Last week, NSA director Keith Alexander provided the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with a list of 50 terrorist threats against U.S. interests here and abroad that were averted thanks to his agency’s monitoring of phone calls and emails. The people whose lives are most affected by this intrusion on privacy — the general public — will not get a chance to see the proof since, as Alexander explained, “If we give all those out, we give all the secrets of how we’re tracking down the terrorists as a community, and we can’t do that.”
That approach may be for the best. After all, if the NSA were to release specifics, the names of the perpetrators might become public, which in turn could lead to hurt feelings. Just ask U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, who undertook efforts last week to persuade the FBI to drop an ad campaign that featured the names and photos of the most wanted terrorists on the grounds that it stereotypes Muslims.
The Seattle Weekly News (h/t Weasel Zippers) carries a link to McDermott’s June 19 letter to the FBI in which he opined that the ad campaign was “not only offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, but it encourages racial and religious profiling.”
And how did the FBI, one of the key intelligence-gathering apparatuses in the nation, respond to this idiocy? They complied, natch. Station KING reports that the ads, which appeared on the sides of buses, are now history. So, one might add, are the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which killed 3,000 innocent Americans, but that was way across the country from Congressman McDermott’s town, so who cares?
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Seattle FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt is quoted as saying that the agency is working to swap out those ads with others promoting the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program.
Seattle is not the first city to cave in to complaints that ads designed to keep Americans safe were thinly veiled expressions of religious persecution. In March, San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascon, declared that the City by the Bay would not “tolerate Islamophobic bigotry” after the a group that calls itself the American Freedom Defense Institute complained about ads like the one shown below.
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