Republican politicians — and a few Democrats — seem to be doing their darndest to prove ISIS right about Americans, first by refusing to provide safe haven to foreign refugees, and now by gleefully plotting to harass and monitor American Muslims. Because the solution to violence abroad is to spy on people here at home who have no connection to terrorism whatsoever.
Not particularly shockingly, Donald Trump is on the cutting edge of muslim scare-mongering. Apparently, when he says "make America great again," he means like it was when we were imprisoning American citizens in internment camps. Great!
"There’s hatred and there’s hatred like nobody has ever seen, and it’s obviously emanating from and coming out of, among other places, the mosques," he said, and called for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to restart its abandoned mosque-monitoring program. For years, the NYPD surreptitiously photographed and followed people throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, based on the belief that simply being Muslim was enough evidence to suspect someone of a crime.
After years this nonsense, a review concluded that the police could gather the same or better information simply by making friends with people in the Muslim community and asking them directly for information. The program never generated any useful information about terrorism.
But hey, since when have facts gotten in Donald Trump's way? The program yielded "frankly good information," Trump said. He also wouldn't rule out random searches of Muslims without a warrant, or forcing them to register in a database.
I hate to be all "how is this not like Nazi Germany," but I mean, come on, do these people really not see the parallels?
Trump also tweeted, "Eight Syrians were just caught on the southern border trying to get into the U.S. ISIS maybe? I told you so. WE NEED A BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL!"
Was he right? No, of course not. The eight Syrians were, in fact, two families — moms and dads and kids — who approached a checkpoint and asked to be admitted. Nobody was "caught," and a wall wouldn't have changed anything.
But the facts don't matter. That's why Senators Tom Cotton, Pat Roberts, Marco Rubio, and Mitch McConnell (all Republicans, surprise!) are backing a plan to spy on Americans, just like they wanted to do all along. They're calling it the "Liberty Through Strength Act" and it would extend existing domestic spy powers through 2017.
A handful of Democrats are on board with more monitoring as well — among them, oddly enough, the guy responsible for bringing The Power Rangers to America. Haim Saban, one of the investors who's purchased Hillary Clinton, is pressing for "more scrutiny" of Muslims.
“Many members of the Hollywood community are very liberal and they value their civil liberties more than they value life,” Saban told the New York Times. “I disagree with that. You want to be free and dead? I’d rather be not free and alive.”
Saban's given $2 million to a Clinton super PAC for the current election cycle, and many millions more to the Clinton machine over the years.
And what does all this surveillance get us? Not much, of course. According to a new book from reporter Charlie Savage about "Stellarwind," a Bush-era spy program, "a comprehensive study of all the leads generated from the content basket of Stellarwind between March 2004 and January 2006 ... discovered that zero of those had been useful... The tips were so frequent and such a waste of time that the field offices reported back, in frustration, 'You're sending us garbage.'"
So, great. Great use of money, great use of time, great use of effort, great way to just make everyone's life miserable for absolutely no practical benefit.