Dianne Feinstein Plays The 9/11 Card For Why The NSA Should Keep Spying On Every American

from the because-FEAR! dept

Given that others in the intelligence community have played the 9/11 card repeatedly, it really was only a matter of time until co-dependent “oversight” boss Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to trot out the same clearly bogus claptrap. She’s now done so in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (behind the paywall, but if you Google it, you can read it), which makes arguments that are simply not true.

Consider the case of 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was being watched by the CIA while he was in Malaysia. U.S. intelligence agencies failed to connect the dots before the attack to recognize that al-Mihdhar had flown with (future) hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi to Los Angeles in January 2000.

Intelligence officials knew about an al Qaeda safe house in Yemen with ties to al-Mihdhar as well as the safe house’s telephone number, but they had no way of knowing if anyone inside the U.S. was in contact with that phone number in Yemen. Only after 9/11 did we learn that al-Mihdhar, while living in San Diego, had called the safe house.

First off, as has been explained over and over again, the intelligence community already had certain tools in place to discover such phone calls. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t have the information — they did. It was that they failed to “connect the dots.” In other words, they had too much information which obscured the important information they needed.

Feinstein goes on to make other claims that have already been debunked:

Working in combination, the call-records database and other NSA programs have aided efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorism in the U.S. approximately a dozen times in recent years, according to the NSA. This summer, the agency disclosed that 54 terrorist events have been interrupted—including plots stopped and arrests made for support to terrorism. Thirteen events were in the U.S. homeland and nine involved U.S. persons or facilities overseas. Twenty-five were in Europe, five in Africa and 11 in Asia.

Note the all important “and other NSA programs” language here. Also the use of “terrorist events” not plots. And, remember, those “thirteen events… in the U.S. homeland,” have since been whittled down to only one that actually relied on the call records program that she’s defending — and that wasn’t a terrorist plot but a cab driver in San Diego sending some cash to a Somali group judged to be a terrorist organization.

Furthermore, the program she’s defending involves collecting data on every US phone call. If, as she claims, the program was necessary to catch that phone call to a safe house in Yemen, then they could just get a warrant seeking call information to that number, rather than collecting every single phone call, even those between Americans, which have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

These figures show that the NSA programs are a key component of our counterterrorism efforts at home and abroad because they develop intelligence for our allies about terrorists operating within their borders.

No, actually, they don’t. They show that Senator Dianne Feinstein has no problem at all lumping together totally unrelated programs, inflating claims about their effectiveness, ignoring actual history, all to claim that a totally unrelated program, which has not been shown to have prevented any terrorist attacks in the US is somehow necessary. That’s called being dishonest.

The NSA call-records program is working and contributing to our safety. It is legal and it is subject to strict oversight and thorough judicial review.

Except none of that is true. It has not been shown to have contributed to our safety at all. The “strict oversight” doesn’t appear to actually exist — as the revelations have shown how the NSA has hid its abuses from Congress, how Feinstein and others have helped to hide what the NSA is doing, rather than providing oversight, and how the FISA Court itself admits that it’s reliant on the NSA telling them what’s happening (and also that the NSA has widely abused its powers repeatedly over the past decade).

But we must also learn the lesson of 9/11. If we end this vital program, we only make our nation more vulnerable to another devastating terrorist attack.

It seems to me that the “lesson of 9/11” is that blatantly dishonest politicians will call out to 9/11 when it’s been proven that they realize they have no actual argument for supporting the surveillance state and clear violations of the 4th Amendment.

In the meantime, we’ve asked before, and we’ll ask again: Dianne Feinstein insists that there’s nothing private about metadata. So why hasn’t she released the metadata on all of her home, office and mobile phone calls?

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Comments on “Dianne Feinstein Plays The 9/11 Card For Why The NSA Should Keep Spying On Every American”

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Anonymous Coward says:

If these tools help the government “connect the dots” and stop terrorists, then explain the Boston bombings.

Explain why an entire city had to be shut down just to find ONE suspect.

Explain why these mechanisms failed to identify and locate the suspect (remember? the suspect was located by civilians and identified by crowd-sourcing).

The 9/11 card is worn out. The benefit of these mechanisms does not justify their cost.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

All the terror cards are being worn out. I’d rather face the terrorist on my own than have to surrender my right to privacy to the government. If someone is on the radar and there’s probably cause then I have no problem with them being watched, however I am not a terrorist and I refuse to be treated like one or lumped in with them because I use electronic communications.

Feinstein’s cattle-prattle is nothing but a load of non sequitur designed to drum up the fears of the ignorant long enough for them to surrender their sovereignty to the likes of people like her. Please, Ms. Feinstein, explain why, if someone’s already on the radar and his communications (as well as those of people he coordinates with) can be monitored in their ENTIRETY, my communications have to be monitored as well? Can’t? Didn’t think so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Plus not to mention you can do something about terrorism. Just normal human curiosity can foil many things out of the ordinary – better yet they can spot when it is actually nothing. As opposed to authorities who freak out at LEDs or exposed circuit boards.

Notice every “justification” for increased airplane security? Not even the flight marshals did anything – it was the passengers who spotted and stamped out dumbass would be terrorists lighting their clothes on fire. All you need to do for terrorism is really basic awareness and not being a bed-wetting coward who hands rights away at the sound of a fart.

Tyranny is a far harder and messier fight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Out of curiousity, I’d like to see a comparison to the costs of this metadata collection program compared to traditional services like the police. The comparison would encompass the operational costs as well as threats to the public prevented.

I can be damn sure the police stop more than 53 “plots” in 12 years and use waaaay less money to do so.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Preaching to the choir here but...

February 2001 three Telecos cooperated with the NSA (AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth). Qwest refused.
The NSA tells the Telco’s that not only would it compile and maintain data on US Citizens’ phone habits, but it may share that information with the CIA, DEA, and the FBI.
So the NSA had phone meta data collection programs in place before 9/11 as well as a program called Echelon and PROMIS. We all know how well these programs worked to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Preaching to the choir here but...

Indeed. Qwest was punished, too – when they refused to play ball, the government stopped awarding it contracts and started awarding them to their competitors. Qwest’s CEO sold stock prior to the government bailing on them, so when the stock tanked after the sale, he was sent to prison for 19 counts of “insider trading” – charges that were complete hogwash, and were overturned on appeal, only to be reinstated by another court. He just got out of jail last month.

All of this was done in direct retaliation for his opposition to the NSA. Read about it. The true terrorists (mafia) are in Washington.

Anonymous Coward says:

Senator Dianne Feinstein has no problem at all

They show that Senator Dianne Feinstein has no problem at all lumping together totally unrelated programs, inflating claims about their effectiveness, ignoring actual history, all to claim that a totally unrelated program, which has not been shown to have prevented any terrorist attacks in the US is somehow necessary. That’s called being dishonest.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has no problem at all getting elected.

The American people want politicians like her. They keep voting for them.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Senator Dianne Feinstein has no problem at all

stop it:
you are confusing the ILLUSION of choice in our electoral process, with ACTUAL choice…

when The System effectively locks out ANY third party incursion into the process, we are left with only two heads of the hydra-headed Korporate Money Party to ‘vote’ for…

here is the ‘range’ of choices you get:
Korporate Money Party stooge from Brand R,
Korporate Money Party stooge from Brand D…

BOTH espousing essentially the SAME policies, with minor differences without a distinction…

sure, Brand R may be big on ______, and Brand D may be big on _____ (fill in the blanks with hot button issues to distract the sheeple from their inherent sameness), but on the actual organization of society and the ABSOLUTE primacy of unrestrained kapitalist imperialism, there is little disagreement between them: the 99% are not paying their bills, so fuck’em…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

Bin laden in your email

So can we have the 9/11 Intelligence report declassified now? The one that warned the President that Bin Laden was going to attack the US by hijacking planes and ramming them into buildings? The one he ignored?

Well until after 9/11 when he stuffed the agencies full of political appointees who pretending it was the intelligence agencies faults for ‘not connecting the dots’ and turned it into a mass surveillance machine against dissenting Americans.

Who appointed General “collect it all’? Bush did!

Bin Laden didn’t have an internet connection. He wasn’t even a needle in the General’s haystack.

ahow628 (profile) says:

The coin

Love how these politicians have the skill and expertise to take a coin and slice it in half lengthwise so they can see both sides of it at the same time.

“These programs are SO successful, they must be allowed to continue!”

What about 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing?

“Well, those were failures of the system and if we had more authority to spy, those would have been prevented as well.”

Anonymous Coward says:

“We need to spy on everyone because 9/11 happened!”

That’s the most pathetic fearmongering I’ve ever heard. It just goes to show that their actions are completely pointless and unjustified. They don’t have any leads, they don’t have any objectives, they don’t have any suspects. “A bad thing happened once twelve years ago! Keep funding us because it might happen again!”

Funding the NSA was practically throwing money away before its techniques were made public. Now it’s literally throwing money away.
Of course, they’re still going to get all the billions they ask for from the government, despite the fact that we’re about to run out. And they’re never going to get their budget cut, because Terrorism, and politicians would rather have two root canals a day every day than give their political rivals a chance to call them “soft on Terrorism”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Al- Qaeda was trained by the CIA

Might be worth pointing out that Al Qaeda, Bin Ladens group of terrorists was trained by the CIA to fight the Russians in Afganistan:

Here’s Robin Cook (was in UK government at the time).


“Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west. “

I didn’t know ‘Al Qaida’ translates as ‘the database’ and refers to the CIA list of terrorists they trained. But I’m not surprised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Al- Qaeda was trained by the CIA

Al Qaida literally means database, and was the name the CIA gave to the list of terrorist in the Mujahadeen it had trained.

Bizarre really. They didn’t need the haystack, they created the needles and had them in a database, literally called “the database” in Arabic! Al Qaida.

I’m searching on this and some of the stuff is a real eye opener. The CIA knew al-Mihdhar was a terrorist, knew he entered the USA and they couldn’t tell the FBI because President Bush didn’t sign the necessary form, lazy f**er probably didn’t read it even.

Also the Arabic for AlQaida doesn’t translate in Google translate.

It’s probably not a good idea to do these searches yourself, lest you get flagged as a terrorist, but perhaps https into Wikipedia and do the searches inside there is safe enough.

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

Card Game...

It’s like the Children or Race card…

Person 1: What do you have?
Person 2: Four Aces! You?
Person 1: I have…. the RACE card… I WIN!

Person 1: What do you have?
Person 2: Straight Flush! You?
Person 1: I have…. the THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN card… I WIN!

Person 1: What do you have?
Person 2: Royal Straight Flush! You?
Person 1: I have…. the 9/11 card… I WIN!

Anonymous Coward says:

This is exactly what is drawing the ire of every citizen that reads about this stuff. Slowly more and more pressure is being brought to bear on it.

Remember Alexander last week complaining that the pres didn’t do enough to protect the NSA in speaking about it? Here’s some results from that speech. Feinstein, who is on the Intelligence Committee, (yeah, the same one that was lied to) and who has a vested interest in keeping the NSA up and running so she continues to hold an important committee chair, is again going to bat for them.

What this boils down to is a bunch of the usual smoke and mirrors that have played so well before and has lost it’s effectiveness. Only no one told Feinstein that and being as they are totally out of touch with what the population thinks, has once again chosen the wrong data to talk up the NSA.

NSAs biggest two problems are the total abandonment of the principals that make this country what it is and being caught in them with documented evidence. No amount of lying is going to help them on this one as Greenwald says the most shocking and damaging data is yet to come.

ipgrunt (profile) says:

Does anyone else remember this stuff?

Richard A. Clarke was the head counter-terrorism honcho for Clinton and W Bush. In his book, Against All Enemies, he writes that they had the data on the hijackers, and new about them taking flying lessons. He tried from mid-July to Sept. 11 of 2001 to arrange a meeting with Condaleeeeza Rice and Pres. W to tell them there was a threat, but couldn’t get an appointment.

Anyone who’s read a Tom Clancy book knows the NSA wasn’t created by the Patriot Act. There’s been a close relationship between NSA and the old ATT since they first laid the trans-oceanic cable in the early 1960s. The NSA, DIA, NRO, and other three-letter agencies have been in the business of tapping overseas cables, listening to microwave band radio communications, and tapping telephone switches for a long time before the ‘war on terror’

Senator Feinstein (Ms. Blum) is a long-time Washington insider married to a big California money guy. It’s her job to manipulate the smoke and mirrors for USA, Inc. Would we expect any other message from Ms. Blum?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Does anyone else remember this stuff?

Senator Feinstein (Ms. Blum) is a long-time Washington insider married to a big California money guy. It’s her job to manipulate the smoke and mirrors for USA

I never corresponded with her before then, but she’s been a demonstrable tool at least since she joined the Senate in the 80s. When I say ‘correspond’ I really mean write an honest concern and receive noise and derision, fascio-elitist turd that she is.

Feinstein = traitor says:

Dianne Feinstein is a traitor to the USA

Senator Dianne Feinstein has repeatedly shown that she doesn’t care about America, its people, the constitution, or following the law. In short, she should be put on trial for treason and conspiracy to subvert the laws of the nation, and sent to Guantanamo where she should be interrogated, tortured, and jailed like the rest of people who supposedly are trying to bring America down.

dcfusor (profile) says:

Blackmail explains a lot

Via Occam’s razor.

Even a brain dead NSA bureaucrat would instantly figure to get the dirt on the easiest to blackmail group on the planet if that’s where their purse strings come from and they had those powers. Explains quite a lot of the cheer-leading. FWIW, they’re not all brain-dead.

Feinstein, for example, has access to insider information and is married to a stock trader…I leave the rest as an exercise for the student.

Taylor Miranda says:

Dianne has prevented 911 truth coming out because Israel did it

The USA will never be able to get the truth out about 911 because of Feinstein. She is covering up for Israel, organized crime in the Zionist mafia, like The Greenbergs, then Feinstein feeds into the disinformation that the FBI, CIA, military, and president are all crooked when in fact it is her, AIPAC and all Jewish lobbies that lobby for US citizens to go to war for Israel. If Obama or intelligence agencies that were true Americans were smart, they would expose Feinstein and her treason against the USA. Everything she serves is only for Israel and she is one of many destroying the United States through corruption, lies, and deceit. The CIA is blamed for terrorism but you can’t bet Feinstein is behind the corruption and uses her power in the senate to control it and spread as much disinformation about good people in the government trying to end corruption and also reveal the truth about Israeli involvement in 911.

Ted Blankenship says:

Feinstein dual Israeli citizens who commits treason

Feinstein is an Israeli firster and has no business chairing the seat for our countries national intelligence. No wonder the truth about that day has never come out. She is also part of the movement to through the US back into the Mideast. True Americans in the intelligence must get her indicted for she is responsible for covering up the worst terror act in American history , the false flag of 911.

Mike Sabo says:

She is covering up 911 for Israel

Israel did 911 and there is enough evidence for an indictment but Feinstein will not allow the FBI to reinvesting 911 and she is covering for other Jews who did do 911. She must be exposed as the future of America depend on people like Feinstein being brought to Justice. It is the true Americans against the communist like Dianne Feinstein.

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