Thursday, October 03, 2013

Admitting what we all knew

Who'd have thunk it? US spies lie about terrorist threats to boost public fear and their own budgets:

In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government’s vast surveillance apparatus.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange:

“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” said Leahy. The Vermont Democrat then asked the NSA chief to admit that only 13 out of a previous cited 54 cases of foiled plots were genuinely the fruits of the government’s vast dragnet surveillance systems:

“These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” Leahy said, asking Alexander, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” replied Alexander.

And this is why we can never trust spies. The incentives for lies are clear, but the aura of secrecy they shroud themselves with limits our ability to verify what they are saying. We must therefore regard them as liars until proven otherwise.