House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. evoked an emotional argument on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday in defense of the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.
“Remember, this came about after 9/11 when we found out afterward that terrorists that we knew about overseas had called somebody who was a terrorist but living in the United States or staying in the United States. He ended up being the person that got on an airplane and flew into the side of the Pentagon.”
Lindsey Boerma of CBS News reported that Rogers claimed that the program was effective in thwarting 54 terror attacks, and “culls data that’s merely ‘to-from – no names, no addresses.'”
How would lists of numbers have thwarted 9/11? Wouldn’t a trigger need to take place first that would have justified getting a warrant for this information, as clearly mandated by the Fourth Amendment?
“That’s a pretty impressive record – zero privacy violations, 54 terrorist attacks that saved real American lives and our allies as well – that’s real success.”
The well cited figure was mentioned a month ago by the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander.
As reported by NBC News,
“Gen. Keith Alexander said these programs enabled the United States to disrupt 54 ‘events,’ 42 of which ‘involved disrupted plots.'”
According to the article, the NSA surveillance program led to 50 “arrests or detentions.” Who was arrested or detained? The details of these thwarted attacks must be made public for this program to have any credibility.
Alexander testified that,
“In recent years, these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent the potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11.” [author emphasis]
So is anyone willing to give a breakdown of a situation where a terror attack was thwarted solely by using telephone data, without having probable cause that would have justified a warrant?
According to the Top Secret document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, details of calls originating and ending outside of the United States are not required. Yet according to the NBC article, at least 41 of the terror activities took place outside of the United States. Does that mean that there were co-conspirators within the United States in all 41 cases?
Most thwarted terror attacks reported in the news are initially investigated because of online activity, such as statements made in a jihadist forum. Additionally, any terrorist worth his salt would not use his own Verizon mobile phone to make plans involving terrorism.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Rep. Mike Rogers
“has assured House colleagues that an intelligence policy bill he plans to draft in mid-September will include new privacy safeguards.”
Isn’t that strange? Rogers also said there were “zero privacy violations” in the NSA surveillance program. How can he say that with certainty if he must put in “privacy safeguards?”
It is not clear why details of every lawful American’s phone activity must be constantly available to to the federal government in order to thwart terrorism.
In fact, it is a fairy tale.
As President Obama declared in 2007 referring to the Bush Administration,
“…The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works…This Administration [referring to George W. Bush] acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.”
President Obama has changed his tune since then, however.
Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and check out her news and political commentary on Gather and TavernKeepers.com for news you won’t find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.