Whose Credibility Is Declining Faster?

Mike McConnell or General Petraeus?

Petraeus has become Fox’s latest pundit, while McConnell is claiming the amended FISA is responsible for those German terror arrests last week.

The government’s ability to eavesdrop on terrorism suspects overseasallowed the United States to obtain information that helped lead to thearrests last week of three Islamic militants accused of planning bombattacks in Germany, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told senators on Monday.       

Butanother government official said Mr. McConnell might have misspoken.Mr. McConnell said the information had been obtained under a newlyupdated and highly contentious wiretapping law, the ForeignIntelligence Surveillance Act. But the official, who has been briefedon the eavesdropping laws and the information given to the Germans,said that those intercepts were recovered last year under the old law.The official asked for anonymity because the information is classified.

It’d be nice if we actually started holding government officials accountable for the lies they tell during oversight hearings, huh?

  1. APISHAPA says:

    Maybe the information was obtained last year, using techniques that were not approved until this year. Meaning, the information was obtained illegally. Of course the telecommunications company in question will be granted immunity.

  2. cboldt says:

    I’ve read the various accounts rather carefully, and there is nothing in them that suggests the intelligence was obtained â€from a US source†or â€from a US-based interception point.â€

    Not that there’s a shortage of people leaping to that conclusion, usually implicitly, by attaching some aspect of TSP or other program to the gathered intelligence.

    I’m also interested in the claim that German privacy law is similar to the recently passed PAA. It’s not. Those who assert so are just making further convenient leaps.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I caught this Bungling at the Bijou last night and was hoping it wouldn’t slip through the blog cracks.

    What threw me overboard was this part:

    â€When Mr. Lieberman, noticeably impressed, later restated what Mr. McConnell had told him — that the eavesdropping ability allowed under the updated surveillance law helped foil the purported plot in Germany — Mr. McConnell did not object.â€

    (My Bold)

    Jowls is definitely the leading candidate for Feith’s replacement as the feckin’ dumbest person in the world.

  4. phred says:

    cboldt — Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of German privacy laws? I haven’t the slightest idea of what protections they have, much less how they compare to the PAA. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    cboldt – regarding your point about the lack of real information regarding the â€interception pointâ€, and to not assume it was US-based:

    I’m sure the Germans (and for that matter, every other non-US countries in the entire feckin’ world) are just pleased as punch that all of their communication systems are monitored 24X7 by the â€always benevolent†US Government, now currently embodied by the likes of the kind and saintly Deadeye and Junya.

    And we thought we had it bad.

  6. cboldt says:

    – I’m sure the Germans (and for that matter, every other non-US countries in the entire feckin’ world) are just pleased as punch that all of their communication systems are monitored 24X7 by the â€always benevolent†US Government –

    Best I can figure from the news reports, the US intercepted a Pakistan cell call (I’m not sure where the other end of the call was), and forwarded information pertinent to that call (which implicated specific identifiable Germans) to the German authorities. Now having the equivalent of â€probable cause,†the German authorities invoked the legal process for continued surveillance and action.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That is a good poin Mad Dogs; truth is we have been wholesale snooping on foreign-foreign pretty much forever. I had the same reaction as cboldt: what the hell is so confirmatory about a foreign-foreign intercept, even if it was made here (which there has been NO allegation of and I doubt to start with)? They didn’t need the PAA to do this type of foreign-foreign; McConnell should have been called on this apparent BS the instant the words left his mouth. As there appears to be no US citizens involved and no evidence of a US switch, I fail to see that FISA even applied under any iteration.

  8. P J Evans says:

    The LA Times bought the ’intercept’ line too – it was at the top of the story they ran on this.

  9. oldtree says:

    Why would our government consider making punishment something that accompanies the violation of law? It would prevent them from doing what they do as their â€stated purposeâ€. Nothing is beyond their classifying it to protect one of their own from prosecution. It is clear they protect their own, and they use us to gain wealth or power for themselves. There have been no prosecutions for any of the violations of law by the administration.
    And if anyone wants to bring up the scooter show trial, look at the absurd situation it involved and how the show was pre planned and pre judged. No less than the chief minion of the architect of the criminal takeover of our country by fascists. We should be able to see that nothing is happening to curb their abuses, nothing. Do we all get it yet?

  10. cboldt says:

    – Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of German privacy laws? –

    My off the cuff remark about German privacy law is based in doubt that German privacy law says â€any communications into or out of Germany may be tapped,†which is what US law now says about communications into or out of the US.

    Privacy in Europe is a mixed bag. In some regards, such as an obligation to report place of resident to the â€residence police†whenever one moves, it’s less private.

    The authoritative website for the EU is â€Europa.†Using google on the terms â€europa†and â€privacy,†I hit this privacy law index page.

    I don’t have a thumbnail version of privacy law in any country, not even the US … this is an interesting MSNBC article, which shows wiretapping in the Netherlands is common, for example. I suspect there are barriers elsewhere in the Dutch legal system, as to use of the information. A separate research area there, I see. The Dutch law specifically provides for tapping lawyers! Better view Italy and the Netherlands top wiretap chart, showing 72/100,000 as the rate of tapping in Italy, with the US being 0.5 per 100,000. I find that US number to be unbelievably low.

    See too, this article on tapping into the SWIFT financial transactions system.

  11. cboldt says:

    And on the other hand, we’re told that there’s little reason to view activity in the US … New wiretap law foiled German terror plot

    McConnell, the director of national intelligence, also offered new details about Al Qaeda efforts to penetrate the U.S.

    He said Al Qaeda has â€not yet been successful infiltrating†America since 9/11.

    I don’t have enough energy to get excited every time I read a misleading headline, false news report, or lie from a politician (regardless of party affiliation).

  12. cboldt says:

    Here’s an article on German wiretapping law … German court rules against state’s wiretap law. It bears at least a superficial resemblance, at least, to the US fourth amendment. No snooping without reasonable basis to have suspicion.

    One thing is clear, the FISA revisions and other surveillance issues are being discussed in a fog of disinformation and obfuscation. Whole lotta’ distractin’ going on.

  13. cboldt says:

    Here is an LA Times article with some details about the specific case in hand … U.S. intercept key in German terror plot.

    WSJ Opinion Journal adds, â€U.S. intelligence intercepted cell phone calls made by German nationals in Pakistan.â€

    We don’t know how or where the cell call was intercepted — there are many â€how†options when the â€where†is Pakistan.

    Tangentially, I would think disclosure of this detail (intercepted cell phone calls made by German nationals in Pakistan) is potentially as damaging as the NYT’s article of 2005.

    And back to the subject of German law, more details and links from here

  14. scribe says:

    This whole affair strikes me as Merkel getting a hand from her BFF Bushie.

    I’ve been following the German language news (for years – via internet radio); I speak the language. Here’s the sequence of events, simplified:
    Before the arrests: The CDU/CSU (Merkel’s conservative party) was having their party conference to set the legislative agenda for the coming fall or even year. The interior minister was getting a bundle of grief over asserted â€unprofessionalism†and â€chaos†in his ministry – (wacky) proposals would be put forward, then withdrawn later the same week because they had been â€misunderstood†or â€misconstruedâ€. The party conference was held in the city of Hanau, about 15 miles east of Frankfurt.
    Party conference comes to a close.
    A day or so later…
    Arrests: a bunch of guys in a vacation home in the Sauerland, a hilly country area about 70 miles north of Frankfurt and 30 miles west of Kassel. It comes out in the initial reports that:
    (A) some of the targets allegedly being scoped out by these knuckleheads were in (… wait for it …) Hanau. These were allegedly American military targets, because these fellas were, in the words of one of the early reports, â€driven by a hatred of Americaâ€. Problem is: if you follow this stuff, the American military has announced that come the end of the fiscal year (9/30/07), after being in Hanau since 1945, they’ll be leaving. Apparently, these guys had been (possibly physically) scoping out the military installations in 2006, been observed and reported, and the German authorities had been working the case since then.
    (B) it turns out that the police had been onto these guys for some months. Somehow – don’t ask me how – the guys had gotten their hands on about 730 kg of high-strength (35%) hydrogen peroxide, allegedly enough to facilitate making bombs with a power roughly equivalent to 550 Kg TNT. They kept it in barrels in the garage. So, back in July, the police had slipped into the house while the guys were out and substituted regular hair-bleaching strength (3%)hydrogen peroxide for the strong stuff, and then let the play continue.
    I think the German police had the whole plot thorougly infiltrated, as much as they had had the Red Army Faction infiltrated with informants back in the 70s (some of the RAF terrists have recently been paroled and their stories about informing and being informed on are coming out dripwise).
    (C) Even though they had the cell under surveillance so throroughly, they didn’t catch all of them – they are now looking for up to 30 more. In the days immediately following the bust, they had 3, then 7 in custody, and were still looking for a bunch more. This tells me this was a sudden decision to arrest now.

    At the party conference, as might be expected, terrorism was one of the agenda items, and the growth of islamic radicalism in Germany another.
    Then come the arrests.

    What is the interior ministry pushing now, for new legislation?

    They want expanded power to do â€online durchsuchungen†without notice to those being searched. In colloquial German, â€Durchsuchungen†are searches in the sense of police coming into the house and tossing it for evidence. So, the interior ministry wants to data mine for suspected terrists.

    And, now, McConnell comes out with his whopper about how the new FISA made these raids all possible. Well, since the police knew enough to substitute the chemicals back in July and new FISA wasn’t even written for a few weeks thereafter, I’d kinda think he’s full of it and this is just a little love note from George to Angie.

    Maybe that backrub wasn’t so offensive to her, after all….

  15. cboldt says:

    – that’s very interesting. And typical. –

    Sure was interesting. I checked into some Italian bust a year and a half ago, that was reported as â€a warrantless wiretapping success story.†Did some research based on names of some of the players (Achour Rabah, Tartag Sami, Yamine Bouhrama), and found a few additional news reports. Long story short, these guys deserved watching, and there was nothing in any of the news reports to justify a claim that the bust represented a success of â€warrantless surveillance.†One post of several on â€Bouhramaâ€.

    So yeah, typical misrepresentation.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Appears to me that this is indeed proof in favor of the program. By that, of course, I mean the the legal program, judicially supervised when it involves American citizens and tailored to comply with the Constitution; i.e. theoretically the way things were done before the Bush Administration. I am more than willing to accept any increased risk of death, of which there probably is zero, I may face from the Executive Office not shredding the Constitution.