An article published on the Science 2.0 Website this past week argues strenuously that The Guardian’s continued disclosures of American intelligence operations assist Al Qaeda’s own intelligence efforts by providing the terrorist network with clear and explicit guidelines on how to disrupt American efforts to find and track Al Qaeda’s operatives.
According to the New York Times, Al Qaeda operates in more than 20 nations worldwide, including Germany. That article, published in 2011, has not been updated with new countries like Mali and Syria, where (in the latter) Al Qaeda is believed to comprise 10-25% of the “rebel” fighters struggling to bring down the Bashar Al-Assad government, a government that controls a stockpile of chemical weapons. American and Russian intelligence agencies disagree on just who has been using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, although the Russians argue pointedly that the data is more consistent with Al Qaeda’s goals and practices.
The Science 2.0 article claims that the National Security Agency’s collection of data about millions of daily phone calls and emails creates a grid like that used in the movie “Battleship” to track alien spaceships. In the movie alien technology disables American radar, but the Navy ship John Paul Jones uses the Pacific Ocean tsunami warning buoys to track water displacement, which signals the presence of alien spaceships as they move through the grid.
Critics of the NSA spying program allege that it violates Americans’ constitutional rights. Although the collection of metadata is completely within the law later revelations showed that the NSA found it had inadvertently violated the law thousands of times but took corrective action once the problem was identified through an internal audit. Critics falsely allege that the NSA and National Security Director James Clapper are intentionally misleading Congress about these programs, although Congressional representatives have confirmed that the intelligence reports it receives are updated promptly whenever inaccurate information is inadvertently conveyed in testimony. The most ardent critics have repeatedly misrepresented Director James Clapper’s apology to Congress for an erroneous answer as an admission of lying to Congress. However, the US Congress has steadfastly supported Clapper’s version of events and refused to prosecute him.
Security analysts around the world have rallied to the Guardian’s bizarre cause to undermine the efforts of American intelligence agencies to collect information on Al Qaeda. Instead, they argue that Internet users are entitled to “privacy” — a privacy, the Science 2.0 article alleges, that does not exist. What all parties agree upon is that the data is being collected and has been collected for years. The false sense of anonymity that many Internet users have enjoyed has been shattered. But the signs that anonymity never existed on the Internet have always been there.
The US government’s Federal Bureau of Investigation proved that the hactivist movement Anonymous was anything but by working with police agencies around the world to make dozens if not hundreds of arrests to stop the hackers from breaking into government and corporate computer systems. At least one group of Anonymous-inspired hacktivists, led by rogue journalist Barrett Brown (who currently faces prosecution for threatening an FBI agent and his family with retaliation), even set out to dismantle the American government’s collaboration with private companies to collect and manage intelligence information. According to recent news reports, the “anonymous” community has been cozened into staying within the law rather than blatantly defying it by the harsh reality that their activity on the Internet is not so secret.
Al Qaeda has long used social media sites like Twitter to publish propaganda and to coordinate communications between groups around the world. Twitter is one of the few companies that has worked hardest not to share information with the United States government, and some critics suggest that Twitter may be more useful to Al Qaeda’s operations because of its reticence.
Al Qaeda has used the Internet to attract and train so-called “self-radicalized” terrorists such as Major Nidal Hasan and the Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev through email, Web forums, and the distribution of English-language propaganda. Although the masterminds behind the original “Inpire” online Al Qaeda publication were finally killed by CIA drone strikes, a new online publication called “Azan” has emerged, and it poignantly documents Al Qaeda’s quiet program to recruit engineers for the purpose of attacking the American drone program.
News organizations like the Guardian, the Science 2.0 article alleges, are undermining the free nations’ governments as they attempt to prevent Al Qaeda from achieving its goal of launching a global jihad by the year 2020. The senseless and irresponsible disclosures demonstrate a clear lack of strategic thinking and understanding by these media organizations as well as a willful disregard for the thousands of lives that Al Qaeda takes every year.
And “the only logical outcome” of these disclosures, the article says, is that the government security organizations will devise new means of tracking and analyzing communications that are again “dark” (beyond public knowledge) because they have to. So all of the disclosures will have been for nought and all that will have been accomplished is that Al Qaeda will have benefitted from a “dark period” during which its operatives attempt to hide from international spy agencies by changing their methods of communication.