As we already noted
, defenders of the NSA's mass dragnet collection of data on Americans, such as Senator Saxby Chambliss, have used the latest terror alerts to justify those programs, claiming:
They are what lead us to have the - or allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to. If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys.
Right, so that's a direct claim that these programs -- the Patriot Act Section 215 hoovering up of all metadata and the FISA Amendments Act Section 702 access to data from internet companies -- are apparently necessary to catch the communications from leaders in Al Qaeda that resulted in the terror warnings. That seems dubious for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that it seems pretty clear that any terrorist with more than a couple of brain cells already knows to avoid anything that might trigger such programs). And, of course, now it's come out that the alert came about because of an intercepted conference call
, but that doesn't mean it came via these programs And, indeed, buried in an AP article about the terror alert
is this little tidbit:
But an intelligence official said the controversial NSA programs that gather data on American phone calls or track Internet communications with suspected terrorists played no part in detecting the initial tip.
In other words, it would appear that Chambliss flat out lied to defend these programs. I guess we can just add that one to the ever growing list