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Friday, December 23, 2005

That is an EXCELLENT question.

December 22, 2005
Where Are

the Arrests?

Link Here

Perhaps I'm a little slow, but there's something else that doesn't make sense about spygate. Since October 2001, Bush has authorized 30 times - every 45 days - warrantless NSA domestic surveillance of what I have heard estimated of approximately 1,000 US persons a year. That would be 4,000 persons over the past four years, if I understand the shifting numbers offered correctly. But whatever it is. The Administration insisted again today that the only US persons being authorized to be spied on by Bush -- that he somehow didn't think he could get FISA warrants on -- are directly linked to Al Qaeda suspects or a related terrorist group. As Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella wrote in a public letter (.pdf linked) to Senate and House Intelligence committee leaders today, "As described by the President, the NSA intercepts certain international communications into and out of the United States of people linked to al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization."

This begs the question: how many people known to be "linked" to Al Qaeda has the administration let roam the streets of America since 9/11? I would guess the answer would be approaching zero.

I simply find it hard to believe that we would have not heard of approximately 4,000 arrests were what Moschella is saying true. Being a close associate on the phone with a known Al Qaeda terrorist abroad must surely be grounds for more than a FISA warrant, which Bush never bothered to try to get. If many Americans had reason to think their neighbor was "linked to al Qaeda," they surely would be on the phone to the FBI right away. Given that PETA and vegan groups are being investigated by the FBI, surely those in the US who regularly converse on the phone with real al Qaeda terrorists abroad -- who are, as Asst. Attorney General Moschella writes, "linked to Al Qaeda" -- would be a rich target for investigation and arrest, it would seem. So, why haven't we heard of more than a scattering of arrests around the country of al Qaeda cells? Some of those which have fallen apart (the Detroit case, for one)? Surely if there were 4,000 US persons in the past four years "linked with al Qaeda," who communicated directly with known al Qaeda terrorists, we should have vast sweeping arrests around the country and our papers would be full of these stories, the trials, the deportations, the threats averted...

But the administration has only cited one arrest from the program, the guy who planned to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

So what is going on?

Or, should we doubt that the US persons being monitored have such a direct "link" to Al Qaeda or the other terrorist group? Should we doubt that there was even enough probable cause linking them to terror groups or terror suspects or even terrorist phone numbers abroad that they would even be a probable candidate for a FISA warrant?

And remember. These are cases the Bush administration insists required such time urgency, he couldn't risk going to the FISA court even three days after the wiretap had been ordered. So the administration is making a case for urgency here, not like these are casual conversations. So why haven't there been more arrests? Why not more cases?

Something is extremely fishy here. One could be inclined to predict that when all is said and done, it will be revealed that the thousands of US persons being monitored without warrants have a far, far more distant relationship -- indeed likely a non-existent relationship -- to any terror suspect or group than the Bush administration has repeatedly insisted it limited itself to. Perhaps nothing more than they have called Pakistan in a certain time period. Perhaps nothing more than they called Yemen. Otherwise, the administration would have more arrests and terrorism prosecutions to show for it.

I think we're in store for some pretty tortured definitions of "linked to" in the near future, coupled with allegations that the administration continues to lie to Congress and the public about the safeguards it put on this program to prevent vast interception of calls of those suspected of no wrongdoing at all, and what it did with that information. One can almost hear the shredder.

Posted by Laura at December 22, 2005 09:51 PM


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