Stoking the fears of terrorism

Earlier this week, the government’s top officials responsible for managing America’s foreign intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, testified on Capitol Hill.  While much of the information CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and FBI Director Robert Mueller provided the Senate in the public portion of their testimony was valuable and informative, it was not all thus. 

In a transparent display of theatrics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked the three administration officials if another “attempted attack” on the US was likely in the near future.  If the witnesses answered that such an “attempt” was unlikely, they would be accused of offering a false sense of security to the country.  A vague answer would land them in hot water for not appearing to know that which they are paid to find out.  A definitive “yes” would add to the oft-times irrational fear that many of those in the Congress stoke that Osama bin Laden and his henchmen are lurking on every airplane with a “dirty bomb.” 

The appropriate answer for intelligence professionals would be, “Madam Chairman, the possibility of attempts to commit further terrorist acts against our country and its people is always present, but trying to assign a definite percentage or liklihood to such an occurrence would add nothing to the public’s or the Senate’s understanding of the problems we face and of our abilities to detect and deter such efforts.”  Instead, all three officials succumbed to the theatrics of the moment and dutifully opined that “an attempted attack .  .  .  is certain.” 

This answer tells us nothing — an “attempt” to do us harm is always present; there are always those who wish to and will try to hurt us.  But, stating the obvious in this manner does everything — it justifies expanded budgets and powers (read, “Patriot Act”), keeps the country on edge, and boosts poll numbers.  The cheap answers provided by Messrs. Blair, Panetta and Mueller do not reflect one of our finer moments of professional, purposeful and reasoned debate on a very serious matter.

DNI Director Blair also took advantage of the opportunity presented by testifying in open hearing to play the domestic “radicalization” card and put in a veiled plug for regulation of the Internet.  He again stated the obvious — that bad guys use the Internet  to communicate.  Well, yes they do, just the same as everyone else does.  But  Blair went on to worry aloud that the Internet is fueling “homegrown radicalization.”  The disturbing implication of this notion is that in order to protect against domestic “radicalization” (whatever that is) the government must be able to access, surveil, monitor and use information gleaned from individuals’ Internet use, as part of its arsenal of weapons with which to fight terrorism.  Not surprisingly, this point flew right over the heads of the Senators.

42 comments Add your comment

Denver7

February 5th, 2010
8:37 am

Do you have anything of value to say or are you a Rush Limbaugh wanna be – simply, as you put it, stoking the fires. If you TRULY love this country, find a constructive way to be a part of the solution instead of a windbag trying to promote your self worth. Hypocrite.

Timothy L. Pennell

February 5th, 2010
8:41 am

Evidently, Mr. Barr suffers from some kind of STROKE, or something. Maybe some SOFT TISSUE DAMAGE to the Brain. Maybe he’s on one of those DRUGS that he and his buddies would like to make LEGAL. I’ve got NEWS for you, Bobby. If THIS BUNCH of APOLOGISTS FOR MUSLIM BUTCHERY, is saying, point blank, that we WILL BE HIT in the next couple of Months, then WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM. Cause they downplay EVERYTHING THAT’S BAD.
I hope you get better.

Gospel Truth

February 5th, 2010
8:48 am

Didn’t the Pharisees try to trip up Christ with loaded questions with three wrong answers like Feinstein’s question? Lets see, if we can extrapolate what Christ said to what Feinstein asked we might get something like this……

“He who is without fear of 911 must be stoned.”

joe matarotz

February 5th, 2010
8:53 am

Bobolink, today’s masterpiece proves yet again that you are as sharp as a marble and getting rounder every day. Keep up the good work!

Scout

February 5th, 2010
9:10 am

Mr. Barr:

You are correct sir.

It’s all about political correctness, saying the right thing, not looking bad on television, covering you a**, hedging your bets, getting that next promotion and even keeping your career job.

What I’m looking for is an agency that can call members of Congress before it to testify !!

Indigo

February 5th, 2010
9:11 am

Some nice rhetoric from fear mongering haters dwelling in the lowers emotions on this page.

I am glad you speaking out about this Bob Barr. You are a real patriot and don’t let anyone talk you down when it comes to national security.

jconservative

February 5th, 2010
9:21 am

The American people need to get over their irrational fear of a terrorist attack. We will be attacked! And savagely! But we cannot
let that fear drive us from our chosen way of life. We are at war and in war there are casualties. We need to live with that fact, not pretend it does not exist.

Big D

February 5th, 2010
9:30 am

Bob, the same clowns that write to admonish you for saying bad things about their hero’s are the same idiots that have no clue to what is happening to our bond status in the world. This down grade could be much more devastating to our economy than the health care debacle. The left will never admit these liberals in congress and the white house are either socialist or idiots, but the rest of the world knows and they are about to do something on their own. Please read Howard Galganov’s articles in Montreal Quebec…even Canada is laughing at us.

Mr. Holmes

February 5th, 2010
11:13 am

Mr. Barr,

I agree completely with your opinion (expressed in this column and others) that this hyper-fear of terrorism is irrational, despite the events of 9/11 and the stated intentions of Al-Qaeda. If we allow them to force us into more & more cultural changes with every thwarted attack–much like a bad driver who applies the brakes at *every* curve and *every* hill–then they have won, haven’t they?

But you dilute your truth-telling by focusing only on Feinstein. I think we both know which side of the aisle has done more fear-mongering and politicizing of national security since 9/11, and it ain’t the Dems. This nonsense about civilian trials and closing Guatanamo is but the latest example. I’ve never seen such a pack of chicken hawks as the current GOP, talking tough but screaming in terror and jumping up on the nearest chair whenever they hear an Arabic name.

Though I often don’t agree with what you say, I applaud you sticking to your principles, partisanship be darned, since you left office. Too bad you didn’t display that in this column.

joan

February 5th, 2010
11:15 am

I figure we will be attacked too. We almost invite it with our namby pamby treatment of known terrorists. I am glad I don’t work in the Sears Tower, the Chrysler Building or the Empire State building, or any one of many prominent landmarks. If a terrorist really wanted to help us they could hit the Capitol while it is in session.

Jack

February 5th, 2010
12:47 pm

There’s gonna be a lot of different kinds of posts in here after we’re hit. That is, if there’s a medium in which to post.

Swede Atlanta

February 5th, 2010
12:47 pm

Joan, what namby pamby treatment? Are you suggesting that the panty bomber is having a terrific time in federal custody in Michigan? He is getting the same treatment the shoe bomber got and trust me it is not a walk in the park.

He is being subjected to questioning. Yes, he has been Mirandized and could refuse to speak altogether or demand to have his attorney present during questioning. The fact is he is talking because we are using proper techniques to encourage him to cooperate. His family was flown to the U.S. to talk to him and apparently their persuasion has been productive. The FBI are very skilled in their craft.

What we know for a fact is that throwing someone into Guantanamo doesn’t encourage them to talk. What we do know is that someone being subjected to torture such as waterboarding will say anything to stop it. Anything you get under torture is much more suspect than something you get through normal interrogation techniques.

But you are correct that the terrorists could hit anywhere. The could drive by your church on Sunday and shoot a RPG and kill you all. They can and will kill Americans. That is a fact. The question is how do we best mitigate the risk.

Torturing people doesn’t mitigate any risk. It just compromises the values upon which our nation was founded. Holding someone in federal detention, interrogating them using legal, tried and true methods is not pleasant. When pantyboy is convicted he will be in a supermax prison where he will spend 23 hours a day in a tiny cell in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. That to me is a living hell.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 5th, 2010
12:58 pm

I think our host’s argument is internally consistent and supportable. I also worry about the desire to inject government overseers into internet.

jconservative

February 5th, 2010
1:24 pm

“If a terrorist really wanted to help us they could hit the Capitol while it is in session.”

Most unchristian remark.

Gospel Truth

February 5th, 2010
1:27 pm

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

I just wrote that.

Swede Atlanta

February 5th, 2010
1:36 pm

JConservative….agree with your comment. I decided that one was too crass for me to even comment.

As a Christian I find many of the comments of what I am sure a well-intentioned fellow Christians so strange. They point to the law of the Old Testament (but selectively) but completely forget Christ’s teachings. They seem to live according to a belief that the ends justifies the means. That was certainly not Christ’s message to his followers.

Rita

February 5th, 2010
1:41 pm

Fear and reason cannot co-exist, and politicians are masters at keeping people from thinking by stoking fear. If you allow your fears to trump reason, you are exactly the poor little blobs they can (and will) manipulate.

Gospel Truth

February 5th, 2010
3:01 pm

The end justifies the means was the Father’s belief, not the Son’s.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 5th, 2010
4:02 pm

Bob, At a public forum you were informed that Bush and Cheney committed 9/11, and supplied with the proof of their treason that all true patriots can read for free: “The New Pearl Harbor.” http://files.meetup.com/275335/The%20New%20Pearl%20Harbor.pdf

Rather than continue to appear to be a carpetbagging CIA “overcover” agent, why not bring honor to your ostensibly “adopted” state and act like a true Georgian: tell the full truth and work to hang Bush and Cheney for treason instead of going along with the false elite you seem to wish to continue serving?

Georgians are better Americans. When in Georgia try to act like a Georgian.

sam

February 5th, 2010
4:05 pm

what makes a better american?

Intown Lib

February 5th, 2010
4:26 pm

I would not look to Congressional hearings for “professional, purposeful and reasoned debate on a very serious matter.” You would have to turn off the TV cameras for that.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 5th, 2010
5:27 pm

sam
February 5th, 2010
4:05 pm

what makes a better american?

Adherence to the whig (viz. “anti-Roman Catholic”) ideals of Our Founding, enshrined in The Creed’s three mottoes:

Equal Justice in Truth under One Law for All with no king and no pope – “Novus Ordo Seclorem;”
The People, “E Pluribus Unum,” sovereign;
by “Annuit Coeptis” and the single unnamed G-d, Creator of the universe, alone.

Faction is the bane of Liberty.
Sectarian faction is Rome’s tool for destroying the “deistic” whig principles which gave human history American Exceptionalism – “The Light from the West which kindled a volcano under the thrones of Europe.”

There is only One G-d.

Under Roman law crucifixion was the specific and unique punishment for only one crime: the second conviction for sedition.

Sedition under Roman law was to deny that Caesar was G-d Almighty.

Please “do the math.”

The Roman Anti-Christ’s minions in America must be tried and fried for killing JFK and MLK to send us to papal Vietnam and to restore the unconstitutional Fed removed by President Kennedy’s EO11,110; for promoting illegal immigration to “take back” America from those “who stole it” from the “illegados’” ancestors; and for committing 9/11 as “Reichstag Fire Redux” to press down the People, line their pockets, gain power, for oil, and to restart the heroin trade.

Bob Barr knows the truth. He’s just on the side of fascist plutocracy…just like the rest of the bi-partisan false-elite.

Americans know better and elected Barack Obama despite the Diebold cheats…but Obama is but one man, and hopefully not just a BS-artist providing cover for the “status quo.”

The People must see that Bush and Cheney hang and Rome’s “Fifth Column” fully expropriated and extirpated that America prosper once more like a dying body might be restored by surgically removing a deadly cancer – that G-d might be glorified once more in Our Land.

“Vengeance is mine,” saith the L-rd. The Beast isn’t going to cast itself into the Pit.

Dee

February 5th, 2010
5:50 pm

As of August 20, 2001, Fort Meade in Maryland (the home of NSA) went on ‘access control’, which meant that the base was shut up tighter than a drum. The exits from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to NSA were also closed.

One source told me that Fort Belvoir (very near the Pentagon) was on similar access control during the same time period.

A more pertinent question to those of the “intelligence’ community would be, “If and when some attack or attempted attack on our country happens, will you guys know about it”?

And then, ask what they knew before 9-11, and why it appears that nothing was done to avert that attack!

debrea

February 5th, 2010
10:17 pm

a better question in my minds is: who will america terrorize and bomb, murder, w/out warning next. the world would like to know. WE ARE THE TERRORISTS!!! dropping 500/1000lb bombs on civilians from airconditioned offices in las vegas, nv. america has killed far more w/ terrorism than the inverse. the arrogance is astounding!!! the indignance is mind boggling. “we’re right, because we have the money and power”. that’s all you really need to know.
hell, let’s just kill everybody, why do we need a reason, real or imagined!

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 5th, 2010
11:16 pm

Fully recognizing that Thomas Jefferson correctly identified the Roman Anti-Christ, whose operatives financed Hitler from America’s Roman Catholic collection plates and assassinated Kennedy and King to keep us as catspaw for the pope in Vietnam, all we need do is hang Bush and Cheney for 9/11 and expropriate Rome’s “Fifth Column” to pay off the debt foisted off by them onto the People, and restore constitutional money.

Seeking G-d’s Righteousness in Truth and Justice, divine Providence shall prosper America once more…but evil must be extirpated first.

Death and expropriation for those who killed Kennedy and King to send us to Vietnam;
Death and expropriation for those who committed 9/11 to send us to die in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hard Right Hook

February 6th, 2010
1:11 pm

debrea

February 5th, 2010
10:17 pm
a better question in my minds is: who will america terrorize and bomb, murder, w/out warning next. the world would like to know. WE ARE THE TERRORISTS!!! dropping 500/1000lb bombs on civilians from airconditioned offices in las vegas, nv. america has killed far more w/ terrorism than the inverse. the arrogance is astounding!!! the indignance is mind boggling. “we’re right, because we have the money and power”. that’s all you really need to know.
hell, let’s just kill everybody, why do we need a reason, real or imagined!

Did MoveOn.org tell you to post that drivel? Or are you REALLY, shall we say, significantly lacking in intelligence?

We’re the terrorists, my aching backside. What grade are you in?

Mrs. Norris

February 6th, 2010
2:33 pm

If we let fear control our lives then the terrorists win. See, that’s their strategy. Judging by some of the comments on this blog, we have many cowards in our country. What a pity. By the way, we are all in danger of dying at any moment of any day.

“It’s the one afraid of dying who cannot learn to live.” – Bett Midler

vieja

February 6th, 2010
3:49 pm

Many of the comments here I find naive; some thoughtful, uncommon sense; some made merely for the sake of appearing erudite or different. In any case, it is encouraging to find many willing to take time to share their points of view, whether to fan the embers of dissention or to advance a sincerely held opinion. I find comfort and security in this kind of dialogue. It is when we all start to think in lockstep that I feel threatened.

MrLiberty

February 6th, 2010
6:39 pm

Of course an attack is inevitable. We have not left the middle east and we continue to kill innocents there. We must adopt a foreign policy of non-intervention. It is the only way we can ever hope to bring our country back in the direction of true safety and security.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 6th, 2010
6:45 pm

The same traitorous faction which committed 9/11, led by Bush and Cheney (Viz. “The New Pearl Harbor,” Griffin, Ph.D.), will pull another false-flag operation to “back up” the People if We fail to bring them to justice.

Dilly Dally

February 6th, 2010
7:04 pm

Put a damn fence 40 feet high around our country, put every foreiner on a boat, push em off , give em a bag lunch, say goodbye and dare them to return.

Alert the world that if you trespass you will be shot. Plain and simple.

Hard Right Hook

February 7th, 2010
7:25 am

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 6th, 2010
6:45 pm
The same traitorous faction which committed 9/11, led by Bush and Cheney (Viz. “The New Pearl Harbor,” Griffin, Ph.D.), will pull another false-flag operation to “back up” the People if We fail to bring them to justice.

Why don’t you just STFU. You have nothing of substance to offer but (you and the Daily KOS) your own demented view. Just go away.

MrLiberty

February 7th, 2010
7:41 am

Dilly Dally – Any fence or wall high enough to keep “them” out will also be high enough to keep us all in. Don’t believe me, just ask the East Germans.

As for being fearful means the terrorists win. The terrorists have already won. We let our fears allow the government to destroy our constitution and our liberties. When we play into fear, the GOVERNMENT wins. It has always worked that way.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 7th, 2010
10:25 am

Hard Right Hook
February 7th, 2010
7:25 am

My family built this country, established in Covenant with the Creator by The Founders, and you Nazi, fascist, papist pervert traitors aren’t going to steal it by defiling the Constitution, debasing our currency, enriching the corrupt rich, destroying the Working Class, assassinating our leaders, promoting illegal immigration, molesting our children, and sending us to false wars, etc., without a fight.

My prayer by the Creed is that G-d Almighty will permit the People to cast your Roman Anti-Christ “Beast” into the Pit of perdition, by hanging your leaders – who committed 9/11 and assassinated Kennedy and King to send us to die in Vietnam for your pope – and fully expropriating your “Fifth Column’s” stolen wealth, before banishing or burning out any Tories who don’t wish to “take a hint.”

The “right wing” is lead by such as pederast, draft-dodger Rush Limbaugh and inbred, whitetrash Sarah Palin, because that is who rejects the whig ideals of The Founding, enshrined in the three mottoes of The Creed.

The Nazi “right wing” is made up of racists, fascists, secret perverts, and traitors. You support the Gay Old Pervert party even though the Bushes have served the Rockefellers for five generations, building Roman Catholic “Big Oil” on unredressed murder and arson, financing Hitler and the Holocaust, giving us McCarthyism and the Red Scare to deflect the blame from the traitors of Rome’s American “Fifth Column” who created Nazism on behalf of the Roman Aristocracy, killed Kennedy and King to keep us dying in papal Vietnam, gave us IranContra, Ruby Ridge and Waco, and committed 9/11 as “Reichstag Fire Redux” after only the Roman Catholics on the Supreme Court cheated a homosexual draft-dodger into the White House with the patently illegal and unconstitutional ‘Bush v. Gore’ ruling.

If you have some compassionate or intelligent defense to offer on behalf of your Roman Anti-Christ’s obvious anti-American, anti-Constitutional, anti-sovereign People activities, please share them on this blog.

I await your reasoned and truthful response.

Come clean and you may spare yourself the curse you so richly deserve.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 7th, 2010
10:29 am

Errata: The “right wing” is ‘led’ by such as pederast, draft-dodger Rush Limbaugh

Davo

February 7th, 2010
2:34 pm

OT

Sick. Just…sick.

Palin: Obama could win votes by playing ‘war card’
http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/palin-obama-could-win-293282.html

Therefore a wise prince will seek means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things have need of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him.

Niccolo Machiavelli
“The Prince”

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 7th, 2010
11:41 pm

Davo
February 7th, 2010
2:34 pm

So true, so true: that’s why the JFK and MLK-killing sectarian faction, then led by Bush1 and Nixon, has committed 9/11 (Viz. “The New Pearl Harbor,” Griffin, Ph.D.).

Only the People, by G-d’s grace, can extricate America from this evil. Obama, though a good start and a positive sign, is but one man.

Hard Right Hook

February 8th, 2010
9:29 am

“Obama, though a good start and a positive sign, is but one man.”

Not really. One person, but hardly a man. Men have backbones.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 8th, 2010
12:06 pm

If “Hard Right Hook” were a man and any part an American – and not some punk or “Fifth Column” traitor, he’d respond to the above:

If you have some compassionate or intelligent defense to offer on behalf of your Roman Anti-Christ’s obvious anti-American, anti-Constitutional, anti-sovereign People activities, please share them on this blog.

I await your reasoned and truthful response.

Come clean and you may spare yourself the curse you so richly deserve.

Hard Right Hook

February 11th, 2010
10:12 am

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

February 8th, 2010
12:06 pm
“If “Hard Right Hook” were a man and any part an American – and not some punk or “Fifth Column” traitor, he’d respond to the above:

If you have some compassionate or intelligent defense to offer on behalf of your Roman Anti-Christ’s obvious anti-American, anti-Constitutional, anti-sovereign People activities, please share them on this blog.

I await your reasoned and truthful response.

Come clean and you may spare yourself the curse you so richly deserve.”

I try to avoid delusional, psychotic people. It serves no purpose in arguing with them, and you are no exception.

You and your hero Robert Littel can just STFU and go away. You serve no useful purpose, have nothing of substance to offer, and really don’t make any sense.

Are you related to Howard Dean???

Steve Caudill

February 22nd, 2010
1:10 pm

There are nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world. There are probably 200 to 2000 Muslims in the world who genuinely hate the U.S. enough to come over here and commit acts of terrorism, most of them are bottled up in Waziristan or are in Middle Eastern jails. Let’s move on.

vieja

February 22nd, 2010
3:10 pm

Does name-calling and inflammatory rhetoric help solve any of our collective problems?