The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label NSA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NSA. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Subversion By Any Definition (No Orders To Counter Putin?)



The United States has plunged into an abyss of national disgrace and seeming efforts by the president which come very close to appearing subversive.

While we avoid words such as treason due to the specific definition of the word..... 
ˈ
trea·son
ˈtrēzən/
noun
  1. the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

No, "treason" doesn't fit Tumpism and the nation's 45th president.  The word "subversive" is yet another story. 

sub·ver·sive
səbˈvərsiv/
adjective
adjective: subversive
  1. 1.
    seeking or intended to subvert an established system or institution.
Subversive definition and meaning | Collins English DictionarySomething that is subversive is intended to weaken or destroy a political system or government. Subversives are people who attempt to weaken or destroy a political system or government.


Let's diminish the word intentional regarding Trump; and think in terms of an unwitting partner or partner in subversion via extortion, bullying, or subversive partnership to avoid the release of something (information, pictures, tapes etc.) In either construct, subversion is subversion regardless of impetus to subvert or consequence of subverting partners. 

Now, how about the possible consequences of subversion in any form. The Director of the National Security Agency sat before a congressional hearing earlier today. His agency has the wherewithal and responsibility to combat external threats in the realm of Signal intelligence (SIGINT), or electronic intelligence (ELINT). He is the person who heads the agency and powerful tools and wherewithal to combat Putin's election meddling. 

After viewing even brief snippets of his testimony, one should wonder how he defines "subversive."  We offer two very brief segments from his morning with the US Senatorial INTEL Committee. 

It appears Trump hasn't directed the NSA Chief to take countermeasures against Putin Cyber army.



After a morning of testimony captured by the very brief clips, this is what the national press corp received from Trump's Press Secretary (number one presstitute). 
“Look, this president as I told you last week has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor. Let’s not forget that this happened under Obama,” she said.
The Great Con has grave consequences. Your reality TV Show replete with its cast of Trump and company is an international danger and it is no longer funny nor healthy.  
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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Snowden According To A US INTEL Expert

Image result for snowden and putin
Poor Photoshop, but the message is clear.

Movie producer and director Oliver Stone released his well-publicized anti-US INTEL movie: "Snowden." Stone joins Michael Bay in releasing movies with sharp and often unsubstantiated innuendo incorporated as (movie) fact. Once we leave Bay's very successful action thriller brands and arrive at Bay's take on the tragedy of the Libyan Consulate attacks and the death of four American's in service to our nation, it is impossible to avoid Bay's insertion into US politics for ticket sales and to stake a claim on our psyches with his ideology.  His movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi" is (or was) a clear effort to join criticism of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi consulate and related post-attack communication.

Oliver Stone also has a history of movie production with a core theme of political expose`"Born On The Fourth of July" and "Platoon" (as well as many other best-selling non-political expose`..eg. "Scarface").  Stone's effort to join Edward Snowden's INTEL treason with his perception of a political crusade against the NSA and the US government, according to reliable insiders, is a gross failure.  

Chris Inglis, former NSA deputy director, was approaching retirement as Snowden perpetrated his INTEL treason and ran off to China Hong Kong with an ultimate mission of arriving in Putin's Russia. Inglis recently sat for an interview with Next Gov dot com writer Charles Dharapak.
John Breeden II is an  award-winning  journalist and reviewer with over 20 years of experience covering technology and government. He is currently the CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys
The new Oliver Stone film, "Snowden," promises to tell the true story of contractor Edward Snowden in his quest to expose a National Security Agency program that could allegedly track all forms of digital communication. Even with my limited perspective as a journalist who covered that event, I knew enough to spot dozens of historical and technical inaccuracies while watching the film. But I wanted to see just how badly the facts were mangled, so I sat down with Chris Inglis, who was the deputy director of the NSA during the incident.
“The film was grossly incorrect technically, but that was not the most egregious thing about the movie,” Inglis said. “It’s that it was spiritually incorrect. It was well wide of conveying a true sense of how the NSA purports itself, on what its role was and on what Snowden’s role was.”
Full article linked here


No matter the spin or the entertainment twist, Edward Snowden is no national hero.  How do we know Snowden's INTEL theft didn't contribute to the current proliferation of Putin hack success in support of Trump for President? 
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Rand Paul Should Avoid Use Of Race In His Speeches; Liberals Should Give Him "NO Quarter."


Be aware of the Chameleon. You know Rand Paul!
Do not allow false messages to tip your
psyche into allowing him in the Gate."



Rand Paul continues to traipse around the country campaigning for the 2016 GOP nomination for president. Paul is a seriously misguided man, despite comment from certain pundits on the right that his message "reverberates," (Michael Steele, former RNC Chair).  


His message may "reverberate" among fringe liberals who may very well subscribe to libertarian ideology. He may also attract attention among liberals who abhor NSA meta-data gathering. The quirky Senator from Kentucky may be the current front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2016, but he fails to seep into the psyche of people who know Paul for what he is. He is an angle player who has spoken publicly as against Civil Rights legislation, against freedom of access for some Americans based on property rights), and he has visual history that informed liberals will not forget.


Jack Hunter, a former staffer for Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who was outed as conservative mascot “The Southern Avenger” ....

Back to Paul for a moment. Since Paul is opposed to the government legislating on who business owners rights to deny service.  Am I to believe that Paul was in favor of the Arizona "deny LGBT service" vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer? How about by implication Paul's tacit approval of reinstating rights of companies to develop and maintain "Men Only" health club? How about moving back to the Masters denying Tiger Woods the right to tee-off?

Thus, Paul would have a lesser problem with what you are about to see and hear than many in the nation.

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/....



My point in the previous comments relate to Paul's gall and temerity, as he rolls-out criticism of President Obama as a tool for his political ambitions. Even more Gaulish, are those who know Paul's history, and still will join him in applause as he goes about his phony political appearances.  Paul should restrict issues related to race to his well documented past. He should do so while recognizing he may fool some fringe progressives and fringe conservatives, but he lives on a small island of Paleozoic Era bigotry.

The Daily Kos published a piece that address the Paul visit to Berkeley and his comments about the nations 44th President far better than can I.  I will admit one point.



Paul is definitively interjecting race into his politicking. His choices are clear and do not surprise as he and his father have deep and documented roots in issues of race. As Paul interjects race, he should keep-in-mind J. Edgar Hoover even spied on Richard Nixon and just about anyone from the Oval Office to any 1960s activist. Yet, he chooses to wave the race flag as a tool against President Obama. The criticism you are about to read and digest could have been accomplished well shy of foraying into issue of race. An issue he of all politicians should avoid.

Paul's remarks as he tested the waters of pointing a finger at Obama and lacing the finger-pointing with racial messages. "The nation's First African-American President should be conscious...."  

Does Paul not realize his words clearly denote exercise of "white privilege?" Did his supposedly highly educated audience, not recognize the use of "privilege" when it need not have been exercised?

Huffington Post March 19th, 2014
During an interview with The New York Times, Paul brought up the government's response to dissent in the 1960s, when leading civil rights advocates, including Martin Luther King Jr. 

"The first African-American president ought to be a little more conscious of the fact of what has happened with the abuses of domestic spying," Paul told Times reporter Jeremy Peters. "Martin Luther King was spied upon, civil rights leaders were spied upon, Muhammad Ali was spied upon, antiwar protesters were spied upon." 
"The possibility for abuse in this is incredible," the senator added. "So I don’t care if there’s never been any evidence of abuse with the NSA. They should not be collecting the data."
Read more after the break below
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Edward Snowden And Manipulated Co-Workers! INTEL Secrets Harvested Like Ripe Grapes...

Edward Snowden: SPY!
A matter of definition

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Espionage
: the things that are done to find out secrets from enemies or competitors : the activity of spying

Full Definition of 
: the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company espionage

WIKI (Espionage)
Espionage or spying involves a government or individual obtaining information considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information.[1] Espionage is inherently clandestine, as it is taken for granted that it is unwelcome and, in many cases illegal and punishable by law. It is a subset of intelligence gathering, which otherwise may be conducted from public sources and using perfectly legal and ethical means. It is crucial to distinguish espionage from intelligence gathering, as the latter does not necessarily involve espionage, but often collates open-source information.

Espionage is often part of an institutional effort by a government or commercial concern. However, the term is generally associated with state spying on potential or actual enemies primarily for military purposes. Spying involving corporations is known as industrial espionage.

One of the most effective ways to gather data and information about the enemy (or potential enemy) is by infiltrating the enemy's ranks. This is the job of the spy (espionage agent).


18 U.S. Code § 793 - Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

(b) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or
_____________________________________

Regardless of your affinity or lack there of for Edward Snowden, it is fruitless to argue the merits of his espionage. Fruitless because those who feel he is a hero will not budge in from their opinion. On the other end of the void, those who feel Snowden practiced espionage and is a patriot will not budge from their positions. I used the word void for purpose of delineation. There is no continuum or spectrum from which two opposites can sit and LOB (line of bearing) point and counter point arguments.  And there is no middle ground.  

I am a stuck-like glue denizen in the camp Snowden practiced surreptitious espionage and by default has harmed national security.

Privacy? 

Well, yes if I actually felt the NSA and CIA had my phone tapped (I would still have no worries, but would be major irritated), or if collecting of Meta-data was not at the root of the NSA mission I would be concerned. In fact, my level of irritation with the USA Today's 2006 revelations about AT&T/NSA phone monitoring left me with a degree of angst. My concern did not boil-over to the point of rationalizing the need for anyone to steal states technology secrets, as did Snowden. As I read the article (linked above), my mind wandered back to 2001 when the monitoring programs first came to our national security defense arsenal. It took a nano-second thereafter to reflect back on the morning of 9/11. We do not live in the same world as our successes in WW II.  And, we damned well do not live in the same world as those who crafted a document framing the development of a nation and revolt against England. And, defense security involves a lot more than Paul Revere's too late warning of the "British are coming."

We live in a world where a narrow technological edge can make all the difference should our leaders fail humanity and go to world war or large scale war. Only our defense security professionals know the capability of the Chinese, Russian, Iranians and North Koreans. As I read reports of the NSA monitoring 35 world leaders, the words in those articles fell on disinterested brain cells.  Last week's revelation of what appeared a Russian release of a private conversation among US diplomatic staff placed INTEL in true perspective. A release for the sole purpose of embarrassing the US. Critical issues, but small fish when compared to this: Iinked.

You might think the former Navy INTEL guy giving secrets to Russia is not an apple to apple comparison to Snowden's misdeeds.  I would ask you to pick up both apples and look a little closer. INTEL is at the heart of all military victories (thus national security). Any information an adversary nation can dollop from Snowden's espionage, will be used against the US. A fact impossible to refute.

While the ultimate fault (s) regarding Snowden's escapades lie with federal government dependence on contractors, buddyism, and lax contractor security background checks, there is more than enough blame to spread to Snowden and his self-centered ideology.

I find Snowden a mixed bag of ingredients that have turned the nation into a shameful place. Snowden seems to have an affinity for Libertarianism and he seems to relish the limelight of both small and large arenas.    He has expressed an affinity for Ron Paul (A dire situation to say the least) and he apparently experienced an INTEL about-face after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008/09. As of today, we have more revelations about a character I find much like the former Navy INTEL guy referenced in the BBC article (linked above). 

Snowden addressed a TV camera with an English audience this past Christmas with declarations of "I have won," within two months we see reports of self-centeredness characteristic of and pre-requisite to any espionage agent.
"I have won!"  Snowden relished in self-aggrandizing glee  on a worldwide scale. Today we read that as many as 25 co-workers may have stupidly allowed the espionage agent access to passwords by signing him on with their access.  Snowden, the crafty 007 like-thief, was able to retrieve the passwords of his gullible co-workers and had a  picnic securing secrets to which he did not have access.

Excerpt 
The question of how Snowden was able to obtain as much classified material as he did while working at a remote NSA station in Hawaii has been the subject of intensive investigation by the U.S. intelligence community for months. 
Reuters reporters Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel reported in November that Snowden used login credential and passwords provided “unwittingly” by colleagues at the Hawaii spy base. The Reuters report said Snowden “may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers” to give him their passwords. But the NSA never publicly commented on that report and Snowden appeared to deny it during a public Google chat on Jan. 23. 
“Was the privacy of your co-workers considered while you were stealing their log-in and password information?” Snowden was asked during the chat. 
“With all due respect to Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong,” Snowden replied. “I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers.”
Think of the person who would toss the careers of 20 to 25 cohorts into the trash as a by-product of his quest for , "I have won." 

Edward Snowden is far, far from a hero in my mind. Obviously, he revealed truths regarding the NSA, but his motive seems as flawed as any US spy caught and now serving prison time. And, I can only see advantage to  adversary nation's INTEL operations
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

New York Times's Flaw Redaction, NSA Agent, And News Skirmishes

Re-blog via Post.US and links from Bob Cesca's The Daily Banter.   We thank Bob for allowing linkage to his piece. 


        


Prism collection above (Click Image for larger version and link to The Atlantic)


Earlier in the week, I read the following from Bob Cesca's The Daily Banter web page: Linked.  Before you read any farther, know that I agree wholeheartedly with Cesca's contempt for Edward Snowden and the surreptitious way he wormed into employment with an NSA contractor for the sole purpose of espionage. Some call the man a "whistleblower" and he has just been nominated for a Nobel Prize. We prefer libertarian traitor who has perpetrated espionage. Our libertarian assumption regarding Snowden is based in his affinity for Ron Paul and lack of evidence he is not similarly inclined socially and politically towards libertarianism.

In  case you feel I am callous and uncaring regarding invasions of privacy, think again and appreciate my knowledge of world events. My knowledge of potential privacy invasions goes back to 2011 and George W. Bush/Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's security measures in response to 9/11.  Our knowledge of NSA and FBI monitoring was again ignited in 2006 with all major phone carriers compiled with NSA monitoring. Qwest is the only major carrier to deny NSA request for monitoring joint-operations. We are unaware if Qwest remains defiant in meta-data monitoring programs. 

USA Today May 2006....

Excerpt
AT&T recently merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T are the nation's three biggest telecommunications companies; they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers. 
The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans. 
Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.  
Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

The salient point is, I am past alarm at measures taken to help ward-off potential threats to the nation. I also understand the value and leverage of INTEL that places the US far ahead of adversaries. Value and leverage probably lost due to Snowden's self-anointed 'white knight' actions.

Awareness of the 2006 revelations and and absence of follow-up indicating cessation of monitoring facilitated quick assimilation of an item that strained relations between newly elected President Obama and his electronic security experts. The experts attempted to break Obama away from his BlackBerry. Obama refused to give-up his prefer communication "toy"; his security experts worked (at great expense) to tamper proof his BlackBerry. If a person was a thinking person during that period and recall the tug-of-war over the BlackBerry, the person should have realized the kerfuffle was due to the experts knowledge of cell phone vulnerability. Of course, what as individual know comes from personal knowledge and experience. If I know how to break into a safe, and I am hired to protect the safe, I am going to use my knowledge to prop-up "safe" security. Electronic security experts knew their level of INTEL gathering via the cell phone, why leave a president vulnerable? So, the phone kerfuffle subsided with Obama's hyper-secured cell phone.

An informed life comes with a price. It takes time, effort, memory and perseverance in use of cognitive process for assimilation of information. The price also includes willingness to seek out and recognize "motive." (A driving force in all living species). I do not believe Snowden's only reason for his 'crusade' was your and my privacy and constitutional rights.

Yes I agree wholeheartedly with Bob Cesca on matter related to Meta-data and NSA monitoring.  


Now, for background on the New York Times revelation of an NSA operative via publishing Edward Snowden's "bounty." The NY Times should be much more careful. Snowden does no care about the danger of revealing US INTEL, INTEL Agents and INTEL OPs, some of use do care.


New York Times Suffers Redaction Failure, Exposes Name Of NSA Agent And Targeted Network In Uploaded PDF (via Techdirt)
It appears as if the New York Times, in its latest publication of leaked NSA documents, failed to properly redact the PDF it uploaded, exposing the name of the NSA agent who composed the presentation as well as the name of a targeted network. Cryptome…



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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NSA: US spy chiefs hit back in Europe

US spy chiefs hit back in Europe row (via AFP)
US espionage chiefs on Tuesday said reports that American spies agencies snooped on millions of Europeans were "completely false" in a dramatic twist to a transatlantic surveillance row. General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency,…


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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pro Publica: NSA Claims of “Attacks Thwarted”

Claim on “Attacks Thwarted” by NSA Spreads Despite Lack of Evidence

During Keith Alexander’s presentation in Las Vegas, two slides read simply “54 ATTACKS THWARTED.” The NSA, President Obama, and members of Congress have all said NSA spying programs have thwarted more than 50 terrorist plots. But there’s no evidence the claim is true.
Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe — saving real lives,” Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on the House floor in July, referring to programs authorized by a pair of post-9/11 laws. “This isn’t a game. This is real.”Two weeks after Edward Snowden’s first revelations about sweeping government surveillance, President Obama shot back. “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany,” Obama said during a visit to Berlin in June. “So lives have been saved.”
In the months since, intelligence officials, media outlets, and members of Congress from both parties all repeated versions of the claim that NSA surveillance has stopped more than 50 terrorist attacks. The figure has become a key talking point in the debate around the spying programs.
But there's no evidence that the oft-cited figure is accurate.
The NSA itself has been inconsistent on how many plots it has helped prevent and what role the surveillance programs played. The agency has often made hedged statements that avoid any sweeping assertions about attacks thwarted.
chart declassified by the agency in July, for example, says that intelligence from the programs on 54 occasions “has contributed to the [U.S. government’s] understanding of terrorism activities and, in many cases, has enabled the disruption of potential terrorist events at home and abroad” — a much different claim than asserting that the programs have been responsible for thwarting 54 attacks.
NSA officials have mostly repeated versions of this wording.
When NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander spoke at a Las Vegas security conference in July, for instance, he referred to “54 different terrorist-related activities,” 42 of which were plots and 12 of which were cases in which individuals provided “material support” to terrorism.
But the NSA has not always been so careful.
During Alexander’s speech in Las Vegas, a slide in an accompanying slideshow read simply “54 ATTACKS THWARTED.”
And in a recent letter to NSA employees, Alexander and John Inglis, the NSA’s deputy director, wrote that the agency has “contributed to keeping the U.S. and its allies safe from 54 terrorist plots.” (The letter was obtained by reporter Kevin Gosztola from a source with ties to the intelligence community. The NSA did not respond when asked to authenticate it.)
Asked for clarification of the surveillance programs' record, the NSA declined to comment.
Earlier this month, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pressed Alexander on the issue at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Would you agree that the 54 cases that keep getting cited by the administration were not all plots, and of the 54, only 13 had some nexus to the U.S.?” Leahy said at the hearing. “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” Alexander replied, without elaborating.
It's impossible to assess the role NSA surveillance played in the 54 cases because, while the agency has provided a full list to Congress, it remains classified.
Officials have openly discussed only a few of the cases (see below), and the agency has identified only one — involving a San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support the militant group Al Shabab — in which NSA surveillance played a dominant role.
The surveillance programs at issue fall into two categories: The collection of metadata on all American phone calls under the Patriot Act, and the snooping of electronic communications targeted at foreigners under a 2007 surveillance law. Alexander has said that surveillance authorized by the latter law provided “the initial tip” in roughly half of the 54 cases. The NSA has not released examples of such cases.
After reading the full classified list, Leahy concluded the NSA’s surveillance has some value but still questioned the agency’s figures.

“We've heard over and over again the assertion that 54 terrorist plots were thwarted ... That's plainly wrong, but we still get it in letters to members of Congress, we get it in statements.”
— Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
to members of Congress, we get it in statements. 
These weren't all plots and they weren't all thwarted. 
The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs.”
The origins of the “54” figure go back to a House Intelligence Committee hearing on June 18, less than two weeks after the Guardian’s publication of the first story based on documents leaked by Snowden.
At that hearing, Alexander said, “The information gathered from these programs provided the U.S. government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world.” He didn’t specify what “events” meant. Pressed by Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Alexander said the NSA would send a more detailed breakdown to the committee.
Speaking in Baltimore the next week, Alexander gave an exact figure: 54 cases “in which these programs contributed to our understanding, and in many cases, helped enable the disruption of terrorist plots in the U.S. and in over 20 countries throughout the world.”
But members of Congress have repeatedly ignored the distinctions and hedges.
The websites of the Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee include pages titled, “54 Attacks in 20 Countries Thwarted By NSA Collection.”
And individual congressmen have frequently cited the figure in debates around NSA surveillance.
  • Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., who is also on the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement in July referring to “54 terrorist plots that have been foiled by the NSA programs.” Asked about the figure, Westmoreland spokeswoman Leslie Shedd told ProPublica that “he was citing declassified information directly from the National Security Agency.”
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, issued a statement in July saying “the programs in question have thwarted 54 specific plots, many targeting Americans on American soil.”
  • Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., issued his own statement the next day: “The Amash amendment would have eliminated Section 215 of the Patriot Act which we know has thwarted 54 terrorist plots against the US (and counting).” (The amendment, which aimed to bar collection of Americans’ phone records, was narrowly defeated in the House.)
  • Mike Rogers, the Intelligence Committee chairman who credited the surveillance programs with thwarting 54 attacks on the House floor, repeated the claim to Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in July.“You just heard what he said, senator,” Schieffer said, turning to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., an NSA critic. “Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NSA program. So what’s wrong with it, then, if it’s managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record.”

    Asked about Rogers’ remarks, House Intelligence Committee spokeswoman Susan Phalen said in a statement: “In 54 specific cases provided by the NSA, the programs stopped actual plots or put terrorists in jail before they could effectuate further terrorist plotting.  These programs save lives by disrupting attacks. Sometimes the information is found early in the planning, and sometimes very late in the planning. But in all those cases these people intended to kill innocent men and women through the use of terror.”
  • Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., went even further in a town hall meeting in August. Responding to a question about the NSA vacuuming up Americans’ phone records, he said the program had “been used 54 times to be able to interrupt 54 different terrorist plots here in the United States that had originated from overseas in the past eight years. That’s documented.”
  • The same day, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who sits on the Intelligence Committee, defended the NSA at a town hall meeting with constituents in Cranston, R.I. “I know that these programs have been directly effective in thwarting and derailing 54 terrorist attacks,” he said.

    Asked about Langevin’s comments, spokeswoman Meg Fraser said in an email, “The committee was given information from NSA on August 1 that clearly indicated they considered the programs in question to have been used to help disrupt 54 terrorist events. That is the information the Congressman relied on when characterizing the programs at his town hall.”
Wenstrup, Heck and Lankford did not respond to requests for comment.
The claims have also appeared in the media. ABC NewsCNN and the New York Times have all repeated versions of the claim that more than 50 plots have been thwarted by the programs.
The NSA has publicly identified four of the 54 cases. They are:
  • The case of Basaaly Moalin, the San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support Al Shabab, the terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the attack on a Kenyan mall last month. The NSA has said its collection of American phone records allowed it to determine that a U.S. phone was in contact with a Shabab figure, which in turn led them to Moalin. NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has argued that the NSA could have gotten a court order to get the phone records in question and that the case does not justify the bulk collection of Americans' phone records.
  • The case of Najibullah Zazi, who in 2009 plotted to bomb the New York subway system. The NSA has said that an email it intercepted to an account of a known Al Qaeda figure in Pakistan allowed authorities to identify and ultimately capture Zazi. But an Associated Press examination of the case concluded that, again, the NSA's account of the case did not show the need for the new warrantless powers at issue in the current debate. “Even before the surveillance laws of 2007 and 2008, the FBI had the authority to — and did, regularly — monitor email accounts linked to terrorists,” the AP reported.
  • A case involving David Coleman Headley, the Chicago man who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Intelligence officials have said that NSA surveillance helped thwart a subsequent plot involving Headley to attack a Danish newspaper. A ProPublica examination of that episode concluded that it was a tip from British intelligence, rather than NSA surveillance, that led authorities to Headley.
  • A case involving a purported plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange. This convoluted episode involves three Americans, including Khalid Ouazzani of Kansas City, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda. An FBI official said in June that NSA surveillance helped in the case “to detect a nascent plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange." But no one has been charged with crimes related to that or any other planned attack. (Ouazzani was sentenced to 14 years last month.)

    The Kansas City Star reported that one of the men in the case had “pulled together a short report with the kind of public information easily available from Google Earth, tourist maps and brochures” and that his contact in Yemen “tore up the report, 'threw it in the street' and never showed it to anyone.”

    Court records alssuggest that the men in Yemen that Ouazzani sent over $20,000 to may have been scamming him and spent some of the money on personal expenses.
For more from ProPublica on the NSA, read about the agency's campaign to crack Internet security, a look at the surveillance reforms Obama supported before he was president, and a fact-check on claims about the NSA and Sept. 11.
Photo of Sen. Patrick Leahy by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

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