Bomb-throwing, uber-libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) is doing more than showing his ignorance and engaging in political pandering, he’s becoming a danger to the country and our troops.
Paul is making his mark in Republican(ish) circles by promoting a trending brand of conservative/libertarian politics no doubt learned at the knee of his father, former Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. With a populist approach to contemporary issues, Sen. Paul is at the forefront – and even creating said forefront – of a Tea Party-enabled uprising. Laudably questioning and challenging the Obama-led national liberal agenda, he has shone a much needed light on dangerous policies and trends. Unfortunately, the “Paulist” crusade has, itself, become a danger.
In pushing against everything Obama, Paul and his cult followers target any and everything even remotely associated with the administration as an evil that must be stopped. But the world seen through Paul’s tinted glasses isn’t always as he sees it or as he wants to see it. Much like Joseph McCarthy, there isn’t evil everywhere nor can evil be identified as that which does not comply with his own thoughts.
This ignorance is profoundly manifested in Paul’s anticipated class action suit against the National Security Agency. Buying into the uneducated, no-deeper-than-headlines “scandal” claiming NSA collecting everyone’s cell phone calls, texts and emails, Paul has decided to attack one of America’s greatest assets. He and his libertarian moonbeams think they are actually going after President Obama by suing over NSA collection practices. Certainly, the Obama Administration hasn’t helped with its penchant for targeting conservatives.
Given his choice of residence and his actions since arriving, “leaker” Edward Snowden is, in all likelihood, a Russian agent. It is more than reasonable to believe that Snowden took the job with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton under Russian instruction with the intent to confiscate as much data as possible. Mission accomplished.
Following his defection to Russia, the information (“over a million documents”) has been selectively provided to the public. Public testimony and releases by NSA have answered the more disturbing allegations and shown that what Snowden alleges is not true. (See: The Truth About NSA)
The result, so far, has been to damage the reputation of the single most successful and important intelligence organization in the world. That means, the organization most feared by our adversaries, primarily Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorists.
And do not forget, NSA is a component of the Department of Defense. Half of its workforce are military personnel, either at headquarters locations or in the field. NSA is a combat support organization. It’s main focus is to give our troops the information needed to defeat the enemy including on the battlefield.
In an article for The Slate, Fred Kaplan points out why he does not think Edward Snowden deserves clemency.
The documents that he gave the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA’s interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what’s going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls “worldwide,” an effort that (in the Post’s words) “allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.” In his first interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden revealed that the NSA routinely hacks into hundreds of computers in China and Hong Kong.
These operations have nothing to do with domestic surveillance or even spying on allies. They are not illegal, improper, or (in the context of 21st-century international politics) immoral. Exposing such operations has nothing to do with “whistle-blowing.”
Many have likened Snowden’s actions to Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers. (Ellsberg himself has made the comparison.) But the Pentagon Papers were historical documents on how the United States got involved in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg leaked them (after first taking them to several senators, who wanted nothing to do with them) in the hopes that their revelations would inspire pressure to end the war. It’s worth noting that he did not leak several volumes of the Papers dealing with ongoing peace talks. Nor did he leak anything about tactical operations. Nor did he go to North Vietnam and praise its leaders (as Snowden did in Russia).
I realize that the focus of the Sen. Paul’s lawsuit will target NSA’s metadata program under the belief that these actions violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. But the intricacies of modern intelligence collection and international communications ensure that such attacks as those fomented by Paul will damage NSA efforts. As I wrote in “The Truth About NSA:”
Before the internet and cell phones, bad guy communications were easy to find, though not necessary easy to understand. Governments – and particularly their military forces – communicated on specific radio frequencies. Transmissions were encrypted or otherwise coded to avoid scrutiny by adversaries. This was a cumbersome means of information sharing, but it was what the technologies of the day permitted. Once global communications went digital, however, all that changed.
Today, bad guys – be they governments, terrorist organizations, organized crime or in-laws – use the same networks and systems as churches, schools, business, industries and private citizens.
The content, that which was not allowed and, apparently, not sought by NSA, is the actual conversation – what was being said. No voices were recorded. Look at the numbers above. Why would they want the conversations of “every American?”
What NSA wants is the technical parameters of the global cell phone environment. When the agency gets information about bad guy communications, it needs to be able to search through the environment and find out what numbers are associated with him.
Senator Paul’s concern for the safety and liberty of American citizens is laudable, but his grandstanding, ignorant approach goes beyond and is more dangerous than self-serving political ambitions. He is directly enhancing the fortunes of our adversaries, weakening the US’s best interests and putting our country – and her troops – at risk.
Rand Paul is becoming an accomplice of Edward Snowden and becoming Vladimir Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s, Kim Jung Un’s, Hassan Rouhani’s and Al Qaeda’s best friend.