Month: December 2015

Don’t base policy on false narrative: Opposing view

December 16, 2015

To deny our intelligence services the tools needed to keep Americans safe is shortsighted and naive.

The challenges to our national security have never been greater. From international organized crime selling dirty-bomb materials on the black market, to sophisticated terrorists recruiting and planning attacks in America, the challenge to get our national security right is daunting.

The debate about what our intelligence services were and are doing on the subject of surveillance continues to be based on inaccurate, misleading accounts, sensationalized by the news media and some politicians, leading the public to believe a false narrative.

The phone records “metadata” program did not and does not collect the content of conversations, just the “to” and “from” billing data routinely provided by companies. The NSA contractor who leaked program details helped create a false narrative and led terrorists to change tactics.

The narrow metadata program stored anonymous information for a machine to run matches against known terrorists’ numbers, following a court-approved process. To call that storage invasive belies the reality of, and restrictions on, its use. Additionally, critics gloss over 38 terror plots in the U.S. and Europe the program helped prevent.

The program was recently changed so that telecom companies, rather than the NSA, hold the data. The companies store the data for different time periods, in different formats — creating a challenge for the FBI in an emergency. The attackers in San Bernardino, Calif., for example, could have been in touch with other operatives in the USA unknown to the FBI. The data needed to quickly identify a terrorist network is no longer immediately available to the FBI.

Though intelligence is not an exact science, our intelligence community has successes every day. Most of these accomplishments are never made known. To deny our intelligence services the tools needed to keep Americans safe is both shortsighted and naive.

The program was created after 9/11 when an intelligence gap was discovered. In light of San Bernardino, the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, the program should be strengthened.

Mike Rogers is host of Westwood One radio’sSomething to Think About, a CNN commentator, and past chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

This article first appeared in USA Today.

Terrorist Attacks Reshuffle GOP’s Presidential Race

December 8, 2015

The terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have reshuffled the Republicans’ presidential primary, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the front-runner, Donald Trump.

Roughly half of Republican primary voters in Iowa view the celebrity businessman as the most capable candidate to handle the threat posed by Islamic State, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. His next closest rival: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, at 15%.

The survey was taken before Mr. Trump took his most controversial position to date by calling for a ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S. Whatever the fallout from this latest episode, Mr. Trump’s hardline stance against Islamic State terrorists has clearly tapped a nerve with voters willing to ignore his lack of foreign-policy experience.

Mr. Trump outpaces his rivals in New Hampshire and South Carolina on the question of which candidate Republican primary voters trust most to deal with the issue of national security, according to surveys taken earlier this month by Harper Polling for Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security (APPS), a group formed to promote foreign policy in the 2016 race.

Iowa is the only state where Mr. Trump trails one of his rivals on the national-security question, according to the Harper Polling surveys. Mr. Cruz nabbed the top spot in that poll, with 34% of Iowa Republicans giving the Texas senator the highest marks on national security. Mr. Trump was second, at 19%. Mr. Cruz recently pulled almost even with Mr. Trump in the Hawkeye State.

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