Recent NSA-friendly decision hinges on info. in 911 report. Interesting. That information isn’t in the report.

NSA eagle medium size

The other evening I was reading Cannonfire’s post “Hell of a footnote…” which takes a look at the differing opinions of two judges who recently ruled on NSA’s giant sucking up of information.

In case you were too busy drinking holiday wassail to keep up on this stuff, I’ll recap.  On December 16th Judge Richard J. Leon concluded in Klayman vs. Obama that NSA’s activities are “almost Orwellian”. On December 27th Judge William H. Pauley concluded in the case of ACLU vs. Clapper that NSA’s activities are legal.

Judge Leon demands proof that NSA’s surveillance thwarted terrorist attacks and doesn’t get it.  He wrote in a footnote to his decision (specifically footnote 65) that,

“The Government could have presented additional, potentially classified evidence in camera, but it chose not to do so [“In camera” means in private”]. Although the Government has publicly asserted that the NSA’s surveillance programs have thwarted fifty-four terrorist attacks, no proof of that has been put before me.”

In contrast U.S. District Judge William Pauley claims that rampant NSA surveillance “represents the government’s counter-punch” to rampant conniving among terrorists.

Then I read “Judge on NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn’t Actually Support His Ruling” by Justin Elliott at ProPublica.


“In his decision, Pauley writes: “The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States.”

As his source, the judge writes in a footnote, “See generally*, The 9/11 Commission Report.” In fact, the 9/11 Commission report does not detail the NSA’s intercepts of calls between al-Mihdhar and Yemen.”

How odd.

It’s well-established that known bad guy al-Mihdhar had entered into the U.S. pre-911 and it’s established that his activities were in fact conducted under the watch and awareness of the CIA. Despite the best efforts of Diane Feinstein and affiliated, it’s widely understood that the CIA accidentally and/or deliberately did not put al-Mihdhar on a watch list or notify the FBI when the CIA learned Mihdhar had a U.S. visa – info which IS attributed to the 911 commission report.

It is perplexing to see this case of deadly inaction in response to properly collected terrorist information be used by a Judge to justify MORE collection of information.  MORE INFORMATION WOULD NOT HAVE HELPED.  What was needed in the case of al-Mihdhar was professional and appropriate ACTION.

A person’s perplexity turns into a case of full-on W.T.F. with the realization that Judge Pauley’s citation on al-Mihdhar is not even valid.

(For more on the accidentally and/or deliberately part, see German’s “No NSA Poster Child: The Real Story of 9/11 Hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar” and “Former Counterterrorism Czar Accuses Tenet, Other CIA Officials of Cover-Up” by  .)

Excuse me?  “See generally”? 

To be sure I understand what “see generally” means in legalease I did some searching and wound up at Cornell’s web site. It refers to “A signal indicating that the cited source contains helpful background material.  In this way, a reader searching for an overview of the general topic under discussion can know a good place to look.”

This is insulting half-ass nonsense.  The American public deserve more than a “hey, look in that general direction for something” when it comes to this tale about Mihdhar and when it comes to approving of wholesale domestic surveillance.

Back when I had a job which had me facing people who routinely lied to get out of trouble, I would get my angriest when the liars wouldn’t even bother to come up with a good story.  That’s how I feel about Judge Pauley right about now.


2 thoughts on “Recent NSA-friendly decision hinges on info. in 911 report. Interesting. That information isn’t in the report.

  1. The big problem with the NSA being adjudicated by judges and congress is that the NSA has the tools available to influence any decision. Things like “Be a shame, Judge, if that dick-pic you sent your law clerk went public, wouldn’t it?” Everyone has things they would rather not get out, particularly members of congress, the investigative press, and the judiciary. The NSA has all of it in the archives, available for use by the FBI, DEA, IRS, as well as their own “use”.

    Everyone from the President on down has a file now. The elected leaders of our country are now only nominally in control. The real control, should they care to exercise it, is with those who hold the info. The blackmail possibilities are endless.
    How many weird political and judicial decisions that make no sense at all could be explained by this?
    My guess is that Greenwald/Snowdon have a big one left in their pocket for when this inevitably hits the Supreme Court. Imagine them lobbing in something like evidence that the President and the SC have been tapped and what that tap reveals into the middle of oral arguments.
    Some where out there, the remaining members of the Stasi are muttering to themselves: “Damn, these guys are good! we were pikers in comparison, and at one time we were paying 1/3 of the East German population to rat.”

    • Conversations about what files they must have on the politicians, judges etc. has come up more than once here at Cheddar Household. So who’s in charge of the country? I guess the guy in charge of NSA – which is a general in the Army. Check out this quote on the NSA head from Vice: “For years, Alexander has spearheaded a Congressional outreach strategy that is designed to terrify lawmakers into giving the intelligence community carte blanche to collect troves of data, in the name of protecting the U.S. from future terrorist attacks. And, for the most part, it has worked.” Hmmm. If I may speculate, one wonders if all that terror wasn’t in some fear of Gen. Alexander’s power – not just the terrorism. General Keith Alexander [army] is set to retire soon. In mid-December Obama declared that a “single military official will continue to head up both the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command”. This info came out just before the presidential task force report came out with recommendations to overhaul NSA. Obama headed ’em off at the pass. / I just found this: “Retired general Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, called on President Obama Monday to show “some political courage” and reject many of the recommendations of the commission he appointed to rein in NSA surveillance operations.” Well, there’s a powerful fellow. Hayden was an Air Force general. He ran NSA 1999 – 2005. CIA director 06 – 09. It is said that one never actually leaves the CIA. Probably true for NSA as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s