Jun 05 2006

NSA Style Snooping Saved Lives

Published by at 7:40 am under All General Discussions,FISA-NSA

*** Updates at end ***

The media and left in this country have to face some hard facts. The arrests in a major terrorist effort in Canada illustrate why the NSA must do what it does, and why FISA can play a role when things get to a certain spot. Because make no mistake, we want NSA doing what it was doing in this case – initially without FISA. Let’s set the stage:

But mix ammonium nitrate with the inflammatory rhetoric of an Internet chat room, and it instantly acquires the potential to become something entirely different, needing only the addition of a little fuel oil to turn it into a lethal bomb.

So when a shadowy group of disaffected urban youth began talking in an Internet chat room in the fall of 2004 espousing anti-Western views, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was listening.

The spy agency, and an alphabet soup of other security agencies across the continent, closely monitor such sites, where talk may sometimes turn to buildings and bombs and bringing global jihad home to North America, to Canada.

Emphasis mine. Note that these discussion were initially centered in Canada – purely and without any argument the purview of the NSA who monitor the world for potential killers who want to take out a lot of American lives.

While CSIS and police typically won’t talk about their operational methods, the available techniques range from monitoring electronic communications, from cell phones and landlines to emails and computers, to physically following persons of interest as they move about and talk to others.

Four months after the surveillance began, two Americans, from the Atlanta, Ga., area, popped onto the radar.

This is the exact scenarion I have been espousing in the NSA-FISA debate, where the NSA’s monitoring of overseas activities ensares Americans who contact the terrorists. Now, previously to 9-11 this information on US based terrorists would NOT be shared with anyone inside the US. That was custom – not law – and can be traced back to the Church committee in 1976 and the origins of FISA. And this is pure suicide. After 9-11 the NSA would pass the leads to the FBI to follow up (see this post for evidence this is the case). And when the FBI determined that the lead was of value, that is when they took the case to FISA. Which balked because the judges felt the custom of not using NSA generated leads was somehow enshrined in the law – when it wasn’t. That is why the judge who resigned claimed the NSA ‘tainted’ (read polluted) the FISA process. So the liberals have come out calling for this process to end. Well, let’s see what that would have meant here.

Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee had been communicating by email with the Canadian group, investigators allege, and in March 2005 the two hopped on a Greyhound bus, paying $280 (U.S.) for two round-trip tickets to Toronto, where, according to U.S. court documents, they were to meet with “like-minded Islamists.”

“According to Ahmed … they met regularly with at least three subjects of an FBI international terrorism investigation,” the court documents allege, and discussed “strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike.”

By now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was involved, and also monitoring members of the Canadian group. The federal police service was brought into the case Nov. 17, 2004, by CSIS agents who believed they had enough information to warrant a criminal investigation.

According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. authorities were also watching the two Americans, and at some point discovered communications between the men in Canada and Atlanta and other suspected terrorists overseas, including a group arrested in London last fall that counted among its members a computer specialist who used the Arabic word irhabi — for terrorist — as his Internet handle, Irhabi007.

Talk in the group was wide-ranging, according to an American law enforcement official, “about a whole range of targets.” Officials and U.S. court documents allege group members were scouting targets that included Canadian government buildings, American oil refineries, and a U.S. tower that they believed controlled global positioning systems used in aviation.

Federal prosecutors in New York also told a recent hearing Sadequee and Ahmed had visited Washington and videotaped the U.S. Capitol, the World Bank headquarters and some fuel storage facilities.

They were charged in March and April and are awaiting trial.

Clearly FISA was involved at some point in the search warrants – no doubt about it. Read the rest of the chilling details, as the dots were connected and realize that one or two missing dots might not have given investigators enough information to join forces. Especially when connecting the US participants – whom I guess would have gone unnoticed if not for the NSA. So this begs some questions.

Why should we ignore evidence of an attack simply because it came from the NSA monitoring people planning to attack us? Why should we throw away leads because they did not come from the FBI but came from the military? Why should we, the ultimate prize target of Al Qaeda and its spin off groups, use fewer tools and methods than our liberal friends to the north in Canada?

Why should some partisan BS about theoretical violations of privacy trump stomping this obviously massive set of attacks on innocent people? And why is this not the driving question to arise from this incident.

Addendum: John Stephenson at Stop The ACLU noticed the exact same thing I did. Here is his post on the matter.

Addendum: More here and here on the Americans involved with this plot. Note the US arrests happened months ago.  And note this as well from the second link:

Sadequee, 19, a U.S. citizen who grew up near Atlanta, is accused of lying to federal authorities amid an ongoing FBI terrorism investigation. He was jailed in Brooklyn on Saturday following his extradition from Bangladesh.

An FBI agent’s affidavit accuses Sadequee and Ahmed, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student, of meeting with at least three other targets of the FBI probe during a trip to Canada in March 2005.

Emphasis mine, which notes that FISA was definitely in the loop.  The FBI doesn’t investigate like this without FISA warrants.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “NSA Style Snooping Saved Lives”

  1. Rob says:

    So the Church commission crippled our ability to track terror. What is the true motivation of liberals. We now know that their obsessions can get people killed. Is it just a civil liberty, right to privacy thing or are they hiding something and what would that be. Is it fellow traveler guilt?? What. It might be interesting to ask why the Able Danger program was shut down and buried. What connections was it finding.

  2. WRM1358 says:

    Atlanta huh? Ok, now at least part of the DHS funding changes makes sense. Maybe some one could let L’il Chuckie Schumer know so we don’t have to hear him whine for the next 2 weeks?

  3. AJStrata says:

    WRM 1358 – excellent observation!

  4. bub2000 says:

    While it is true that sacrificing civil liberties will find its merits, the real issue at hand here is the collective loss of the freedoms we are trying to protect. Although the 17 men in Canada may have been conspiring to commit dastardly acts, how many people are unjustly imprisoned every day because of our obsurdist laws? Until we realize that any form of surveillance is tyranny, the federal government will continue to cease power in the name of freedom, and in doing so, squeeze every last ounce of our freedom right from under us.

    When you give up freedom for security, you lose both. The federal government was put in place to unify the states against their common enemies, and was meant to govern in a laissez faire manner, leaving the power to the states. We now have a federal government that controls our trade, our food, our medicine, our telecommunications, our civil rights, and worst of all, our opinions.

    Only localization can bring about positive change. We are now in the throws of empiredom.

  5. For Enforcement says:

    Excellent story. I just happened to see the tv broadcast of the Al Franken show Friday (from Air America) on C-Span last Friday, Don’t know why but I also captured it on Tivo. I have never seen one human being so crushed as I did Mr. Franken. He had a segment where he was interviewing a Mr. Brookhiser that has written a book, “What would the Founders Say” now ole Al tried his best to get him all set up to answer, of course so it would make The Bush Administration look as bad as possible. But, and I’ m paraphrasing a little, the question was “What would the founders say about this NSA spying business?” Brookhiser’s answer “Well, George Washington felt strongly that you had to get all the intelligence you could, on both sides of the line. You had to know what People on both sides were doing and saying.” Of course Al was hoping the answer would condemn it, so he quickly moved on to another question and got about the same result, so he then just completely changed the subject. and said the founders were “savage, savage” people. He was crushed. It was priceless.

  6. ivehadit says:

    Yes, and maybe the Olympics bombing in Atlanta was a forerunner action-who knows…

    To me, there were many things during the Clinton administration that were suspicious regarding terror but were swept under the rug so as to keep that booming market rolling…for his uh legacy. Jerk.

  7. AJStrata says:


    Irrational paranoia, like you are demonstrating, does not make us safe at all. The courts authorize detailed surveillance and scrutinty. The NSA is doing its job as it should, and when they get a lead instead of worrying about some paranoid delusions, they pass the lead on to law enforcement.

    The option is to die in fear of some possible mistake or misuse of power! That is not going to fly. Too many of us have family on the law enforcement side and are not frightened of security forces.

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    But that's only because AJ Strata and John Stephenson, by even presuming to broach t…

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  10. For Enforcement says:

    Where did you get this from? you don’t really believe it do you?

    “When you give up freedom for security, you lose both.”

    So if a tornado is heading toward your butt, you’re not gonna get into a shelter(giving up you freedom momentarily) for the Security of the shelter. That momentary security insures your freedom for a lot longer period. If you give up that freedom momentarily, you just might not wake up dead, thereby prolonging that freedom indefinitely. Sometimes logic has to be applied. Just because something might make a good soundbite, doesn’t make it good sense.

  11. wiley says:

    Unfortunately for us, the “empiredom” — as BUB2000 calls the USA under Bush — has done a poor job controlling opinions. Somehow, his inane rant against Bush was let loose.

    AJ was on top of the NSA story from the start, and he’s nailed it. I think many Dems are not really against the NSA/FISA program (of course, many are), but keep trying to use the accommodating media buffoons to bash Bush. The lefties keep haranguing about how the “Bushies” have trampled our freedoms, yet I do not recall 1 legit case where someone could claim so. There certainly has not been any intentional misuse (surveillance of a known innocent party).

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