One of the things Carly Fiorina hammered home last night was how woefully under-prepared our government was when it came to tracking down terrorists on social media. The San Bernadino shooters, she claimed, announced their loyalty to the global jihad on Facebook and our government didn’t do a thing about it.
Except, of course, there’s just one problem: according to the FBI director, the shooters in San Bernadino did no such thing.
Last night’s Republican debate in Las Vegas didn’t do its job if it didn’t convince you to stay at home today, buried under your bed with a security blanket. Fear was the unspoken theme of the debate, and every candidate had an opportunity to hammer home just how afraid you need to be.
When it was her turn to talk, Carly Fiorina expressed how “incompetent” and “corrupt” our government was when it came to tracking terrorism via social media. Her most prominent example was the shooters in San Bernadino, who Carly claimed expressed their devoting to the global jihad on Facebook. “Well, of course we’re going to miss them. And then we now learn the DHS is saying no we can’t check their social media,” she said. “Every parent in America is checking social, and every employer is, as well.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 16, 2015
She continued, blaming the “bureaucratic procedures” for the government becoming “incompetent” and “inept,” and concluded by noting we needed someone, presumably her, in the White House who could fix this mess.
She wasn’t alone; the candidates mentioned San Bernadino nineteen times, and Ted Cruz also stepped in to slam the government, commenting it was “political correctness,” not “incompetence,” that stopped the government:
“It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks,” Cruz said during the debate. “It is political correctness. We didn’t monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist because the Obama DHS thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it
There’s just one problem: the government didn’t monitor their public posts declaring jihad because there were no public posts declaring jihad. According to FBI director James Comey, there isn’t, and never was, any evidence the shooters who massacred fourteen people in California were part of an organized cell, had any contact with militants overseas or even took to Facebook to express their support for the global jihad.
The expressions for “jihad and martyrdom” were in private communications, Comey explained during a news conference in New York City, but never publicly on social media, so the agency had no way of knowing:
“We don’t intercept the communications of Americans…without predication, without probable cause or belief that they are involved in terrorism or serious criminal activity,” he said. “If we don’t know anything about somebody we are not combing through their emails or direct messages.”
Intercepting private communications requires a warrant; it’s how we keep government from getting too big. If anyone, anyone at all, would be sympathetic to that you’d think it was the so-called “small government” conservatives, but let’s face it: they’re just as incoherent as ever.
Feature image via Flickr