Feds: We stopped AQ attack on NYSE through NSA surveillance

posted at 9:21 am on June 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The recent revelations of the NSA’s surveillance programs have prompted much debate about whether the power granted to the intelligence community has been worth its potential for erosion of personal liberty.  Most of that debate has necessarily been academic, since the intel and law-enforcement agencies involved are loathe to share specifics on their counter-terrorism efforts, and what they do share cannot easily be corroborated.  One early defense of the program was that it stopped the Zazi plot against New York’s subway system, only to have later information contradict that claim.

Yesterday, the FBI’s assistant director told Congress that the programs stopped as many as 50 separate terrorist plots against the US, including one that targeted the core of America’s economy:

Top U.S. security officials revealed today that the government’s recently exposed surveillance programs led them to an al Qaeda cell that plotted, scouted, but ultimately abandoned a plan to bomb the Wall Street in 2008.

“We found through electronic surveillance that they were actually in the initial stages of plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange,” FBI Assistant Director Sean Joyce told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Joyce was testifying alongside high-level U.S. officials, including National Security Agency head Gen. Keith Alexander, before the House Intelligence Committee to defend the NSA’s practice of collecting vast amounts of telephone and internet usage data – programs revealed last week byformer NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden, who is in hiding in Hong Kong after confessing to the leaks, called the reach of the programs “horrifying.” The U.S. officials who testified today claimed they helped put a stop to more than 50 terror plots in 20 countries – four of which were discussed publicly.

The NYSE plot, which had until today been unknown to the public, was centered around an auto parts dealer in Kansas City, Missouri, named Khalid Ouazzani, who pleaded guilty in 2010 for his role in a conspiracy to provide funding to al-Qaeda. At the time of his plea, the complex case against Ouazzani seemed to have little to do with the famous NYSE headquarters on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, except for a vague reference in his plea agreement that said, “Over a period of years, [Ouazzani] and others discussed various ways they could support al Qaeda.”

The FBI now says Ouazzani was talking to an extremist in Yemen about a terror plot that would strike at the symbolic heart of America’s capitalist system – an attack on Wall Street.

Joyce also insisted that the unraveling of the Zazi plot was indeed dependent on NSA efforts, despite later claims to the contrary.  Those are the only two plots the FBI will discuss in public,  but NSA chief Keith Alexander will supply the House Intelligence Committee with a full list today:

Alexander said the full list of thwarted attacks will be provided to members of the House Intelligence committee Wednesday, but the intelligence community has decided to release only two of those events publicly.

“If we give all those out, we give all the secrets of how we’re tracking down the terrorists as a community,” Alexander said. “And we can’t do that.”

But he and other intelligence officials have pointed specifically to the case of Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-born man who pleaded guilty in 2012 to plotting a terror attack against the New York City subway system. He is awaiting sentencing.

FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce testified today that “In the fall of 2009, NSA, using 702 authority [granted to intercept communication], intercepted an email from a terrorist located in Pakistan. That individual was talking with the individual located inside the United States talking about perfecting a recipe for explosives.

“Through legal process, that individual was identified as Najibullah Zazi. He was located in Denver, Colorado. The FBI followed him to New York City. Later, we executed search warrants with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and NYPD and found bomb- making components and backpacks. Zazi later confessed to a plot to bomb the New York subway system with backpacks,” Joyce said.

In the end, we have to rely on our elected representatives to conduct oversight over these agencies and their activities.  If the House Intelligence Committee is just now finding out about the NSA’s surveillance and its victories, that’s an argument that the oversight has been lacking until now.  That much power may be needed to secure the nation from foreign attack, but that much power without effective oversight will eventually get abused — whether or not it already has.

We need to find out whether or not it has in the past, too.  USA Today reported this weekend that three other whistleblowers agree with leaker Edward Snowden that the NSA has crossed the line repeatedly, recapped by The Atlantic:

Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe each protested the NSA in their own rights. “For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens,” the newspaper reports. “They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.”

In other words, they blew the whistle in the way Snowden’s critics suggest he should have done. Their method didn’t get through to the members of Congress who are saying, in the wake of the Snowden leak, that they had no idea what was going on. But they are nonetheless owed thanks.

And among them, they’ve now said all of the following:

  • His disclosures did not cause grave damage to national security.
  • What Snowden discovered is “material evidence of an institutional crime.”
  • As a system administrator, Snowden “could go on the network or go into any file or any system and change it or add to it or whatever, just to make sure — because he would be responsible to get it back up and running if, in fact, it failed. So that meant he had access to go in and put anything. That’s why he said, I think, ‘I can even target the president or a judge.’ If he knew their phone numbers or attributes, he could insert them into the target list which would be distributed worldwide. And then it would be collected, yeah, that’s right. As a super-user, he could do that.”
  • “The idea that we have robust checks and balances on this is a myth.”
  • Congressional overseers “have no real way of seeing into what these agencies are doing. They are totally dependent on the agencies briefing them on programs, telling them what they are doing.”
  • Lawmakers “don’t really don’t understand what the NSA does and how it operates. Even when they get briefings, they still don’t understand.”
  • Asked what Edward Snowden should expect to happen to him, one of the men, William Binney, answered, “first tortured, then maybe even rendered and tortured and then incarcerated and then tried and incarcerated or even executed.” Interesting that this is what a whistleblower thinks the U.S. government will do to a citizen. The abuse of Bradley Manning worked.
  • “There is no path for intelligence-community whistle-blowers who know wrong is being done. There is none. It’s a toss of the coin, and the odds are you are going to be hammered.”

For that, Congress has to accept a good deal of responsibility.

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I doubt it.

SarahW on June 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM

So they say 50, but they’ve given us basic details of two.

Well, I’m totally convinced! Allow me to bend over to allow you to reach further into my anal cavity. I have nothing to hide!

MadisonConservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM

I’m calling bullshit on this. Every day it is more CYA

katy the mean old lady on June 19, 2013 at 9:27 AM

A lie until proven otherwise—my new motto for anything that comes from this administration…

hillsoftx on June 19, 2013 at 9:27 AM

When did this enhanced surveillance start?

How many of these alleged “50 plots” were hatched, discovered, and thwarted subsequent to 2009?

How many such plots were thwarted prior to 2009?

How many “plots” ended up not being “plots” at all during this time?

If this program is/was such a success…how did the Tsarnaev brothers ever manage to stroll down Boston’s Boylston Street unscathed, undetected?

Just curious, that’s all.

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:28 AM

The NYSE plot, which had until today been unknown to the public, was centered around an auto parts dealer in Kansas City, Missouri, named Khalid Ouazzani, who pleaded guilty in 2010 for his role in a conspiracy to provide funding to al-Qaeda. At the time of his plea, the complex case against Ouazzani seemed to have little to do with the famous NYSE headquarters on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, except for a vague reference in his plea agreement that said, “Over a period of years, [Ouazzani] and others discussed various ways they could support al Qaeda.”

The FBI now says Ouazzani was talking to an extremist in Yemen about a terror plot that would strike at the symbolic heart of America’s capitalist system – an attack on Wall Street.

So a guy who was arrested for money laundering made a vague reference about supporting Al Qaeda…the outfit he was arrested for supporting with laundered money.

From there they claim he once talked to some unknown person about maybe committing some kind of attack on Wall Street.

What an open-and-shut case. However did they crack it without Columbo at their side? This is why we need PRISM. Because Sherlock Holmes is dead.

MadisonConservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Top U.S. security officials revealed today that the government’s recently exposed surveillance programs led them to an al Qaeda cell that plotted, scouted, but ultimately abandoned a plan to bomb the Wall Street in 2008.

If the bombers “abandoned the plan”, how can the Feds claim they “stopped the attack”?

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

This shows the importance of being vigilant and having powerful surveillance capabilities. Of course there will be the possibility of abuse. We need to do all we can to ensure proper oversight, not shriek hysterically about being in a supposed “police state.”

The way the traitor Edward Snowden has gone about leaking all of this sensitive information has hurt the country and made us less safe. There were responsible ways of expressing his concerns if potential violations of civil liberties were what he was really concerned about, but the manner in which he has conducted himself reveals that his true intentions are to hurt the country.

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

50 plots? There is no way.
Furthermore, if they stopped 50 plots, we are under a bigger threat than I thought………..and so the excuse for the Boston bombing then is that they stopped so many that they were exhausted?
What morons.

ORconservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

50 attacks? Really? If this is true, why have they been kept a secret? If we really do live under such an enormous cloud of terror, isn’t this something that the American people should have been made aware of? How are we supposed to have a proper policy debate on how to deal with radical Islam if we don’t fully understand the danger we are in?

That’s why I’m calling BS on the claims being made by the intelligence community. I think this point requires emphasis:

The U.S. officials who testified today claimed they helped put a stop to more than 50 terror plots in 20 countries

I don’t know how willing I am to give up some rights in the name of safety, but I am absolutely unwilling to give up an inch to prevent terror plots in other countries.

HarryBackside on June 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Getting curiouser and curiouser, is it not?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

I doubt it.

SarahW on June 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM

They were probably just watching a Batman movie.

joekenha on June 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

As a system administrator, Snowden “could go on the network or go into any file or any system and change it or add to it or whatever, just to make sure — because he would be responsible to get it back up and running if, in fact, it failed. So that meant he had access to go in and put anything. That’s why he said, I think, ‘I can even target the president or a judge.’

This does not sound like a position that should have been contracted out.

Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Who pays you?

ORconservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

The FBI now says Ouazzani was talking to an extremist in Yemen about a terror plot

What the hell does this have to do with the NSA collecting e-mails I send to my mother about visiting on the 4th of July? Or collecting data on every one of our domestic phone calls?

Very few people are opposing the NSA monitoring communications between people in the US and a known extremist in Yemen for crying out loud.

forest on June 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

If there were 50 instances where plots were caught, when did all the trials happen? Surely, there would have been public trials that would have come to the attention of the media. We all know just how much they love trials.

Kissmygrits on June 19, 2013 at 9:36 AM

It saddens me to see commenters here apparently hoping, for cheap political reasons, that this surveillance program hasn’t been effective. A healthy dose of skepticism is one thing, but outright hoping that these programs haven’t been effective is pretty sad.

We shouldn’t be playing politics with national security and anti-terrorism programs that have proven effective.

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Top U.S. security officials revealed today that the government’s recently exposed surveillance programs led them to an al Qaeda cell that plotted, scouted, but ultimately abandoned a plan to bomb the Wall Street in 2008.

How did the NSA/FBI Stasi stop this plot? At best, they were monitoring an al Qaeda cell that was toying with the idea. Seriously where was governmental action that stopped Wall Street from exploding like a Boston Marathon finish line?

Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Top U.S. security officials revealed today that the government’s recently exposed surveillance programs led them to an al Qaeda cell that plotted, scouted, but ultimately abandoned a plan to bomb the Wall Street in 2008

How does the NSA stop a terror attack the plotters never followed through on? Is your headline some sort of Kafka-esque riddle?

Fenris on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Since 2001 I have slept (in the carnal sense) 50 supermodels.

traye on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Just can’t get past this notion that “if it saves just one life” let’s kill the Second Amendment.

Or, if it saves just one life, let’s kill the Fourth Amendment.

Or, if it prevents just one person from feeling offended, let’s put that final nail in the coffin of the First Amendment.

How has this nation survived for so long with that pesky Bill of Rights, anyway?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

I don’t care how many supposed terrorist plots they claim they averted. None of them came about from listening in on my family’s communications or strip searching grandma at the airport.

What’s the excuse for the boston bombers? They had plenty of intelligence and warnings about that. How come that very obvious attack was overlooked but they had plenty of time to harass and intrude on decent American’s lives?

Their claims are utter BS

HotAirian on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

With

traye on June 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM

For that, Congress has to accept a good deal of responsibility.

Good one! Congress accepting responsibility, The Bystander-in-Chief accepting responsibility, high government officials accepting responsibility for making “the least misleading” statements under oath (“perjury” being an archaic and judgmental word) to Congress…

Yes, I too eagerly await all this accepting of responsibility from our federal overlords.

Drained Brain on June 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Very few people are opposing the NSA monitoring communications between people in the US and a known extremist in Yemen for crying out loud.

forest on June 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Not as long as they have a warrant that is a little less broad than “every phone call in America.”

Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Bottom line is that the government is lying through their teeth, again.
Let’s review, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA and so on it goes. All lies.
The question really is are there enough people who care or more people like bluegill, happy with their Obamaphones and food stamps in exchange for zero freedom. Tough call.

ORconservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Dear leader speaking now to an adoring crowd…-tingles must be thrilled

All hail dear leader

cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

We shouldn’t be playing politics with national security and anti-terrorism programs that have proven effective.

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

So, enhanced interrogation, and having suspect terrorists held incommunicado at Gitmo ad infinitum is perfectly fine then? All those who rallied in the streets, supported Code Pink, or elected Barack Hussein Obama were acting infantile, playing games with national security and politicizing anti-terror programs?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

BUSH!

Good Lt on June 19, 2013 at 9:43 AM

With these jokers, my first impression has to be that these are just more lies. Let’s wait a few weeks for leakers to get out the real truth.

slickwillie2001 on June 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

This does not sound like a position that should have been contracted out.
Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

It does if you think about the statists need to have a private company fall guy.

txhsmom on June 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Can we just settle on one number? An easy one that I can remember?

“There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!”

-John Yerkes Iselin

Washington Fancy on June 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM

They stopped my cat from going all jihad on some mice…at least that is what my cat claims.

trs on June 19, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Isn’t it amazing that one stopped attack (and even in the stopped NYC attack there is reason to believe that other methods were responsible)has, within a week ,blossomed into “more than 50 stopped attacks.” Believing the government is like placing your faith in a Sham-Well salesmen.

MaiDee on June 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Dear leader speaking now to an adoring crowd…-tingles must be thrilled
All hail dear leader
cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

At least now we know how they choose only adoring fans.

txhsmom on June 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM

This shows the importance of being vigilant and having powerful surveillance capabilities. Of course there will be the possibility of abuse. We need to do all we can to ensure proper oversight, not shriek hysterically about being in a supposed “police state.”

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Wow, you swallowed what they fed you hook, line, and sinker. Just like like a good fishy.

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Washington Fancy on June 19, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Good reference.

:-)

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Why didn’t the NSA Stasi identify Nadal Hassan even as he was communicating with a radical Islamist overseas? Why weren’t the Tsarnaev brothers on the radar? The administration can target Fox News reporters but they can’t find active terrorists who meet all the criteria for what they are looking for?

I’ll give the lying crap weasel Alexander some benefit of the doubt since it was an open session but his answers were incomplete and were clearly sanitized to highlight success while assuring us that the NSA Stasi can be trusted to collect massive data banks on American citizens.

Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

We shouldn’t be playing politics with national security and anti-terrorism programs that have proven effective.

bluegill on June 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Benghazi? “What difference does it make?” Conservative outrage
Fast and Furious? “Executive privilege.” Conservative outrage.
IRS? “Internal investigations, go away.” Conservative outrage.

PRISM? “We do lots of good things we can’t talk about.”

“Conservative” response? GIVE THE GOVERNMENT THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT YOU EXTREMIST TRAITOROUS KOOKS!

MadisonConservative on June 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Getting curiouser and curiouser, is it not?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Sure is.

But they wouldn’t exaggerate such things, would they?
//

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM

86.7% of all statistics reported on the internet are made up on the spot to convince people of their “facts”.

right2bright on June 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Peace thru justice instead of peace thru strength

Going to reduce the arsenal by a third hoping Russia will do the same…what a crock

He’s campaigning in Berlin….. next UN Secretary?

cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Yesterday, the FBI’s assistant director told Congress that the programs stopped as many as 50 separate terrorist plots against the US, including one that targeted the core of America’s economy:

As one poster stated yesterday…They didn’t do so good in Boston did they?

right2bright on June 19, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Dear leader speaking now to an adoring crowd…-tingles must be thrilled
All hail dear leader
cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Relevant to this thread….

It was pointed out that the rat-eared tyrant is actually speaking from the East German side of the Brandenberg Gate and not the site of Kennedy’s and Reagan’s far more memorable speeches. How appropriate the guy who spies on Americans speaking from soil once governed by fear through the same kind of spying that is being pushed as benign by liars at the NSA and very stupid people who claim we can trust these crap weasels.

Happy Nomad on June 19, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole…and Obama as the Cheshire Cat.

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Indeed txhsmom

Going to close Gitmo …..

Lsm will be going gaga over this speech

cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Lol…wants an open debate

cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I’m supposed to believe an administration that arms Al Qaeda in Syria…Identifies American Conservatives and Christians as potential domestic terrorists…And doesn’t allow NSA surveillance in US Mosques?

Cause why?

“Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.

The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.

She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.

Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix said: ‘His only crime was his brother criticised the rebels, accused them of acting like bandits, which is what they are.’

Sister Agnes-Miriam, mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, has condemned Britain and the west for supporting the rebels despite growing evidence of human rights abuses. Murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery are becoming commonplace, she says.

‘The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. ‘They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.’

The 60-year-old Carmelite nun claims the west has turned a blind eye to growing evidence of a ‘fifth column’ of fanatics within the rag-tag ranks that make up the Free Syrian Army that they back to oust Assad.

One of the most effective fighting forces is the Jabat Al-Nusra, which has an ideology similar to Al Qaeda.

‘The uprising has been hijacked by Islamist mercenaries who are more interested in fighting a holy war than in changing the government,’ she said.

‘It has turned into a sectarian conflict. One in which Christians are paying a high price.’

The rebel attacked the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn, on the Turkish border, last month. The fighters entered the Christian quarter, ordering civilians to leave and leaving their homes.

‘More than 200 families were driven out in the night,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam says. ‘People are afraid. Everywhere the deaths squads stop civilians, abduct them and ask for ransom, sometimes they kill them.’

Militants wearing black bandanas of Al Qaeda recently laid siege to the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, located between Damascus and Homs, for two days in an attempt to prevent Christmas celebrations, the nun claims.

An estimated 300,000 Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs region alone, she claims.

Many have fled abroad raising fears that Syria’s Christian community may vanish – like others across Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity…”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255103/Syria-rebels-beheaded-Christian-fed-dogs-fears-grow-Islamist-atrocities.html

workingclass artist on June 19, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Where’s that stinky fish smell coming from?

slickwillie2001 on June 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Bullsh!t, O’Boy would have been taking responsibility for these successes and the MSM would have been reminding us 24/7 of his imperial greatness.

Not only that but what good does it do anybody to keep these threats super top secret? The terrorists already know their plans had been thwarted and we don’t have to reveal the nuts and bolts about how it was achieved. Also, wouldn’t it be smart to inform the public what kind of threat was being planned in order to multiply the levels of vigilance.

antipc on June 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM

“If there was a plot to blow up the NYSE they would have arrested somebody for that is a CONSPIRACY that does not require the completion of the Act The people involved would be jail for life”
So had did the NSA save the day yet nobody is put on trial to prove anything took place” [Martin Armstrong}

Yesterdays NSA session was pure Govt proganda to confuse the real issue

HAGGS99 on June 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

I can’t believe they did all this and Biden said………. Nothing?

Herb on June 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

There is nothing wrong with spying on inter country communications or foreign communications. The administration and NSA are attempting to roll those into domestic communication surveillance that is unconstitutional and wrong!

aniptofar on June 19, 2013 at 9:58 AM

By the way where the hell is Uncle Joe?

Herb on June 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Now… what else was the data used for?

How many times was the database (of phone logs) hacked?

faraway on June 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Sure they did. This administration lies so blatantly I have no reason to believe them.

sadatoni on June 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM

To quote the Simpsons:

“Willie hears ya, Willie don’t care”

Gatsu on June 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Plus, they stopped Nakoula Nakoula…so I feel safe.

dont taze me bro on June 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM

By the way where the hell is Uncle Joe?

Herb on June 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Stalin recommends stopping terrorists with the shotgun through door technique.

Fenris on June 19, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Y’know they can stop 99% of all crime if they enforce martial law…

I say we should do that because I need to be safe…

Skywise on June 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM

So we are supposed to believe an administration that lied about F&F, lied about Bengazi, lied about the IRS, lied about reviewing the personal activities and communications of journalists and lied about NSA snooping and which has also taken the 5th amendment before congress because truthful answers would have subjected the witness to criminal prosecution. These are the people we are supposed to trust?

tommyboy on June 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Wow, that Atlantic article is a doozie. Thanks, Ed.

petefrt on June 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM

It’s not the 50 so-called success cases I’m worried about. It’s the 1000′s of things they’re not telling us about that concern me. The trust factor is pretty low right now.

iamsaved on June 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Stopping Tea Party rallies is not the same thing, but I’ll bet they think differently…I know Big Sis does.

Alinsky on June 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

The auto parts dealer already had ties to AQ. They SHOULD have had him under surveillance anyway.

My response to all of this is… So f*cking what? The debate about all of this is not whether the NSA program can stop terrorist attacks, it’s whether it violates our rights as free citizens.

I reckon the govt could keep us all pretty safe by locking us all into padded cages. It probably wouldn’t go over to well though.

spinach.chin on June 19, 2013 at 10:12 AM

NSA’s surveillance programs

But, we’re not talking about this program, are we?

We are talking about NSA collection of our phone logs and websites visited, aren’t we?

faraway on June 19, 2013 at 10:18 AM

It saddens me to see commenters here apparently hoping, for cheap political reasons, that this surveillance program hasn’t been effective.

Yeah, it stopped Boston.

L-

Del Dolemonte on June 19, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Dear leader speaking now to an adoring crowd…-tingles must be thrilled

All hail dear leader

cmsinaz on June 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

One small difference: when he spoke in Berlin in 2008, 200,000 people were there.

Today there were 194,000 less people there.

Del Dolemonte on June 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM

According to GEN Alexander’s testimony, the 50 plots that have been stopped are since 9/11 and in 20 different countries. So, that would be 50 plots in 12 1/2 years, or about 4 per year, scattered throughout the world. So 50 may sound like a lot, but it is not that great a number.

Not sure what to make of the number. To me, 50 in 12 1/2 years is pathetic. I would hope that they would have stopped more. But then, I’m not sure how many successful terrorist attacks have occured since 9/11. The best number I can find is around 40,000 world-wide. So 50 stopped and 40,000 successful. Using those numbers, the NSA is successful in stopping about 1/10 of one percent of the terrorist plots. Really not something to hang your hat on.

I will give them the benefit of the fact that a vast majority of these are smaller attacks, such as an IED targeting a US military convoy and probably the NSA had no way of discovering the plot.

But GEN Alexander needed to defend the NSA programs so he needed to give a number of plots stopped. 50 seems like a lot, but it’s not.

GAlpha10 on June 19, 2013 at 10:23 AM

6000 people in Berlin. Is there another free concert?

faraway on June 19, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Were ANY of them thwarted by listening to regular U.S. citizens? Or by paying attention to people already on watch lists, or otherwise mare for specialized consideration? I think ‘No’ is the most probable answer.

michaelo on June 19, 2013 at 10:30 AM

There is one thing about the claims of stopped terror plots utilizing this metadata analysis that bugs me, and it goes to the timeline. I’ll admit to being a bit fuzzy about some of the details here, but when did prism expand exponentially and unlimited data collection begin? We are told that PRISM is an expansion of the warrentless wire tap program under Bush which, as wide as it was, was still at least targeted to overseas calls to suspect phone numbers. If my memory serves correctly it would seem the success stories that we are hearing of would have been a result of that program, and not the one currently in use. To attack directly back at the justfication the administration provides, what plots has the expanded program foiled?

And how to you provide tansparency for a top secret program?

James412 on June 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Why not 57?

NotCoach on June 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Wow, that Atlantic article is a doozie. Thanks, Ed.

petefrt on June 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Watched the interview online yesterday…It was the first time they appeared together.

workingclass artist on June 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM

So just to be clear, this case has nothing to do with the vast indiscriminate dragnet on domestic phone and internet communications that people are upset about?

It was targeted surveillance of communications between a guy named Khalid in KC and a known radical in Yemen.

forest on June 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

NotCoach on June 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Obama couldn’t come up with one per state?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I’m certainly glad these Islamic terror attacks were stopped, but with an immigration policy that doesn’t restrict Muslim immigration eventually there will be too many plots kept hidden. The Boston attack is a prelude.

No, not saying most Muslims are terrorists, just saying the obvious that that the more Muslims the higher percentage of radicals included. This phenomenon is historical and well noted.

What to Expect: The Effect Of Muslim Population Growth on a Society

Chessplayer on June 19, 2013 at 10:46 AM

True to form, Dear Leader and his minions are pulling numbers out of their collective azz.

SteveInRTP on June 19, 2013 at 10:48 AM

I wonder how many would have been prevented if they only collected phone calls from or to non-citizen Muslims?

huckleberryfriend on June 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I don’t believe a damned thing any of them say, Dem or Rep.

glockomatic on June 19, 2013 at 10:54 AM

The article’s equating of the three whistleblowers who followed prescribed procedure to voice their concerns with secret processes with Edward Snowden who went to China and facilitated the PRC’s propaganda campaign against the US protests of chinese cyberhacking is false. The former three will walk the streets of the US as free men. Snowden will never freely walk the streets of this country and yes, that is just.

KW64 on June 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM

So just to be clear, this case has nothing to do with the vast indiscriminate dragnet on domestic phone and internet communications that people are upset about?

It was targeted surveillance of communications between a guy named Khalid in KC and a known radical in Yemen.

forest on June 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Precisely.

yesiamapirate on June 19, 2013 at 10:56 AM

50 terrorist “plots”??

Not possible.

The war on terror is over. Lil barry said so. And he killed bin laden, you know.
And al queda is decimated and the survivors are on the run in fear.

And the taliban are begging us for peace…ensconced in their offices in Qatar THAT WE ARE PAYING FOR.

Who’s left to plot terrorism?

Oooh! Maybe it’s the TEA Party.

Solaratov on June 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Obama couldn’t come up with one per state?

coldwarrior on June 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Maybe they don’t use Heinz in the WH.

NotCoach on June 19, 2013 at 11:02 AM

A few days ago Ed wrote suggesting that NSA was not proving to be very useful. He noted that the Boston bombers were not stopped by either the NSA intercepts or by the Russian help. I made a comment which immediately disappeared into the archives before anyone could read it. His post stated as a fact that NSA had not been aware of the brothers until after the bombing.

In this case, though, the terrorist attack had already taken place,
and the suspects were identified before they got to Todashev.

My comment

That
may be true, but you do not know it to be true. It is just as likely that NSA
was monitoring the communications of the Boston group for a signicant period and
were continuing to monitor the persons in the group who are now publically known
with the expectation of identifying others. Then a bureaucratic screw up prevented
action being taken when the intelligence got hot. This would be in agreement with
Mueller’s testimony.

Bureaucrats tend to do this. For instance in December 1941
the antecedent of the NSA intercepted a Jappanese message in the Jappanese highest
code which had been broken to the effect that they would attack the US within two
days. Messages were sent to US facilities. A Bureaucrat didn’t mark the message as
urgent. The message to Pearl Harbor arrived concurrently with the Jappanese.

Intelligent professionals take gruff they don’t earn.

I might have added that this wasn’t known publically for a couple of decades.

burt on June 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM

“The FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency told Congress early Wednesday.

Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.

“Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mr. Mueller during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Yes,” Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI’s operation of drones is “very seldom.”

Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to elaborate, Mueller added, “It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident where you need the capability.” Earlier in the morning, however, Mueller said that the agency was only now working to establish set rule for the drone program…”

http://rt.com/usa/fbi-director-mueller-drones-947/

workingclass artist on June 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

The USA Today whistleblowers bring up a point I’d like to hear more about. How does a FISA court have authority to force Verizon to turn over records on U.S. citizens? That’s not foreign intelligence, that’s domestic. Those should go through normal court channels, not the super-secret rubber stamp court built to oversee our spying on foreign terrorists.

hawksruleva on June 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Just Monday morning quarterbacking here, but why didn’t they hire Jon Lovitz to give this report?

“Yeah, our programs have stopped 5… uh 15… 50 terrorist attacks. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And my wife, uh… Morgan Fairchild, …”

ROCnPhilly on June 19, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Also, that 50 deals with both foreign and domestic spying. Only 10 of those involved domestic surveillance, which I think is the issue that most people are upset about.

hawksruleva on June 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Don’t believe them.

I filled out an I-9 yesterday, with a new space for my email address “to inform me if an unauthorized match comes up.” Yeah, right.

Only in the 9 pages of instructions I found online did I find that providing that and my phone was optional.

I’m sure they want the info to make their prying easier. Big Sis wants a super database too!

PattyJ on June 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

whatever it takes to protect the imperial state… most of these people don’t even realize the laughable joke they have become.. they are just happy to collect their check and do what their bosses ask them to.

gatorboy on June 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM

These clowns think nobody in America understands the difference between “necessary” and “sufficient.” Just because monitoring everybody’s everything is sufficient to help thwart bad stuff, it does not mean that doing so is necessary.

See: “We had to burn the village to save it.”

Christien on June 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM

50 plots stopped. I call bullshit! Too easy to say, and meant to flummox the low-information individual, period. (unless they’re talking about plots from the Tea Party of course)! That I can buy.

AcronisF on June 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Fire everyone at the IRS–it’s the only way to ensure those few low-level employees are held accountable for their misdeeds.

Same “logic” the NSA is using here.

Christien on June 19, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Big Sis wants a super database too!

PattyJ on June 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

They all want a super database. DHS, FBI, IRS, HHS, etc, could all make a semi-plausible argument as to why they need a database. If the NSA can do it, why can’t they?

HarryBackside on June 19, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Seven out of ten federal workers have checked out or are “actively disengaged.” Not to worry, America, they’ve totally got your back.

Christien on June 19, 2013 at 11:34 AM

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