04 Apr 2008

Was a Pre-9/11 Call From Afghanistan Not Intercepted For Lack of a Warrant?

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Back in March, as this New York Sun 3/27 story indicates, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in a speech arguing for Congressional support for FISA, seemed to indicate that the absence of a warrant prevented US surveillance of a crucial pre-9/11 phone call from a safe house in Afghanistan to someone in the United States.

Attorney General Mukasey, in an emotional plea for broad surveillance authority in the war on terror, is warning that the price for failing to empower the government would be paid in American lives. Officials “shouldn’t need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that’s the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that’s the call that we didn’t know about,” Mr. Mukasey said yesterday as he took questions from the audience following a speech to a public affairs forum, the Commonwealth Club. “We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went.”

At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America’s anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. “We got three thousand. … We’ve got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn’t come home to show for that,” he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

There has been little media coverage of what seems to be possibly a major story, but the left blogosphere has erupted today with attacks on Mukasey for allegedly lying, led by “the left’s most dishonest blogger” Glenn Greenwald himself.

Reading General Mukasey’s comment as reported in the Sun, I was not certain myself whether he was referring to a real incident or merely to a hypothetical, but the major counter-offensive being mounted this morning by the left’s big gun liars seems to indicate that it could very well be the former.

Greenwald’s attack in Salon is being followed up by the leading leftwing Congressional representatives, these days operating on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), sending Mukasey an accusatory letter, demanding that he explain his March statement.

Mr. Mukasey may simply reply that he was only speaking hypothetically of course. Developing.

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