FBI director Robert Mueller promised that his agency “will be taking action against Edward Snowden for disclosing confidential government activities. There is no greater threat to the government than an unreliable insider. Mr. Snowden has shown himself to be that kind of threat.”
Snowden's whereabouts are currently unknown. He is reputed to have gone into hiding out of fear for his life. Mueller vowed that “we will spare no effort to end the threat posed by this self-styled patriot. Snowden will be brought to justice. Hopefully, he will surrender himself peaceably. But he will be apprehended dead or alive.”
Bipartisan support for rigorous efforts to apprehend Snowden were voiced. House Speaker John Behner called Snowden “a traitor who is undermining President Obama's efforts to protect this country from serious enemies.” across the aisle, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) labeled Snowden's leaks “an act of treason. He may think he's pursuing a higher good by divulging the government's invasion of privacy, but if it comes down to trusting him or President Obama, I'm siding with the man voters elected over this high school dropout.”
Former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul dissented from fellow Republican Behner's take, saying that “we should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk.”
Representative Peter King (R-NY) came at the issue from a slightly different angle suggesting that “the reporter who broke the story is the one we should be going after. If it weren't for people like Greenwald publicity hounds like Snowden would have nowhere to turn and the government's secrets would be safe from prying eyes.”
So far, polls give an unclear view of where the general public stands on this issue. A Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found that 56% saw government's invasion of privacy to be “acceptable.” In contrast, in a Rueters poll the split was 31% saying Snowden is a patriot, 23% a traitor, and 46% undecided.
Agency Head Insists NSA Spying Is Very Effective
The current Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), General Keith B. Alexander, defended its program of widespread spying on Americans on the grounds that “numerous serious threats to the government have been thwarted as a result of the data accumulated by the Agency.”
Skeptics point out that there have been a number of jihad-style attacks on American soil since the NSA's massive intrusion into Americans' privacy got under way. Most notably, jihad terrorists detonated a bomb at the Boston Marathon. In 2009, a Muslim psychiatrist murdered 13 and wounded 31 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas in what he calls “an act of war against the invaders of Afghanistan.”
Alexander insisted that these examples “unfairly blame the NSA. Obviously, a main plotting ground for these types of attacks are the radical mosques sprinkled around the country. What many people don't know is that the President has blocked us from infiltrating these sites because it would violate Muslims' freedom to practice their religion without undue invasions of their privacy.”
“Let's not overlook the fact that 'Evangelical Christians' is the terrorist organization that appears on the top of our list of threats we must be on the lookout for,” Alexander reminded. “Keeping that in mind, I'd have to say that the NSA has proved very efficient in turning back several critical attempts to topple the government. In 2010 using information from our files we were successful in defending against insurgents who tried to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from his seat.”
“Then just last year the NSA's data was instrumental in assisting the President in fending off a well-financed attempt to remove him from office,” Alexander added. “The jihad attacks we missed were relatively minor in their impact. Though there was some loss of life, these incidents never really exposed our government to risk. So, in retrospect, I'd have to say our focus is where it should be.”
President's Africa Trip Has Hefty Price Tag
The First Family's excursion to Africa is shaping up as the most expensive trip ever taken by an American president. As of now, the estimated cost is expected to range from $60 to $100 million. A big item of expense is the around-the-clock security. Not only will there be hundreds of Secret Service agents accompanying the First Family, there will also be a constant presence of military jets flying overhead. The bill easily dwarfs what it would've cost to provide extra security for the Libyan Ambassador who was killed by Islamic jihadis in Benghazi last September.
Press Secretary Jay Carney brushed aside criticism that the outlay is extravagant saying that “the extra precautions are the absolute minimum we feel is necessary. The President and his family are the most important people on the planet. It is our sacred obligation to make every effort deemed necessary to ensure their safety.”
Carney contended that “comparisons with the amounts not spent to protect Ambassador Stephens aren't relevant. The Ambassador's death, tragic as it was, barely caused a ripple in the context of global affairs. Events since last September have proved that—the President was reelected, his government still rules. The same certainly wouldn't be the case if even the slightest harm were to befall President Obama or his family. The consequences would be catastrophic beyond measure.”
“On top of this, who would disagree that the malice directed toward the President has to be far greater than that which brought Ambassador Stephens down,” Carney continued. “Terrorists have had dozens of their friends and co-conspirators killed by order of President Obama. Is there any doubt that they would go to great lengths to get back at him in whatever way they could? We are confident that the American people are willing to pay whatever it costs to keep their President safe.”
Military Takes Stern Measures to Ensure Loyalty
Concerned that US troops may have conflicting loyalties, top brass is cracking down on “overt displays of behaviors conducive to a break down in discipline.”
By way of making an example, Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year Army veteran based at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C., is facing formal charges for “a litany of offensive behaviors.” The bad behavior includes his choice of reading material—conservative and critical of the Obama Administration—and his choice of menu—sandwiches from Chik-Fil-A—at a party he threw celebrating his promotion to Master Sergeant. Chik-Fil-A is the restaurant famous for its owners views on marriage.
“The Army must be 100% behind its Commander-in-Chief,” declared Army spokesman Major Hardin Saddler. “The President needs to be able to feel comfortable that the troops can be counted upon to carry out his orders without qualms or reservations. Sgt. Sommers has indicated that his reliability in this regard is subject to question. While we concede that it is likely Sommers is too far gone to be reclaimed, it is still possible that we can influence the behavior of other soldiers by how we handle his transgressions now.”
In a bid to provide some legal protection for freedom of conscience for US troops, Representative John Fleming (R-La) has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the Army from retaliating against soldiers for “actions and speech that reflect the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the individual.”
The Obama Administration opposes Fleming's amendment on the grounds that it would have a “significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment. Allowing troops to exercise their own sense of conscience undermines the unquestioning obedience that is necessary for a well-disciplined army.”
State Department Whistle Blower Threatened
Since disclosing that high officials in the US State Department had covered up an Inspector General report outlining criminal acts involving State Department personnel, whistle blower Aurelia Fedenisn has been intimidated by State Department threats. The criminal acts include Hillary Clinton’s security detail who allegedly hired prostitutes, a U.S. ambassador accused of trolling public parks for paid sex with under-aged prostitutes, and a security official in Beirut committing sexual assaults on foreign nationals.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the pressure tactics being used against Fedenisn as “normal efforts to preserve the image of the agency. The release of information revealing the criminal behaviors of Department personnel is extremely damaging. The publicity has caused far more harm than the alleged criminal offenses themselves. To begin with, paying for sex is a made-up crime and sexual assault is often a 'he-said/she-said' kind of thing. Rather than tar America's reputation with such petty charges they were quite appropriately, in my opinion swept under the rug. We have bigger issues to deal with.”
Kerry gave no specifics on what “bigger issues” he might have in mind. Possibly, the bigger issue might entail the leak of another memo indicating that the State Department has hired numerous agents with criminal backgrounds.
A Spokesman for the Secretary discounted this possibility saying that “this Administration prides itself on rehabilitating felons and giving them a second chance. Many of those who've served time have valuable experience with firearms or other skills useful to the government.”