After 9/11 I remember predicting another attack. Yet in the US it didn’t happen. (Of course we don’t count the anthrax attack because reasons. That also happened on the Bush/Cheney/Rice watch, but never mind.)
Suppose a third attack had happened under Bush/Cheney. How would Fox News have responded? They would rally around the President. It would be clear it wasn’t Bush/Cheney’s fault, even if it was. They would have a million excuses. Then they would shift the blame to anyone who got in the way of a “gloves off” torture program or the “we’ll surveil everyone” mindset. Anyone who wasn’t in favor of their new martial law was palling around with terrorists and responsible for the last attack.
Fox would target us, people who believe torture is wrong and ineffective, war is not the answer and who think maintaining our civil liberties make us stronger, not weaker. We would be blamed. Even if we could show that all the things that Bush/Cheney did that sacrificed our civil liberties still didn’t keep us safe. So let’s prepare now for this.
Imagine an attack under Obama. An attack where supposedly the NSA is now forced to ‘blind’ themselves and the CIA have had to “put the gloves back on” and not torture people. How will Fox News respond? Will they rally around the President? Will they point out that the NSA surveillance is still on but it still didn’t stop and the attack? Will they remind people that torture doesn’t work, is morally wrong and ‘enhanced interrogation’ still went on under Obama, and it still didn’t catch the terrorists? Don’t make me laugh, I have chapped lips.
Fox News will lose their minds! And they will try to take the country with them against us. Not the terrorists. Against the people who might have thought there was another way to deal with the threats, especially the threats that were created by the rights’ over reactions. I can hear Fox anchors screaming now:
Because of the Snowden revelations the NSA couldn’t do their job! The terrorists knew how to evade capture! The CIA couldn’t get good intelligence out of suspects because they wouldn’t use enhanced interrogation! Dick Cheney and George Bush kept us safe! Obama is soft on terrorism!
All sorts of worthless and horrific programs and structures that “kept us safe” under Bush/Cheney/Obama/Biden will be given a bigger budget. Even if those programs could never have caught the perpetrators.
I though of all this while watching Person of Interest. It is one of the finest TV shows on network television. Don’t go slumming into 24 for your fighting terrorism fix, check out PoI.
At 18:16 into the show the person who is responsible for the AI program “Northern Lights” explains how it has kept us safe from terrorism in the PoI world. This is the speech that I’ll bet the NSA is still giving today if anyone dares to question how effective they are. As Kevin Gosztola and others have pointed out, their success are mostly an illusion. As a secret agency with no oversight, they can always play the,”We really DID save you, but it’s classified” card.
In the video clip shown, I really like speech by Control talking about the terrorist plot they busted. I also wonder if, during all this back and forth about Northern Lights (the NSA-like surveillance AI program) a terrorist attack happens. The Fox News in their world would be all over it! “Obama shuts off machine protecting us! Anti-surveillance group has innocent blood on their hands!” The head of the NSA will be seen as a hero, and people whining about their “civil liberties’ are making America unsafe. “That attack could have been stopped.” Is what the head of the Northern Lights program will say, “But we were told to shut it down. If the American public wants to be safe again, they need to let us turn it back on. ”
So when the next attack happens, how will we respond? We already know how Fox News will. We are the real enemy to them. Obama is not their President. In a time of crisis I would like to think they would stand with the President of the United States like many of us did with Bush. But look at what they are doing with Benghazi, and ask. “What would Roger Ailes do?”
We are seeing votes to ‘rein in the NSA‘ will future votes split on partisan lines? Then when the next attack happens they can say, “I didn’t want to rein them in!”