Do We Actually Have a Screening Policy?

If there’s one thing that might convince you that the federal government doesn’t have a policy to screen visa applicants for prospective terrorists (it just wants you to think it does), this might be it:

Fearing a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, a former senior department official said.

“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis. Cohen is now a national security consultant for ABC News.

One current and one former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen’s account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants.

There are so many things wrong with that it’s hard to know where to start. How about here? There is no right to privacy, freedom of speech, or even due process required in processing visa applications. The Supreme Court has upheld that any number of times. We enforce the Bill of Rights inside the United States not worldwide.

Who in the heck’s favor are they trying to garner?

55 comments… add one
  • steve

    Would like to see more details on this secret policy. When did it start and what exactly does it cover? Since it is framed as a civil liberties issue, it sounds as though it is referring to social media posted here in the US. Also, are we legally allowed to look at social media posted in Europe? Would that break any agreements we have with European countries if we were spying on their citizens by looking at their social media? Finally, any estimates on how many people we could catch this way. I would expect to see a lot of pseudonyms.

    Steve

  • PD Shaw

    Who in the heck’s favor are they trying to garner?

    Glenn Greenwald’s

    h/t Tom Maguire

  • From the cited article:

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas

    The emphasis is mine. “All” sounds like quite a few from outside the country.

  • PD Shaw

    @steve. According to John Cohen in the linked piece:

    “The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,” Cohen said in an interview broadcast on “Good Morning America” today.”

    IOW, Jon Stewart would make fun of them on the Daily Show and they just couldn’t take it anymore.

  • I don’t know whether the policy was concocted under the Bush Administration or under the Obama Administration and, frankly, I don’t care. I think it’s a policy that borders on insanity and needs to be reversed.

    I also think we should track down whoever was the architect of the policy. But that’s another story.

  • Modulo Myself

    There’s no really way for anybody not involved with the NSA to review someone’s social media messages, unless you want to rely on the visa candidate candidly giving all of the pseudonyms they’ve used online. Also, how could immigration even know that the Abdul Abdallah posting death to America was the Abdul Abdallah applying for a visa? This is the kind of info you get from a background check. If social media was not a component of a background check, that’s a different story.

  • This is the kind of info you get from a background check. If social media was not a component of a background check, that’s a different story.

    That’s what the story is saying.

  • Modulo Myself

    IOW, Jon Stewart would make fun of them on the Daily Show and they just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Or they would get a great deal of grief when they kept out the chairman of some Dubai contracting firm with the same name of a 19-year old jihadist in Yemen.

  • Modulo Myself

    That’s what the story is saying.

    From the NYTimes article:

    Ms. Malik faced three extensive national security and criminal background screenings. First, Homeland Security officials checked her name against American law enforcement and national security databases. Then, her visa application went to the State Department, which checked her fingerprints against other databases. Finally, after coming to the United States and formally marrying Mr. Farook here, she applied for her green card and received another round of criminal and security checks.

    I’d like to believe that the law enforcement and national security databases have some sort of relationship with social media. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • Modulo Myself

    We should really be asking the NSA what it is they are doing? Finding out who posts violent messages on jihadist websites is something they are equipped to do. How did Malik and her pseudonym slip through the wide net supposedly cast by the NSA? I mean, I’d like to believe they are doing other things than building expensive data centers in the desert that can hold all the metadata of people doing boring internet activities.

  • PD Shaw

    Note that the linked article states that the policy precluded “a review of publicly-posted social media messages.”

    I agree that we don’t know if doing so would have discovered something, but I would be surprised if there is any state or federal regulatory agency that doesn’t google an individual receiving more than passing attention.

  • ...

    IOW, Jon Stewart would make fun of them on the Daily Show and they just couldn’t take it anymore.

    And these are the worthless little pieces of amphibian shit in charge of killing the bad guys. No wonder they blow up women and children just as often – trying to kill the real bad guys might make the President soil himself. Jesus Fucking Christ, has there ever been a more worthless ruling class in the history of the world? Even the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs were better than this, and they were inbred retarded defectives.

  • ...

    Or they would get a great deal of grief when they kept out the chairman of some Dubai contracting firm with the same name of a 19-year old jihadist in Yemen.

    Reviewing it doesn’t believe that you take everything at face value. It DOES mean you review the goddamned information. Passports and such can be forged, too, which doesn’t mean they fail to look at passports.

    Looking at social media can be helpful. A few months back, the PM of Finland met a Syria refugee who was claiming to be 17 year-old kidnapped orphan from Iraq. He claimed he looked older because he liked to exercise. The PM, like most of the fucking idiots in charge of Western countries, believed everything he was told. However, other people didn’t buy it, looked into it, and discovered he was actually from Syria, a bodybuilder, had traveled around Europe, apparently had been in the Syrian military, and had been arrested somewhere in Europe for some violent crime or another. They found this out by finding his actual Facebook page. Oops. Checking into that may have kept the Finnish PM from looking like a tool idiot.

    And as it stands, it appears that the NSA, the FBI, ICE, the State Department, and Homeland “Security” failed in the case of Ms. Malik to do any goddamned good at all.

    A reasonable person might think we should stop taking on refugees until we can review the obviously failed processes used by our “security” apparatus. A reasonable person said that out loud. He has been excoriated by pretty much everyone else in the ruling class, who have bent over backwards to say we should admit everyone that wants to come here without any real background checks whatsoever.

    I’m having trouble believing that this many people are truly that stupid, but it’s that or they’re evil. Or both. Completely fucking worthless human being in any event, no better than people like Malik and Farooq.

  • TastyBits

    Several years ago, I quit voicing my outlandish predictions when they kept becoming real. One I made was that US citizens would lose their rights while terrorists would be granted rights.

    Today, we have a push to take away a US citizen’s 2nd Amendment right by simply adding them to a secret terrorist watch list, and an actual non-US citizen terrorist has secretly gained a 4th Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures.

    I have no doubt that the gun control laws will be enforced such that they will not apply to the terrorists. I realize that sounds crazy, but it would have sounded crazy if I said that the government would not check the Facebook page of somebody applying for a US visa. At this point, it is really difficult to construct a scenario so crazy that it cannot become real.

  • michael reynolds

    Say that 99% of all Syrian refugees are pure as the driven snow. Unlikely since historically at least they are mostly fleeing Assad, not ISIS. But what the hell, call it 99%.

    Let’s say the 1% remaining are ISIS persuadables. That’s 100 out of the initial 10,000. Let’s say only 5% of that 1% can actually be turned into ISIS actives. That’s 5 ISIS terrorists imported into the United States for reasons that absolutely escape me.

    We don’t need the workers. They in no way profit the citizens of the United States.

    Bringing 10,000 of the estimated 3,000,000 Syrian refugees into the US is nothing but a gesture. So for the sake of a gesture we intend to import five theoretical terrorists, when it took just two to pull of San Bernardino and half a dozen for Paris.

    I don’t get it. Why are we taking risks for gestures?

  • Guarneri

    Why are we taking risks for gestures.

    For the same reason we let Gitmo prisoners out under the false pretense that “a handful” will end up back in the fight, when the real answer is 20-30%. Politics, and dogma.

  • steve

    “IOW, Jon Stewart would make fun of them on the Daily Show and they just couldn’t take it anymore.”

    Given your proclivities, of course you believe that. However, I will repeat my earlier question since it actually seems much more likely. Are we legally allowed to spy on European citizens? The embarrassment I suspect they would really worry about is, after the revelations that we spied on Merkel, that we were monitoring European social media. Also, given the big kerfuffle over the NSA monitoring emails and phone calls, is it legal for the US government to monitor domestic social media? If so, are there any limits?

    Last of all, this is pretty funny when you have a bunch of pretty bright people yammering on about a “secret” program when they don’t even really know anything about it.

    “So for the sake of a gesture we intend to import five theoretical terrorists”

    I can probably find the article if you want, but one of the CATO guys went over the numbers. Over the last 10-12 years we have admitted roughly a million immigrants from the ME. Of those, IIRC, there three terror convictions, all for planning acts outside of our country that were never carried out. So, your estimate seems awfully high. I presume that you are working on the assumption that we have to accept anyone who applies, which would indeed lead to higher rates, but not everyone who applies is accepted as an immigrant. So, your actual number, we should let you round off, would be 10 out of 1 million, or 0.1 out of 10,000.

    Gestures? Maybe. A large number of these will probably be real refugees fleeing persecution and torture. (Ok, conservatives support torture but I assume you don’t.) Is it an empty gesture providing refuge (refugee, get it?) to those fleeing war and death? Living in refugee camps with no real future? I thought we used to believe in that kind of stuff. Guess not anymore. The need for absolute security (I think I was correct about the fear thing earlier) is driving us and that never leads anywhere good. (See Iraq War)

    Steve

  • steve

    “For the same reason we let Gitmo prisoners out”

    And here I thought it was because refigured out we shouldn’t hold innocents indefinitely.

    Steve

  • Guarneri

    I was unaware that Islamic terrorists, I mean workplace violence committers, are innocents………

    Learn something new every day.

  • ...

    Are we legally allowed to spy on European citizens?

    How is it spying if you look at someone’s public Facebook posts, Instagrams, Tweets, etc? The NSA tracks my goddamned cellphone metadata, but they won’t look at some towelhead’s public proclamations of Jihad and Death to America?

    As to Gitmo, let’s listen to President Charles II hisownself:

    “The judgment that we’re continually making is, are there individuals who are significantly more dangerous than the people who are already out there who are fighting?” Obama said.

    “What do they add? Do they have special skills? Do they have special knowledge that ends up making a significant threat to the United States?”

    “And so the bottom line is that the strategic gains we make by closing Guantanamo will outweigh, you know, those low-level individuals who, you know, have been released so far.”

    I’m sure Obama would be turning bin Laden free, too, if he had the chance. That asshole doctor that shot up Ft. Hood will probably be given a full pardon before O’s term is up, and probably a large cash bonus for his inconvenience.

    This is also a fine argument for letting people like that idiot that shot up the black church in Charleston go free. You just know his imprisonment is a recruiting tool for other white supremacists, and the likelihood of his doing something dangerous again can’t be that great, strategically, right?

    Of course, this IS the logic they want to use to open up the prisons, legalize all illegal aliens, not screen any immigrants for jihadi leanings, etc, so it’s only a matter of time.

  • ...

    I was unaware that Islamic terrorists, I mean workplace violence committers, are innocents………

    Man-made workplace disaster mistakes-were-maders. Keep up, Drew.

  • ...

    From Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau:

    Trudeau took the government to task, however, for using the term “barbaric” [to describe forced marriage, honor killings and female genital mutilation] and said an official government publication should make an “attempt at responsible neutrality.” He said the acts are “absolutely unacceptable” and that’s not a matter of debate, but the language chosen by the government to describe them is objectionable, the MP said.

    The modern progressive thinks we can’t actually call things like female genital mutilation, forced marriage or honor killings barbaric, because that would offend the sensibilities pathetic brown people and insult their savage cultures.

  • steve

    “I was unaware that Islamic terrorists, I mean workplace violence committers, are innocents”

    We had a total of about 80 prisoners in Gitmo. About 85% of those were there due to the bounty program. Oddly enough, when offered lots of money, Afghans turned in a lot of people who were people they hated, but were innocent of terorism. Out of those 800, the government has said there are 28 people too dangerous to release, but not enough evidence to prosecute. 9 have actually been prosecuted, which is about the same number of prosecutors who have resigned or asked to be reassigned because they believed the prosecutions were unjust. Obama has released about 130 and Bush about 530. So, yes, most of them were innocent of any terror acts.

    All that said, you really need to solve the following conundrum. If you think Bush was actually 100% correct in sticking all of these people in Gitmo because they were really terrorists, how is it that your guy who was 100% completely correct then let over 500 of those people go? Was he 100% wrong on those?

    Steve

  • steve

    “That asshole doctor that shot up Ft. Hood will probably be given a full pardon before O’s term is up”

    LOL. Bet you a case of beer he doesn’t.

    Steve

  • michael reynolds

    Steve:

    I love how those numbers are always based on the last 10 years. Because if it was 15 years the numbers would look very different, wouldn’t they?

    ISIS didn’t exist until a couple of years ago, and they only recently switched tactics to international terrorism. So CATO’s numbers are unconvincing twice over. ISIS is openly attempting to get their people in via the refugees, as well as other means, and our “vetting” is absolute bullshit. Malik was “vetted.” The FBI admits as much. And that imbecile up in Canada isn’t even making an effort to vet the refugees he’s taking in.

  • Andy

    Steve,

    “Are we legally allowed to spy on European citizens?” Yes, with caveats. Intelligence agencies are not generally not allowed to spy on anyone, regardless of nationality, who is on US territory. There are limited exceptions and in most cases the intel agency has to act as a supporting agency to a law enforcement agency (mainly the FBI). Overseas we can legally spy on any non-American though as a matter of courtesy and practicality we can’t/don’t.

    “Is it legal for the US government to monitor domestic social media? If so, are there any limits?” It depends. I can’t speak to law enforcement on this, but intel agencies are not allowed to monitor domestic social media (again, normal exceptions apply).

    This brings up a problem, one that was highlighted in the Snowden leaks. It’s hard to know what’s domestic and what isn’t when it comes to a global internet. What Snowden’s docs revealed is that foreigners with foreign mobile phones can be monitored by the NSA unless they are physically on US territory – once they were in the US a a FISA court order was required. The problem was that it wasn’t always easy to determine if the person was in the US or not. Then there is the problem of foreigners talking with American citizens who may or may not be in the US. Given America’s large immigrant community it’s not always obvious is the voice or facebook/twitter post comes from a US citizen. Speaking of social media, is there a legal difference if someone posts on facebook from the US vs. a foreign country? What about instant messaging, texting, ect? I don’t know the answer but I’d guess it does make a difference. Point being is that we have bureaucratic and legal system that can’t account for the technological reality.

    And here is where I make my tired soapbox argument on reforming the federal government….

  • Andy

    Anyway, as far as Syrian refugees go, I don’t think we should take them in, but it’s not fear of ISIS sleepers. I think we are already importing too many people and it’s affecting our economy. That doesn’t mean I hate Syrian refugees or don’t care about their plight, but refugee status in the US isn’t the only option. I think the US should spend money to help other countries house the refugees.

  • steve

    “Overseas we can legally spy on any non-American though as a matter of courtesy and practicality we can’t/don’t.”

    That is what I was thinking, especially after the Merkel incident. Of course the conservatives here assumed it had something to do with Stewart.

    “I love how those numbers are always based on the last 10 years. Because if it was 15 years the numbers would look very different, wouldn’t they?”

    No, it wouldn’t. The 9/11 guys were not here as refugees having undergone a year or two of vetting.

    “Malik was “vetted.”

    Not like a refugee, but rather as a spouse. If you want to change vetting for spouses to be as rigorous as for refugees, I am good with that.

    “ISIS is openly attempting to get their people in via the refugees”

    Openly? Good, we will catch those. Ahh, I think what you really mean is that they said they are going to sneak in among the refugees. Feel free to believe everything they say. And, while ISIS is only a couple of years old, they are really just part of the evolution of AQ, with Saddam’s old military thrown in. I doubt they are really trying to use the refugee route anymore than AQ did. Takes too long. (Yes, for Europe that would be different.)

    Steve

  • jan

    Don’t employers look on social media in determining the conduct and character of someone interviewing for a job? At least that’s what I’ve heard. If so, why is it not a no brainer to do the same for anyone applying for legal status to this country — especially in the troubled times in which we live?

  • michael reynolds

    steve:

    You honestly don’t think ISIS are trying to use the refugee route? This is why you aren’t running a murderous death cult. Of course they are, I would be. You don’t just play the short-term bets, you play the long-term ones, too.

    And you are particularly motivated to use refugees because of the effect it will have. Use a refugee and you shove our charity in our faces. You do that because that’s a good move to make. It’s ruthless and effective and it blocks our soft-soap approach.

    These are not people who think like civilized, prosperous, peaceful people. These are people who think like psychopaths, and the thing with psychopaths is that they are exceedingly good at understanding power and nice civilized people are not. I can guarantee you they’re looking at the refugee route.

  • CStanley

    Like Jan, I’m questioning whether there is a right to privacy on social media (even for US citizens.) are we talking about private messaging on a social media platform, or published comments?

    And to michael’s point, this is why the analogies between risk of car accidents and terrorist attack fail: the latter can be due to unforced error. To make the analogy more correct you’d have to include the decisions made by the auto industry. If auto execs were considering adding some defective cars to the fleet, and arguing that it would only be a small number so the risk to any individual was slight, I don’t think we’d consider that acceptable.

  • steve

    “Of course they are, I would be. ”

    You don’t actually have to do it though, just convince people you are trying. A lot cheaper and just as effective. This death cult wants to create a clear separation between its brand of Islam and the rest of the world. A few more Americans dead won’t matter that much. They know, and we should know, they don’t pose anything like an existential threat. What they really want are more recruits, more legitimacy in building their caliphate.

    “Like Jan, I’m questioning whether there is a right to privacy on social media (even for US citizens.) are we talking about private messaging on a social media platform, or published comments?”

    I don’t know if this has been resolved in the courts. By my readings, it looks as though Facebook has been monitored for at least 5 years, but it just starts there. Most of thee people will post using pseudonyms. Is it then legal to track those? Do they need FISA approval? Again, can they do that in Europe? Will or allies be especially happy about us tracking down their citizens?

    We have no idea what this “secret” program really is. We don’t know what they really monitored or did not and why. Yet…….Jon Stewart.

    Steve

  • michael reynolds

    They know, and we should know, they don’t pose anything like an existential threat.

    Whether or not the threat is existential depends on how you define our existence and how much the threat can expand. If there’s a mass casualty event every week, it will sure as hell destroy the lives we now have in this country. It will result in a huge increase in police and surveillance, roadblocks, security checks everywhere you go, etc…

    It’s just a fact that bringing refugees in from Syria increases the danger. We can argue about whether it’s this percent or that, but obviously the terror threat rises if we bring more potential ISIS recruits into the country. Which to my mind places the burden on the advocates to explain why we should choose to do this. I have not yet seen a rational argument.

    This is a feel-good gesture, we are striking a pose, we apparently believe ISIS and their fellow travelers will think, “Aw, look, they’re so nice to Muslims, we should stop killing them.” It’s an absolute misreading of the reality. They are not weary, lazy, self-satisfied westerners, they are energetic, motivated, determined barbarians. They very badly want to become an existential threat, and given the opportunities technology affords, they may be able to pull it off.

  • PD Shaw

    From the article:

    “The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,” Cohen [former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis] said in an interview broadcast on “Good Morning America” today.”

    “”It was primarily a question of optics,” said Cohen. “There were concerns from a privacy and civil liberties perspective that while this was not illegal, that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly.

    “Former DHS under-secretary Cohen said he and others pressed hard for just such a policy change in 2014 that would allow a review of publicly-posted social media messages as terror group followers increasingly used Twitter and Facebook to show their allegiance to a variety of jihadist groups.”

    “One current and one former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen’s account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants.

  • jan

    Interesting event going on in Los Angeles this morning after the Superintendent of LA schools suddenly announced all facilities were being shut down this morning. Apparently a “credible” threat came in at 5 am this morning targeting a number of schools, causing the Superintendent to exercise “an abundance of caution” in decreeing that everything academic would be immediately closed.

    This is unprecedented, and consequently there is no Plan B in place to handle the 600,000 robo calls crashing the system, kids already on their way to school, special ed kids etc.

    The aspect of terror does create it’s own brand of unknowns and chaos. And, yet, there is no change from the top — WH perspective or policy — as we stumble along….

  • steve

    PD-Please define the it they keep referring to in your quote. I don’t know what it is. Just use the first two its in your first sentence. If by it they mean a policy that they were not going to follow social media in foreign countries that are our allies, and they would not use our resources to track down anonymous postings, then I can see how they might want to avoid that. If they are trying to avoid monitoring domestic social media, that is something else. If they are avoiding looking at social media in Iraq and Syria, that is something else entirely (and dumb). I really can’t tell but you seem to have made up your mind and must know a lot more about this than I do.

    Steve

  • TastyBits

    From the article:

    Fearing a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end the secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, according to a former senior department official.

    “During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis. Cohen is now a national security consultant for ABC News.

    One current and one former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen’s account about the refusal of DHS to change its policy about the public social media posts of all foreign applicants.

    A spokesperson for the DHS, Marsha Catron, told ABC News that months after Cohen left, in the fall of 2014, the Department began three pilot programs to include social media in vetting, but current officials say that it is still not a widespread policy. A review of the broader policy is already underway, the DHS said.

    […]

    Officials said that because Malik used a pseudonym in her online messages, it is not clear that her support for terror groups would have become known even if the U.S. conducted a full review of her online traffic.

    This is about visas, and visas are for non-US citizens. Non-US citizens, especially those not in the US, do not have US Constitutional rights (except terrorists). The social media posts would need to have been made out-of-country because the person did not have a visa, and the article states they would need to be public. Finally, the search could be defeated through the use of aliases.

    It is really not that difficult.

  • steve

    “This is a feel-good gesture”

    Really? Or is it a moral obligation which we have carried out in the past but don’t do now out of (exaggerated) fear. We have a long history of taking in refugees. If anything, ISIS wants us to stop taking in refugees, they aren’t going to think we are nice. It undercuts their message to other Muslims that they can’t trust the West. That we are just crusaders bent on killing or enslaving them (and taking their oil).

    As to the security thing, isn’t a bit late to worry about that? Granted it could get worse, but we have already over-reacted for the most part. We invaded without real cause another country that didn’t really have anything to do with terror, all because of fear and wanting 100% security. Look, I am not saying giving up all security measures. Tighten up on asylum applications, spouse applications, student visas, whatever. Go over the immigrant process again if you want, though it has been incredibly successful. However, realize that when you grasp for that last bit of security, reaching for 100%, is when things go wrong. A bunch of barbarian head choppers aren’t the real existential threat. We are a much bigger threat to our way of life than they will ever be.

    Steve

  • PD Shaw

    @steve, it = “the secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas.”

    I don’t think the “secret” part is that interesting, it is only relevant if Congress or relevant oversight committees think they’ve been lied to.

  • PD Shaw

    @Tastybits: “Finally, the search could be defeated through the use of aliases.”

    True, but there are a couple of caveats that should be considered. One is that studies show that people using Facebook and similar social media exhibit decreasing inhibitions on the information they provide over time. Two is that one of the basic functions in reviewing any application is to determine whether any information is false. We may not find that the applicant expressed violent views, but we may find that the lied about where they’ve lived in the past. Three is that in certains parts of the world social media is all of the information we’ll likely have to evaluate the application.

  • TastyBits

    @PD Shaw

    I was just using the article and applying a “reasonable person standard” to it in order to cut down on the objections because the only way to not understand what you are getting at is to remain ignorant, willfully.

    I would have the Stuxnet worm creators to put together a jihadi-bot, and then, I would create a pro-jihadi website as a honey-pot. It could have Miss Jihadi of the Month, and she could show a little ankle. There could be a personals section for hooking up with little boys. If there is one thing they love, it is the little boys. (Everybody assumes the 52 virgins are females.)

    If you can install a keylogger, encryption is useless. It could be outsourced to the Chinese, and an American could be put out of work at the same time.

  • michael reynolds

    Steve:

    There are supposed to be 3,000,000 refugees; we are talking about 10,000. That’s a third of a percent, which is pretty much the definition of a gesture.

    If we really give a damn about the three million we’re going to have to do some things that involve a lot of killing and probably some dying. Which of course is part of the reason liberals are so obsessed with this gesture – it makes them feel as if they’re doing something when they really aren’t. It’s foreign policy as therapy, it’s cheap, easy, pointless, but oh, it’ll make us feel so warm inside, while the remaining millions remain in hell.

  • steve

    It is a symbolic gesture. I would think a writer and student of history would understand those. Did the royals staying in London during the Battle of Britain help their air force fly better? No. Was it an important symbolic act and good leadership? Yup. I think the message we send is that we refuse to be terrified, the most important message. It also shows that we will continue to offer refuge to people in need. We don’t need to bring in a lot to make it a meaningful gesture. We can also offer aid/money to support refugees in Greece and elsewhere.

    If we were doing this to make just a few libs feel good, then we shouldn’t do it. However, I think we send out an important positive message. We also don’t send the message that we actually are terrified. We had 14 out of 300 million killed and look how it has affected our politics. ISIS certainly understands the importance of symbolic acts and messaging. Why do have to suck so much at it?

    Finally, I am all for killing ISIS when we have a clear shot. However, killing lots of civilians just creates more jihadists. Go back and read Boyd’s theory on war. We have always had an overwhelming advantage in physical warfare. You can make a case that we are better on mental warfare. On moral warfare, we just suck, and as he noted, that is the most important component.

    Steve

  • michael reynolds

    Steve:

    Messages have an audience. Who is our audience? Who is receiving the message? The Saudis who treat as us mercenaries and support ISIS? The Turks, our NATO “allies” who support ISIS covertly? Pakistan where 90% of the people despise us for killing the terrorists they shield?

    Are we sending a message to American Muslims? Is that the idea? Because we still have to somehow convince them we’re on the side of right? If you came here from Lebanon or Syria or Pakistan and you have any slight doubt that this is a better place, you are beyond messaging.

    No, the message we’re sending is to our Facebook friends. This is internal signaling among liberals. It’s a litmus test. Kumbaya.

Leave a Comment