Category Archive 'Michael Mukasey'

04 Apr 2008

More on Mukasey’s Phone-Call-From-Afghanistan

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Peter Carr, Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice, responded to Glenn Greenwald’s request for clarification as follows:

In a question-and-answer session after his Commonwealth Club speech last week, Attorney General Mukasey referenced a call between an al Qaeda safe house and a person in the United States. The Attorney General has referred to this before, in the letter he sent with Director of National Intelligence McConnell to Chairman Reyes on February 22, 2008. In that letter, contained in this link [.pdf], the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence explained that:

    “We have provided Congress with examples in which difficulties with collections under [Executive Order 12333] resulted in the Intelligence Community missing crucial information. For instance, one of the September 11 hijackers communicated with a known overseas terrorist facility while he was living in the United States. Because that collection was conducted under Executive Order 12333, the Intelligence Community could not identify the domestic end of the communication prior to September 11, 2001, when it could have stopped that attack. The failure to collect such communications was one of the central criticisms of the Congressional Joint Inquiry that looked into intelligence failures associated with the attacks of September 11. The bipartisan bill passed by the Senate would address such flaws in our capabilities that existed before the enactment of the Protect America Act and that are now resurfacing.”

This call is also referenced in the unclassified report of the congressional intelligence committees’ Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks.

Greenwald spills buckets full of indignation and continues beating his accusatory tom-tom, being absolutely in love with the notion that he has found a deliberate falsehood he can explode to the embarrassment of the evil Bush Administration, and he has a pretty good echo of his theory (accepting it as proven gospel) going in a number ( 1, 2, 3) of the standard cages making up the left blogosphere’s monkey-house, but (sorry, Glenn!) he has actually proven absolutely nothing.

At best (from Greenwald’s point-of-view), the Attorney-General offered an inelegantly-phrased hypothetical open to misinterpretation. On the other hand, it is not impossible at all that there really was a phone call from an al Qaeda safe house which was not intercepted because of legal red-tape. In which case, Mr. Greenwald is going to be very sorry that he has so heavily invested in this story.

Still developing.

Original story.

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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