Friday, May 12, 2006

The President was right in calling for an integrated approach to fight terrorism which includes telephone systems...President Clinton, that is

There's a lot of breathless indignation over at USA Today with regard to the NSA utilizing phone billing records in the War Against Terrorism...lest we forget, we are at WAR.

President Clinton had it just about right in 1998 when he called for a "new integrated approach to intensify the fight against all forms of terrorism..." (emphasis added):

...First, we will use our new integrated approach to intensify the fight against all forms of terrorism, to capture terrorists no matter where they hide, to work with other nations to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries overseas, to respond rapidly and effectively to protect Americans from terrorism at home and abroad.

Second, we will launch a comprehensive plan to detect, deter and defend against attacks on our critical infrastructures -- our power systems, water supplies, police, fire and medical services, air traffic control, financial services, telephone systems and computer networks...

A logical response to having the avaiation infrastructure used against us/U.S. in the 9/11 attacks was the setting up of data gathering initiatives like TSA's Secure Flight Program. The use of our telecommunications infrastructure against the nation by the terrorists has been proven as well (see page 219 of the 9/11 Commission Report for an example); which also leads to logical and prudent responses like the NSA's call pattern tracking system some are so 'furious' about. Anything else would be like fighting terrorism with one hand tied behind our backs.

BTW, a quick search of the keyword "telephone" in the 9/11 Commission Report results in 54 hits. Hits like this from Responses to Al Qaeda's Initial Assaults, pgs 127-128 (emphasis added):

...U.S. counterterrorism officials also worried about possible domestic attacks. Several intelligence reports, some of dubious sourcing, mentioned Washington as a possible target. On October 26, [1999] Clarke's CSG took the unusual step of holding a meeting dedicated to trying "to evaluate the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States by the Usama bin Ladin network." The CSG members were "urged to be as creative as possible in their thinking" about preventing a Bin Ladin attack on U.S. territory. Participants noted that while the FBI had been given additional resources for such efforts, both it and the CIA were having problems exploiting leads by tracing U.S. telephone numbers and translating documents obtained in cell disruptions abroad...


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