A Smoking Gun? Or A Lie?

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/Torture, Wiretapping & SurveillanceLeave a Comment

Keith Olbermann (see video below) and Glenn Greenwald are on the case, and rightly so.

The controversy centers around statements made last week by Attorney General Mukasey.  In a speech to telecom leaders showing his support for telecom company immunity in the FISA law, Mukasey made a startling heretofore-unknown revelation.  From The NY Sun:

Officials "shouldn’t need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that’s the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that’s the call that we didn’t know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went."

At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America’s anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. "We got three thousand. . . . We’ve got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn’t come home to show for that," he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

At the time of the attacks, Mr. Mukasey was the chief judge at the federal courthouse a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.

Now there are a few things to be pointed out here:

(1)  This is the first time anyone has even mentioned a pre-9/11 call from a safe house in Afghanistan to the United States, and connected that call with the actual events of 9/11.  Even the 9/11 Commission was not aware of this call, and did not mention it in their report.

(2)  Even under the old FISA law in place at the time, warrantless wiretaps of foreign phones were possible and legal.  Mukasey’s statement begs the question: why wasn’t such a tap conducted?  (Greenwald and others call the failure to do so "criminal negligence" on the part of the Bush Administration).

Basically it comes down to one of two things: (a) Mukasey is recounting knowledge of a phone call that didn’t actually occur (in order to gin up public support for the telecom immunity provision of the FISA bill), or, (b) as Greenwald writes, he "has just revealed the most damning fact yet about the Bush’s administration’s ability and failure to have prevented the attacks — facts that, until now, were apparently concealed from the 9/11 Commission and the public."

I suspect it is the former, but the questions do need to be asked.  Right now, nobody seems to be paying attention, and it’s gone totally under the radar.

The Olbermann segment: