Thursday, May 11, 2006

Trolling for terrorists

A follow up to this post on the USA Today exclusive concerning a large database of domestic phone calls.

George W. Bush has not denied the existence of this databse. He's made some carefully parsed statements, indicating a great deal. The transcript. Some highlights and thoughts.

The introduction addressing the article:
Today, there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America. I want to make some important points about what the government is doing and what the government is not doing.
Excerpt one:
First, our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans.
The target is clearly al Qaeda -- or sympathetic organizations -- however, Bush does not detail the methods, which appear to be a large collection of communications filtered for patterns.

Excerpt two:
Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.

Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.

Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates.
It seems as though the database is a collection of contact data, which can then be reviewed for odd patterns. Perhaps, and this is speculation, new cell phones communicating with a set of common numbers in urban areas -- new arrivals to a terrorist cell.

"Trolling" was an interesting word choice. Did he mean this definition: "To patrol (an area) in search for someone or something"?

Last but by no means least, the leaker-in-chief has another moment of reality disconnection:
As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy. Our most important job is to protect the American people from another attack, and we will do so within the laws of our country.
Of course, he can declassify whatever he wants -- even for political purposes -- and thus it no longer endangers national security. Sure thing. "Sources and methods" weren't compromised with Plame's outing.


Blogger Ezzie said...

Plame wasn't outed, get over it.

And he's absolutely correct: Knowing the tactics of the US government does help terrorists hide from them.

3:21 PM  
Blogger zen said...

Tell Scooter to get over being charged with:
one count of obstruction of justice;
two counts of perjury; and
two counts of making false statements
all for Plame 'not' being outed.
And you might want to warn Rove that he's about to be indicted for the same 'non-outing.'

Isn't it just a bit naive to assume that terrorists cannot possibly concieve that the government may tap their phones without being told about these programs through leaks?

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you just come out with it, admit it that you're spinning up an amplifying tale from the fucking leftist-run media that it's Bush's fault, and that you're not in the least bit knowledgeable over the fact that this shit has been going on for YEARS AND YEARS before Bush even took office?

It becomes downright disgusting that liberals like yourself are bantering all over Bush and blaming him on this when "eavesdropping" on civilian homes has been going on in the puzzle palace for quite a long time.

So why care, unless you've got your private stash of pot plants growing in your basement?

Actually, I wouldn't doubt the above paragraph as being fact.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Zen - no offense, but that's just stupid. Everything that's come out of that crap has clearly shown that there was NO "outing". Fitzgerald has repeatedly said that the indictments have NOTHING to do with any outing.

1:37 AM  
Blogger zen said...

ezzie> I guess we'll see what comes of Rove. Maybe as early as even today.
But consider this. The WH talking point has been that the president can declassify anything he chooses to, which may very well be true. However, there are methods and procedures to follow in doing so in order to protect sources. EC's point is that there is a double standard regarding what is deemed politically valuable and what sacrifices sources and methods.

You can continue to disagree that Plame was outed, but it seems the justice system acknowledges that she was.
At his October 28, 2005, press conference, Special Counsel Fitzgerald noted:
Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community. Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life. The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well-known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security. Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

The striking thing is that she worked on nuclear program intel. The exact thing that we need more of regarding Iran. Can you even imagine the accusations and outcry had the party's been reversed?

8:42 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

If the justice system truly believed that, there would have been indictments long ago. I'm unimpressed.

And Plame had been out of active intel-gathering for 6 years, as her own husband noted in his book.

1:02 PM  

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