WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.Bu$hCo has been, and promises us that they will continue to, spy on Americans without a FISA warrant despite the fact that to date, it has produced little valuable intelligence.
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
I think we need to ask ourselves, why?
The law enforcement and counterterrorism officials said the program had uncovered no active Qaeda networks inside the United States planning attacks. "There were no imminent plots - not inside the United States," the former F.B.I. official said.Huh, that is NOT what our Doofus-in-chief would have us believe. His mantra is "be afwaid, be vewy afwaid".
Some of the officials said the eavesdropping program might have helped uncover people with ties to Al Qaeda in Albany; Portland, Ore.; and Minneapolis. Some of the activities involved recruitment, training or fund-raising.Uhm, no... none of those cases resulted in convictions... maybe, just maybe, had the war criminals bothered to get a warrant from the FISC, they might have been able to secure a conviction, because they could then have used that as evidence in court.
But, along with several British counterterrorism officials, some of the officials questioned assertions by the Bush administration that the program was the key to uncovering a plot to detonate fertilizer bombs in London in 2004. The F.B.I. and other law enforcement officials also expressed doubts about the importance of the program's role in another case named by administration officials as a success in the fight against terrorism, an aborted scheme to topple the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch.Why am I not surprised that Bu$hCo and his cronies are lying to us again. Nothing that this band of dead enders says can be trusted to be true.
Some officials said that in both cases, they had already learned of the plans through interrogation of prisoners or other means.Sigh, yet another avenue that leads to a dead end in court... evidence collected through torture is inadmissable in court.
But then, the truth starts to make its way out:
Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration pressed the nation's intelligence agencies and the F.B.I. to move urgently to thwart any more plots. The N.S.A., whose mission is to spy overseas, began monitoring the international e-mail messages and phone calls of people inside the United States who were linked, even indirectly, to suspected Qaeda figures.Got that? Indirectly. So, someone from Afghanistan calls someone in the states, who then calls the plumber, who is then a target, who is then monitored as are all of his customers. All innocent Americans.
Officials who were briefed on the N.S.A. program said the agency collected much of the data passed on to the F.B.I. as tips by tracing phone numbers in the United States called by suspects overseas, and then by following the domestic numbers to other numbers called. In other cases, lists of phone numbers appeared to result from the agency's computerized scanning of communications coming into and going out of the country for names and keywords that might be of interest.Feel safer yet?
In response to the F.B.I. complaints, the N.S.A. eventually began ranking its tips on a three-point scale, with 3 being the highest priority and 1 the lowest, the officials said. Some tips were considered so hot that they were carried by hand to top F.B.I. officials. But in bureau field offices, the N.S.A. material continued to be viewed as unproductive, prompting agents to joke that a new bunch of tips meant more "calls to Pizza Hut," one official, who supervised field agents, said.