Skip to comments.Peter King: Current NSA surveillance programs might have prevented 9/11
Posted on 06/20/2013 8:16:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
At the very least, Rep. Peter King tells CNN’s Jake Tapper, it would have added to the “mosaic” that could have exposed the threat before the 9/11 attack that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. But was the mosaic missing too many holes because the NSA didn’t trawl telecom metadata, or because of the barriers between law enforcement and intelligence communities? (via The Corner)
Reiterating an opinion expressed during his questioning of General Keith Alexander, the Long Island Republican told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the programs “would’ve added an extra piece of the mosaic.” He also disputed Senator Rand Paul’s claim that pre-9/11 intelligence and policework failures had nothing to do with telephone surveillance: “If we are looking in hindsight, I’d say it’s much more likely we would have found something if the FISA authorization had been there.”
I’ve read the 9/11 Commission report repeatedly (although not recently), and I’m unclear on what Rand Paul meant by “warrants,” too. However, Paul’s overall point was that the failure wasn’t so much a lack of intelligence on the threat developing in the two years prior to the attacks, but the obstacles present at the time in the US in sharing the data in order to connect dots. Under the rules at the time — remember “the wall”? — even if the NSA had found some pattern in the metadata, they might not have been able to share much of that with the FBI, at least not its law-enforcement functions, thanks to exaggerated limitations on communication based on the law-enforcement approach to terrorism before 9/11. The US government was more concerned about making a case in civil court than attacking terrorism head-on.
For a reminder of this problem, one need only read pages 78-9 of the 9/11 Commission report from Chapter 3. Here’s an excerpt:
In July 1995, Attorney General Reno issued formal procedures aimed at managing information sharing between Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI. They were developed in a working group led by the Justice Department’s Executive Office of National Security, overseen by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick.33 These procedures-while requiring the sharing of intelligence information with prosecutors-regulated the manner in which such information could be shared from the intelligence side of the house to the criminal side.
These procedures were almost immediately misunderstood and misapplied. As a result, there was far less information sharing and coordination between the FBI and the Criminal Division in practice than was allowed under the department’s procedures. Over time the procedures came to be referred to as “the wall.” The term “the wall” is misleading, however, because several factors led to a series of barriers to information sharing that developed.34
The Office of Intelligence Policy and Review became the sole gatekeeper for passing information to the Criminal Division. Though Attorney General Reno’s procedures did not include such a provision, the Office assumed the role anyway, arguing that its position reflected the concerns of Judge Royce Lamberth, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Office threatened that if it could not regulate the flow of information to criminal prosecutors, it would no longer present the FBI’s warrant requests to the FISA Court. The information flow withered.35
The 1995 procedures dealt only with sharing between agents and criminal prosecutors, not between two kinds of FBI agents, those working on intelligence matters and those working on criminal matters. But pressure from the Office of Intelligence Policy Review, FBI leadership, and the FISA Court built barriers between agents-even agents serving on the same squads. FBI Deputy Director Bryant reinforced the Office’s caution by informing agents that too much information sharing could be a career stopper. Agents in the field began to believe-incorrectly-that no FISA information could be shared with agents working on criminal investigations.36
This perception evolved into the still more exaggerated belief that the FBI could not share any intelligence information with criminal investigators, even if no FISA procedures had been used. Thus, relevant information from the National Security Agency and the CIA often failed to make its way to criminal investigators. Separate reviews in 1999, 2000, and 2001 concluded independently that information sharing was not occurring, and that the intent of the 1995 procedures was ignored routinely.37 We will describe some of the unfortunate consequences of these accumulated institutional beliefs and practices in chapter 8.
There were other legal limitations. Both prosecutors and FBI agents argued that they were barred by court rules from sharing grand jury information, even though the prohibition applied only to that small fraction that had been presented to a grand jury, and even that prohibition had exceptions. But as interpreted by FBI field offices, this prohibition could conceivably apply to much of the information unearthed in an investigation. There were also restrictions, arising from executive order, on the commingling of domestic information with foreign intelligence. Finally the NSA began putting caveats on its Bin Ladin-related reports that required prior approval before sharing their contents with criminal investigators and prosecutors. These developments further blocked the arteries of information sharing.38
It’s certainly possible that the NSA program today operates within the law, does not violate the rights of Americans, and prevents more 9/11-type attacks on the US. That case would be more salable if Congress had demonstrated any robust oversight over the programs prior to their exposure, but the disarray and misinformation coming from Capitol Hill over the last couple of weeks demonstrate pretty clearly that there hasn’t been much management of the NSA’s activities. However, King’s case that the NSA could have connected dots by metadata analysis prior to 9/11 neglects the established reality of the mismanaged counterterrorism efforts of that period, where the dots that did exist were left unconnected. If King wants to justify this program, he’d be better off making the case that Congress is keeping an eagle eye on its operation, and that it works within the law and doesn’t spy on Americans.
My first thought as well.
An intelligent attitude about the dangers of Islam, Islamic immigrants, and Muslims in general would go a long way towards stopping terrorism in the US, but it doesn’t give the left broad headway to harass its political enemies, like veterans, patriots, tea party members, conservatives, gun owners, and people who aren’t on welfare, especially white people, and more specifically, white people with Irish heritage, and all white women who are having white babies. All the spying, invasion of privacy, criminal extortion by threat of government action, harassment and intimidation is because of the war for social justice and multiculturalism, not because of the war on terror.
What do you need clarified.
You agree under Bush terrorist attacks were stopped.
Under Obama they can’t be stopped.
Why would that be.
Here’s a thought.
Maybe the terrorist are carrying out a their terrorist attacks without any planning, it’s “spontaneous”, so there is no time to pick up on what they are doing.
Does that sound reasonable as to why the Obama adm can’t stop the attacks?
...or the Times Square Recruiting Office bomber...or the Times Square car bomber...or the underwear bomber...or Hassan...or.......
Throw 'em a curve and mention Able Danger.
Ooops...I see you did.
I think rank idiocy under the Obama Admin, such as declaring mosques off limits to FBI investigation while profiling Tea Partiers as potential terrorists, is explanation enough. You usually don’t find something if you are not looking for it.
Thank you for pointing out this simple reality. We could have relative security without perverting our constitutional guarantees and traditions of individual freedom and privacy by simply enforcing our borders. Unfortunately, the desire for new voters and cheap labor, along with misguided compassion have resulted in a coalition of interest that prevents sane policies.
Personally I believe you are confusing idiocy with intent.
You want to write it off to idiocy you go right ahead.
I don’t write it off to idiocy.
I believe their intent was so the terrorist attacks wouldn’t be stopped and they are now trying to created some defense to explain it.
I believe that’s exactly why they came up with the “spontaneous” lie. That being there is little or no planning for the attacks so there is no way to pick up on what the terrorist are up to before the attack takes place.
For a politician’s “might have prevented” we should forfeit our civil liberties.
I wouldn’t do that for an ironclad written, signed-in-blood, notarized by God Himself promise from a politician, the lowest form of liar we know.
No, no, no. It didn’t matter what we “knew,” the Clinton Law Enforcement model would have prevented any effective countermeasures.
A conversation I had with Cofer Black in 2009 confirmed to me that the Bush admin knew an attack was coming, but the details were so sensational (airplanes flying into buildings) nobody believed it.
I think that is butt-covering for not catching them when the bread crumbs were laid out for them by the Russians.
I might agree with you if it was the first and only time, but it wasn’t.
The subway bombing in 2009 was stopped but only after Air Force 1 flew over NYC as if warning everyone there was a terrorist attack and then the Brits warned Obama about the attack.
Fort Hood shooter, didn’t stop it even though there was plenty of warnings.
Underwear bomber, didn’t stop it even though his father gave them warnings.
Failed car bomb in NYC, didn’t stop it, in fact started a talking points campaign to blame the TEA Party before the attack.
At some point you will have to admit it’s not incompetence but intentional.
I reached that point a long time ago.
When I click on the second link you provided, then try to connect to the NY Post to read the entire article, I get a "page not found" error. Therefore, I can't comment on that article.
As to the first, it takes me to a list of articles. I presume you wanted me to read the one entitled "Did We Know About Mohammed Atta?".
After reading that article, I found no new revelations. Of course we knew about him. We know names of lots of terrorists. That's a far cry from claiming we knew he was going to fly planes into buildings, let alone knowing what date it was planned
So yes, as I stated, the government had vague information. I still don't see where they had anything specific enough to have been able to stop 9/11. A name doesn't doesn't get you there.
Yes, I was aware that there was a "wall" between the various agencies that kept them from sharing information. So that might explain why they didn't know. But it wouldn't provide any proof that they did know.
As I recall, Bush stated that this "wall" may have been what prevented them from putting the pieces together before 9/11, and he instituted some changes to increase the communications between agencies.
They Did know. Why I wanted you to look it up was because the articles about the wall showed information they did have. It was all there, it could have been stopped the attack and it was obtained without violation of the Constitution.
When government screws up and something bad happens the government’s solution is to pass another law to punish the victims, the innocent, or the bystanders.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.