Wyden/Udall: If Intelligence Community Is Dumb Rather than Malicious, Why Should We Trust Them?

Ron Wyden and Mark Udall just released a second statement on last week’s Section 215 dragnet document dump, taking the intelligence community’s excuse — that no one really knew what these programs were doing — at face value.

If the IC is dumb rather than malicious, they ask, why should we take their word on the value of the programs?

The intelligence community’s defense was that these violations were occurring because no one had a full grasp of how the bulk collection program actually worked.

If the assertion that ineptitude and not malice was the cause of these ongoing violations is taken at face value, it is perfectly reasonable for Congress and the American people to question whether a program that no one fully understood was an effective defense of American security at all. The fact that this program was allowed to operate this way raises serious concerns about the potential for blind spots in the NSA’s surveillance programs. It also supports our position that bulk collection ought to be ended.

The government’s misrepresentations inevitably led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court being consistently misinformed as it made binding rulings on the meaning of U.S. surveillance law. This underscores our concern that intelligence agencies’ assessments and descriptions about particular collection programs — even significant ones — are not always accurate. It is up to Congress, the courts and the public to ask the tough questions and require intelligence officials to back their assertions up with actual evidence. It is not enough to simply defer to these officials’ conclusions without challenging them. [my emphasis]

Though I get the feeling that Wyden and Udall aren’t buying this “dumb not malicious” line.

16 replies
  1. Snoopdido says:

    As the very last excuse on the List of 100 Last Resort Worst excuses, isn’t pleading “dumb” the last thing one does before reversing direction by pleading guilty and throwing oneself on the mercy of the court?

    We can only hope.

  2. Arbusto says:

    Two cliches come to mind: Intelligence is the second oldest profession and of course the oxymoron,Military Intelligence, oh and I guess the third that embodies inside The Beltway group think, The Emperors New Clothes method of governance.

  3. der says:

    One can just about hear the sniggering and mocking among This Towns cocktail chattering class – “Ron and Mark, the Hans and Franz of liberal elitism. Who do they think they are to make the Homeland less safe. They need to watch what they say, watch what they do. Girly men.”

    Hope they have the stones. And spine. The only people I see on their side other than Lee and Grayson are Manning, Snowden, Drake, and Binney.

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    If NSA actions are not malicious, then how does one explain
    the grounding of the plane of Bolivian president Evo Morales?

    Oh yeah, yet another dumb move.

    Clearly, there exists illegal machinations inside the IC.

    The old phrase, never attribute to malice that which can
    be explained by incompetence, is just that, an old phrase.

    It is also a great cover excuse. But, it no longer flys
    as it has been abused for so many years now, that anyone
    that brings it up is immediately suspect.

    The terrorists inside the NSA know exactly what they are doing,
    which is to get away with as much as possible.
    And they know it is illegal and unconstitutional, otherwise
    they would not be worried about Snowden leaks providing
    the evidence of their illegal activities.

  5. ess emm says:

    @der: At some point, even Feinstein will have to run for cover. But will it be before or after Clapper and Alexander go down?

  6. peasantparty says:

    These programs are Malicious, Evil, and a MIC cash cow.

    Dumb is one of the best reasons to shut the entire thing down. They still haven’t explained why they intend to keep all communications for years on end.

    The connections to contractors and cash flow are being made. We have seen the Qwest Communications issue pan out in the fact that Qwest’s CEO would not play the game, so they jailed him. Next up, Daddy Bush’s Carlyle group goes and does the buy out thing rouge Corporations do to those that have been forced under by the same politically connected members of the rouge corps.

    We have seen from Snowden docs and articles that NSA employees sit and enter phone numbers at night. Where do they get the phone numbers? From the directories, of course! Don’t you remember when your phone books were provided by Qwest, before the Comporium name was slapped on it? There is big finance and political ties to all of this and it is PURE EVIL. Here is one article on the buyout prince that is second to Bain Capital:


    Just look at Alexander’s office! An entire movie set of Star Trek, while we are placed under Sequestration and Americans are unemployed. Nothing they say at this point in time is going to be believed. The indepth tearing apart of all these things like Marcy is doing will be the only way we find out about who is doing what. You have to connect who profits, where, when, and why. We have the biggest part of the how. This story will go on for a very long time and I HOPE IT DOES!

    America is being FLEECED, Hosed, taken, and any other word you can put on it. Congress is defunct and part of the fleecing!

  7. ess emm says:

    @der: Actually the coalition that voted for Amash-Conyers is probably big enough now to take down the NSA and Director National Intelligence.

  8. orionATL says:


    i was fascinated to learn a few days ago that the cia was doing “startup” financing.

    i suppose they are following the israeli lead.

    isn’t it sweet that the pernicious, secret american paramilitary organization cia can “startup” corporations/institutions whose purpose may be malign and whose sponsor/controller remains hidden, as does the amount of its public funding?

    is there a better argument for the obama admin’s abject incompetence at oversight?

  9. peasantparty says:

    @Bill Michtom: LOL! Excuse the quickly typed typo. Of course, you could render it as an example of the Moulin Rouge where people are always trying to figure out who is working for whom!

    Same difference.

  10. peasantparty says:

    @P J Evans: Exactly! We also have seen history play out that while an active CIA operative, some of them actually have their own private businesses that feed off of the system.

  11. shekissesfrogs says:

    Compartmentalization keeps the players dumb, even congress apparently.

    Maybe they should review the specs given to the engineers and programers who built the thing if they want to understand how it works. This thing didn’t just spring up from the earth.

    Clapper and Alexander are supposedly incapable of understanding how it works, but right before Snowden leaked, they were still getting more access to information.

    Have you seen pics of Gen Alexander’s Star Trek Bridge command center? Dude is off his megolmaniacal rocker. Time to give him a pair of coveralls, a hover-round and send him to spend time with the twins in florida.

Comments are closed.