How stupid do they think we are? The government's dishonesty would be funny if it weren't so familiar and predictable. We need a hundred fifty Jon Stewarts on duty around the clock to keep up with it.

The latest howler, if you can call them that, is from General Keith Alexander. He asserted before Congress that the NSA's surveillance programs have prevented "dozens" of terrorist events over the last several years. General Alexander leads the NSA. He is the same official who asserted before Congress this spring that NSA does not collect information on American citizens. With Edward Snowden's disclosures, people have reminded General Alexander that, under our law, lying to Congress is perjury. I guess that makes him more believable now, since we've reminded him.

I'd like to know what NSA thinks is a terrorist event. Perhaps running a red light on Sunday in front of a church? Maybe writing a blog post like this one? We'll have to wait until NSA publishes its list of dozens of terrorist events before we learn what Alexander is talking about. Don't get impatient, because you're going to wait a long time.

Here's something to remember. NSA does not prevent terrorist events. NSA collects information. The FBI prevents terrorist events. The FBI's terrorist event prevention program is a joke. Every few months it makes a complete fool of itself by trotting out some poor bloke it sucked into one of its ridiculous stings. If I were to relate the pattern the FBI follows in these stings, it would make me cry. You are familiar enough with them. Each one is more transparently bogus than the last, because the pattern is so predictable. It is a laughable public relations exercise, and it doesn't work.

Now, do you suppose the FBI foiled dozens of terrorist plots over the last several years, and didn't tell us about them? That it substituted transparently stupid stings to feed its public relations appetite when it had real plots to its credit? What's going on here? The FBI and the rest of the government tell us all about their fake successes, can't prevent real attacks, and keep all their actual success stories a secret? Do you think they keep those successes a secret as a favor to the NSA? I doubt it. More likely, given the FBI's record, is that those plots the NSA says it foiled are another fiction. Keep the public relations machine running, even if it means the FBI receives credit for things it never did.

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