The federal government’s love affair with the ‘war on terror’

By: Leo Schenk – Columnist, Junior

In mid-January, Gallup released a poll which showed that for the first time in over 10 years, the majority of the American citizenry are no longer satisfied with the way the government is handling the “war on terror.” Who could blame them? From the revelations of Edward Snowden to the horrendous security situation in the Middle East following the removal of U.S. troops, there’s not much good that the public would be seeing in the government’s policy towards terrorism. Basically, this gradual shift is because of two things: the American public is becoming aware of both how horrendously the United States has been acting toward their citizens, as well as being told, erroneously, that the government is handling the situation perfectly and everything is going according to plan.

Research has been coming out, with increasing frequency, that the government’s overall terrorism policy has not been working. According to the National Review, the TSA has been gaining increased capabilities and funding, with no one being able to adequately explain why. The agency reported that the implementation of “whole body scanners” has had no effect on the prevention of terrorism, a $200 million program for behavioral detection has returned with no success, as well as allowing 16 people through the system, who were later proven to be associated with terrorism. On top of that, only 5 percent of explosives and weaponry sent through TSA security to test their effectiveness were actually found. They failed their own test, spectacularly. All of this does not paint a rosy picture of airport or transportation security against terrorism in the slightest.

On the digital front, the NSA’s arguably unconstitutional mass-surveillance programs have been entirely unhelpful in the thwarting of any terrorist attacks, The Intercept reports. This is because the vast majority of plots are still prevented through the same job that the FBI and CIA have been doing since before Sept. 11, and the massive expansion of governmental powers regarding surveillance. All of these failures and civil rights violations are doing nothing to deter the government. It seems like their motto is “So what if it didn’t work? Let’s just keep going with it.”

The Guardian reported that Mike Rogers (a former chair on the House Intelligence Committee) is using the existence of ISIS to claim that the government needs its unlimited surveillance of everyone on the planet back. This scare tactic is clearly not working to convince the public as well as they may hope.

For instance, when the news continually reports on the state of affairs in Syria, there’s no confusion about the effectiveness of operations to prevent these terrorist organizations. When ISIS is able to launch attacks in major NATO capitals, such as the attacks in Paris, fewer and fewer people would actually believe that the government’s terror policy is successful. One can only be lied to so many times; eventually the government’s lie that their failures are going to be successes with just a bit more power over the people begin to sound a tad ridiculous.

Mr. Rogers, not nearly as benign as the name would suggest, claims that the government’s power to monitor all international communications is totally necessary to fight ISIS and international terrorism, but most people are becoming more and more aware of how ineffective that actually is, just from the results which have now been made public. Logistically, there is no way to sift through that much data, it’s a classic “needle in the haystack” problem, where the haystack is literally billions of communications every day. All of these things come together to push public opinion on the actions of the government down further and further. As it turns out, people do not like being lied to.

The gradual shift in public opinion on terror policy is an excellent one. The government cannot be allowed to break the Constitution just because of security rhetoric that does not actually carry any meaning. The American people are being educated on what is occurring, and this must continue because the only thing that can stop the government’s power grabs is knowledge of them by those who are affected.

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