Monday, February 06, 2006
"Terrorist Surveillance" of Thousands Yields Nothing
Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects
NSA's Hunt for Terrorists Scrutinizes Thousands of Americans, but Most Are Later Cleared
By Barton Gellman, Dafna Linzer and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 5, 2006; A01
Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.
Bush has recently described the warrantless operation as "terrorist surveillance" and summed it up by declaring that "if you're talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why." But officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.
[For the rest of this story, go here.]
For some additional commentary, go here.