Sunday, June 30, 2013

Liberty and Justice for All

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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Gang of Eight Revealed True Immigration Colours Tonight

Buchanan: Hispanic influx could break USA into 'two countries'...

Illegals face lesser punishment than U.S. citizens for crimes committed...

Now includes Obama stimulus program...

Oval Office meet: Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell, Reid...

Sessions Issues Statement On Tonight’s Procedural Vote To Advance 1,200-Page Substitute Immigration Bill

Monday, June 24, 2013
“The Gang of Eight and their allies revealed their true tactics tonight. They shut down debate and blocked amendments to a 1,200-page immigration bill that no one has read… This legislation is a crushing blow to the working people of this country, a surrender to illegality, and a capitulation to special interests over the interests of the citizens we pledged to represent.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement after tonight’s vote:
“The sponsors of the Corker-Hoeven substitute fell short of the votes they expected tonight to advance what they had erroneously billed to other Senators as a strong border security amendment. Failure to capture the votes they anticipated for this motion demonstrates the building unease this 1,200-page legislative monstrosity has created. I expect that unease will increase as Senators learn more about what’s really inside this proposal.
The Gang of Eight and their allies revealed their true tactics tonight. They shut down debate and blocked amendments to a 1,200-page immigration bill that no one has read. It was anything but the open and fair process that they had promised.
What we know for absolute certain is that this bill guarantees three things: instantaneous amnesty, permanent lawlessness, and a massive expansion in legal immigration that will reduce wages for working Americans. This legislation is a crushing blow to the working people of this country, a surrender to illegality, and a capitulation to special interests over the interests of the citizens we pledged to represent.”
·        Immediate amnesty before enforcement
·        Guts legal requirement for biometric exit-entry system
·        Millions of green cards (permanent residency) before enforcement—debunking another false claim from sponsors
·        No border surge. Agents aren’t required until 2021. It will never happen
·        No fence requirement. DHS retains discretion in the bill that preempts the call for a fence in ten years. Litigation also provides an escape hatch to never build the fence. The fence won’t happen
·        Legalization for gang members and convicted criminals
·        Amnesty for future visa overstays (in other words, a prospective amnesty for future illegal immigrants)
·        Guaranteed welfare access for illegal immigrants
·        Undermines interior enforcement, prompting ICE officers to warn: “There is no doubt that, if passed, public safety will be endangered and massive amounts of future illegal immigration—especially visa overstays—is ensured.”
·        Expands non-merit chain migration—less than 10 percent of future flow is merit-based
·        Doubles the number of guest workers and triples the number of immigrants granted lawful permanent residency—reducing wages for U.S. workers and driving up unemployment

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US Funding Jihad?

The Obama Administration must have thought we weren't paying attention.
On the very day when the IRS targeting scandal broke, Secretary of State John Kerry provided a new, $1.3 billion cash stimulus for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Without a press release or public fanfare, he waived human rights conditions placed on American military aid to Egypt's anti-American and anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood government.
With this action, the Obama Administration reinforces the Muslim Brotherhood even as it steps up its blasphemy prosecutions against Egypt's Christians and even as Egypt's president appointed an actual terrorist leader as governor of an important region.
Speak up. Tell the Administration, tell Congress, there should be no taxpayer money for jihad.
Sign the Petition to Sequester the Muslim Brotherhood.
Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel

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Spy vs Spy & Constitutional Reform

“I, Richard Charles, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God” (5 U.S.C. §3331).

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.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Unless You Know About This Spying Method, You Might Say Something Which Could Get You In Hot Water

Given that the NSA is tapping into your phone calls and spying on your Internet activities, you might have switched to a search engine which is more privacy-conscious.
You might have started using encrypted communications.  After all, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdenand the leading electronic privacy group – the Electronic Frontier Foundation – say that encryption helps to protect privacy.   On the other hand,  Tech Dirt points out that the NSA might consider you suspicious if you encrypt information, and so hold onto your data until they can decrypt it.
The above are all issues about which you are at least somewhat aware.
But there is a giant type of snooping which you probably don’t even know about.  Specifically, ABC Newsreported in 2006:
Cell phone users, beware.  The FBI can listen to everything you say, even when the cell phone is turned off. A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a “roving bug.”
Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.
“The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them,” James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News.  “Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone’s location to within just a few feet,” he added.
According to the recent court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, “The device functioned whether the phone was powered on or off, intercepting conversations within its range wherever it happened to be.” 
“The courts have given law enforcement a blank check for surveillance,” Richard Rehbock, attorney for defendant John Ardito, told ABC News.
“Big Brother is upon us…1984 happened a long time ago,” he said, referring to the George Orwell futuristic novel “1984,” which described a society whose members were closely watched by those in power and was published in 1949.
Fox News covered the story as well:
CNET noted the same year:
The U.S. Commerce Department’s security office warns that “a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone.” An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can “remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner’s knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call.”
Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone–all without the owner knowing it happened.
A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. “A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug,” the article said, “enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down.”
Given that the American and British intelligence agencies are trying tap every single communication, some rogue agency or contractor might be tapping your phone … even when it’s off.
Slate noted earlier this month:
Our cellphones have almost unlimited access to our daily lives—not just because we use them to talk, text, and search the Web, but because it’s really easy to turn on the GPS, microphone, or camera secretly from another location. If you’ve ever lost an iPhone, you may have used Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature to remotely activate your phone’s GPS signal…. If Apple really is working with the NSA as part of PRISM, the technical requirements to locate a person through their phone would be no more difficult than that. For spy agencies, it’s no more difficult to activate your phone’s microphone the same way, letting them listen in on your conversations even when you aren’t making a phone call.
Indeed, even private hackers might be listening in. Specifically, private parties without security clearance may be activating your microphone or camera without your knowledge.
Indeed, commercially-available, off-the-shelf software allows people to spy on you:
Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker“) … and sending the information to private companies.
And CNET pointed out 7 years ago:
Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer’s video camera and forwarded him the recordings.
So the single most important step to protect yourself from government – or private – spying is to remember that your conservations might not be private when your cellphone is nearby … even if it is turned off.
Note:  If you have a microphone in your car, that might also open you up to snoopers. As CNET points out:
Surreptitious activation of built-in microphones by the FBI has been done before. A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors’ OnStar to snoop on passengers’ conversations.
When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.
And Fox news notes that the government is insisting that “black boxes” be installed in cars to track your location.
And see this.
Posted in Politics / World News | 4 Comments

The Stunning Hypocrisy of the U.S. Government

Government Hypocrisy Is the Core Problem

Congress has exempted itself from the prohibition against trading on inside information … the law that got Martha Stewart and many other people thrown in jail.
There are many other ways in which the hypocrisy of the politicians in D.C. is hurting our country.
Washington politicians say we have to slash basic services, and yet waste hundreds of billions of dollars on counter-productive boondoggles. If the politicos just stopped throwing money at corporate welfare queensmilitary and security boondoggles and pork, harmful quantitative easingunnecessary nuclear subsidies, the failed war on drugs, and other wasted and counter-productive expenses, we wouldn’t needto impose austerity on the people.
The D.C. politicians said that the giant failed banks couldn’t be nationalized, because that would be socialism. Instead of temporarily nationalizing them and then spinning them off to the private sector – or breaking them up – the politicians have bailed them out to the tune of many tens of billions of dollarseach year, and created a system where all of the profits are privatized, and all of the losses socialized.
Obama and Congress promised help for struggling homeowners, and passed numerous bills that they claimed would rescue the little guy. But every single one of these bills actually bails out the banks … anddoesn’t really help the homeowner.
The Federal Reserve promises to do everything possible to reduce unemployment. But its policies are actually destroying jobs.
Many D.C. politicians pay lip service to helping the little guy … while pushing policies which have driven inequality to levels surpassing slave-owning societies.
The D.C. regulators pretend that they are being tough on the big banks, but are actually doing everything they can to help cover up their sins.
Many have pointed out Obama’s hypocrisy in slamming Bush’s spying programs … and then expandingthem (millions more).
And – while the Obama administration is spying on everyone in the country – it is at the same time themost secretive administration ever (background). That’s despite Obama saying he’s running the mosttransparent administration ever.
Glenn Greenwald – the Guardian reporter who broke the NSA spying revelations – has documented for many years the hypocritical use of leaks by the government to make itself look good … while throwing the book at anyone who leaks information embarrassing to the government.
Greenwald notes today:
Prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration, there were a grand total of three prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act (including the prosecution of Dan Ellsberg by the Nixon DOJ). That’s because the statute is so broad that even the US government has largely refrained from using it. But during the Obama presidency, there are now seven such prosecutions: more than double the number under all prior US presidents combined.
Please read this rather good summary in this morning’s New York Times of the worldwide debate Snowden has enabled – how these disclosures have “set off a national debate over the proper limits of government surveillance” and “opened an unprecedented window on the details of surveillance by the NSA, including its compilation of logs of virtually all telephone calls in the United States and its collection of e-mails of foreigners from the major American Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and Skype” – and ask yourself: has Snowden actually does anything to bring “injury to the United States”, or has he performed an immense public service?
The irony is obvious: the same people who are building a ubiquitous surveillance system to spy on everyone in the world, including their own citizens, are now accusing the person who exposed it of “espionage”. It seems clear that the people who are actuallybringing “injury to the United States” are those who are waging war on basic tenets of transparency and secretly constructing a mass and often illegal and unconstitutional surveillance apparatus aimed at American citizens – and those who are lying to the American people and its Congress about what they’re doing – rather than those who are devoted to informing the American people that this is being done.
The Obama administration leaks classified information continuously. They do it to glorify the President, or manipulate public opinion, or even to help produce a pre-election propaganda film about the Osama bin Laden raid. The Obama administration does not hate unauthorized leaks of classified information. They are more responsible for such leaks than anyone.
What they hate are leaks that embarrass them or expose their wrongdoing. Those are the only kinds of leaks that are prosecuted. It’s a completely one-sided and manipulative abuse of secrecy laws. It’s all designed to ensure that the only information we as citizens can learn is what they want us to learn because it makes them look good. The only leaks they’re interested in severely punishing are those that undermine them politically. The “enemy” they’re seeking to keep ignorant with selective and excessive leak prosecutions are not The Terrorists or The Chinese Communists. It’s the American people.
The Terrorists already knew, and have long known, that the US government is doing everything possible to surveil their telephonic and internet communications. The Chinese have long known, and have repeatedly said, that the US is hacking into both their governmental and civilian systems (just as the Chinese are doing to the US). The Russians have long known that the US and UK try to intercept the conversations of their leaders just as the Russians do to the US and the UK.
They haven’t learned anything from these disclosures that they didn’t already well know. [He's right.] The people who have learned things they didn’t already know are American citizens who have no connection to terrorism or foreign intelligence, as well as hundreds of millions of citizens around the world about whom the same is true. What they have learned is that the vast bulk of this surveillance apparatus is directed not at the Chinese or Russian governments or the Terrorists, but at them.
And that is precisely why the US government is so furious and will bring its full weight to bear against these disclosures. What has been “harmed” is not the national security of the US but the ability of its political leaders to work against their own citizens and citizens around the world in the dark, with zero transparency or real accountability. If anything is a crime, it’s that secret, unaccountable and deceitful behavior: not the shining of light on it.
It has gotten so blatant that even New Yorker comic Andy Borowitz is lampooning the hypocrisy coming out of Washington:
At a press conference to discuss the accusations, an N.S.A. spokesman surprised observers by announcing the spying charges against Mr. Snowden with a totally straight face.
“These charges send a clear message,” the spokesman said. “In the United States, you can’t spy on people.”
“The American people have the right to assume that their private documents will remain private and won’t be collected by someone in the government for his own purposes.”
“Only by bringing Mr. Snowden to justice can we safeguard the most precious of American rights: privacy,” added the spokesman, apparently serious.
Similarly, journalists who act as mere stenographers for the government who never criticize in more than a superficial fashion are protected and rewarded … but reporters who actually report on government misdeeds are prosecuted and harassed.
Further, the biggest terrorism fearmongers themselves actually support terrorism. And see this.
In the name of fighting terrorism, the U.S. has been directly supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorists and providing them arms, money and logistical support in SyriaLibya, MaliBosniaChechnyaIran, andmany other countries … both before and after 9/11. And see this.
The American government has long labeled foreigners as terrorists for doing what America does.
Moreover, government officials may brand Americans as potential terrorists if they peacefully protest,complain about the taste of their water, or do any number of other normal, all-American things.
This is especially hypocritical given that liberals like Noam Chomsky and conservatives like the director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan (Lt. General William Odom) all say that the American government is the world’s largest purveyor of terrorism.
As General Odom noted:
Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.
These are just a couple of ways in which the D.C. politicians are hypocrites.
Posted in Politics / World News | 6 Comments

2-minute video: Open message to US police & military: REFUSE UNLAWFUL ORDERS, ARREST THOSE WHO ISSUE THEM

StormCloudsGathering’s 2-minute video communicates our best hope to end US “emperor has no clothes” obvious crimes of US “leadership”:
US police and military exercise their lawful authority to refuse unlawful orders and arrest those who issue them.
These unlawful orders and crimes center in wareconomic looting, and propaganda from corporate mediathat make the crimes possible (and blocks obvious solutions), and now increasingly destroy American Rights in desperate evasion to prevent the “emperor has no clothes” endgame:
the 99% awakening to what’s been right in front of their eyes for a long time.
We offer Truth & Reconciliation as an alternative to criminal and civil prosecution of probably a literal 1% with key roles in War Crimes and economic fraud that cost the 99% literally tens of trillions of our dollars.
Minions to obvious criminals have unique opportunity to powerfully contribute from their insider positions. We invite their heroism.
Posted in General | 9 Comments

NSA Whistleblower: NSA Illegally Spied On General Petraeus and Other Generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and All of the Other Supreme Court Justices, the White House Spokesman, and Many Other Top Officials

Source of 2005 New York Times Spying Expose Says Spy Agency Targeting Highest-Level American Leaders

As we reported yesterday, NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – a key source in the 2005 New York Timesreport that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping – told Peter B. Collins on Boiling Frogs Post (the website of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds) that the NSA spied on and targeted for blackmail:
  • “Members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial”
  • “One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court”
  • “Two … former FISA court judges”
  • “State Department officials”
  • “People in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people”
  • “Antiwar groups”
  • “U.S. companies that that do international business”
  • “U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business”
  • “NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work”
  • “The president of the United States now [i.e. Barack Obama, when he was running for Senate]“
Tice just named some additional names.
Specifically, Tice told radio host James Corbett that the NSA spied on the following government officialsfor the purposes of gaining leverage over them:
  • Top Democratic and Republican congress members, especially on the Intelligence, Armed Services and  Judiciary committees, as well as the senior leadership in both the House and the Senate
  • General Petraeus and other generals (background)
  • Supreme Court justice Alito … and all of the other Supreme Court justices
  • White House spokesman Scott McClellan
Those officials were targeted before the NSA started its mass Prism surveillance program. Now, Tice says the NSA spies on everyone.  He’s right.
We asked highly-credible NSA whistleblower William Binney  what he thought about Tice’s statements.  Binney told us:
I can not validate what he is saying.  This, however, is not out of the question that our government or parts thereof would in fact do this.  Certainly the capability is there.
See this  for further background on spying and harassment of government officials and civilians.

DEBUNKING The Bush and Obama Administrations’ Justification for Mass Surveillance

The Government Actually DID Spy On the Bad Guys Before 9/11 … and the Boston Bombing

Preface: The Bush and Obama administrations both claimed that spying on Americans was justified by 9/11. Specifically, they said that they could have caught one of the 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego if they could have spied on phone calls on American soil.
However – as demonstrated below – that claim is totally false.
ProPublica notes:
In defending the NSA’s sweeping collection of Americans’ phone call records, Obama administration officials have repeatedly pointed out how it could have helped thwart the 9/11 attacks: If only the surveillance program been in place before Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. authorities would have been able to identify one of the future hijackers who was living in San Diego [named Khalid al Mihdhar].
Last weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney invoked the same argument.
Indeed, the Obama administration’s invocation of the Mihdhar case echoes a nearly identical argument made by the Bush administration eight years ago when it defended the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The reality is different.
Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.
As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
So mass surveillance of Americans isn’t necessary, when the FBI informant should have apprehended the hijackers.
Moreover, the NSA actually did intercept Mihdhar’s phone calls before 9/11.
We reported in 2008:
We’ve previously pointed out that the U.S. government heard the 9/11 plans from the hijackers’ own mouth. Most of what we wrote about involved the NSA and other intelligence services tapping top Al Qaeda operatives’ phone calls outside the U.S.
However, as leading NSA expert James Bamford - the Washington  Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for almost a decade, winner of a number of journalism awards for coverage national security issues, whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and the only author to write any books (he wrote 3) on the NSA – reportsthe NSA was also tapping the hijackers’ phone calls inside the U.S.
Specifically, hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived in San Diego, California, for 2 years before 9/11. Numerous phone calls between al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego and a high-level Al Qaeda operations base in Yemen were made in those 2 years.
The NSA had been tapping and eavesdropping on all calls made from that Yemen phone for years. So NSA recorded all of these phone calls.
Indeed, the CIA knew as far back as 1999 that al-Mihdhar was coming to the U.S. Specifically, in 1999, CIA operatives tailing al-Mihdhar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, obtained a copy of his passport. It contained visas for both Malaysia and the U.S., so they knew it was likely he would go from Kuala Lumpur to America.
We asked  top NSA whistleblower William Binney – a highly-credible 32-year NSA veteran with the title of senior technical director, who headed the agency’s digital data gathering program (featured in a New York Times documentary, and the source for much of what we know about NSA spying) – what he thought of the government’s claim that mass surveillance of Americans would have caught Mihdhar and prevented 9/11.
Binney responded:
Of course they could have and did have data on hijackers before 9/11. And, Prism did not start until 2007. But they could get the data from the “Upstream” collection. This is the Mark Klein documentation of Narus equipment in the NSA room in San Francisco and probably other places in the lower 48. They did not need Prism to discover that. Prism only suplemented the “Upstream” material starting in 2007 according to the slide.
Details here and here.
Another high-level NSA whistleblower – Thomas Drake – testified in a declaration last year that an NSA pilot program he and Binney directed :
Revealed the extent of the connections that the NSA had within its data prior to the [9/11] attacks. The NSA found the array of potential connections among the data that it already possessed to be potentially embarrassing. To avoid that embarrassment, the NSA suppressed the results of the pilot program. I had been told that the NSA had chosen not to pursue [the program] as one of its methods for combatting terrorism. Instead, the NSA had previously chosen to delegate the development of a new program, named “Trailblazer” to a group of outside contractors.
Moreover, widespread spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed hereherehere  and here.
And U.S. and allied intelligence heard the 9/11 hijackers plans from their own mouths:
  • The National Security Agency and the FBI were each independently listening in on the phone calls between the supposed mastermind of the attacks and the lead hijacker. Indeed, the FBI built its own antenna in Madagascar specifically to listen in on the mastermind’s phone calls
  • According to various sources, on the day before 9/11, the mastermind told the lead hijacker “tomorrow is zero hour” and gave final approval for the attacks. The NSA intercepted the message that day and the FBI was likely also monitoring the mastermind’s phone calls
  • According to the Sunday Herald, two days before 9/11, Bin Laden called his stepmother and told her “In two days, you’re going to hear big news and you’re not going to hear from me for a while.” U.S. officials later told CNN that “in recent years they’ve been able to monitor some of bin Laden’s telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.” Indeed, before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother.
  • And according to CBS News, at 9:53 a.m on 9/11, just 15 minutes after the hijacked plane had hit the Pentagon, “the National Security Agency, which monitors communications worldwide, intercepted a phone call from one of Osama bin Laden’s operatives in Afghanistan to a phone number in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia”, and secretary of Defense Rumsfeld learned about the intercepted phone call in real-time (if the NSA monitored and transcribed phone calls in real-time on 9/11, that implies that it did so in the months leading up to 9/11 as well)
But even with all of that spying, the government didn’t stop the hijackers … even though 9/11 wasentirely foreseeable.
ProPublica notes:
There were plenty of opportunities without having to rely on this metadata system for the FBI and intelligence agencies to have located Mihdhar,” says former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who extensively investigated 9/11 aschairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee.
These missed opportunities are described in detail in the joint congressional reportproduced by Graham and his colleagues as well as in the 9/11 Commission report.
Mihdhar was on the intelligence community’s radar at least as early as 1999. That’s when the NSA had picked up communications from a “terrorist facility” in the Mideast suggesting that members of an “operational cadre” were planning to travel to Kuala Lumpur in January 2000, according to the commission report. The NSA picked up the first names of the members, including a “Khalid.” The CIA identified him as Khalid al Mihdhar.
The U.S. got photos of those attending the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, including of Mihdhar, and the CIA also learned that his passport had a visa for travel to the U.S.
Using their true namesMihdhar and Hazmi for a time beginning in May 2000 evenlived with an active FBI informant in San Diego.
Let’s turn to the comments of FBI Director Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
Mueller noted that intelligence agencies lost track of Mihdhar following the January 2000 Kuala Lumpur meeting but at the same time had identified an “Al Qaida safe house in Yemen.”
He continued: “They understood that that Al Qaida safe house had a telephone number but they could not know who was calling into that particular safe house. We came to find out afterwards that the person who had called into that safe house was al Mihdhar, who was in the United States in San Diego. If we had had this [metadata] program in place at the time we would have been able to identify that particular telephone number in San Diego.”
In turn, the number would have led to Mihdhar and potentially disrupted the plot, Mueller argued.
(Media accounts indicate that the “safe house” was actually the home of Mihdhar’s father-in-law, himself a longtime al Qaida figure, and that the NSA had been intercepting calls to the home for several years.)
The congressional 9/11 report sheds some further light on this episode, though in highly redacted form.
The NSA had in early 2000 analyzed communications between a person named “Khaled” and “a suspected terrorist facility in the Middle East,” according to this account. But, crucially, the intelligence community “did not determine the location from which they had been made.”
In other words, the report suggests, the NSA actually picked up the content of the communications between Mihdhar and the “Yemen safe house” but was not able to figure out who was calling or even the phone number he was calling from.
Theories about the metadata program aside, it’s not clear why the NSA couldn’t or didn’t track the originating number of calls to Yemen it was already listening to.
Intelligence historian Matthew Aid, who wrote the 2009 NSA history Secret Sentry, says that the agency would have had both the technical ability and legal authority to determine the San Diego number that Mihdhar was calling from.
Back in 2001 NSA was routinely tracking the identity of both sides of a telephone call,” [9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow] told ProPublica.
There’s another wrinkle in the Mihdhar case: In the years after 9/11, media reports also suggested that there were multiple calls that went in the other direction: from the house in Yemen to Mihdhar in San Diego. But the NSA apparently also failed to track where those calls were going.
In 2005, the Los Angeles Times quoted unnamed officials saying the NSA had well-established legal authority before 9/11 to track calls made from the Yemen number to the U.S. In that more targeted scenario, a metadata program vacumming the phone records of all Americans would appear to be unnecessary.
And see this PBS special.
In other words, the NSA had the technical ability and legal authority to intercept calls between Midhar and Yemen before 9/11 … and it actually did so.
In addition,Wikipedia notes:
Mihdhar was placed on a CIA watchlist on August 21, 2001, and a note was sent on August 23 to the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) suggesting that Mihdhar and Hazmi be added to their watchlists.
On August 23, the CIA informed the FBI that Mihdhar had obtained a U.S. visa in JeddahThe FBI headquarters received a copy of the Visa Express application from the Jeddah embassy on August 24, showing the New YorkMarriott as Mihdhar’s destination.
On August 28, the FBI New York field office requested that a criminal case be opened to determine whether Mihdhar was still in the United States, but the request was refused.  The FBI ended up treating Mihdhar as an intelligence case, which meant that the FBI’s criminal investigators could not work on the case, due to the barrier separating intelligence and criminal case operations. An agent in the New York office sent an e-mail to FBI headquarters saying, “Whatever has happened to this, someday someone will die, and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’” The reply from headquarters was, “we [at headquarters] are all frustrated with this issue … [t]hese are the rules. NSLU does not make them up.”
The FBI contacted Marriott on August 30, requesting that they check guest records, and on September 5, they reported that no Marriott hotels had any record of Mihdhar checking in. The day before the attacks, the New York office requested that the Los Angeles FBI office check all local Sheraton Hotels, as well as Lufthansa and United Airlines bookings, because those were the two airlines Mihdhar had used to enter the country. Neither the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network nor the FBI’s Financial Review Group, which have access to credit card and other private financial records, were notified about Mihdhar prior to September 11.
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Congressman Curt Weldon alleged in 2005 that the Defense Department data mining project Able Danger identified Mihdhar and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell in early 2000.
Similarly, even though the alleged Boston bombers’ phones were tapped  – and NBC News reports, “under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.” – mass surveillance did not stop the other terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
In reality – despite the government continually grasping at straws to justify its massive spying program – top security experts say that mass surveillance of Americans does not keep us safe.   Indeed, experts say that mass surveillance interferes with catching bad guys.

Posted in Politics / World News | 7 Comments

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