'Tap Phones To Catch Terrorists' Lie Doesn't Wash
General Hayden's justification that the NSA surveillance program would have prevented 9/11 by uncovering two of the alleged hijackers is a complete fallacy for two reasons. One - a global spying network to dwarf the domestic eavesdropping controversy that tracks all communications, Echelon, was in existence. Two - the alleged 9/11 hijackers were tracked and catalogued by the US government.
During his confirmation hearing Hayden said that if the warrantless domestic surveillance program had been in place before 9/11, two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers (or US government agents), Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, would have been caught.
"The NSA would have raised its hand and said, 'Hey, these guys are in San Diego,' " he said.
Firstly, the Echelon program has collected information in violation of the 4th Amendment from American citizen's phone calls since the early 90's at least. In addition, a 2001 European Parliament report stated that "within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted" by the NSA.
The fact that Echelon barely even merited a mention during the recent furore created by the USA Today piece goes to show how utterly useless our media are in recalling what has already been admitted and proven.
In 1999 the Australian government admitted that they were part of an NSA led global intercept and surveillance grid in alliance with the US and Britain that could listen to "every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission."
"As you would expect there are a large amount of radio communications floating around in the atmosphere, and agencies such as DSD collect those communications in the interests of their national security," said Bill Blick, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and the man who oversaw the Australian government's intelligence apparatus.
A large sector of Echelon is dedicated to industrial espionage. For example, in November 1999 the BBC reported that the NSA snooped on phone calls from a French firm bidding for a contract in Brazil. They passed the information on to an American competitor, which won the contract.
Hayden's assertion that a pre-9/11 domestic NSA eavesdropping program would have led to the capture of Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi is completely misleading.
Two days after 9/11 Germany's daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the Echelon spy network had provided warnings of the attack 6 months in advance, dispelling Hayden's claim that no such surveillance network was active before 9/11.
The CIA knew exactly where Almihdhar and Alhazmi (pictured) were two months before 9/11 because they were living an FBI informant in San Diego. Newsweek reported this in their story, The Informant Who Lived With the Hijackers, and it was also picked up by Reuters who ran it under the headline, CIA Knew Two Sept. 11 Hijackers Were in U.S.
The CIA had also tracked the individuals to a supposed Al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000 and then let them back into the US. The US government was fully aware of their movements without the need for a phone tap and allowed them safe passage around the globe.
Hayden's claim that an NSA phone tap would have uncovered Almihdhar and Alhazmi's San Diego base is totally at odds with the fact that the CIA knew their location anyway and they were also living with an FBI informant.
This is a cynical and deceptive move on the part of Hayden to try and sell the illegal wiretapping of American citizens on the fraudulent basis that it could have stopped 9/11. A cursory examination of the facts exposes Hayden's mendacity and his temerity in fooling the American people into supporting the wholesale subjugation of the Constitution.
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