NY Sun: Glasgow bombers' e-mails point to Al Qaeda cell in U.S.

I’m surprised — not that there’s a cell here but that the not ready for primetime players in the Glasgow plot might be bona fide credentialed AQ. If they can’t even get guys who know how to make a car bomb anymore they’re in worse shape than anyone thought.

E-mail addresses for American individuals were found on the same password-protected e-mail chains used by the United Kingdom plotters to communicate with Qaeda handlers in Europe, a counterterrorism official told The New York Sun yesterday. The American and German intelligence communities now believe the secure e-mail chains used in the United Kingdom plot have provided a window into an operational Qaeda network in several countries.

“Because of the London and Glasgow plot, we now know communications have been made from Al Qaeda to operatives in the United States,” the counterterrorism official said on condition of anonymity. “This plot helps to connect a lot of stuff. We have seen money moving a lot through hawala networks and other illicit finance as well.” But this source was careful to say that at this point, no specific information, such as names, targets, or a timeline, was known about any particular plot on American soil. The e-mail addresses that were linked to Americans were pseudonyms…

The heightened threat environment also played a role in the passage of a law Saturday evening to give the National Security Agency temporary authority for the next six months to conduct warrantless wiretaps against suspected Al Qaeda contacts on American soil. On Friday, as Congress was still wrangling over the specifics of the changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the director of national intelligence, Admiral Michael McConnell, was unusually blunt about the threat. Commenting on the Democratic proposal that the White House rejected, Admiral McConnell said, “I must have certainty in order to protect the nation from attacks that are being planned today to inflict mass casualties on the United States.”

I read the Times’s piece on the new wiretap law last night and found it bizarre that Reid and Pelosi would have caved so completely knowing how their base would react. The Times claims that the eavesdropping process had ground to a halt due to the unholy backlog of warrant applications before the FISA court since January and that this was Congress’s way of sweeping that problem aside for six months. It seems strange that they would have descended on the problem so urgently now, though, to the point where they had to work through the last weekend before recess (and miss Yearly Kos in the process) to get it done. WaPo attributed the urgency to a secret FISA court ruling earlier this year that parts of the program were unconstitutional, but according to John Boehner (who spilled the beans about the ruling), the Democrats have known about it for months. I wonder if this, plus warnings from Chertoff and Mike McConnell and the reports of a “summer of chatter” don’t have them a little more worried than usual.

Read this short piece from Newsweek last week to see how the controversy over warrantless wiretaps made it harder to get Congress to play ball on expanding NSA’s reach to accommodate new technologies. Meanwhile, Dan Riehl’s still following the case of the two guys arrested in South Carolina with a bomb/not a bomb in their trunk. Neither one of them is a citizen, according to CNN.