• Where was the NSA before the Isla Vista Mass Shooting?

    May 27, 2014

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    Elliot Rodger, a college student who posted videos that documented his rage against women, killed six people and wounded 13 others last week. He stabbed three men to death in his apartment and shot the others as he opened fire on bystanders on the crowded streets of Isla Vista, California. Rodger then killed himself. Three semi automatic handguns, along with 41 loaded ten-round magazines— all bought at local gun stores— were found in his car. There could have been many more dead.

    So where was the NSA?

    For the year since Edward Snowden revealed in detail the comprehensive spying on every aspect of American lives, we have been assured by the president and the NSA that every single one of those intrusions into our life was necessary to protect us. The now-former NSA chief said he knows of no better way his agency can help protect the U.S. than with spy programs that collect billions of phone and Internet records. “How do we connect the dots?” he said, referring to often-hidden links between people, events and what they do online. “There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots. Taking these programs off the table is absolutely not the thing to do.”

    So where was the NSA?

    Elliot Rodger posted on his social media, presumably monitored by the NSA, about suicide and killing people. His family asked police to visit Rodger’s residence. But when they showed up, Rodger simply told deputies it was a misunderstanding and that he was not going to hurt anyone or himself. No search was conducted.

    Barely 24 hours before the killing spree, Rodger posted a video on YouTube, presumably monitored by the NSA, in which he sat behind the steering wheel of his black BMW and for seven minutes announced his plans for violence. The video has been leaked– see it here.

    So where was the NSA in Boston?

    In the case of the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the NSA failed to notice the Boston bomber’s visits to al Qaeda’s online magazine or his “terrorist” YouTube videos. The online magazine gave Tsarnaev the details he needed to build his bombs. The NSA also failed to note the online communications Tsarnaev had with a known extremist in Dagestan, who reportedly listed Tsarnaev among his cyber friends.

    Even after the bombing, the NSA, Justice Department, and Homeland Security failed to identify the suspects from close-up pictures, and had to ask the public for help, even though photos of both brothers were scattered across social media, presumably monitored by the NSA.

    What was law enforcement doing in Boston in the time period leading up to the bombings? Monitoring Occupy and others, including tracking the Facebook pages and websites of protesters and writing reports on the potential impact on “commercial and financial sector assets” in downtown areas.

    The monitoring of legitimate protest groups was not limited to Boston. The FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities.

    So where is the NSA?

    All of the failures of the NSA cited above are exactly the kind of connect-the-dots fails that spying on all Americans were supposed to alleviate. At this point we’re left with one of two explanations.

    The first explanation is that the NSA is simply incompetent. They may not be very good at their job, their technological ability to collect may not be matched with an ability to process the data, or they are simply so flooded with data as to be ineffective. Why should we expect a government that stumbles on everything from managing appointment lists at veteran’s hospitals to major foreign policy endeavors to do any better at intelligence work.

    The second explanation is much darker. It remains possible the business about connecting dots and protecting America is a ruse, a sham, a cover story, and that mass surveillance has a much more sinister purpose. Pick one: control dissent, spy on groups like Occupy, blackmail, political advantage, industrial intel, and so forth. Snowden’s revelations, as significant as they are, really only shed light on what the NSA does. They do not address why the NSA spies on us. Therein lies the real story of the century, waiting for the next whistleblower to expose.


    Some commentators on the Isla Vista mass killing have decried the problem of “What could have been done? Sure he posted some crazy stuff, but he didn’t really commit a crime before he started shooting, right?”

    Interesting argument, until you compare it to how the government deals with “real terrorists.” The magic words used are “conspiracy to commit terrorism,” a crime that basically involves talking about or planning to do something awful. The same law exists in regards to planning to commit a garden-variety murder. The logic is that if the police have clear evidence that you are about to blow up a skyscraper, it makes no sense that they have to wait until you trigger the dynamite to arrest you. Fair enough.

    But let’s look at a few examples in practice.

    In North Carolina recently, the FBI charged two men they say conspired and trained to exact “violent jihad.” The federal investigation began when one man contacted an undercover FBI source by email and told him he wanted to go overseas and fight, and he asked another how he should prepare to fight in Yemen or Syria. The other guy frequently “spoke about his weapons,” and said he was “considering” violent acts either in the United States or abroad. The men were arrested and charged with conspiracy.

    Three members of a Georgia militia were charged with conspiracy to attack federal agencies. They “attempted” to obtain pipe bombs and thermite devices, and chatted online about plans to attack the federal government.

    American citizen “Jihani Jane” was charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism based nearly completely on her online activities.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “Where was the NSA before the Isla Vista Mass Shooting?”

      It was spying on US citizens who apparently posed a threat to it.


      05/27/14 11:59 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Senate member of the IC oversight committee grilling Clapper:

      “Director…where was the NSA before the Isla Vista Mass Shooting?”

      Ummm, well, …er..Senator..as you know we are committed to protecting th…”

      Senate member interrupting..

      “Don’t give me that crap. Where was the NSA?”

      “Senator…I…we’re dedicated to prote..”

      Senate member:

      “Geeezuschrist…I’m going to ask you one more time…where was the NSA?

      Well Senator, to tell you the truth…er..the least untruthful answer is…”

      (rolling eyes) Director, let me ask you this then..Has the NSA ever collected information on millions of Americans…

      “No…er..at least..not wittingly”

      Not wittingly. Right. Well then..that explains it. Thank you for your testimony Director Clapper. I think we can all be rest assured of the safety of our citizens now.

      This hearing is now adjourned. (hammer thud)

      05/27/14 1:47 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote”Some commentators on the Isla Vista mass killing have decried the problem of “What could have been done?”unquote

      Meanwhile, Obama’s Tuesday Kill list panel decides which human beings are to be murdered next week.

      Meanwhile…the irony escapes the DCOTP.

      05/27/14 2:01 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Speaking of mass shootings…


      The Death State in all it’s glory, perpetuating the myth of American Exceptionalism.

      Excuse me while I vomit.

      05/27/14 2:28 PM | Comment Link

    • Ted Altmeier said...


      As with many things the nsa’s projects have little to do with what we believe they do. The bias of self importance is a powerful thing. The reason they were not on top of these tragedy’s ? Too busy spying on global businesses, to help set market for the next quarter. If they were near doing what they say they were doing, there would be no problem reporting to the senate. Everyone involved in these tragedy’s should sue each individual’s and subcontractors for the nsa for failure to exicute their mission.

      05/27/14 4:37 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Me and Peter have a bet whose name is on the NSA domestic spy list. Want some of the action?

      05/27/14 6:03 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Thing I’m worried about is what if I’m NOT on the list. What about my credibility? Have I just wasted these last few years? Nervous…

      05/27/14 6:32 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote “Me and Peter have a bet whose name is on the NSA domestic spy list. Want some of the action?”unquote

      Youbetcha. I’m in for 25 cents. For what it’s worth.. I know “I’m” NOT. I can’t afford to order pizza. 🙂 And, I NEVER use a cellphone. I don’t own one.

      The thing is..I wish I was. I would then have “STANDING”, which I haven’t seen any mention of since the “list” thing come out. If I’m not mistaken, this was a primary reason why Amnesty International’s challenge to the NSA Warrantless Wiretapping was thrown out of the Supreme Court as the plaintiffs were deemed not to have standing.


      While I only will bet 25 cents at a guess who is on the list, I got $1k that says Clapper’s head is exploding, as sure as day, SOMEONE is on that list that is going to make his and the NSA’s day. I can’t wait. I understand now why Greenwald claims this is the most important document to come out yet, as I believe this “list” will provide living proof beyond a shadow of doubt who the NSA is BLACKMAILING. I also have $1k that says someone’s gonna be on that list that will do more than sue. IE… Judges..Congressman..Obama’s enemies..IRS targets..the possibilities are endless. Youbetch..I’d bet ole Clapper is in complete mental meltdown mode. In fact, I’d bet the PTB are trying to get a homing bead for a drone hit on Greenwald as I type. Wouldn’t suprise me in the least either.

      05/27/14 7:02 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ps.. I forgot. My best guess is… WYDEN and UDALL.

      Since they were at the forefront of pinning down NSA and Clapper. I have no doubt they are on the list. And I can only guess what they will do if they are. If I were Clapper..I’d be real worried too.

      05/27/14 7:07 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Ya know, it just dawned on me. This list is actually a document of biblical proportions..as it would provide the ENTIRE list “standing” for a class action suit. HOLY MOLY. It might even be enough to break the NSA’s grip on the Congress.

      05/27/14 7:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      “Where was the NSA?”

      The NSA couldnt care about our or national security — this is not their priority.

      They are interested in protecting companies and making lucrative profits. That’s why they monitor Occupy Now and the pro-peace groups

      During the Iraq invasion, the anti-war groups rallied big numbers of demonstrators — so big both the Parks Service and ever-docile Washington Post were instructed NOT to count specific tallies, remember that? Demonstrations were hence reported only in the ‘thousands’. Sure the NSA and company should worry

      05/27/14 7:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      *The NSA couldnt care about us or our national security ..

      05/27/14 7:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “Ya know, it just dawned on me. This list is actually a document of biblical proportions…as it would provide the ENTIRE list “standing” for a class action suit.”

      Here’s the real Catch, If all our names are on THE LIST (TM), it will finally prove Peter wasn’t just posting on WMW in multiple identities.

      That’s some catch, that Catch 22.

      05/27/14 7:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      When THE LIST is revealed, the incompetent NSA IT guys, who can’t (or won’t) tell US which documents Snowden stole (“all of them”), will use the same incompetent excuse that they can’t track which employees in the NSA and its ilk illegally spied on US so we can SUE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM.

      05/27/14 7:54 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      THE LIST puts the “Insider Threat” program in a different light.

      PS: I claim the movie title rights.

      05/27/14 7:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Où était la NSA pendant le massacre d’Isla Vista? « GLOBAL RELAY NETWORK said...


      […] https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2014/05/27/where-was-the-nsa-before-the-isla-vista-mass-shooting/ Share this:TwitterFacebookPlusGoogleEmailImprimerLike this:J'aime chargement…‹ […]

      05/27/14 9:29 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      What could the NSA possibly blackmail any US government members with, since whoring and adultery and sexual perversions are considered normal and ADMIRABLE habits in Washington DC?

      What’s left to blackmail them with?

      05/27/14 9:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “What’s left to blackmail them with?”

      I’m certain Peter never dreamed government officials would be their target.

      Whistleblowers…that’s their nightmare.

      05/27/14 9:46 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Hm. Well, if their blackmail videos include one of Jen Psaki’s first lesbian experience and then they publish THAT, they’ll have another class action suit on their hands for psychiatric damage of everyone who watches it.

      05/27/14 9:53 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote”What’s left to blackmail them with?”unquote

      Normalcy. They’d be ruined. Blackballed. Exiled. Destroyed.

      05/27/14 11:24 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Normalcy. Of course, that was tongue in cheek you know?
      quote”Well, if their blackmail videos include one of Jen Psaki’s first lesbian experience and then they publish THAT, they’ll have another class action suit on their hands for psychiatric damage of everyone who watches it.

      OMG..you mean THIS Jen Psaki?


      Hope springs eternal. I shudder every time I see this creep speak. Bill Hicks had her number too…


      05/27/14 11:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Rebecca Solnit: #YesAllWomen changes the story said...


      […] NSA?  That’s the question former State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren recently asked at his We Meant Well blog — and it couldn’t be a smarter one.  After all, the Isla […]

      06/2/14 12:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, #YesAllWomen Changes the Story | TomDispatch | digger666 said...


      […] NSA?  That’s the question former State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren recently asked at his We Meant Well blog — and it couldn’t be a smarter one.  After all, the Isla Vista […]

      06/4/14 3:52 PM | Comment Link

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