Welcome to the Homeland, Mexico and Canada!

Philip Bump

We noticed a little detail from yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that seemed worth highlighting. During that meeting, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, an unabashed and adamant defender of the NSA's surveillance programs, had the duty of presenting a map created by the NSA showing terror activity it has disrupted.

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(When she says the two programs "essentially work together," she's largely trying to help bolster the embattled Section 215 phone call metadata collection, which has been subject to far more scrutiny and appears to have been far less successful than its counterpart.)

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Via the Associated Press, here's a close-up on that map.

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You may notice, as we did, the odd use of "homeland" in this context. It's a tired critique by now, noting how the adoption of this expression to refer to the United States echoes weird Communist rhetoric from the mid-20th century. Regardless: Isn't "homeland" a weird term?

But you may also be surprised to learn that our homeland now includes both Mexico and Canada, two areas that we understood to be autonomous nations that are not part of the United States. Normally, this would be written off as a design goof, as one of the NSA's (newly adept) graphics guys using a little more light blue than he ought.

This being the NSA, we're not inclined to offer that benefit of the doubt. Is this a way of blending in Canadian and Mexican terror activity disruptions (which, we'll remind you, is different from actual plots interrupted) to give a larger sense of the NSA's success at halting terrorism within our borders?

We don't and can't know, of course, since the information about almost all of these 54 events is classified. Just know that the homeland is safe — be it Tampa, Toronto, or Tijuana — and that it's all thanks to the NSA.