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comment by arguewithatree
arguewithatree  ·  1563 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Unlikely Case for Suicide Attacks

also enjoy being on watchlists forever. i was advised against following blogs that could HINT at terrorism for my thesis let alone reaching out to terrorist leadership......

kleinbl00  ·  1563 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Well let's talk about that.

You're saying, effectively, that in order to enjoy the full liberties of citizenship within the United States, a scholar must not question the active participants in the area of her study.

Does that sound American to you? 'cuz it sounds kinda Soviet to me. A li'l bit Pyongyang.

We know that the NSA is banking the metadata of every bit of communication every single person in the United States makes across international lines, always and forever. So this guy, a journalist at Boston College, reaches out to an Iranian terrorist group, the Taliban and pseudo-ISIS just for this article. Either he's comparison shopping for the jihad of his choice or he's, you know, conducting journalism.

And while I know the TSA has no sense of humor whatsoever, everything I know of the CIA indicates that they understand the power of the eyeroll.

arguewithatree  ·  1563 days ago  ·  link  ·  

sure we can unpack it.

I wasn't told no you can't pursue this research route. I was strongly advised by my thesis advisor, who was previously employed by the Intel Community, that I not try and dig into networks of potential terrorist activity in order to prevent endangering my clearance. it would be really hard to use any system to access the kinds of sources I wanted (mostly blogs and social media) without attracting suspicion from my govt, a host country govt, or my network providers.

on top of that, it was really hard to prove the hypothesis I wanted to pursue. there's no possible way to confirm that a blog post 1. empirically led to or caused a terror act 2. even resulted in a terror act 3. or that the poster is who they say they were. so it wasn't worth risking my clearance for a dubious hypothesis, especially since I only had a semester to write said thesis.

as for journalism, there's obviously more leeway than for natsec employees. it would be pretty easy to point at the journalism or scholarship that resulted from the interaction. it's harder to prove you didn't have alternative motives if you have access to natsec info that could be valuable.

kleinbl00  ·  1563 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's funny 'cuz where I grew up Q-clearances grow on trees. Chinese, Iraqis, Slavs, didn't matter. G-men walking around asking old people questions on a daily basis and in the end, nobody could pin a thing on Wen Ho Lee. And the guys I know from military intelligence, who only had access to short-term, limited-value intel are hella more paranoid about saying the wrong thing than the guys I know from biowar who will just drop shit without a concern.

It goes to my point - back when we had actual adversaries with legitimate intelligence operations, things were pretty chillaxed. But now that we're jumping at shadows and wondering where the next Richard Reid is coming from, we've got academic advisors cautioning undergrads against badspeak.

snoodog  ·  1563 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And that surprises you why? When you have no legitimate enemy everything and everyone looks like a potential enemy because there is no contrast