NSA Defenders Claim PRISM Helped Stop NYC Subway Bombing; Actual Evidence Suggests It Didn't
from the so-much-for-that dept
You knew this was coming. In the wake of the revelations about the NSA surveillance program, defenders of the system are now trying to claim that PRISM was responsible for stopping a plot to bomb the NYC subways by Najibullah Zazi. However, as people looked into the details, they pointed out that this didn’t make much sense and, further, that detailed public reports already make it clear that traditional police work had uncovered Zazi’s plot, not PRISM.
The details of terror investigations are not always laid out this clearly in public; but they appear to belie the notion, advanced by anonymous government officials Friday, that sweeping access to millions of email accounts played an important roil in foiling the subway attack. Instead, this is the sort investigation made possible by ordinary warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; authorities appear simply to have been monitoring the Pakistani email account that had been linked to terrorists earlier that year.
That report, by Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith has a lot more details.
Of course, there’s a separate point in all of this: even if PRISM had been used to stop this plot, that says nothing about whether or not the program is appropriate. I’m sure that we could stop all sorts of terrorist plots and activity if the US government was able to send soldiers door to door searching every house in the country and installing cameras inside our homes. But, most everyone would agree that’s a blatant violation of our rights.