Saturday, August 12, 2006

Greenwald nails it

Legal surveillance, not illegal eavesdropping, stopped the U.K. terrorist attacks
In their zeal to imprison Jim Risen and the New York Times editors responsible for disclosure of the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, Bush followers continuously claimed that this disclosure somehow alerted terrorists to the fact that we were eavesdropping on their conversations (as though they were not aware of that before) and that, as a result, we have now lost the ability to monitor their conversations. Now that they know we are eavesdropping, so this "reasoning" goes, they will not use telephones to talk to each other any more.

And yet, here was a major plot foiled because the terrorist plotters were using telephones to communicate about their plans -- and using banking systems to wire money -- all of which law enforcement could track within the law. This whole episode potently illustrates just how inane are the claims that the Times' NSA story (and its SWIFT disclosures) would endanger national security. Terrorists already knew full well that we monitor their telephone conversations and banking transactions, and they knew that before the New York Times "told" them so. But in order to plan terrorist attacks, terrorists must communicate with one another and send money to each other. Somehow, the Times' story did not prevent us from eavesdropping on all of these conversations. That's because the Times stories -- as has been evident from the beginning -- told terrorists nothing which they could use to avoid detection.

Only Bush followers could point to a successful law enforcement operation which, by all appearances, complied with the law, and try to use it to argue how necessary it is that the law be broken.


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