Conspiracy vultures descend on Mukasey quip

We’ve said it before, but here we go again. The Conspiracy Industry plays into the very hands of the police state it ostensibly opposes. The latest blog fodder from Raw Story, April 1, emphasis added, links not included:

Mukasey hints US had attack warning before 9/11
When Attorney General Mukasey delivered a speech last week demanding that Congress grant the president warrantless eavesdropping powers and telecom immunity, the question and answer session afterwards included one extraordinary but little-noticed claim.

Mukasey argued that 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.”

Blogger Glenn Greenwald picked up on Mukasey’s statement, suggesting, “If what Muskasey said this week is true — and that’s a big ‘if’ — his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn’t intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration’s failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his false claims, FISA — for multiple reasons — did not prevent eavesdropping on that call.”

Keith Olbermann has now featured the story on MSNBC’s Countdown. “What?” Olbermann asked incredulously after quoting Mukasey. “The government knew about some phone call from a safe house in Afghanistan into the U.S. about 9/11? Before 9/11? … You didn’t do anything about it?”

“Either the attorney general just admitted that the government for which he works is guilty of malfeasant complicity in the 9/11 attacks,” Olbermann commented, “or he’s lying.”

“I’m betting on lying,” concluded Olbermann. “If not, somebody in Congress better put that man under oath right quick.”

After September 11, 2001, it was revealed that the CIA and FBI had intercepted a variety of messages including phrases such as “There is a big thing coming,” “They’re going to pay the price” and “We’re ready to go.” None of these messages gave specific details and none reached intelligence analysts until after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Mukasey did not specify the call to which he referred. He also did not explain why the government, if it knew of telephone calls from suspected foreign terrorists, hadn’t sought a wiretapping warrant from a court established by Congress to authorize terrorist surveillance, or hadn’t monitored all such calls without a warrant for 72 hours as allowed by law. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for more information.”

OK guys, so which is it? Do we support the pre-9-11 status quo ante in which the government was supposedly restrained from warrantless eavesdropping? Or do we buy the logic that “security” is more important than freedom and privacy, and the government had a responsibility to “do something about” a phone call from a supposed safe-house in Afghanistan, even if it meant trampling at least the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution? You really can’t have it both ways. Don’t you think it is at least vaguely possible that the government keeps dropping these tantalizing hints of pre-9-11 murmurs in a bid to wear down the citizenry’s resistance to total surveillance—and the dumb conspiranoids keep taking the bait every time, serving as an unpaid amplifier for this propaganda?

Think about it.

See our last posts on the conspiracy industry and the surveillance state.

  1. FISA

    Like it or not, FISA always allowed the government 72 hours of wiretapping before it asked for a warrant. All Greenwood is saying is that the expanded presidential powers were not needed to do listen to the alleged phone call.

      Factually correct, but irrelevant to my point. Did you my read my commentary at bottom? I want Greenwald* (and you, I suppose) to answer my questions.

      *Please note correct spelling of your hero’s name.