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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.