Patraeus, Benghazi, Surveillance Weirdness
With the CIA investigating Petraeus and lawmakers pressing inquiries about the Benghazi attacks as couple of weird things have emerged.
Over the Patraeus clatter it has come forth that an agent used sophisticated surveillance and datamining technologies to investigate someone without having received a warrant and with absolutely no oversight is alarming. That Jill Kelly a Tampa Bay “socialite friendly with Patraeus” approached a friend of hers, an FBI agent after receiving threatening emails and a major investigation ensued shows the disturbing reach of the surveillance state and how easily surveillance is conducted for purely personal purposes. Let me summarize the Patraeus scandal: Sexy friend complains to FBI. FBI agent launches his own investigation. Paula Broadwell identified as sender of threatening emails is subjected to invasive surveillance despite there being no evidence that she committed a criminal offense. Every personal email she sent is scrutinized, pics of her lover (“shirtless” apparently) are viewed, her contacts databased and also investigated which revealed her affair with Patraeus and involvement with General John Allen too. And then a scandal breaks loose because Patraeus was getting busy with his hot biographer. The real scandal here is that an FBI agent launched his own investigation not because a crime was suspected but because he felt like getting to the bottom of a friends grievance. So when an investigative agent or a police officer with access to surveillance tools feels like using them on say a wife he suspects of cukoldry or a friends nemesis boss or simply to cast the surveillance camera on someone who caught his eye, those in the internal investigation units are going to pay no attention to their agencies gross overreach of authority unless their spy was involved in a sex affair and was in the organization’s top ranks. And that’s great that the Pentagon is reviewing its ethical standards after a 4 star general got caught with his pants down but how bout showing the same outrage over the litany of other crimes the US military has committed over the past decade; peeing on dead people, killing babies, raping women and torturing war prisoners. The US is a surveillance state and it conducts unaccountable probes into the lives of even the most law abiding citizens. Washington Post’s Top Secret America revealed that “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.” If this scandal is really about Patraeus and his sex life rather than about the tentacular reach of America’s sprawling surveillance apparatus that’s disturbing…
like…the Senate Intelligence Committee reviewing “a detailed chronology of the attack on September 11 that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens” from a “video made from a composite of sources, including Predator drone video of the events that night.” What’s being admitted too here is that investigators have possessed video footage from various sources since the attacks occurred. Dianne Feinstein has been upfront about that. So why the ambiguity surrounding the event? Although the comprehensive surveillance networks are anything but synchronized and comprise a vast and often unnavigable data universe it’s unconscionable that the CIA, NSA and the hundreds of other investigative bureaus responsible for investigating the Benghazi could not see what was occurring in real time or at worst in the immediate aftermath. The strategic vagueness that has shrouded events in Benghazi and the strange contradictions now surfacing as investigations continue is the Obama Administration fumbling “perception management“, the reviled strategy popular during the Bush administration that included creating and disseminating “misinformation” to manipulate public perception of events.