Aug 12 2006

NSA and FISA Working As Required

The Seattle Post Intelligencer is reporting again that financial monitoring, of the exact same kind exposed by the NY Times recently in a fit of Bush Derangement Syndrome as a ‘legal’ and ‘successful’ program, was key to exposing the plot details and the arrests.

Investigators on three continents worked to fill in the full, frightening picture Friday of a plot to blow U.S. jetliners out of the Atlantic skies, tracking the money trail and seizing more alleged conspirators in the teeming towns of eastern Pakistan.

British and Pakistani authorities have arrested as many as 41 people in the two countries in connection with the alleged suicidal plan, broken up by British police this week, to detonate disguised liquid explosives aboard as many as 10 planes bound from Britain to the United States.

41 people clearly indicates a large effort which was meant to make 9-11 look like a test run. Clearly we dodged a bullet (no thanks to partisans inside the government leaking to the media, and through them the terrorists). The key was iintelligence. And sure enough the system worked as I have been saying it should since the NY Times began exposing our security programs to the world. The leads began overseas with communications and financial monitoring. You can see the NSA’s hand in some of this here:

After the first arrests in Pakistan some days ago, word went from Pakistan to the London plotters to move ahead quickly, a message intercepted by an intelligence agency, a U.S. official disclosed, on condition of anonymity. That prompted British police to move in on the conspirators, long under watch.

And the next step was to pass intelligence leads to the FBI for investigation:

The record of financial transactions, along with telephone and computer records, may help investigators trace more people in the alleged plot.

American authorities were looking for any U.S. links in the conspiracy. Hundreds of FBI agents checked possible leads the past few weeks, but the homeland security secretary said Friday nothing significant had emerged.

And then, if necessary, to go to FISA to get warrants for surveillance and searches. And apparently this is exactly what happened – intelligence leads were sent to the FBI who investigated and took the important leads to the FIS Court:

In the last several weeks, the FBI dispatched over 200 agents from FBI Headquarters and had agents in every FBI field office running down leads and looking for any angle or connection to the U.K. plot and suspects, according to FBI and Justice Department officials.

As part of this effort, MI-5 and British security services provided a list of the suspects’ names to U.S. officials. The FBI, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and other agencies spread around the intelligence community ran the names through all of their various databases looking for any information drawing a nexus between the U.K. suspects and any U.S. individuals or other U.S. connections. There were some hits for phone calls made to relatives who live in the U.S., but so far none of these leads has developed any evidence of terrorism or plotting inside the United States.

According to one Justice source, as the FBI looked for leads, there was a spike in the number of FISA applications submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to establish court-approved secret wiretaps and surveillance on potential terrorism suspects.

This is the way we want things to happen. A critical bit of intel is detected and monitored overseas, while local law enforcement are informed and then go to our courts for FULL monitoring of the suspects here in the US. We never, never, never take our eyes off the intel we get from overseas and those contacts from there to people here in the US. Never. Because time can be short. The time from arrests to in Pakistan to the arrests in the UK were on the order of a week. And the US is still listening for overseas contacts with people here associated with this plot.

Sadly, this was not how it worked prior to 9-11. Before that attack the FIS Court would refuse to investigate anyone here in the US if the source of the lead was intelligence. That was the Gorelick Wall as determined during the Clinton administration. We probably had calls traced to the highjackers in San Diego which were not investigated because the FBI knew the FIS Court would throw out the requests. As we come up on the five year anniversary of 9-11, I think the Bush administration needs to come clean and explain all this to the American people. Not to expose what we do today – but to expose what we did not do before hand and why we should never go back. As the liberal media, headed by the NY Times, naively want us to do.

What we saw from the foiled UK Airline Terror Plot is not how it used to work before 9-11, we know that from harsh experience and testimony in front of Commissions and Congress. And this, sadly, is not how the liberal media and the NY Times want it to work, they said as much when they exposed the NSA surveillance programs. We don’t want to go back to 9-10, when we learned of plots when the bodies started falling from the skies.

Major Update: The Blotter has more on the plot and why we need the NSA monitoring phone conversations of terrorists in Pakistan and the ME with people here in the US:

U.S. authorities say the British ringleader of the plot has been identified and is in custody in Pakistan along with two of his co-conspirators.

Authorities say Rashid Rauf was essentially running the plot by remote control from Pakistan. Authorities have been able to track his phone calls back to London and wire transfers of money intended to pay for the suicide bombers’ plane tickets.

Just change the city in the last sentence From “London” to “New York”, “Washington DC”, or “Los Angeles” and you quickly understand why the NSA does what it does and leaves it to the FBI and FIS Court to decide how to deal with the people in the US in terms of full blown surveillance. And there is no time or reason to go to a court to listen in on those overseas terrorists

The suspected terrorists had planned to be on flights out of London today and tomorrow for a dry run of their plot had the plot not been disrupted.

Leave intel to the intel community and they will alert law enforcement and they can do their thing. Last thing we want are unelected judges and politicians getting in the way of these key professionals.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “NSA and FISA Working As Required”

  1. Media Lies says:

    Some interesting observations…….

    ….about the London terror plot and other recent goings on. From Heritage, Lessons for Congress and …

  2. DubiousD says:

    The invaluable Bill Roggio at the Counterrorism Blog has more info:

    Key excerpts:

    * Pakistan’s Daily Times reports seed money was sent to Pakistan under the guise of earthquake relief and diverted to fund the airline attack. “Muslim Charity of UK remitted… a huge amount of money under the head of “earthquake relief” to the accounts of three individuals in three different banks — Saudi Pak Bank, Standard Chartered and Habib Bank Ltd.” According to B. Rahman of the South Asia Analysis Group, many of the plotters also traveled to Pakistan for training, also under the guise of supporting the earthquake relief effort…

    * As the evidence of the Pakistani connection mounts, reports indicate Pakistani terrorist and al-Qaeda member Matiur Rehman is one of the prime suspects in the London Airline Plot. While Rehman is widely being described as an al-Qaeda bomb expert, he is intimately associated to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the multiple assassination plots on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz and the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi in March of 2006.

    * ABC News’ Alexis Debat has done the lion’s share of the investigation of Matiur Rehman over the past six months. Just one day prior to the uncovering of the London Airline Plot, Mr. Debat described Rehman as “The Man Who Is Planning the Next Attack on America.”

    Read it all.