Monday, June 10, 2013

Why Huge Information Gathering of PRISM Is Not The Answer The NSA Says It Is

While we still figure out what to make of the NSA's PRISM program and the motives of Edward Snowden in revealing it, Barry Rubin explains Why Expanded U.S. Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security Against Terrorism:
What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this:

In counterterrorist terms, it is a farce.

The fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, the collection of massive amounts of phone calls, emails, and even credit card expenditures, up to 3 billion phone calls a day alone, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this:

The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden -- Is PRISM program he revealed less of a
threat to terrorists than to Americans? Credit CS Monitor

In fact, one need only review the all too real examples of actual intelligence failures and just plain poor practices to realize the truth of Rubin's claim. For example:
And isn’t it absurd that the United States can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists, can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. army who gives a power point presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nadal Hassan), can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing), or a dozen similar incidents must now collect every telephone call in the country? A system in which a photo shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists or brave passengers must jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

And how about a country where terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy (even while, like CAIR) advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement, and are admiringly quoted in the media yet a documented, detailed revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole, which should bring down the government, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy” does not get covered by a single mass media outlet?
These failures of the US government thus far reveal the real keys in the use of intelligence gathering in battling terrorism:
  • The quality of the information is what counts -- not the quantity. What really matters is the need to locate the key information and correctly understand it, requiring counter-terrorism teams to understand the ideological, psychological, and organizational nature of the terrorist threat.

  • It is necessary to be prepared to act on the information in political terms and not just strategically.
Read the whole thing.

The bottom line is that whether or not PRISM is the threat to privacy that Snowden and others have made it out to be, the fact remains that the philosophy behind it is still wrong and will not be the most effective way to address -- and defeat -- the terrorist threats that continue to threaten the US.

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