Would NSA surveillance have stopped 9/11 plot?

Peter Bergen writes: The Obama administration has framed its defense of the controversial bulk collection of all American phone records as necessary to prevent a future 9/11.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on June 18, NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander said, “Let me start by saying that I would much rather be here today debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11.”

This closely mirrors talking points by the National Security Agency about how to defend the program.

In the talking points, NSA officials are encouraged to use “sound bites that resonate,” specifically, “I much prefer to be here today explain these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”

On Friday in New York, Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that NSA’s bulk collection of American telephone records is lawful. He cited Alexander’s testimony and quoted him saying, “We couldn’t connect the dots because we didn’t have the dots.”

But is it really the case that the U.S. intelligence community didn’t have the dots in the lead up to 9/11? Hardly.

In fact, the intelligence community provided repeated strategic warning in the summer of 9/11 that al Qaeda was planning a large-scale attacks on American interests.

Here is a representative sampling of the CIA threat reporting that was distributed to Bush administration officials during the spring and summer of 2001:

— CIA, “Bin Ladin Planning Multiple Operations,” April 20
— CIA, “Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent,” June 23
— CIA, “Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays,” July 2
— CIA, “Threat of Impending al Qaeda Attack to Continue Indefinitely,” August 3

The failure to respond adequately to these warnings was a policy failure by the Bush administration, not an intelligence failure by the U.S. intelligence community. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Would NSA surveillance have stopped 9/11 plot?

  1. Philip Dennany

    Absolute bs, just as the 9-11 panel was an intentional whitewash. The NSA/Obama thugs are aware that very many millions of citizens are still demanding the truth of who really did the treasonous mass murder demolition destruction of that terrible day.

  2. BillVZ

    Hear-Hear You got that right, Philip. And there are a tremendous amount of folks still waiting for the real story. Alas, it is the nature of the beast when an issue does demand a commission to for a response- it will always be a white wash. TheWarren Commission? Or they will simply ignore it-U.S Liberty, Gulf of Tonkin…? The face and presence of GW Bush shown on TV while he was storytelling to kindergartners says a lot where the real story lays in my mind.

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