May 17 2006

NSA Program Did Involve FISA

Published by at 9:04 am under All General Discussions,FISA-NSA

It appears the NSA’s phone pattern database was possibly part of a warranted surveillance, according to a story Captain Ed Morrissey posted on:

Two judges on the secretive court that approves warrants for intelligence surveillance were told of the broad monitoring programs that have raised recent controversy, a Republican senator said Tuesday, connecting a court to knowledge of the collecting of millions of phone records for the first time. …

Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that at least two of the chief judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been informed since 2001 of White House-approved National Security Agency monitoring operations.

I had suspected that the DB, only being tens of millions of phone numbers out of 100’s of millions or more, was part of a targeted analysis relating to numbers uncovered from 9-11 and key Al Qaeda suspects rounded up over the years. I am not surprised 100 Al Qaeda targets could create a web of 10 million contacts if you go to the second or third level of contact (i.e., the first level is with the orginal 100, the second level are those who communicated with the first level, etc). The numbers go up pretty quickly. 100 people talking to 100 people who talk to 100 people gets you to one million.
In other words, the program was legal and under court review. It was almost certainly detecting terrorist communication patterns. That should silence the critics – but it won’t. The left only runs on emotion now, and that includes the math challenged press I am afraid. To them there is no war and Bush is more dangerous than Bin Laden.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “NSA Program Did Involve FISA”

  1. pull says:

    I work in a related field and can see the argument that this should not be. This kind of math may be logical, but this does not mean that it will appease these people.

    It is true, however, that nothing will appease these people. They hate their own country and wish to find any “evidence” they can to justify their hatred. They want to be in power and change things… not being aware that what we have is as good as it can possibly get.

    The truth of the matter, as far as I can see… is we do not know the whole truth yet. It is like any legal matter. We have to sit and wait for the facts to come out. The Left is not eager to do this, they are on a witch hunt. Ultimately, they are pro-Islamist believing that if they side with the Islamists they themselves can avoid confrontation with these people who obviously terrify them.

    If there have been irregularities, let these be found out and properly prosecuted. If the authorities need to create new laws or break new ground in order to properly enforce the law, let them do so. I strongly doubt they have done otherwise.

    By far and wide, however, we have a very liberal country. Our laws are extremely weak in dealing with terrorists. Able Danger has shown us up… but any student of historical intelligence knows that we have a long history of being weak: extremely weak.

  2. Crzy4politks says:

    I agree that the people against the wiretapping will never change their minds but i am glad to see that there is some actual science and logic put to the argument. oh and by the way thanks for the facts to throw in my college professors’s faces!!!!

    (message while in Florence, Italy)

  3. The Sandbox says:

    NSA Updates…

    There are two updates to the story that USA Today broke concerning NSA data mining of millions of calls with the help of Verizon, BellSouth, and ATT. The first is that Verizon and BellSouth are adamant that they gave no…

  4. MerlinOS2 says:

    Without giving away anything that even your grandchild could figure out , and daily uses on blogs, social network sites etc. Just think, if I was the NSA, where would I spend my limited finite resources.

    Our senario
    Joe is known to talk a lot two 4 known guys in country A and we passed that on to the FBI and they got warrants to listen in on old joe and feeding us back any confirmed bad boy intercepted newbies

    Same situation for Tommy whom we ran across.

    However strangly Joe never ever ever talks to Tommy

    But between FBI tap feedback on these guys plus legally obtainted phone records of both Tommy and Joe we find that after either of them call the overseas avon lady they call Carl. And guess what this shows up like clockwork over and over. Furthur after noting this you get the FBI to get a warrant and tap on Carl and find out that after a call from Tommy and Joe, he always and consistantly calls Ben , Bill, Jeanie and Sue. And so it grows.

  5. CJ says:

    Here is a transcript of Admiral Bobby Inman on Lou Dobbs show tonight. I’ve added additionally a Ray Mcgovern interview with Lou Dobbs done after the Admirals interview.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee today heard closed-door testimony on the NSA’s secret wiretap program. This is the first time the administration has agreed to hold a closed door briefing on the issue after five months of refusing congressional requests. Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, conducted today’s hearing and the administration hopes his testimony will improve the chances for Senate confirmation for General Michael Hayden as CIA director. Hayden, the architect of the NSA’s surveillance program during his tenure as the NSA director.

    The Senate begins confirmation hearings on the Hayden nomination tomorrow.

    I’m joined now by a man who led the NSA as well, working hard to create congressional oversight of our intelligence agencies. Admiral Bobby Inman served as national director of the NSA and as deputy director of Central Intelligence. It’s good to have you with us.

    Let’s start with the nomination of Michael Hayden. Is he the right man for the job in your estimation?

    BOBBY INMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NSA: He’s a good man. He is a man of the law. He’s learned to manage civilians at NSA, and, of course, that’s what he’s primarily going to be doing at the CIA. I think he will focus on trying to improve the professionalism, career development for the people at CIA. They need that.

    DOBBS: They — the requirements and the needs are vast, as you know perhaps better than any. But the idea that a man who put together the warrantless wiretap program, of course, on the orders of the president, is causing great consternation and creating rising opposition to his nomination. What do you think is the appropriate perspective on that role?

    INMAN: When I helped get the FISA court created in 1978 —

    DOBBS: And you and I both know that a lot of people don’t realize that the history is — of the country’s leading — one of its leading intelligence officers, and executives, playing such an instrumental part in really working for that oversight.

    INMAN: Well, I wanted to get a process where you didn’t have to deal with politics back and forth or with the administrations change, questions of whether or not you were trying to trap the president. And I was persuaded that if you could create a court, where you could apply, have the court grant authority and then oversee what you did, the intelligence agencies were better off, and the country ought to be reassured.

    DOBBS: Why, admiral, then now would not that be used?

    INMAN: My fault. In ’78, I did not envision a world where individuals would come in on visas, travel, train, move money, and conduct terrorist attacks. I never thought of it. And so I didn’t design a process designed to do it. Also, I didn’t contemplate in 1978 how fast we were going to have a shift from analog to digital.

    DOBBS: It’s good of you to take such responsibility, but a few folks have worked there since — in the interim. And FISA, it would be no impediment to what the government is doing?

    INMAN: You can design a change. There doesn’t need to be a change in the law. The challenge here, I’m comfortable that Mike Hayden proposed considering changing the law. The vice president feels very strongly that it’s not necessary, that the inherent powers of the president. In fairness to him, when he was chief of staff to President Ford, the president signed the warrants authorizing the surveillance, so he doesn’t see the need.

    I’m not a constitutional lawyer. I don’t want to get into the question of whether the president has the authority. But what I do believe, strongly, is that the intelligence agencies are better off in performing what the country needs them to do, if clearly they are operating under clearly defined laws and there’s court oversight.

    DOBBS: And congressional oversight.

    INMAN: And congressional oversight, yes.

    DOBBS: As the saying goes, amen, brother. The co-equal branch of government is pretty special to all of us.

    Before we let you go, the issue of the NSA databank, The “USA Today” report. We’ve had disavowals from two of the telecommunications companies, Verizon and BellSouth, saying that they had nothing to do with it. What’s your reaction?

    INMAN: Lou, the direct answer is I don’t believe the database exists. I started to think, what’s the purpose of it? NSA has no access to drivers license information, financial information. The things if you are trying to do an analytical job. They are collectors. What they need to know are telephone numbers from which calls are being made to foreign countries, where you might expect a return call. I don’t believe such a database exists. The country’s been whipped into great excitement, and candidly, I think this is going to turn out to for “USA Today” to be their version of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    DOBBS: You just put the burden on me to make sure we get “USA Today”‘s response by tomorrow. We thank you very much for giving us your time and your thoughts. Admiral Bobby Inman.

    Thank you very much.

    DOBBS: Retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern is urging the Senate to reject General Hayden’s nomination to lead the CIA. He says Hayden’s role in carrying out the NSA warrantless wiretap program makes him the wrong man for the job.

    Ray McGovern is the former CIA official, you may recall, who confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during one of the defense secretary’s speeches, that in Atlanta, two weeks ago. He accused Rumsfeld of lying about pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

    Ray McGovern joins us here tonight.

    Good to have you with us.


    DOBBS: Let me ask you, first, we just heard a highly respected, in my opinion, one of the finest public servants ever, certainly in intelligence and in the military, Admiral Bobby Inman, say he thinks that Hayden is qualified and the right man for this job.

    MCGOVERN: Well, it depends on what you mean by qualified. Clearly he’s qualified as far as Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld are concerned.

    DOBBS: Well, I wasn’t talking about his resume. I am talking about the man for the job.

    MCGOVERN: Yes, well, I don’t think he’s qualified because he made one big error. He — like me when I was an Army office officer, like Bobby when he was an admiral, we took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. That means we were sworn to protect the law, and also we were taught that we were never able or willing or we should never — we should never obey an illegal order, OK?

    Now, General Hayden was — had a terrific reputation at NSA. Largely because he focused on what they call the 11th commandment up there, thou shalt not eavesdrop on Americans. After 9/11, as we all know, everything changed. We have a new paradigm, as they say, not the U.S. constitution, but the paradigm of…

    DOBBS: I get nervous when people start talking about paradigms.

    MCGOVERN: OK. Now the paradigm now is when the president or the vice president says we have to do something and it’s sort of not really according to the law, we go ahead and do it anyway. And he said, yes, and if we want a person as the head of the CIA who was a yes man and says yes whether it’s legal or illegal, I think that disqualifies him.

    DOBBS: You also heard, Ray, the admiral take considerable responsibility because of his role in setting up the FISA courts to create the oversight, which I think is remarkable, the role that he played in that, as the head of one of the major, if not the largest, certainly most technology-intensive spy agencies.

    The idea that we did not have the ability to adapt, would you be comfortable had we, this president, simply gone to Congress and said, this is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to do it in a totally responsible way?

    MCGOVERN: That’s the deep, dark secret. This president did go to Congress. Gonzales admitted this. They took soundings, you know, and the reaction they got was, it’s a no-go. Congress would never permit this.

    Bottom line, this must have been such a mammoth, intrusive effort that even in the post-9/11 era, when the Patriot Act sort of whisks through, they still couldn’t get Congress to approve that. And so I think that’s proof positive that they decided to go along anyway. Why? Because they wanted to do this, and it didn’t matter about what the law said.

    DOBBS: So, you maintain, as do many others, that the law should have been changed and that would have been the direct and straightforward solution?

    MCGOVERN: It would have been a piece of cake. Unless, you know…

    DOBBS: Go ahead.

    MCGOVERN: No, I was saying, it would have been a piece of cake if the law, which already allows the president to do whatever he wants for 72 hours. See, that law was constructed to be very flexible to our the civil liberties but also to give the executive the authorities he needs. So if there was to be a modification of that law and it was reasonable, it could have been done.

    DOBBS: You’ve been criticized, not only for opposing the war in Iraq, but criticized for saying that you believe that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and logistics. You’ve been criticized for being anti-semitic for throwing Israel in there.

    MCGOVERN: Yes, one is not supposed to mention Israel in polite conversations, but I think anyone who denies that Israel is a main factor in this is really out of touch with reality. The oil and the logistical base, by which I mean the permanent military bases, now they are called enduring bases, OK, that’s pretty much the same thing, because that’s a key part of the world where the oil is.

    Now, the Israeli factor can be argued either may. It seems to me that Scowcroft was very close to it when he said that Ariel Sharon has our president sort of wrapped around his little finger. That scares me to death because General Scowcroft knows whereof he speaks.

    But there is another school of thought that says the U.S. is kind of using Israel to achieve politically here what it wants to do anyway in the Middle East.

    DOBBS: The idea that the United States would go to war for oil — in its strategic interests, one could argue it could be considered the coarsest real politic, because American lives are being lost there. Is there an exit strategy that you think would make great sense?

    MCGOVERN: From Iraq.

    DOBBS: Correct.

    MCGOVERN: Sure. Two basic choices, stay the course or withdraw. Stay the course, we know what that is. That’s called Vietnam. There will be more violence next month, next year, and it will go up. And that’s a non-starter. Withdraw, what we need to do is start talking.

    Why don’t we talk to people? Why don’t we talk to the resistance? Why don’t we disavow any intention to have permanent military bases? Why don’t we disavow any intention to have permanent rights or special rights to the oil? Once we did those, then we could have the Europeans and others come in behind us and help us get out with some pressure of grace.

    DOBBS: No concern for the fact that Iran, a principal supporter of al Qaeda and the insurgency in Iraq, wants to wipe Israel from the face of the earth?

    MCGOVERN: A great concern there, but, you know, he said that he was going to bury the U.S. It doesn’t have to do with rhetoric. It has to do capabilities. And if Ahmadinejad tried to do anything like that, Israel would wipe Iran off the face of the earth, because they have the capability.

    DOBBS: I fear capabilities are not the only part of this equation that can be determined because the United States, a nation of 300 million with the most advanced technology and the finest military in the world, is now in Iraq for more than three years, losing lives to an insurgency that was supposed to be, according to the secretary of defense, about 10,000 dead-enders, bitter-enders, and dead-enders — I think as the defense secretary put it.

    All right. Ray, please come back soon. We can have more discussion. Appreciate it.

    MCGOVERN: Thanks, Lou. Appreciate it.

    DOBBS: Thank you sir.