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NSA Wiretapping Program Could Have Prevented 9/11 Attacks

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 10:34 pm - March 9, 2006.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America,War On Terror

According to the Chicago Tribune, several phone calls from the 9/11 hijackers were placed to Saudi Arabia and Syria prior to the attack. (h/t – In the Bullpen)

The Sept. 11 hijackers made dozens of telephone calls to Saudi Arabia and Syria in the months before the attacks, according to a classified report from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to the report, 206 international telephone calls were known to have been made by the leaders of the hijacking plot after they arrived in the United States—including 29 to Germany, 32 to Saudi Arabia and 66 to Syria.
The German report contains no information about the timing or recipients of the calls, except that the majority of them were made from a cell phone registered to al-Shehhi, a native of the United Arab Emirates. It said the telephone records were obtained by German intelligence agencies from the FBI.

Anyone with half a brain could have figured this would have happened. It wasn’t like the 19 hijackers just arrived here and never received instructions from overseas.

So President Bush’s authorizing the NSA to conduct overseas wiretapping of suspected terrorists, had it been in place during the Clinton years, may well have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Let’s hope Congress doesn’t do something stupid and take this vital tool away from the Commander In Chief.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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38 Comments

  1. Ok, I’ll say it. Is it just a coincidence that on the same day as this information is made public the UAE “gracefully” rescinds its ports deals in the USA? You know the saying – “Follow the money”… and probably the phone calls too.

    Comment by Dave — March 9, 2006 @ 11:07 pm - March 9, 2006

  2. I don’t see the connection, Dave.

    And I’ve spent a good deal of time today being digusted over the appalling, self serving, behavior in DC concerning Dubai World Ports.

    If the UAE is a threat to us, we need to give up now and nuke the entire region to glass.

    Comment by Synova — March 10, 2006 @ 1:14 am - March 10, 2006

  3. And now UAE may take away a few mill from us and give it to France.

    BTW, why won’t anybody look into how much lord BJ and his cronies made on this deal?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 10, 2006 @ 3:30 am - March 10, 2006

  4. Bruce, I’ve re-read your post and I think you’ve ignored the big elephant in the center of the room. I don’t anyone who favors discontinuation of intelligence wiretaps. Everyone, even Barbara Boxer, insists they are essential for national security. Yet, it seems you think there’s a move afoot to do away with them. Nothing is farther from consideration.

    You, see, there’s something in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable search and seizures. As you no doubt know, Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, and others secretly wiretapped others without anyone else’s knowledge back in the Sixties and Seventies. When these revelations came to light, Congress passed FISA, which establishes a special court from which spies can obtain the warrants they need prior to secret wiretaps. Both Republicans and Democrats wanted “independent review” by the judiciary before wiretaps could commence. FISA does a number of good things, but it primarily functions as a dispenser of warrants to justify the wiretaps as not being an unreasonable search. The issue is not wiretaps per se, but warrantless wiretaps. See the Fourth Amendment!!

    Despite the illegality of warrantless wiretaps (violating both the Fourth Amendment and FISA), presidential counselor Yoo insists the Amendment and FISA do not apply to the president, and GWB agrees. But Yoo and GWB are dead wrong. Indeed, FISA was written precisely to coral the infamous practices of the executive during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. It also, and most importantly, puts the Fourth Amendment back into consideration.

    Yet, despite the Constitution and FISA, GWB has decided they don’t apply to him, so he’s wiretapping Americans (1) without their knowledge and (2) and without warrants. That’s doubly illegal. Being president does not exempt the Chief Executive from the laws of the land, regardless of GWB’s insistence to the contrary. And THAT is the issue. No one wants to stop wiretaps; many want to extend them, but LEGALLY (i.e., within the law).

    Incredulously, only GWB and Sidekick think they are exempt. And hence they’ve been clandestinely wiretapping Americans without first obtaining a warrant. But it’s simply illegal. I think this is a no-brainer. GWB’s illegal wiretaps make Clinton’s white lie under oath pale by comparison. This is a constitutional AND federal law. And, if Democrats had any power, it would merit impeachment for “crimes and misdemeanors.” Wiretaps are here to stay, but they must be legal wiretaps. THAT is the issue.

    Comment by Stephen — March 10, 2006 @ 5:16 am - March 10, 2006

  5. Well, now that Dubai has gracefully backed out of the ports deal we can sell those port operations to a country we trust to always have our best interests at heart. Like, for example, the Communist Chinese, who have been running port operations in this country for nearly a decade without the slightest titter from the same people who piled on Bush about the DPW deal.

    As for Stephen’s comment, I call Billy Madison and leave it at that.

    Comment by V the K — March 10, 2006 @ 5:34 am - March 10, 2006

  6. No Stephen, the NSA wiretaps are NOT illegal as both the Administration and a bevy of experts testified to Congress and have argued in the public square for weeks now. Your judgment is political opinion –albeit uninformed and lacking merit.

    The real fact –and the only one that matters for you– is that the NSA wiretaps are an opportunity to exploit political leverage in the effort to tarnish Bush and make up for the disgusting, ILLEGAL conduct of your favorite Prez, Slick Willy.

    That is the issue, Stephen. Spin, prevaricate, smoke all you want… Bush did NOTHING ILLEGAL in the wiretap initiatives. Whether you and JohnConyers and CindySheehan think so is immaterial.

    What’s clear here is that you’re willing to use a sensitive national security issue for political leverage; disgusting.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 10, 2006 @ 10:01 am - March 10, 2006

  7. NSA Wiretapping Program Could Have Prevented 9/11 Attacks

    So the fuck what? If we lived in a totalitarian state and had bar codes tattooed on our foreheads that probably would have prevented 9/11 too. That doesn’t mean its a good idea.

    And I’m tired of the deception on the Right about this issue. No one objects to the wiretapping in these specific cases. The objection is to granting a blanket unfettered power to the President to wiretap anyone they please without any oversight. Sorry, I just don’t trust the Government on this. Remember when the GOP believed in limited Government intrusion into our lives?

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — March 10, 2006 @ 11:02 am - March 10, 2006

  8. The objection is to granting a blanket unfettered power to the President to wiretap anyone they please without any oversight.

    Of which there is no such thing. The nature of the program the left is objecting to involves only wiretaps of people making or receiving phone calls to known al Qaeda affiliates in foreign countries. Congress is briefed regularly on this program. There is no program that allows the president to wiretap anyone he pleases with no oversight. Leftists sure are making a lot of hysterical noise (and dishonest characterizations) about a program they claim “no one objects to.”

    Comment by V the K — March 10, 2006 @ 12:31 pm - March 10, 2006

  9. The problem here is simple: Democrats think the Fourth Amendment prohibits ALL searches and seizures, not just unreasonable ones.

    Personally, I think it’s very reasonable to want to search someone who’s calling known terrorists and members of an organization that’s already killed thousands of people.

    However, one must remember; in the Democratic mindset, as expressed by paid DNC spokesperson Cindy Sheehan, who is fully supported by Barbara Boxer and other leading Democrats, al-Qaeda members are “freedom fighters” who are working to rid America of the Jewish menace that regularly manipulates us into war.

    That’s why they object; it interferes with al-Qaeda’s ability to kill Jews and Jew sympathizers.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 10, 2006 @ 1:21 pm - March 10, 2006

  10. There goes Gryph again, with his perverted, extreme mis-representations of reality.

    Get out the tinfoil. Cue up Kevin and the gay death camps, next.

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 1:22 pm - March 10, 2006

  11. #9 – NDT, I respectfully disagree.

    Democrats don’t think the 4th Amendment prohibits all warrantless searches. Clinton ECHELON program, anyone?

    The problem, here and now in this comment thread, is that some people insist on calling a limited, carefully vetted and controlled program – and, oh yeah, a necessary program – “granting a blanket unfettered power to the President…without any oversight”. Thereby draining human language of all meaning.

    That’s the problem.

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 1:33 pm - March 10, 2006

  12. P.S. Kind of like when similar people try to call anti-gay actions and policies gay-supportive, you know? 😉

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 1:35 pm - March 10, 2006

  13. This is my understanding of the wiretap issue. Everyone agrees that the CIA can wiretap on foreign soil without warrents of any sort. (At least as far as *we* are concerned.) Everyone agrees that domestic wiretapping requires a warrent to be issued before it happens.

    What Bush and the NSA have done and want to continue to do is, when they are doing the wiretapping that everyone agrees is legal on known or suspected terrorists on foreign soil, and those terrorists call a number in the United States… they don’t want to have to turn off the recorder and hang up the phone. They are *still* monitoring a phone call made on foreign soil.

    To me, this qualifies as “Duh!”

    But to people with a political ax, they see an opportunity to make a political gain by presenting this as *domestic* wiretapping. As though the NSA and Bush are pushing for warrentless wiretapping on calls within the United States and just don’t want to bother getting warrents.

    When did this ever become at issue other than in the opportunistic minds of certain politicians. (Clinton’s administration approved the same practice, yes?)

    When did those objecting make *very clear* that phone calls from tapped number overseas to US numbers (or locations) was specifically *not* what they were objecting to?

    They didn’t, because they were busy getting people riled up about the impending police state.

    Comment by Synova — March 10, 2006 @ 1:50 pm - March 10, 2006

  14. When did those objecting make *very clear* that phone calls from tapped number overseas to US numbers (or locations) was specifically *not* what they were objecting to?

    I don’t know if they ever made it “very clear,” but they began backing off about the time polls showed ~80% of the population didn’t have a problem with wiretapping terrorists.

    Comment by V the K — March 10, 2006 @ 2:11 pm - March 10, 2006

  15. Reprinted from my blog:

    Ponder the following bit of mental gymnastics, provided courtesy of the Democratic Party this past week:

    It is wrong to wiretap phone calls or other forms of electronic communication made from Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to the United States or other countries because it is unreasonable to assume that, because a person or business is based in the UAE, that they support and/or have links to terrorism.

    However, it is wrong for a person or business based in the UAE to manage ports secured by the US military because it is reasonable to assume that, because they are based in the UAE, they support and/or have links to terrorism.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 10, 2006 @ 2:34 pm - March 10, 2006

  16. Patrick –and I’m tried of the intellectual dishonesty and political cheap shots from the Democrat Party Left in trying to smear the President by claiming the NSA wiretaps equal domestic spying operations ala Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon era.

    VdaK has it right, your political leadership took a quick “about-face” when the polling indicated they were losing on making it an issue. “Retreat!” “Regroup!!” “Fall back!!!”

    “I’m tired of the deception on the Right about this issue”… please see Screaming HowieDean or MotherSheehan for your Democrat Party wacko vest pin. You earned it.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 10, 2006 @ 2:54 pm - March 10, 2006

  17. However, it is wrong for a person or business based in the UAE to manage ports secured by the US military because it is reasonable to assume that, because they are based in the UAE, they support and/or have links to terrorism.

    – This part is a bit unfair NDT, opposition to the ports deal was extremely bi-partisan. They are both stuck on stupid, in this case.

    Calarato and Michigan-Matt, I may indeed be wearing a tin-foil hat, but do notice that the only ones diving head-first into cheap shots and personal attacks on this are the two of you. That pretty much invalidates anything you might say from this point forward.
    Have a nice day.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — March 10, 2006 @ 3:20 pm - March 10, 2006

  18. That pretty much invalidates anything you might say from this point forward.

    Translation: I’ve lost the argument, so now I’m going to whine about “name-calling.”

    Comment by V the K — March 10, 2006 @ 3:46 pm - March 10, 2006

  19. Patrick, please point out where I specifically wrote you are wearing a tin foil hat? You’re the one who jumped into the mix with a vast overstatement at #7. I called that a cheap political shot. Just like HowieDean implying that NSA wiretaps included WH domestic spying on political opponents.

    But back to the tin-foil hat accusation… please point out where I wrote that? If not, please post an apology in the following comments. Thank you in advance for your contrition.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 10, 2006 @ 4:50 pm - March 10, 2006

  20. Except that the liberals and Demorats have already rendered the NSA program useless.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 10, 2006 @ 5:00 pm - March 10, 2006

  21. #19 – LOL

    I alone said tinfoil, gave my reasons (see #11), and stand by it.

    Gryph: If the shoe fits – Wear it. Either that, or learn some intellectual responsibility and start dealing with the NSA issue more cleanly.

    #18, V’s interpretation of your rejoinder, is spot-on.

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 5:37 pm - March 10, 2006

  22. Or to put it another way, Gryph:

    You alone invalidate everything further you might have to say on the subject of NSA wiretaps, the moment you perversely and insanely try to call it “granting a blanket unfettered power to the President…without any oversight”.

    OK? Don’t expect me (if I happen to be around) to let you get away with your garbage.

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 5:46 pm - March 10, 2006

  23. Congressional hysteria over the ports deal has slapped an Arab ally in the face and will likely hamper President Bush’s efforts to find new allies in the Middle East.

    Comment by Jack Allen — March 10, 2006 @ 6:45 pm - March 10, 2006

  24. #23 – Sadly, yes. I wasn’t sure who to believe on this one, but my final conclusion / guess is that we should have only been worried if they were going to put Iran or Syria in charge of the ports. (And they weren’t.)

    Comment by Calarato — March 10, 2006 @ 7:03 pm - March 10, 2006

  25. Absoluely amazing! No, not the stupid comments, but that anyone thinks NSA, FISA, and the Fourth Amendment are even controversial. This is really a no-brainer. It has no partisanship. It’s both a constitutional amendment and federal law. There isn’t even any point in discussing the obvious, because it’s obvious to everyone but GWB. For some really stupid reason, which obviously isn’t reason, GWB thinks he’s above the law. Now, maybe driving in a limo grants him rights to disobey traffic laws, and flying Air Force One gives him extraordinary privileges in the air. But did he leave his head up there? Warrantless wiretaps of Americans is simply unconstitutional and against federal law. It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, the law is the law. I don’t care if you’re president or not (even though the law was passed because of presidential malfeasance), no one is above the law. This is SO basic an intuition, I couldn’t imagine dissent. But here it is. People actually defending lawlessness. I realize some of you are wacky, but this one doesn’t even require the dots to connect. There is a law (and the constitution), and warrantless wiretaps against Americans just is not legal. I might understand GWB not getting it, he’s a wierd bird, to say the least. But right-wingers defending the government’s intrusion into private lives? This really is a first.

    Comment by Stephen — March 10, 2006 @ 8:52 pm - March 10, 2006

  26. What amazes me is the liberal charade that they give a flying damn about national security.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 10, 2006 @ 10:28 pm - March 10, 2006

  27. I believe that freedom is more important than security. Gaining security at the expense of freedom is not an exchange I can favor.

    However… I don’t see how *any* phone tapping needs to be justified on both ends. If you get a warrant to listen to a mobster, you get to listen to whomever the mobster calls at the same time. If it’s legal to listen to calls in a foreign country you can listen to whomever they call, even if the destination is in the US.

    This was *not* without oversight. Congress was informed and aware of the program. Until it got leaked to the press and suddenly morphed into domestic spying without warrants.

    And Stephan, this wasn’t unique to GWB. You can keep on saying how Bush doesn’t think he needs to follow the law, but it doesn’t make it true. It only makes you sound irrational.

    Comment by Synova — March 10, 2006 @ 11:33 pm - March 10, 2006

  28. Warrantless wiretaps of Americans is simply unconstitutional and against federal law.

    Wrong, Stephen. Unreasonable search and seizure is against the law. The lie that you and your fellow Democrats push that says that wiretapping Americans at all is unconstitutional is purely because of your hate for Bush, and has nothing to do with the Constitution.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 11, 2006 @ 1:06 am - March 11, 2006

  29. Yes – Where, exactly, does the Constitution contain the word “wiretap”?

    It doesn’t.

    It says (1) people must be secure against UNREASONABLE searches, and (2) when/if a warrant is to be used, that warrant must show probable cause, support by affirmation, and specificity of target.

    Don’t believe me? – Read your Constitution.

    Does that mean all warrants require searches? Nope. Stephen himself routinely submits to warrantless searches (we hope).

    Examples: You know when the X-ray your bag at the airport? That’s a warrantless search. So is a sobriety checkpoint.

    The key, constitutionally, is that they are REASONABLE. And if wiretapping a phone number captured from an al Qaeda terrorist laptop for purposes of conducting operations in a war authorized by Congress isn’t a REASONABLE search, whatever could be?

    Note that NO criminal jeopardy attaches as a result of NSA wiretaps – or to be precise, if it does attach, the NSA wiretap evidence is inadmissible, unless there was a warrant.

    That’s where warrants come into play: when criminal jeopardy is to be attached. Not for mere intelligence gathering relating to the President’s Article 2 duty of protecting the country and conducting war operations authorized by Congress.

    That’s why ALL relevant caselaw, and the Carter and Clinton administrations, have asserted or upheld the power of the President to conduct reasonable warrantless searches for Article 2 purposes of intelligence gathering (again, not for criminal investigations, which are the things that would require warrants).

    What’s astounding here is that Stephen and Gryph pretend, with straight faces, not to know this basic information!!

    Comment by Calarato — March 11, 2006 @ 1:40 am - March 11, 2006

  30. Correction – Fourth paragraph reversed a couple words and should begin, “Does that mean all searches require warrants?…”

    Comment by Calarato — March 11, 2006 @ 1:42 am - March 11, 2006

  31. As I stated above, liberals don’t give a damn about national security. They love to play games with it and have braindead oxygen thief fucktards like Stephen swallow the cum they pump out as part of the game, but they don’t give a damn.
    That’s why NOBODY will trust them with it.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 11, 2006 @ 4:49 am - March 11, 2006

  32. “Let’s hope Congress doesn’t do something stupid and take this vital tool away from the Commander In Chief.”

    Now the republican-led congress is being chastised for being a baddie? I’m shocked.

    How about he uses this power, but uses it within the confines of the law established for it which would allow them to wiretap possible terrorists legally. It’s clear that wiretapping plays an important part in catching terrorists and I’m all for it, just as long as it fits in with laws established for such purposes. (after the fact court orders allow this)

    The Supreme Court already found that conducting illegal acts for the purpose of national security is inherently illegal.

    Comment by Kevin — March 12, 2006 @ 3:42 pm - March 12, 2006

  33. Time and again on this thread, I’ve seen good-intentioned Bush-critics point out the obvious about the NSA ordeal, without a touch of ad hominem, to be countered with illogic, wrapped up in pointless minutiae, and broad attacks on liberals.

    “As I stated above, liberals don’t give a damn about national security… [leading to a long string of cursing].” A perfectly senseless remark if there ever was one.

    “Where, exactly, does the Constitution contain the word “wiretap”? It doesn’t.” A condescending remark deserves a condescending reply, so duh, it predates the invention of even the telegraph. So it’s interpretive. To that I say the following;

    The law should leave no room for the ‘trust us’ argument in *any* sort of authority. We can’t just *trust* GWB because he says so, because if a crooked politican in the future decides he wants to use the loose wiretap laws for political gain, then he can do it and nobody can stop him. So why are Republicans so eager to back up GWB on this? You struggle to find subtle loopholes in poorly written legislation, not, obviously, to protect the functioning of the gov’t, but only because they’re in Karl Rove’s daily ‘talking points.’

    if I ever see a single Republican take a critical stance on Bush, in the same way that most Democrats won’t fail to criticize many of the suspect policies of “Slick Willie,” then there will be a Republican I respect.

    This is the first time I’ve been to this site, but don’t even get me started on this Gay Republican business. Let me guess, you are the one in the relationship who likes to ‘receive’ 😉

    Comment by God In Heaven — March 12, 2006 @ 4:57 pm - March 12, 2006

  34. 10: Ya know…a while ago I mentioned a possible future of what could happen to gays and other “undersirables” if the so-called “christian conservatives” seized control of this country. However, you and a few others bring it up over and over and over again. For a group who is fond of telling people to get “get over it”, you seem to have some trouble doing it yourself.

    Comment by Kevin — March 12, 2006 @ 7:07 pm - March 12, 2006

  35. The law should leave no room for the ‘trust us’ argument in *any* sort of authority.

    So, in other words, before a beat cop runs after a suspect, she should be required to phone in and get the permission of her supervisor, her supervisor’s supervisor, the Chief of Police, and then have their decision ratified by voter referendum.

    I prefer to train police individuals to make good decisions, establish acceptable boundaries of risk, and then move forward. It works much better and faster.

    if I ever see a single Republican take a critical stance on Bush, in the same way that most Democrats won’t fail to criticize many of the suspect policies of “Slick Willie,” then there will be a Republican I respect.

    As my mother said, people who promise “respect” based on their perceptions can always find a reason not to give it — and always do.

    This is the first time I’ve been to this site, but don’t even get me started on this Gay Republican business. Let me guess, you are the one in the relationship who likes to ‘receive’

    Perhaps you prefer the model of your fellow Democrats, which is to call individuals who praise and laud voters who strip gays of rights “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive”, then funnel them tens of millions of dollars to promote their message while skimping on fighting said antigay initiatives.

    Most gay conservative types, myself included, can call a spade a spade. It baffles me why gay Democrats call us political bottoms — and invariably as they’re being raped by Democratic politicians pandering to other special interest groups.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 13, 2006 @ 6:16 pm - March 13, 2006

  36. Yes, and the joke is that anyone who can write “if I ever see a single Republican take a critical stance on Bush…” which happens all the time, must have their DEEP up their own ass, not to see it.

    Comment by Calarato — March 14, 2006 @ 10:51 am - March 14, 2006

  37. “must have their head…” sorry for typo

    Comment by Calarato — March 14, 2006 @ 10:52 am - March 14, 2006

  38. #34 — Because that isn’t what you said, Kevvie. You referred to people who GP and GPW support (present tense) who would be “happy to see us exterminated.” You only came up with the weaselly, “I was only referring to something that could possibly happen with some extreme group in the future” after people challenged you to back up your statement. And until you repudiate that statement without weaseling… you own it, and it’s stuck to you.

    Comment by V the K — March 14, 2006 @ 6:59 pm - March 14, 2006

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