Controversial NSA programs played no role in detecting initial Al Qaeda terror tip

failA follow-up to yesterday’s post noting that, for all the dark accusations recently that the new threat has been exaggerated to tout the NSA’s terror-bustin’ skills, no one in the government’s claiming that the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs were key in sniffing this out. On the contrary:

Officials in the U.S. wouldn’t say who intercepted the initial suspect communications — the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency or one of the other intelligence agencies — that kicked off the sweeping pre-emptive closure of U.S. facilities. But an intelligence official said the controversial NSA programs that gather data on American phone calls or track Internet communications with suspected terrorists played no part in detecting the initial tip. That official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the spying publicly.

The AP goes on to say that domestic surveillance “could” have helped flesh out the plot from there, once the initial tip had been obtained through other means, but it sounds like they’re merely speculating. (“[I]f a new name was detected in the initial chatter, the name or phone number of that person could be run through the NSA databases to see whom he called or what websites or emails he visited.”) But that raises another question: What exactly was the initial tip and when did the feds get it? The AP says that the communique from Zawahiri to Al Qaeda in Yemen that sent U.S. intel into a frenzy was intercepted “several weeks ago.” Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon says other pieces of the puzzle are … months old:

Al Qaeda “chatter” about coming terrorist operations, mainly against 22 U.S. embassies and consulates, and threats to attack or bomb officials in the Middle East and elsewhere was widely reported in classified intelligence reports over several months. The report said an attack was planned for Sunday, although no attack was carried out…

Trending: BEN CARSON: Just Dropped this BOMB on Obama’s Lap [WATCH]

“Why is this coming out now?” asked one official with access to terrorist threat data. “Is the administration trying to suck up news coverage with the embassy threats to distract attention from what the CIA was doing in Benghazi?“…



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