NSA Surveillance and the Petraeus Effect

In the film, “The DeadZone” an aspiring, yet wicked politician named Greg Stillson (played by Martin Sheen) is running for a seat in the US Senate when he learns of an editorial that is going to appear in the local paper and will do great damage to his chances of winning. Stillson’s goons enlist the help of a harlot to seduce the married writer, which she does successfully when photographs are taken of their encounter and shown to the editorial’s author. After Stillson tells the writer to “stay out of the campaign business” in return for him staying “out of the publishing business”, the writer wrestles with his conscience and asks, “What if I don’t make a deal, Stillson?” As Sheen’s character prepares to leave the writer’s office, he says, “Oh, you’ll make a deal. Otherwise, I’ll have Sonny here take your (expletive) head off.” – The Case FOR Islamophobia, p. 390

By Ben Barrack

That the Obama administration had the goods on CIA Director David Petraeus and used what it knew to destroy him when he didn’t play ball relative to Susan Rice’s Benghazi talking points is as close to a self-evident truth as you can get. Perhaps that wasn’t just about meting out punishment to a disloyal subordinate. It may have also served as a shot across the bow to others who desperately want to keep their skeletons locked up, regardless of what they are.

As the details about the NSA surveillance program started coming out, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) if Holder could assure that “no phones inside the Capitol were monitored, of members of Congress”.

Holder would not answer the question. As a result, every member of Congress who had Petraeus-like secrets began taking inventory of what the administration might know. This is a perfectly logical conclusion, not simple speculation:

Do you think the majority of Congress (both Republicans and Democrats) have secrets they want kept secret? Do you think that Holder’s answer indicated that the administration has information about those secrets? Do you think Congressmen and Senators were able to infer that possibility, based on Holder’s answer, Petraeus’ treatment, and the scope of the NSA surveillance program?

You betcha.

Consider Barack Obama’s operation manual – Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. It is a book he long ago grokked. There are two rules that would seem to apply here:

Rule #4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

Rule #8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”

To illustrate usage of Rule #4, we have the virtually empirical evidence that Petraeus was destroyed (“killed”) by being made to live by his own book of rules. A four-star General / CIA Director having extra-marital affairs is something he would likely do anything to prevent from coming out. In the case of Petraeus, it appears he either wasn’t willing to stretch the lie about Benghazi any further, consequences be damned OR he called the administration’s bluff and guessed wrong. This reality is not lost on members of Congress, especially in light of Holder’s response to Kirk.

As for Rule #8, if Edward Snowden intended to harm the administration, he may have strengthened it. First, if there was a scandal that was really beginning to do damage, it was the IRS scandal. Attention has been re-directed to the NSA surveillance programs. It may just be that these revelations are not only not harming Obama but giving him the leverage to covertly coerce a majority of individuals in the branch of government that is supposed to keep him in check.

How else can we explain that while the administration is seemingly drowning in a sea of scandals, Obama’s immigration agenda is sailing through Congress? Why would Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) totally and completely abandon the constituency without which he never would have gotten elected? Why would Rubio stand with the likes of Schumer, Durbin, and Menenedez… on anything, let alone on such a divisive wedge issue? As I’ve said before, photo-ops are forever:


Now it’s learned that after the NSA surveillance program was leaked, Rubio twists the knife in the backs of conservatives just days later by going on Univision and telling the audience – in Spanish – that legalization comes first, then border security. This is anathema to the radio ads featuring Rubio’s voice that have been played during Rush Limbaugh’s commercial breaks. Saying one thing in English and another in Arabic Spanish is what Al-Jazeera does; it shouldn’t be what a conservative U.S. Senator should do.

What is utterly amazing is that scandal-ridden administrations are supposed to see their agendas dry up, not sped up.

Consider the ‘gang of 8’ on the House side. A normally conservative congressman – Rep. John Carter (R-TX) decided it was good optics to tour the country with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a congressman so liberal that he made the list of 70 who are actually registered with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) caucus. We had his spokesman on the radio show and the rationale goes that if you get the far left (Gutierrez) and the far right (Carter) to work together, you’ll find a happy medium. That’s insane. It’s like arguing that putting dirt in your water will make it taste better.

Again, though, why is a scandal-ridden administration seeing “conservatives” pushing its agenda?

While we’re on the subject of the House of Representatives, how about its Speaker? Within just a few short days of the NSA surveillance scandal being brought to light, John Boehner has announced that he expects to have a House Bill on immigration.

From POLITICO, via Hot Air (check the comments to see how conservatives feel about Boehner’s position):

After months of coy talk from Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), any sign of planning for legislation is a positive development for reform proponents.

Why would the “coy talk” all of a sudden stop as soon as Holder indicates he may have the goods on any member of Congress who hasn’t been able to “live up to his own book of rules”? Again, why is a scandal-ridden administration seeing a Congress continue to push the administration’s agenda?

Check out the Senate vote for cloture. At 82-15, it wasn’t even close. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted to end debate, waving the need for a 60-vote majority before voting on the bill.

Despite the outrage of Tea Party conservatives who have been targeted by the IRS, a majority of Senate Republicans have decided to operate on a now demonstrably false premise which says that Obama was fairly re-elected and that consequently, his agenda should be followed. At the heart of the IRS scandal is strong evidence that voters were disenfranchised. Yet, despite this burgeoning reality, these Republicans are choosing to spend their time and energy doing what their constituents desperately don’t want them to do – push forward comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty) at a time when we have every reason to believe that the IRS suppressed these votes.

Why are Republican Senators and Congressmen doing these things?

Here is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) heaping praise on McConnell and Boehner for helping him with immigration reform, via RCP:

When someone like Harry Reid says what you say is “music to (my) ears”, there is no clearer sign that you’re on the wrong track.


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