NSA Monitoring Won't Stop Terror
Jun 14, 2006
June 10, 2006 (UPI) -- The NSA's "wide net"
electronic surveillance is almost no use in catching
terrorists, an expert claims.
current debate over the legality and ethics on the
National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance
methods might be rendered moot by the ineffectiveness
of the intelligence gathering techniques, James Bamford,
an expert on the NSA and author of several books about
the agency, told UPI.
said he believed that the electronic surveillance
measures recently revealed by the news media were
unproductive ways to secure the nation from political
told UPI that the terrorist networks targeted by the
NSA and other U.S. intelligence and law enforcement
agencies have sophisticated communication systems
to elude detection, such as disposable cell phones.
He said the massive surveillance is not aiding the
fight against terror, but is infringing upon civil
liberties of Americans.
the full extent of the NSA's activities is unknown.
interesting that James can makes those assessments
because they are classified programs and we don't
have access to them," said Todd Gaziano of the
Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think
December 2005, the New York Times reported that the
NSA eavesdropped on international phone calls of hundreds
of Americans and others in the United States without
the sanction of court warrants. In May 2006, the newspaper
USA Today reported that the NSA already possessed
a data base of the phone records -- including domestic
calls -- of millions of Americans.
an enormous terrorist presence on the Internet in
chat rooms and through emails. To just dismiss all
of the surveillance, is ineffective," Gaziano
Bamford's argument was buttressed by an article from
the New York Times in January that said the NSA fed
the FBI "thousands of tips a month" after
the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
However, the tips almost always yielded nothing valuable,
the report said.
Bamford is a plaintiff in the American Civil Liberties
Union's lawsuit against the NSA. The suit charges
that the NSA's telephone wiretaps and email interceptions
are illegal, because warrants were not obtained for
criticized the NSA program as a waste of resources
that produced "a meager success story of the
guy caught with plans to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge."
was referring to Iyman Faris who pleaded guilty in
2003 to conspiracy and providing material support
to al-Qaida for his role in a plot to destroy the
Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. Some U.S. government
officials said that NSA eavesdropping uncovered the
many U.S. security experts contend that intercepting
communications is the best means for gathering security
looking for data surveillance systems, there are only
two options. One is to hire thousands of secret police
who can cover an area and know what's going on. The
other option is to use domestic communication surveillance,"
said Jim Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, a Washington think tank.
people who haven't thought about how you monitor the
activities for a country as vast and populace as the
US, the only option we have is communications surveillance,"
analysts disagree on the rewards of the recently disclosed
NSA programs. However, there is consensus that government
oversight must be put in place.
never been against eavesdropping on alleged terrorists.
The only difference in the argument is over who supervises
it," said Bamford.
believes that without seeking a warrant from an impartial
judge, intelligence agencies will infringe on privacy
rights and will waste huge sums of taxpayers' money.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 mandated
obtaining a warrant from a special court in order
Bush administration has admitted that it has tapped
into phone calls without seeking judicial approval,
but claims these powers were granted to it when Congress
passed the "Authorization for the Use of Military
Force" bill in 2001.
also thinks more supervision should be in place. "An
oversight mechanism should be in place because it
deals with our civil liberties," he said.
2006 by United Press International