“Why Do We Have Embassies In Places We’re Not Liked?”

The past couple days have seen the US brace for attack by closing embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. The closures came on the heels of what the intelligence community deemed a rise in detailed communications by Al Qaeda operatives discussing attacks on specific targets. This news story is important because it falls in the middle circle on a venn diagram of current issues. It overlaps circles of conversation which include intelligence gathering in the US, the attack in Benghazi, the war on terror and US involvement in the Mid East. Since 9/11 and the beginning of The War on Terror intelligence gathering has become the center of great discussion. The main question being, can a free society be a safe society? Edward Snowden, now held up in Russia, sparked outrage from Americans after he revealed the NSA had collected massive amounts of phone and internet data on US citizens, along with known and suspected terrorists. Although two amateurs were capable of setting off IED’s during the Boston Marathon, major plots have been prevented, terror cells have been disrupted and spectacular attacks such as 9/11 are virtually impossible to pull off due to surveillance techniques. But now US citizens are left with two impossible decisions to make: I. Do you want preventable large scale attacks to be planned within our borders while we maintain privacy and freedom? II. Or do you want to forfeit your privacy in the name of safety? These questions only arise because those running the NSA are incapable of defending their programs. If they do defend PRISM to make it clear they are not violating US privacy laws and in doing so divulge information on covert operations (and its effectiveness) they portray information that would allow the enemy to operate around their dragnet of information; thus making them harder to detect. For the most part I believe programs like PRISM were not, and are not designed with the intention of monitoring behavior, or to read your text messages/phone conversations. But I do believe they need to be examined, seen for what they are, then altered to better detect threats, while being minimally invasive to the privacy of US citizens. I reject the notion that the two can not co-exist, and have a fear that this type of program can or will be abused by those in Washington to the determent of the US people, and would go as far as to say US citizens are more fearful of governmental abuse than they are of a terrorist attack. Outside of the US, American diplomats are now a major target of Al Qaeda because of a previously successful attack on a US consulate which resulted in Ambassador Chris Stevens being killed. Over the past 3-4 days embassies across the Middle East and North Africa have been closed due to intelligence that picked up chatter indicating an immanent threat to US personnel. These closures which have been headline news let the enemy know we are aware of their activity. By addressing the attacks worldwide we have removed the enemies element of surprise and the attack has a higher rate of failure, if it is even launched. Many advocates of PRISM point to this as a reason the NSA needs to continue its surveillance programs, because it just might deter a large scale attack in the future. This leads to the puzzling question, why do we have so many embassies in so many vulnerable places? Why are we so heavily invested in a part of the world that seems to hate us? In short because we have to stabilize governments in the Middle East so they can fight along side us in the war on terror. Some branches of the libertarian movement and the Tea Party address the Middle East by advocating we leave the region all together. By my estimation that would be a foolish move motivated by an utopian outcome. Leaving the Middle East doesn’t solve the problem. Retreating out of countries like Yemen only bolsters the enemy; and worst, it leaves a power vacuum that can easily be filled by terrorist organizations, the Iranians, the Russians or even the Chinese. I am in favor of the hands off approach taken by the Obama Administration in places like Syria.  We have to pick and choose how deeply we wade into and influence outcomes of civil wars and elections.  If we remove ourselves from the picture someone else is going to take our place, and that entity may put our interests and allies at risk. The rationale behind the thinking that if we just left them alone, they will leave us alone is absurd.  On the contrary it leaves the enemy to openly repress freedom, provides havens to plan and launch attacks, and allows them free movement to organize and regroup. The Middle East is a volatile region where we must be heavily invested financially, militarily and politically. Undoubtedly there will be blow back from some of our actions, and not all our investments will pan out, but our inaction would trigger far worse consequences. As far as operations here at home, a movement is well underway to curb monitoring of US citizens but I am fearful we have ventured down a path we will not be able to return from. Although I think the programs run by the NSA have honest intentions, I also believe that absolute power is absolutely corrupting. Any step taken now to reduce the amount of data gathered on US citizens is progress in the right direction. Pray for our President and lawmakers, these decisions will change the course of our country. – DH Please post comments below and for more on the threat to US embassies follow the link: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/06/19898615-al-qaeda-wanted-attack-to-change-balance-of-power-in-middle-east-sources-say?lite


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