Did PRISM Prevent Terror Attacks?

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

A predictable counter-attack against the rising attack on the surveillance state is the assertion from figures in power who support the surveillance state that this surveillance has stopped terror plots and attacks. Is this a fact? I am skeptical for several reasons. First, talk is cheap, especially coming from those who are running the surveillance program. There is no independent and scientific investigation of the claim. Who knows what cockamamie sorts of plots are being counted or how the counting is done? Second, the best research that I can find suggests that massive surveillance is not where tips come from that uncover plots. They usually come from mundane sources and ordinary police work. I analyzed that research 15 months ago. Third, there is already news of a counter to the counter-attack. This appears in an article that says that 2 of the plot breakups claimed to be attributable to the massive surveillance in fact arose from British detective work. This casts doubt on the reliability, even the veracity, of the remaining claimed cases. Furthermore, this fits in with the idea that most terror plots are uncovered by means other than massive surveillance.

We know that besides destroying privacy, which is not only a right but a social necessity, and besides ushering in a totalitarian police state, that the intelligence gathering budget mushroomed from $40 to $200 billion in a few years, and that private contractors, in another perfect example of crony capitalism, went on the government gravy train. There is no privatization here, any more than there is with a volunteer military. There is massive wealth transfer from taxpayers to private firms via government. Who is really running the show, elected representatives, members of the executive branch, the military that runs the NSA, the private companies? Who really controls the data being collected? It’s certainly not the voters!! Wait until we learn what hanky-panky, what hacking, what malware, what character assassinations using filched communications, these contractors have been engaged in when they apply their techniques to serve private clients.

9:00 am on June 13, 2013
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts