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Intel officials claim NSA spying on Americans revealed terrorist plots

By KIMBERLY DOZIER
June 16, 2013

The place where data on all Americans is kept.

The place where data on all Americans is kept.

Top U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday that information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.

Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs, the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.

No other new details about the plots or the countries involved were part of the newly declassified information released to Congress on Saturday and made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Intelligence officials said they are working to declassify the dozens of plots NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said were disrupted, to show Americans the value of the programs, but that they want to make sure they don’t inadvertently reveal parts of the U.S. counterterrorism playbook in the process.

The release of information follows a bruising week for U.S. intelligence officials who testified on Capitol Hill, defending programs that were unknown to the public — and some lawmakers — until they were revealed by a series of media stories in The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who remains in hiding in Hong Kong.

The disclosures have sparked debate and legal action against the Obama administration by privacy activists who say the data collection goes far beyond what was intended when expanded counterterrorism measures were authorized by Congress after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Intelligence officials said Saturday that both NSA programs are reviewed every 90 days by the secret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under the program, the records, showing things like time and length of call, can only be examined for suspected connections to terrorism, they said.

The officials offered more detail on how the phone records program helped the NSA stop a 2009 al-Qaida plot to blow up New York City subways. They say the program helped them track a co-conspirator of al-Qaida operative Najibullah Zazi — though it’s not clear why the FBI needed the NSA to investigate Zazi’s phone records because the FBI would have had the authority to gather records of Zazi’s phone calls after identifying him as a suspect, rather than relying on the sweeping collection program.
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Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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4 Responses to Intel officials claim NSA spying on Americans revealed terrorist plots

  1. Clayton Jones

    June 16, 2013 at 6:33 am

    We can’t believe a word they say. Clapper lied to congress under oath. This is highly illegal anti-American and needs to be stopped now. Expose the secret court, destroy the program or it will destroy this nation. Uphold the constitution AT ALL COST!

  2. Keith

    June 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

    This is so much horsepucky it’s hard to understand why anyone with half a brain would believe it.

    The truth is that in 2010, more than three quarters of ALL victims of terrorism worldwide…. meaning deliberate, politically motivated violence by non-stable groups against non-combatant targets… were killed in the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.

    And of the 13, 186 people killed in those attacks in 2010, only 15 (count ‘em…15!!!) were US Citizens. That’s less than .01 Percent of the total. And my hunch is that these were people who probably had no business being in these places to start with.

    The truth that our politicians don’t want us to know is that in the United States today, the chances of someone dying from a terrorist attack have fallen to almost ZERO. Yet, when someone like Mr. Snowden challenges the US Government’s continuing dogma that they must continue to spend upwards of $600 Billion a year to spy on us all in order to keep us “safe”, it begs the obvious question…

    “Safe from WHAT?”

    By contrast, upwards of 40,000 Americans died last year in automobile accidents on our nation’s highways. And I have to wonder how many of those were victims due to the horrific lack of maintenance we are now seeing in our crumbling highway infrastructure. Yet we continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars chasing down Bedouins living in tents in some faraway land who MIGHT do a few of us harm.

    And, how about the horrific murder rate in our nation’s cities? In Detroit, Michigan, alone, nearly 350 people died last year from being murdered in that city. And, just last (Saturday) evening, 6 people died on the streets of Chicago, the victims of a series of gangland-type murders. Indeed, more people died JUST LAST NIGHT in Chicago than died in the so-called Boston “terrorist” attacks that the talking heads on the networks are STILL yammering on and on about.

    And that nonsense also begs the question that if the FBI, CIA and NSA (et al) are now so highly adept at finding and thwarting terrorist attacks by spying on all of us, how could they possibly have missed what was about to happen in Boston?

    The sad part about all this is that the victims of last evening’s Chicago murders are just as dead as if they died in the so-called “terrorist attack” in Boston. So, where’s the outrage (and the US Government’s hundred billion dollar a year, “War on Terror” spy program) aimed at countering the absolutely “Clear and Present Danger” of being killed on our nation’s highways (or mugged and killed on our nations streets)?

    Maybe that’s because the “War on Terror” really isn’t a “war” at all.

    Rather, it’s a trumped-up US Government FRAUD being continually perpetrated against the American people for the express purpose of lining the pockets of the now all-powerful “Military Industrial Complex” (and the vermin in the US Congress who eagerly support them) that was built up during the Cold War and which was never fully dismantled when that war ended over 20 years ago.

    Indeed, rather than continuing to invent enemies that pose absolutely NO real strategic risk to our nation, I believe it’s now LONG past the time to put an end to our country’s so-called “Wars of Pre-Emption” (like the war in Iraq and the war that’s STILLl going on in Afghanistan) as part of the “War on Terror”. In my mind, both wars were nothing but a sorry excuse for the continued perpetuation of a (now clearly out of control) US “defense” establishment that SHOULD have been largely dismantled a long, long time ago.

    Or, to put it another way, our nation would now be FAR better served by putting a shovel in the hands of all those “spy masters” (who, by the way are ALREADY on the Government dole!) and then put them to work helping to fix our crumbling nation’s infrastructure. To me, that would be a FAR more productive use of our tax dollars than wasting it chasing after some Bedouin living in a tent in some tribal third world country somewhere who poses absolutely NO strategic threat to our nation…and never really did.

  3. Carl Nemo **==

    June 16, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    “…and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.” …extract from article

    This is not quite believable since the NSA is building a 1.5 billion dollar data storage center in Utah that has one “yottabyte” of storage capacity.

    The terms terabytes and now yottabytes are being pitched around in this current rash of government friendly propaganda so I’m thinking I’d post a convenient link to a Wiki article discussing the magnitude of this amount of data storage and what it means. They also have some illustrative examples in the article in terms of terabyte levels of storage. A “yottabyte” is one trillion terabytes of data which is truly an astronomical number; I.E., 10~80th power binary bytes or 10~24th decimally represented.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terabyte

    If their new ‘storage’ facility has a one yottabyte capacity and they are discarding a goodly portion of metadata and hopefully other allegedly useless or dated data every five years then there’s no need to build such a monstrous storage facility unless it’s going to offer joint storage for a host of other government agencies including the storage necessary for 310 million biometric I.D., cards that are going to be foisted off on the American people under the immigration bill that’s currently being hatched out in the Senate. Nothing is being mentioned in the MSM about this aspect of the bill, but without a federally sponsored i.d. card one will not be able to hold a job in the U.S. Our darkest fears can extrapolate how this type of data control over citzens will be utilized into the future.

    The future of our nation is seemingly to become a dystopian nightmare of video surveillance cameras, drones overhead, pedestrian and roadside stops with a need to scan your retina or to ‘show your papers’ in order to move about unmolested by the authorities. Data-mining and cataloging every dot and title of a citizen’s life from womb to tomb will be the order of the day. Is this what the alleged “land of the free and home of the brave” is to become?

    It will take an informed and proactive citenzry to shut this nightmare down before it metastasizes into something truly ugly. This current flap is nothing but a preview of coming ‘attractions’.

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. Keith

    June 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

    “The future of our nation is seemingly to become a dystopian nightmare of video surveillance cameras, drones overhead, pedestrian and roadside stops with a need to scan your retina or to ‘show your papers’ in order to move about unmolested by the authorities.”

    Indeed.

    Which also suggests why Obama and his thugs now want to disarm the American populace.

    They don’t want anybody taking pot shots at their stupid spy drones flying overhead.