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U.S. Officials: NSA Programs Thwarted Plots In 20 Countries

I suppose disrupting terrorist activities isn’t the job of the American intelligence community, but they went ahead and did it anyway:

Top U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday that information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.

Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs, the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.[...]

No other new details about the plots or the countries involved were part of the newly declassified information released to Congress on Saturday and made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Intelligence officials said they are working to declassify the dozens of plots NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said were disrupted, to show Americans the value of the programs, but that they want to make sure they don’t inadvertently reveal parts of the U.S. counterterrorism playbook in the process.

Intelligence officials said Saturday that both NSA programs are reviewed every 90 days by the secret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under the program, the records, showing things like time and length of call, can only be examined for suspected connections to terrorism, they said.

This is just like the warrantless wiretapping program of the Bush administration!!!

When The FISA Amendment Act of 2008 was signed by President Bush, like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 before it– it was the standard GOP act of self-pardoning, or retro-active immunity from their crimes against the Constitution and rule of law. From Gerald Ford to Bush 41′ to Bush 43′– Republicans do the crime and never do the time, and so, a Democratic Presidency must be sacrificed to appease the Manufactured Outrage Brigade.

I suppose a President Glenn Greenwald could get elected on a platform of sending his Executive branch predecessors and political foes to the gas chamber for spying on Americans without a warrant, indiscriminate war crimes, and crashing the economy. But doing the hard work of winning elections, holding the line by appointing judges and instituting more accountability to compliment a more liberally-minded bureaucracy is no match for the power that comes from inspiring Americans to take to the streets to face tear gas and batons to achieve a forgettable blurb on the nightly news.

We are still a nation of laws. Our courts are the arbiters of justice. Our elections are the arbiters of the courts. It’s amazing how the democratic process works.

  • ursulas

    Whenever the corporate media hypes a story, ignore it. I learned that from the 2008 and 2012 election coverage.

  • blackdaug

    “But doing the hard work of winning elections, holding the line by appointing judges and instituting more accountability to compliment a more liberally-minded bureaucracy is no match for the power that comes from inspiring Americans to take to the streets to face tear gas and batons to achieve a forgettable blurb on the nightly news.”
    Your nuanced, reality based description of a functioning democracy hurts my feelings.
    This thin veneer we call a ” modern civilization” is really much more black and white. “All government bad..no matter who in charge!” bahhhhh!
    The gentle hand of the “market” will take care of us all….if only your pesky democracy would get out of the way! A functioning democratic government is not the only check against unprecedented wealth concentration and abuse! We have no real enemies except the government, so we need no national security apparatus!…The government not only wants your taxes, guns and freedom….they want your emails, cell phone conversations and Facebook status!!
    Both sides are equally evil!! Except now your side is more so….. Obot!!
    bahhhhh! I say!!

  • muselet

    Charlie Pierce, a couple of weeks ago:

    You know what, folks? Don’t tell me about all the terror plots you’ve foiled if you’re not going to give me details. There is no reason to believe you. Either don’t mention them at all, or convince me. There’s no third alternative.

    Looks like someone got the memo.


  • Burpy

    If U.S. intelligence officials said it, then It must be true.

    • mrbrink

      If you say the government is lying, it must be true.

      • Burpy

        Where did I say that? It is not good journalism to simply write down what the government (or anyone else) says, and present it as fact. You have to try to find out if it is really true.

        • mrbrink

          Reporting your skepticism over the validity of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s claims in deference to a narrative of the President involved in an illegal conspiracy to commit an impeachable act is not fact-based and would be negligent at best.

  • Bubble Genius


  • Beautifully done, Brink. And fuck that ass Glenn Greenwald.

    • NWLefty

      Sure, Greenwald is an unrealistic and annoying purist, but would the government be releasing any of this if he hadn’t broken that story? And let’s wait to see if they end up releasing anything and what it is.

      • mrbrink

        At what point does Greenwald’s revenge become a total barf-o-rama?

        Five pies? ten pies? He really only exposed FISA, didn’t he? A legal program accountable to three branches of government. The really illegal stuff was happening before 2008. The FISA act of 2008 clarified existing law and brought it into the 21st century while a conveniently retro-active pardon of Bush’s and Cheney’s notorious high crimes.

        But maybe Greenwald thinks he can control a wingnut-dominated government with a rhetorical O-Bot/O-Bummer aerial-character-assault. Maybe they’ll listen, maybe they won’t. I have no wish to find out.

        I just think that Greenwald still has some unfinished business with the prior administration’s idea of transparency and illegality.

        • NWLefty

          I made that comment because I’m not particularly interested in Greenwald’s motives or personality. I’m interested in how our government behaves no matter who’s in office.

          • mrbrink

            Right. But history didn’t start in 2009, and to suggest, without evidence, as Greenwald has done, that the president is getting off listening to your phone calls and reading your emails and he’s got a “whistleblower” to prove it is intended to portray this administration as guilty of impeachable offenses.

            Greenwald’s the pied piper of the manufactured outrage brigade and he literally had to make things up, distort the facts, and with the volume level turned to 11 in order to be heard.

            He’s an Earth-scorcher with bad tact and selective hearing.

          • NWLefty

            Yep Glenn Greenwald is a pain in the ass. What do you think about the government keeping all our meta-data?

          • mrbrink

            Sweeping accusations are unbecoming.

          • NWLefty

            Huh? Not sure if you mean that I making sweepingt statements, but think not because “GG is a pain in the ass” is as sweeping as “he’s an Earth-scorcher” I am disengaging in our back and forth because we are pretty much talking past each other.