Is Crazy Pete Hoekstra Lying and Demagoging Again?

I know, I know, is Crazy Pete sending stern emails to intelligence agencies? Are his lips moving?

First, Crazy Pete rushed out to ABC to complain that the CIA and other intelligence agencies weren’t briefing the Intelligence Committees.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said that he requested the CIA and other intelligence agencies brief the committee on what was known, if anything, about Hasan by the U.S. intelligence community, only to be refused.

In response, Hoekstra issued a document preservation request to four intelligence agencies. The letter, dated November 7th, was sent to directors Dennis Blair (DNI), Robert Mueller (FBI), Lt. Gen Keith Alexander (NSA) and Leon Panetta (CIA).

Hoekstra said he is “absolutely furious” that the house intel committee has been refused an intelligence briefing by the DNI or CIA on Hasan’s attempt to reach out to al Qaeda, as first reported by ABC News.

“This is a law enforcement investigation, in which other agencies–not the CIA–have the lead,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a response to ABC News. ” Any suggestion that the CIA refused to brief Congress is incorrect.”

Then, Crazy Pete backed off that slightly–complaining that information he knew to be leaked to the press hadn’t been briefed to the full intelligence committees.

Hoekstra’s beef is not that the Obama Administration, including the CIA, haven’t released any information. Rather, he’s upset that only the Gang of Eight, not the full intelligence committees, have been briefed — and that the information released has been “limited.”

The Gang of Eight, made up of the GOP and Dem leaders of both houses of Congress along with the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intel committees, is provided with information deemed particularly sensitive by the executive branch. Hoekstra is the ranking member of the House panel.

Hoekstra’s statement says:

Hoekstra said he was concerned that more information had been provided, piecemeal, to the news media by anonymous sources than had yet been provided to the Committee. He criticized the Obama administration for not being more immediately forthcoming with details and specifically requested information, and for restricting the limited information provided so far to the so-called “Gang of Eight.”

And now Silvestre Reyes is out accusing anonymous members–almost certainly meaning Hoekstra–of “rush[ing] to the news media with unfounded information in order to gain headlines.” Reyes also pointed out that the Committee was on Veteran’s Day District Work Period break making it sort of hard to brief the full committee.

I spoke with the Director of National Intelligence on Friday morning, and Director Blair committed to briefing members of the Committee on any possible information the Intelligence Community may have had with respect to the tragedy at Ft. Hood last Thursday.  I trust when members of Congress return from the Veterans’ Day District Work Period that the DNI will follow through on his promise.

As the President stated last week, it would be inappropriate and premature to jump to conclusions on this matter.  The Committee will allow investigators to do their jobs to ensure a thorough accounting of the facts.  Once those facts have come to light and are presented to us, the Committee will consider and assess them.

I am disappointed that some have rushed to the news media with unfounded information in order to gain headlines.  I hope that my colleagues will refrain from speculation, pray for those who were affected by this tragic incident, and let investigators do their work.

David Johnston and Scott Shane are out with what is probably the full story Crazy Pete wants out.

Intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of shooting to death 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., and a radical cleric in Yemen known for his incendiary anti-American teachings. But federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages warranted no further action, government officials said on Monday.

Major Hasan’s exchanges with the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, once a spiritual leader at a mosque in suburban Virginia where Major Hasan worshipped, indicate that the authorities were aware of Major Hasan before last Thursday’s deadly rampage, but did nothing. It is not clear what was said in the exchanges, believed to be e-mail messages, and whether they would have offered a hint at the major’s outspoken views or his increasingly troubled emotional state.

The communications, which were the subject of an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Army investigators, provide the first indication that Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was in direct communication with the cleric, who on Monday praised the major on his Web site, saying he “did the right thing.”.

Of course, there’s no indication of what Hasan said to al-Awlaki, but it seems clear that all the chatter in the press about al-Awlaki seems designed to assert a claim that the imam led Hasan to do violence.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear where Hoekstra wants this to go: to the point where Fourth Amendment protections are rolled back further…

From MadDog in comments:

From CBS News:

There are more signs that the man accused of opening fire at the Fort Hood military base had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology.

The contacts began last winter with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan reaching out to Imam Anwar al Awlaki and the two traded messages over a number of months into the spring of this year, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.

Sources say intelligence agencies collected the messages as part of separate case and attached no significance to them at the time. The communications appeared to be benign with Hasan asking for help on a research paper studying the effects of war on Muslim American soldiers. And Awlaki responded with “spiritual guidance.”

Officials say there was no talk of terrorism so no investigation was launched, Orr reports…

A couple of points worth noting:

1. So much for Mikey Hayden’s claim that there is no “dragnet” of intercepted communications.

2. So much for any claims that the government “only” intercepts “call data” and not the “content” of communications.

3. So much for the government’s claim that they provide “minimization” of any US citizen’s intercepted communications.

And oh btw, Bob Orr of CBS News also said this:

…Now, Orr reports investigators are looking for further evidence that Awlaki may have played a role in the Fort Hood attack. And while Hasan is still considered a lone wolf, it’s clear he has at least some connections to known extremists…

(My Bold).

The “lone wolf” memo has been dutifully read and repeated by all who got it (i.e. the entire TradMed).

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

75 replies
  1. slide says:

    If Major Hasan was something other than a muslim all this kabuki would not be going on. The war mongers and those who want the fourth amendment eviserated want to make hay out of this incident. I think it will eventually be found that Major Hasan took a lot of crap because of this war on Islam and being so involved with working with solders and their PTSD it caused him to go over the cliff emotionally. The spin doctors want to call this incident a terrorist attack by a radical muslim. It is good for business.

    • PJEvans says:

      That’s what I think too. Too bad it’s a rational view of the matter; it won’t make the conservatives happy, so they’ll put their fingers in their ears and yell while everyone else is trying to figure out what actually happened.

  2. Mary says:

    Clip from Larry King, with Shoshana Johnson bringing into sharp relief the failings of yellow tie wearing, right wing, ex-JAG guy who waid that Hasan as, in effect, too well educated to be mentally disturbed, so he must be a terrorist.

    Dang – I just wish I could see her on with Mukasey.

  3. Mary says:

    EW – I’d like to see someone start asking Hoekstra if the handling of the torture tapes is why he has made a formal request for information to be retained. Also if he doesn’t think that it will reveal too much on the “sources and methods” front if the full intel committees and Joe Lieberman are briefed on what was and was not intercepted and who did or didn’t do what? /snark

    Doesn’t he believe in protecting sources and methods anymore? Is he willing to sacrifice national security by investigating the hard working members of the intel community? Is it helpful to “point fingers” at patriotic members of the law enforcement community who go out every day and put their lives on the line, fighting terrorism, only to have ill-conceived Congressional stunts like dumping Sadaam Hussein’s WMD info online further jeopardize the nation. /snark

  4. MadDog says:

    CNN, via da Wolfie, reporting also that Hasan’s communications intercepted. The source is a “former” senior terrorism/counterterrorism official who “is knowledgable” about the current investigation.

    So, said source either is spilling highly classified current info obtained now, or is spilling highly classified current info obtained back when in office.

    And so much for not intercepting a US citizen’s (as Hasan is) communications. Want to bet on whether there’s a FISA warrant with Hasan’s name on it? Not bloody likely!

    Or is this just one of those coincidentally “just lucky” “reverse targeting” episodes?

    Shorter Repugs: “Thank heavens we don’t do minimization on US citizens!”

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s not clear – to the public or most members of Congress or the administration – what was said in those e-mail exchanges, but our risk-intolerant FBI, which does know what they said, dropped pursuing them? Yet they are somehow “evidence” of a nefarious connection? That framing looks suspiciously like something out of Tail-Gunner Joe’s playbook.

    • Mary says:

      Here’s what I could see as one scenario – CIA/NSA picks up info, turns it over to FBI, FBI says not enough for criminal charges yet with what you have (although obviously enough for CIA to keep intercepting things like what it has already intercepted) CIA then takes its ball and goes home and Hasan falls between cracks, setting up CIA/NSA/DOJ/DOD to argue and spin over who did/didn’t do/not do what/what not.

      • MadDog says:

        On CBS News this evening, Bob Orr said the content of the Hasan intercepted communications were benign and didn’t have any “terrorism” aspect.

        He reported that the intercepted communications occurred starting last fall and continued on into the spring.

        He reported that the intercepted communications were as a result of a different case (not directed at Hasan).

        Again, so much for minimization of US citizens’ intercepted communications.

        • MadDog says:

          From CBS News:

          There are more signs that the man accused of opening fire at the Fort Hood military base had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology.

          The contacts began last winter with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan reaching out to Imam Anwar al Awlaki and the two traded messages over a number of months into the spring of this year, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.

          Sources say intelligence agencies collected the messages as part of separate case and attached no significance to them at the time. The communications appeared to be benign with Hasan asking for help on a research paper studying the effects of war on Muslim American soldiers. And Awlaki responded with “spiritual guidance.”

          Officials say there was no talk of terrorism so no investigation was launched, Orr reports…

          A couple of points worth noting:

          1. So much for Mikey Hayden’s claim that there is no “dragnet” of intercepted communications.

          2. So much for any claims that the government “only” intercepts “call data” and not the “content” of communications.

          3. So much for the government’s claim that they provide “minimization” of any US citizen’s intercepted communications.

          And oh btw, Bob Orr of CBS News also said this:

          …Now, Orr reports investigators are looking for further evidence that Awlaki may have played a role in the Fort Hood attack. And while Hasan is still considered a lone wolf, it’s clear he has at least some connections to known extremists…

          (My Bold).

          The “lone wolf” memo has been dutifully read and repeated by all who got it (i.e. the entire TradMed).

          Never let it be said that politicos (elected and otherwise) let a tragedy pass without trying to make political hay.

          • MadDog says:

            And here’s the WaPo’s coverage:

            …U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted between 10 and 20 e-mails from Maj. Nidal M. Hasan to Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen who once was a spiritual leader at the suburban Virginia mosque where Hasan had worshipped, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said later Monday. Aulaqi responded to Hasan at least twice, Hoekstra said, but he described the responses as “innocent.”

            …”For me, the number of times that this guy tried to reach out to the imam was significant,” Hoekstra said in an interview…

            And let me point out that these intercepted communications were between US citizens!

            Both Hasan and Aulaqi were born in the US.

          • emptywheel says:

            This also means we can write off minimization for good: this was US person conversation about a topic that had nothing to do with terrorism. But, voila, a year later, we’ve got the conversation.

            • MadDog says:

              Yup! I wonder just what the FISA court says about this apparent total lack of US citizen minimization.

              Again, shorter Repugs: “Aren’t ya’ll glad now we lied and didn’t do US citizen minimization?”

            • Jim White says:

              Given the knowledge that Awlaki had contact with hijackers, I agree. Of course, this means he should have been subject to a warrant to follow his communications overseas as a US citizen, doesn’t it? Is it possible to file an FOIA on warrants to monitor Awlaki’s communications?

                • MadDog says:

                  And speaking of EFF, tangentially on topic, some good news:

                  Big Win in Telecom Lobbying Documents Battle – Government to Turn Over Some Records This Week

                  …Last month, a district court ordered the agencies to turn over additional documents, a decision that the government has been considering whether to appeal. But on Friday, the government reported to the appeals court that it has finally given up the fight over a significant portion of the records, including communications between agencies and Congress about amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). We expect to receive the documents later this week, and we will post them on the website as soon as we can after that.

                  The government has said it will continue to try to block the release of additional information, including communications within the Executive Branch and records reflecting the identities of telcoms that lobbied for immunity. EFF will of course fight these efforts in court…

                  • Mary says:

                    As best I can tell from that EFF summary, basically GOV is only giving up on it’s claim that COngresss is a part of the Exec Branch, for purposes of withholding communicatons that passed between Congress and agencies.

                    It’s definitely something, but I’m not sure how much of anything it is.

              • Mary says:

                The way it “should” have worked would be that either someone went to the FISCt and asked for a FISA order to surveil the US national overseas on a showing of “probable cause that he is in contact wtih an agent of a foreign power (which has now been defined to mean a terrorist groups) or that someone went to a regular court and asked for a criminal probable cause warrant to surveil. Assuming the first as most likely, those applications to the FISCt are classified and secret and judicially sealed etc. so no, you wouldn’t/shouldn’t be able to get any info on the Iman’s surveilance anytime in the foreseeable future by filing a FOIA request.

                  • Mary says:

                    I hope they did too.

                    You’re right on basket warrants and data mining as well, but I have to think/hope that when someone like the Iman took the kinds of public pro-al Qaeda positions that he did, someone went and got a FISA order, esp since with his history he would likely be in touch with lots of US citizens at any time and from time to time.

                    OTOH – who knows. And you’re right – I’d have signed off on that too – as a matter of fact, remember how infrequently FISA doesn’t sign off? But at least someone has to stand in front of a judge and make the case.

                    • MadDog says:

                      If, and make that a question “if”, a FISA warrant was obtained for Aulaqi, I’m willing to bet that no such critter was obtained during at least the early years of the Bush/Cheney regime.

                      I’m also willing to bet that Aulaqi fell right smack dab into the Bush/Cheney regime’s illegal TSP surveillance during those early years.

                      I’m coming to this view from a lot of the details presented in that February 2008 WaPo article.

                      If there was/is an individual FISA warrant with Aulaqi’s name on it, I’m guessing it came after the big FISC showdown and Fredo v. Comey hospital room showdown with the Bush/Cheney regime.

                • Jim White says:

                  Thanks for that. And I agree with your earlier comment about Jeff Kaye’s reaction, but I’d widen that to being interested in his views on a wide range of the pyschological aspects of the Hasan case.

            • MadDog says:

              From a February 2008 WaPo article (via Main Justice):

              Imam From Va. Mosque Now Thought to Have Aided Al-Qaeda

              Even before the 2001 terrorist attacks, American-born imam Anwar al-Aulaqi drew the attention of federal authorities because of his possible connections to al-Qaeda. Their interest grew after 9/11, when it turned out that three of the hijackers had spent time at his mosques in California and Falls Church, but he was allowed to leave the country in 2002.

              New information later surfaced about his contacts with extremists while in the United States. Now, U.S. officials are saying for the first time that they believe that Aulaqi worked with al-Qaeda networks in the Persian Gulf after leaving Northern Virginia. In mid-2006, Aulaqi was detained in Yemen at the request of the United States. To the dismay of U.S. authorities, Aulaqi was released in December.

              “There is good reason to believe Anwar Aulaqi has been involved in very serious terrorist activities since leaving the United States, including plotting attacks against America and our allies,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity…

        • Mary says:

          and @ 16 – I do think, though, that the *rules* are maybe a little different for active duty military. I may be wrong on that, I don’t really know the military interface with soldiers expectations of privacy and the fourth amendment, but I’d be tempted ot think there are different rules/requirements.

          I think al-Aulaqi (sp?) has been a pretty open and vocal supporter of al-Qaeda, so he might well be someone with a FISA order for his communications (which I’d certainly prefer to just sweeping things up) It’s extra-special nice of Hoekstra, though, to confirm for the cleric that his emails are being intercepted. Granted, even Hoekstra says the cleric’s responses were harmless, but let’s face it – how likely is he to drop a guard with Hoekstra adverstising the surveillance being done?

          I still go back to the fact that we have a very missionless war that has been propagated primarily to meet what Friedman acknowledged as a national need to kick someone’s – anyone’s – butt. The fact that Bush did it all with lots of stirring of racism and religious bitterness helps set the scene. Then you have hopey-changey Obama show up and someone who might have been clinging by a thread but thinking that Obama would bring about change – that the wars would end and Muslims not singled out for kidnapping/shipments to Bagram as the replacement GITMO, etc. – well, someone holing on by that thread would have been losing it watching Obama. Then they get their own deployment papers.

          I’d sure like Jeff Kaye’s take on how likely it is that none of the psychiatrists with whom he worked seemed to have flagged him as someone potentially in need of services himself.

            • Mary says:

              That could be – I didn’t see that. I did see that he prepared psychological profiles (not Zubaydah’s I’m guessing, but others) and supposedly didn’t have a lot of hands on with the returning soldiers, but there’s so much out there hit and miss, I’m just leery of going too far down any one path yet.

              • bmaz says:

                From Yahoo/AP

                While an intern at Walter Reed, Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.

                Although this does not sound too exacerbated in the article. Who knows; we may never get a straight story now.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Except that if NSA is hoovering up all Internet and phone traffic, it would keep collecting such things anyway, which might beg the question of what degree of separation brought Dr. Hasan’s e-mail into investigatory focus. Because it was with an imam? Well, he was Muslim. With this particular imam? Or because of Hasan’s work itself?

        The scenario that “it” fell through the cracks seems to require that there was something in “it” of credible interest.

        • Mary says:

          Except that if NSA is hoovering up all Internet and phone traffic, it would keep collecting such things …

          That’s pretty much what I meant by: although obviously enough for CIA to keep intercepting things like what it has already intercepted

          IOW, the fact that FBI said there wasn’t enough for them for criminal charges would, these days, have little to no impact on the interceptions being done by/for the intel community.

          On the “it” front, I’d think both the fact that in his occupation (and active military do have different bill of rights standing) he’s in contact wtih someone in Yemen and also the identity of that person in Yemen – a cleric who has taken fairly extremist public positions, would combine for an “it” these days on the intel/continued surveillance front. One good thing is that Republicans and Blue Dogs have defended and protected the rights of lone wolfs to purchase cop killers. I’m sure they’ll take a bow for that one.

          OTOH, how do you predict when or if someone who is stressed is going to break? Going out of their way to talk to a cleric in Yemen who is very anti-American might be a little indicative, but as you have pointed out in his particular position, who’s to say on that? He might well have had research/broader knowledge issues he wanted to address and you have to wonder if he was even encouraged at some point to make such contacts. Maybe not, but there’s just not enough meat on the bones yet to really see the bigger picture imo – fwiw.

  6. Arbusto says:

    Not that our various and sundry intell agencies have more than their fair share of fucking up, but I’d hope adding Army CID and DoD intell would produce a product proclaiming Hasan’s contacting the cleric harmless. Of course presupposing competent interpreters (if spoken in Arabic) and timeliness.

  7. Hmmm says:

    Leave it to me to state the obvious, yet again, but obviously this emerging report of Hasan’s communications contents is consistent with 100% hoovering plus later data mining.

    (Oops, I owe MD a beverage.)

  8. Hmmm says:

    Also: Who’s to say false leads aren’t planted in the stored communications at some time before the data mining takes place? It stinks, and “trust us” is never going to cut it.

  9. MadDog says:

    Let no one say that Crazy Pete takes the “Crazy” honors by default in the Repug party. From NBC New York:

    …”This would be the same as if during World War II an Army major were involved in a telephone conversation with a close associate of Adolf Hitler overseas,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. “If you are an officer in United States army and you are dealing with someone who has very close links to terrorism and we are at war with Islamic terrorism … that to me is as serious an offense as you can have…”

  10. Mary says:

    btw – one of the few articles I have read was about Hasan’s lawyer invoking his client’s right to have him present for any interrogations right out of the box and as soon as that “he’s talking” word got out. It sounds like someone got him a good one which may or may not impact on the narrative we start to see emerge.

  11. bmaz says:

    From Iski’s new blog:

    In his letter, Hoekstra complained that the Obama administration had restricted limited Congressional intelligence briefings regarding Hassan to the so-called “Gang of Eight” — senior House and Senate leaders, including Intelligence Committee leaders from both parties (including Hoekstra himself).

    Current and former counter-terrorism officials said that the overwhelming likelihood is that the messages originally were intercepted by the ultra-secretive National Security Agency, whose worldwide electronic eavesdropping network, based at Ft. Meade near Baltimore, Maryland has been heavily focused on terrorism-related intelligence since 9/11. A former senior counter-terrorism official said that, under instructions given to NSA by President George W. Bush, which were subsequently ratified by Congress, it would be within NSA’s legal mandate to monitor, without special warrants, the content, and traffic to and from, overseas websites or e-mail addresses known to have a connection with Al-Qaeda or other terror groups. If a person in the US were to try to contact a foreign website already under NSA scrutiny, then the agency would be likely to spot and examine the communication before forwarding it on to other agencies for further investigation.

    • Mary says:

      Well, there you kinda go, but not. I think that the mandate “ratified” had to do with no reason to believe that a US person was a member of the call – here, they would have known Aulaqi (or Awlaki or whatever) was a US person and would have had to have known he was having lots of US persons contacts from all his time in the US.

      The former senior CT person isn’t mentioning that no one has ever “ratified” a warrantless surveillance of known US citizen to known US citizen conversations where one US citizen is also known to be in the US. This is what Feingold has alluded to from time to time, and there has sure been a lot of can kicking on this topic, but to my knowledge Congress has never ok’d the known to known with one known to be located in the US scenario for warrantless – other than by handing off the “certifications” on what is or isn’t known to the likes of Gonzales and Holder.

      Sounds to me like more info laundering going on – see why we “had” to monitor US citizen to US citizen in the US communications, without a warrant?

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, agreed. Notable how they just trot that stuff out though and let it take hold to where people that know what the fuck is up can no longer cut through the perception. Take Iski for instance. Please. He did not raise one question to the obvious in his little post.

        • Mary says:

          I don’t really agree with that, although I know they’ve sold it a lot. Under FISA, the only warrantless eavesdropping allowed was foreign power or agent of a foreign power to foreign power or agent of a foreign power and nothing in FISA expressly allowed the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans overseas per se and nothing allowed warrantless eavesdropping outside the foreign power to foreign power setting.

          For a US person to be an agent of a foreign power, they basically needed to be engaged in some kind of espionage for the foreign power. So under FISA it was not the location of the US person but their status as engaged in espionage for a foreign power that made them able to be surveilled at all on less than criminal probable cause. A kind of chicken before the egg thing. The overseas argument wasn’t based on FISA, it was based on the argument that the Constitution cuts off at US shores vis a vis a US citizen and its gov. That argument is based on some search and seizure cases that are out there, but which – as I think the settlement in Horn demonstrates, are highly questionable in their application to a govt run surveillance program of a US person overseas, esp one where the surveillors are all sitting in the US and may be capturing from US switch locations.

          Then you get to the other end of the call, the US end. There yes, you would have/should have minimization issues. I’d have to look, though, at the issue of the US person being active US military, bc I’m not sure that they have the same protections to be honest. In addition, I beleive the minimization orders do not necessarily have to say “don’t listen to or preserve ANY US end of any converation” so you’d need the order itself to see if it were complied with (or it if were constitutional in its requirements or lack thereof) I can certainly imagine situations where an order would allow for some type of info to be compiled and reviewed, and if that info were, for example, checking numbers against names, occupations, etc. I can also see that an initial call that indicated a member of the US military was making overseas contact with someone deemed an agent of a foreign power, I can se where they might get a modification of the order on the target or an order on Hasan as well.

          In any event, here’s my kind of sinking feeling on the whole thing. That maybe the Bushies didn’t get a FISA ct order initially and never bothered to get such an order, even though they knew they had US persons in the US on the calls. Now – lookie – the telecoms and CIA and all have their “al-Qaeda calling” scenario. As things come out about the program and there is the brouhaha about the warrantless surveillance and massive telecom felonies, CIA turns over some of the communications between Aulaqi and Hasan to the FBI.

          Two problems. First, the communications are all pretty innocent (as per Hoekstra). Second, they are not in a good position now to go to the FISA court to get more surveiallance both because the already captured communications are pretty innocent and – oh yeah, the FISA firewalls. The ones the court put up to keep evidence of the illegal program from being used in applications before the court. How do they say – we want to search and seize Hasan’s communications bc he’s been in touch with a US iman now overseas and that iman is an al-Qaeda figure – if the only way to say that is is say that you know about his contacts bc of your illegl program? We also know that the FBI/DOJ has already had its chain yanked by the FISA Ct at one point (before all the new Roberts appointments – who knows how they will/have changed things) bc it ignored the firewall and was laundering illegally captured info through the FISA ct.

          And now withObama coming into office, the “disappear ’em, torture ’em, then find someone like Luttig to bless it all” program that they used for Padilla isn’t an option. File under “hard facts make bad law” if this one goes up or gets lots of focus, bc DOJ couldn’t have penned a better set of facts to frame their Executive powers based on war necessities arguments.

          The fact that all kinds of things coulda, shoulda, been done re: Hasan won’t make much differnce to the framing.

    • MadDog says:

      And I’m betting EW gives an “Crazy Pete – I told you so” chuckle out of this part:

      …Another official indicated that intelligence community officials were planning to brief congressional intelligence committee leaders again on Monday night on what the agencies Hasan inquiries had turned up so far. Hoekstra privately indicated to officials he might miss the briefing due to another commitment

      (My Bold)

      No sense confusing Crazy Pete with facts that interfere with his political hay-making.

        • MadDog says:


          Repug gameplan is that this is Obama’s 9/11!

          Lizard Cheney will pop up on Faux News and proclaim “If my Pop was still in charge, we wouldn’t have allowed terrorists to attack America again.” And completely ignoring any and all facts that the Bush/Cheney regime knew of Hasan’s intercepted communications with Aulaqi and did nothing, and even worse, let Aulaqi go in 2002, and then even let Aulaqi back into the US in 2002.

          In fact, I’m willing to bet at least a nickle that some Repug, like PapaDick, Lizard, Crazy Pete, or even that Repug über mole Der Lieberweasel will raise the question of “What did Obama know and when did he know it.”

          Repugs will continue to fan the flames of “Muslims in under my bed!” because as I said in my closing of my comment at # 13 which I now modify: “Never let it be said that politicos Repugs (elected and otherwise) let a tragedy pass without trying to make political hay.”

        • lawordisorder says:

          I maybe have something in my personal playbook to counter that scenario

          I’m not sure on the US laws involved here, but in my country its still legal to tape a conversation when you participate in it, and you don’t have to tell the counterpart. then i send someone on the “old boys network” wokerbee typo out with recording device and pull a “reverce intogation” on him…you know kinda have a nice acidental informal conversation dangle the subjekt with a few nice bits then slowly move in to the things that he don’t wanna know cuz of “deniability” at the end of the conversation the trick is to go WHOOOOOOPS BTW you can’t mention none of this under the (what ever secrets act you ussing)QED you stopped the “politico” from running around doing crazy stuff.

          Trust the human nature, they all fall in to that trap

          Just my five cents worth

  12. Jim White says:

    Latest from AP:

    The Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood massacre apparently acted alone and without outside direction in the attack, investigative officials said Monday evening. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan will be charged by the U.S. military rather than in a civilian court, they said.

  13. cinnamonape says:

    Both Hasan and Al-Awlaki are native-born US Citizens. I think that one or both would have had to have been determined to be acting as an agent of a foreign power in order for FISA warrants to be applied. So is being an “associate” now something as simple as attending the same mosque as someone else? If so, then just about every Muslim should be expecting that their inrenet messages and phones are surveilled.

    Then again, Al-Awlaki’s communications were initiated abroad. Didn’t the Bushies argue they had the right to listen in on foreign-originated communications?

    Never mind, Mary answered this above.

  14. MadDog says:

    More dribs and drabs dribbled out via the Los Angeles Times:

    …Several U.S. officials said U.S. intelligence agencies first intercepted communications between Hasan and Awlaki in late 2008 as a result of another investigation, and that the information was given to one U.S.-based multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Force and then to another based at the Washington Field Office because of Hasan’s assignment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

    The Washington task force, which included FBI agents and Army criminal investigative personnel, launched a probe and determined that Hasan was contacting the radical cleric — who has ties to other Al Qaeda-affiliated individuals — “within the context of the doctor’s position and what he was doing at the time, conducting research . . . on the issues of Muslims in the military and the effects of war in Muslim countries.”

    The official said that Hasan had “reached out to Awlaki several times before he got a response” and that there was little in the correspondence to raise serious red flags.

    But Hoekstra expressed frustration with the handling of the intelligence on Hasan, saying that authorities underestimated the significance of the material they had obtained.

    Awlaki’s responses to Hasan were regarded by U.S. authorities as “relatively innocuous,” Hoekstra said. “I think the fact that you’re getting responses should have set off red flags regardless of the content.”

    Shorter Crazy Pete: “Even though there was nothing, to me that’s a red flag. I mean, he’s a fookin’ Muslim! What else do you need?”

    • emptywheel says:

      And arguably, the material shouldnt even have been passed along–it should have been minimized as US person information not necessary to the understanding of Alwaki’s terrorism-related statements.

      • bmaz says:

        Exactly. Why is it still active if they determined it had no value? There are two steps there where minimization appears to have been violated.

      • MadDog says:

        Maybe that is the compelling ex post facto reason now with the pending Patriot Act update legislation for the separate minimization database that per that legislation will be kept forever.

    • MadDog says:

      Only sometimes it seems. *g*

      And a note for those inclined to laugh uproariously, Repug Senator Kit Bond is Jon Stewart’s “guest” tonite on The Daily Show.

      Can’t wait for the asskicking!

  15. MadDog says:

    I thought I’d briefly bring up the “mechanics” involved in intercepting the communications between Hasan and Aulaqi (sp: or Awlaki).

    Based on all the reporting we’ve seen today, assume, along with me, a couple of things.

    1. The “target” of the communications intercept was Aulaqi.
    2. The communications to be intercepted were emails (as opposed to blog comments such as this).

    In order to accomplish this, the NSA had to do one or both of the following:

    Option A. Have the email provider give the NSA all communications to and from a specific email account.

    Option B. Monitor, and grab, all Internet communications for a specific email account.

    Option B is not likely in this specific instance just because of the enormity of the task and the “unreliability” or perhaps better, the “impossibility” of ensuring that each and every email from and to that account was grabbed across the entire globe.

    While the NSA monitors a great deal of worldwide communications, I rather doubt they can or do surreptitiously leech themselves onto every single foreign country’s telecommunications.

    It is more likely that the NSA, and perhaps via an NSL, used Option A and identified an email account that Aulaqi used (perhaps the one listed on his website) and forced the email provider to give the NSA all the “to” and “from” email for that account.

    I’m not suggesting that the NSA does not do Option B, but instead that they use that option to blindly search for “suspect” terrorism-related content.

    When the NSA has a “known” email account, they go directly to the email provider to ensure they get all email to and from that account.

    I would also argue that the NSA does indeed use both Option A and Option B methods because they believe they can ill afford to depend on just one method.

    The NSA is thereby attempting to defeat former DoD Secretary Rumsfeld’s infamous allegory regarding “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns”.

    Option A is used for “known knowns”.
    Option B is used for “known unknowns”.

    I don’t think the NSA has yet figured out what to do about “unknown unknowns”. *g*

    And this is why I think that EFF announcement I mentioned in my comment at # 33 has some “relative” importance.

    I’ve maintained for some time, and do so here again, that amongst the corporate entities who lobbied so desparately for retroactive immunity were in fact email providers.

    Not just Telcos, but folks who provide the email we all use. Folks like Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Hotmail), Comcast, Yahoo, etc.

    I hope we shall see. *g*

    • bmaz says:

      How do you know Alawki was using an US provider – how do you know a NSL would be effective? It will be interesting to see who was doing the scooping; i.e. whether NSA or FBI. The more recent indication is FBI, but the early spec was NSA (which would have been my guess).

      • MadDog says:

        How do you know Alawki was using an US provider – how do you know a NSL would be effective?

        Good point, and twould be an assumption.

        If other than a US email provider, that would make the NSA’s task far more difficult.

        Just like with monitoring all worldwide communication links, I rather doubt that the NSA has coverage for all non-US email providers.

        With “friendly” countries, the NSA might get intercept breaks. Great Britain would be accommodating, but other countries probably less so.

        I would note that many of the US email providers are global in their email provisioning, so it still is high up on my “usual suspects” list.

  16. Mary says:

    oops – hadn’t read 58 – strike most of the second half of my comment @73 then. Per that article, if things go down that road, EOH has had the best take.

  17. TarheelDem says:

    Meanwhile Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) and the authors of the book Muslim Mafia are seeking to stir up a jihad against muslims based on spinning this information about Hasan.

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