Marco Rubio one-ups Trump, will shut down ALL the maybe-terrorist hangouts

Marco Rubio’s been trying to keep a low profile on his way to becoming the establishment “anyone but Trump” pick for the Republican nomination. He made every effort to walk political tightropes on issues ranging from his tax plan to whether he supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But if Rubio was trying to walk the same kind of tightrope with respect to how he would handle counterterrorism efforts as president, he just fell and fell far. Asked whether he agreed with Donald Trump that we need to close down mosques associated with people deemed to be terrorist threats, Rubio had this to say:

It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down anyplace — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — anyplace where radicals are being inspired. The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.

So whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at.

There’s a lot going on here, but obviously the most glaring problem with Rubio’s comment is that he just endorsed a program of mass surveillance that would be wholly unprecedented in a Western democracy. In order to identify every terror threat, shutting down any place that the government considers to be a place “where radicals are being inspired” the very concept of privacy would have to go out the window. For everyone, but probably for Muslims to a greater extent.

What’s more, closing down businesses, organizations and social networks associated with radicalization runs up against the same problem that closing down mosques does: Unless you’re willing to keep people from freely associating everywhere, closing specific avenues of communication will only lead to new ones opening up.

xDVYn7iAs the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, you can read Rubio generously here and take his comments to mean that we should move the discussion away from Islam and back to national security policy more generally. I don’t think the context in which the question was asked merits such a generous reading — he was asked about surveillance of Muslims in particular, and he didn’t take the opportunity to allude to the fact that the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States are carried out by white Christian men. However, even if you grant Rubio your generosity and assume that he would expand the surveillance state without regard to religion, he’s still calling for an unprecedented expansion of the surveillance state!

There’s simply no good way to spin this. Either Rubio is for a massive restriction of civil liberties for Muslims, or he’s for a massive restriction of civil liberties for everyone. In both cases, the sheer logistical lift required to monitor and shut down any and every establishment or organization that may or may not be planning to do anyone harm is staggering.

Recently, a man in Ohio was arrested for allegedly inciting terrorist violence online. The chief evidence against him? He had reblogged some gifs on Tumblr and retweeted some memes on Twitter. The federal government, in cooperation with both of these social media platforms, tracked his IP address and — after shutting down his accounts no less than eight times — raided his home and arrested him. There was no evidence that he was plotting a specific attack; all the government has are posts on social media expressing support for and sympathy with Islamic State militants. As The Verge wrote regarding his case:

It’s unclear whether simply reblogging the GIF qualifies as a solicitation to crime, and the court will have to grapple with that issue as the case proceeds. McNeil’s case is also notable for being almost entirely based on online activity. The affidavit justifying his arrest lists more than 50 different posts from his various Tumblr and Twitter accounts, but only minimal physical surveillance of McNeil, detailing his morning commute and various bank accounts linked to his name. As it stands currently, the case rests entirely on McNeil’s online persona, and whether it can be seen as inciting tangible violence elsewhere in the world.

This sort of surveillance and enforcement in the context of counterterrorism efforts is already enough to make the average American uncomfortable. We generally understand that retweets are not necessarily endorsements, and that even if they are, we have the right to say what we want unless we pose a credible and specific threat to others. Under the kinds of surveillance and policing programs proposed in the last few days — first by Trump and now by Rubio — these kinds of arrests would be the norm, not the exception. They would turn the United States into even more of a police state.

And a government that has the power to police members of a specific group to such a great extent has the power to police others to the same degree.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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59 Responses to “Marco Rubio one-ups Trump, will shut down ALL the maybe-terrorist hangouts”

  1. 2karmanot says:

    Falafels are terrorist gluten…..Run….Run!

  2. John Masters says:

    Seems like maybe Gun Shows and Gun Stores should be on Marco’s list, doesn’t it?

  3. FLL says:

    Sorry. I attached the wrong Tweet to the comment above. Here is Trump’s Tweet about the racist, inaccurate crime statistic:

  4. FLL says:

    Trump Birmingham Rally, The Twitter Epilogue

    Jersey City’s Mayor takes umbrage at Trump’s attempt to repeat false rumor about “thousands of Arabs” in New Jersey cheering as the World Trade Center was coming down (bottom Tweet). Trump repeats false, racist crime statistic graphic which demonizes Blacks (top Tweet). Trump appears to be going after non-whites in general at this point. Now. Bloggers. Commenters. Wouldn’t you say this is spinning out of control?

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  7. benb says:

    “Close down anyplace where radicals get inspired.” Okay, let’s start with the NRA.

  8. angryspittle says:


  9. angryspittle says:

    Rubio is a fucking idiot.

  10. RepubAnon says:

    Yes, when are they going to raid Operation Rescue for promoting terrorism? Oh, that’s right – constitutional rights are only for the right.

  11. FLL says:

    Trump Birmingham Rally, Part 2

    A Black Lives Matter protester at Trump’s rally yesterday in Birmingham was thrown to the ground, punched, kicked and called “n***er.” Below is Trump’s quoted response when he was told the details, The link to the article and video from ThinkProgress is (here.)

    Trump was asked to weigh in on his supporters’ actions on Fox & Friends Sunday morning. “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” he said. “It was disgusting what he was doing.”

    Roughing up your political opponents was among the early tactics of the Brown Shirts, and later the Black Shirts, in Weimar Germany and the early Nazi period. Jon, Becca, frequent commenters, I don’t think you can possibly remain silent.

    In passing, what are things that are crushed? Ice for margaritas, Bill Perdue’s hopes for the 2016 election, among other things.

  12. FLL says:

    Now we have Trump possibly just flat out lying in an attempt to demonize Arabs and Muslims. An article from Business Insider summarizes Trump’s remarks at yesterday’s rally in Birmingham, AL (

    Trump first made the claim at a Birmingham, Alabama, rally on Saturday. “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down,” he said.

    “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down,” Trump said on Sunday [on ABC’s This Week. “I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well-covered at the time.” [Emphasis mine]

    Trump claims he saw these New Jersey crowds on TV even though everyone says it was an Internet rumor that was later dubunked by the local police chief, who says it never happened. Could anybody follow up on this? Jon? Becca? Anybody? If Trump is lying, it would be a lie in pursuit of demagoguery.

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  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    Sanders is a Democrat, a candidate of one of the boss parties.

    He’s not on the side of workers.

    Leftists told BS about $15 and a union, not the other way around.

  16. Don Chandler says:

    Nice button at the end: “We Can’t Afford the Rich”. Bernie has been trying to tell you that for a long time now.

  17. Bill_Perdue says:

    Candidates like Trump, Sanders, Clinton and Rubio don’t create change.

    Capitalist parties can’t create change – they’re constantly in motion to the right. Your party is in lockstep with you Republican brothers and sisters in attacks on civil liberties, wars or aggression, a pigheaded refusal to enact ENDA and in campaigns to bust unions.

    The international left has a lot. It’s liberals like BS who have nothing but stale right wing policies.

    We (leftists) built the unions and now are rebuilding them after forty years of concerted efforts by liberals and conservatives alike. We’ll beat you you (Democrats and Republicans) on trade union questions.

    We forced you to abandon plans to invade China and the Balkans in 1946 and ’47.

    We threw you out of Vietnam and we’re in the process of throwing you out of the Arab and Muslim world.

    In the end, we’ll win by organizing and empowering mass movements for change and creating a workers state and a workers government.

  18. Don Chandler says:

    Tell me when you find your perfect candidate, Bill. You are an all or nothing meme, Bill. That’s why you got nothing. You got to start someplace.

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    Sanders, except for the kind of posturing in that video, is also a supporter of the banksters wars of aggression. In spite of what he says, he votes for war budgets and is a supporter of the murderous zionist colony in Palestine.

    He’s neither an independent or a socialist. He’s a highly compromised Democrat. If he votes for war funding then he’s the same as the Clinton’s or Obama – a warmonger. He has a long and consistent history of voting for wars of aggression while pretending to oppose them.

    • Nov. 21, 2013 S 1197 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 Yea

    • Sept. 21, 2010 S 3454 2010-2011 Defense Authorizations Yea

    • Oct. 22, 2009 HR 2647 2009-2010 Defense Appropriations Conference Report Adopted Yea

    • July 10, 2008 Nomination of General Petraeus as Military Leader of the Middle East – Yea

    • Oct. 1, 2007 HR 1585 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Yea

    • June 20, 2006 HR 5631 Defense Department FY2007 Appropriations Bill Yea



  20. Don Chandler says:

    It’s a good reference Bill. But it doesn’t speak for all democratic candidates concerning war:

  21. rwlorenz says:

    Yes, but according to the right-wing delusion those Americans died for freedom.

  22. rwlorenz says:

    But remember, Democrats lied in order to give millions of Americans the chance to buy health insurance.

  23. rwlorenz says:

    In my neighborhood the Islamic extremists meet in Starbucks to drink strong Arabian coffee and plot the death of America. Where is Marco when we need him to close them all down?

  24. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats lie as much as Republicans.

    The parties are the same. .

  25. Outspoken1 says:

    Republican party platform is all about restricting/removing civil rights. Limiting voting, restricting gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, religious rights, consumer and environmental protection, etc.. They would have NEVER voted for the Constitution in 1789!! See Constitutional Convention (which was called to amend the Articles of Confederation, NOT create a new government in the Constitutional document that was created!).

  26. JaneE says:

    You can’t condemn Mosques for inciting violence unless you condemn Christian churches for the same. If a bomb-throwing Muslim is a terrorist, so is a bomb-throwing Christian. The GOP loves violence, so long as it is directed at the right targets, like gays, or Planned Parenthood.

  27. 2karmanot says:

    What? You mean to tell me that Jeebus was not a blond, long-haired, blue eyed surfer type? OhMyGawd!

  28. 2karmanot says:

    The current crop of Repubclowns are applying treacle down.

  29. hidflect says:

    Rubio is a Class A panderer. He’s a cringer and a gofer. That’s why he can never win. He has no ideas of his own.

  30. FLL says:

    Thanks for the historical reference. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a brief foray into government censorship. I think people are unaware of the Alien and Sedition Acts because they were in effect for such a short time. The Federalist Party pushed the two laws through in 1798, and they were denounced by the Democratic-Republicans (led by Thomas Jefferson). The unpopularity of these two laws helped Jefferson defeat Adams (the incumbent) in 1800. The Alien and Sedition Acts were allowed to expire in 1800 and 1801.

  31. FLL says:

    This comment and linked video is for one or two of my fellow commenters who ceaselessly repeat that there is little or no difference between the two major parties this year. Sorry, but I beg to differ. The 2015-2016 Republican Party is so twisted that it looks bad even by comparison with George W. Bush (who is referenced in the video below). After hearing the pile of garbage that came from the GOP candidates since the Paris attacks, the Democratic National Committee has offered a video extolling sanity. “The-two-parties-are-the-same” meme is an obvious lie. Is targeting high-ranking operatives in al-Qaeda the same as proposing that all Muslims in the U.S. be registered as such and ID’d as such? Not even close. The recent DNC video:

  32. Don Chandler says:

    So, closing down a cafe due to intelligence/eavesdropping….

    US intelligence prompts judicial actions based on the assessment of a very young NSA employee…say under 30. Even Rubio is way too young to be making these kinds of decision.

    Since when do other people become our conscience?

  33. Zorba says:

    Yes, well, there is that, isn’t there? {{Sigh}}
    Way, way too many Americans are way too ignorant, and they elect equally ignorant politicians.
    People get the kind of government they deserve. :-(

  34. nicho says:

    In the week since the attacks in Paris, 650 Americans have been killed by firearms. What are our politicians doing to eliminate that very real threat to us?

  35. rwlorenz says:

    The strategy is simple: wait for Trump to say something asinine and stupid and then say something more asinine and stupider. Guaranteed to attract the attention of the ignorant, hate-filled morons. Good luck with that approach Marco.

  36. Our wonderlife says:


  37. Our wonderlife says:

    I agree

  38. mf_roe says:

    Many Cubans have assimilation problems. Cruz has the same inability to comprehend that his rights are only guaranteed as long as MINE.

  39. mf_roe says:

    That really doesn’t work for me, they hate their victims with equal malice. It is usually used against terrorists, and I don’t buy that either.

    Conservatives hate change, which is the only corrective for error. When that change comes as the response to Liberals calling for repair of their failures it drives them absolutely nuts.

    They hate us because we see them as they truly are.

  40. ComradeRutherford says:

    They hate us for our freedoms…

  41. nicho says:

    I don’t know why they don’t just let the market sort it out.

  42. nicho says:

    There was a guy in Boston a few years ago who went into a women’s health clinic and shot the place up. He was a devout Catholic and had listened to the priests and pedohile enabler Bernard Law tell him how all those people were murderers slaughtering babies. He felt it was his duty to stop them.

  43. Sally says:

    Too true. Sadly…

  44. mf_roe says:

    They hate anything they can’t comprehend.

  45. Sally says:

    My thoughts exactly! And Congress, and anywhere more than two tea baggers meet to plot against the evil ‘liberals.’

  46. Sally says:

    Meanwhile, the evangelical churches are hotbeds of anti-Obama, anti-freedom, anti-government crap. They want a theocracy run by themselves, and the hell with anyone else. They have somehow convinced people that their BIBLE tells them they are in a charge ..that God made the white man supreme before there even was a white man. And they keep their tax-exertions and their free land, because otherwise we’d be waging a “WAR on Christians!”

  47. ComradeRutherford says:

    “But Mr. Rubio, lightsabers aren’t real.”


  48. ComradeRutherford says:

    “It’s just a goddamn piece of paper!” says the GOP.

  49. ComradeRutherford says:

    Conservatives sure do hate the Constitution.

  50. nicho says:

    Is there even a shred of evidence that mosques are hotbeds of jihadi encouragement? When the Boston Marathon bomber went to the local mosque and started spouting his anti-American nonsense, they tossed him out on his ear.

  51. nicho says:

    That old thing?

  52. emjayay says:

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  53. MoonDragon says:

    So “It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down anyplace —
    whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — anyplace where radicals
    are being inspired.” I guess that means he’s willing to shut down Faux Noose and TeaPeeple websites.

  54. mf_roe says:

    Old News Folks, look up the Alienation and Sedition Acts. What’s old is New Again.

  55. FLL says:

    Shut down the local coffee shop? On whose authority? The justice system would have to determine that criminal activity is taking place there, and speech is not a criminal act unless you can prove that there is specific incitement to violence.

  56. FLL says:

    Yes, that’s exactly the other Cuban who said things like that and put them into effect. I think Americans are fine with the Bill of Rights the way they are. I don’t think they envy people living under the Castro regime. It sounds like Marco Rubio hasn’t quite accustomed himself to living in his parents adopted country yet, even though he was born here.

  57. Indigo says:

    Hum . . . wasn’t there some other Cuban who said things like that? Castro, maybe?

  58. Quilla says:

    When my kids were little I asked them what they’d do if someone came to door they didn’t know and felt uncomfortable with. Both of them answered in all seriousness and with childish bravado that they would attack the stranger with their light sabers.

    The response of the right-wing to Stranger Danger is not much different.

    Or effective.

    Or mature.

  59. goulo says:

    “This sort of surveillance and enforcement in the context
    of counterterrorism efforts is already enough to make the average
    American uncomfortable.”

    Sadly, I don’t believe that’s true. Too many people in the US (and not only the US) seem to have been successfully misled and have pretty much rolled over and bought into the “if you’re not a criminal then you have nothing to hide, so the government can spy as much as it wants and should read anyone’s private messages which they want” and “we’re all gonna die from terrorism because of Snowden” rhetoric…

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