Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Attempting to gill net bad guys"

Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein dissects the problem with FISA, and points to a New Yorker audio with The Looming Tower's Lawrence Wright, explaining how he himself fell under surveillance without a warrant, despite assurances to the contrary.

Electronic surveillance (and overdependence on it) is a kind of armchair way of gathering intelligence, and no substitute for "good human intelligence work out there — where the bad guys are."

CQ observes:

It’s just not true, no matter how many times administration officials say it, that critical operations to find the kidnappers of American soldiers in Iraq and an al Qaeda cell in Germany were held up by FISA regulations. McConnell himself said he was mistaken.

[. . .]

As former counterterror agent Michael Tanji put it on Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog: “It’s bad enough that the Director of National Intelligence is trotting out a bogus threat so the government can snoop on all Internet traffic. What’s worse is that this kind of mass surveillance is a pretty lame way to catch the honest-to-God bad guys.”

Tanji added, “The fact that we are essentially attempting to gill-net bad guys is a fairly strong indicator that the intelligence community has yet to come up with an effective strategy against information-age threats.”

Worth reading in full.

[h/t A-Tone Music]

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