article]

Minimization in the Age of Cyberwar emptywheel

The Truth: The NSA Has Been Working on Domestic Spying for Ten-Plus Years  emptywheel

So the NSA Is ‘Only’ Collecting Metadata? You Should Still Worry Wired

NSA surveillance is an attack on American citizens, says Noam Chomsky Guardian


FBI Admits It Surveils U.S. With Drones Wired

U.S. aerospace companies seek to reassure public on drones Reuters

General Atomics to Sell Unarmed Predator Drones to Foreign Countries USNews

China’s Latest Discount Product: Drones Atlantic

Obama’s Former Legal Adviser Urges U.S. To ‘Discipline Drones’ NPR

Drone ‘Signature Strike’ Witness Responds To Obama Speech: ‘I Don’t Trust A Single Word’ HuffPo

Foreign buyers eye Chinese drones People’s Daily Online

Facing Drone Gap, Europe Plays Catch-Up on Capabilities and Ethics World Politics Review

Illegal Drone Business Thrives in US Tech News Daily

Military Suppliers Push for Europe-Made Drone NYT

Drone Sales Flourish in a Time of Austerity NYT

Plea against drones: Petition filed in SC to halt drone attacks in FATA IHT

Pakistan should do more to check drones Pakistan Observer

Drones making things worse, UN toldNation

Imran Khan urges Pakistan to take steps to halt US drone attacks AFP

Why Drones Fail Foreign Affairs

Are drones along the border (all day, every day) cost-effective? LA Times

The brave new world of ‘drone journalism’ Telegraph

Pakistan summons envoy after U.S. drone strike kills nine Reuters

O’Reilly And Powers Get In Shouting Match Over Drones: We Shouldn’t Attack The Enemy Because ‘They Might Get Mad?’ Mediaite



Disposable Drones Will Collect Data by Surfing Along with Hurricanes IEEE Spectrum

Drone Fallacy Update

As one might deduce from the date of my last post, I have taken something of a break from writing at The Drone Fallacy for the past month. This has been rather unintentional – I have been doing a lot of moving back and forth, and that coupled with the end of the school year hasn’t left any time to spare for writing. Things should settle somewhat over the coming weeks so be on the lookout for regular updates here [you can follow me on twitter @DroneFallacy to get instant notifications of any new posts].