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Did Mukasey Lie About the 9/11 Call?

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April 9, 2008

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald has been chasing down the story behind the comments Attorney General Michael Mukasey made in a speech in San Francisco last week. In the speech, Mukasey claimed that a pre-9/11 call from an “Afghan safe house” to a number somewhere in the U.S. wasn’t intercepted because of the intelligence community’s inadequate wiretapping capabilities under FISA. Mukasey implied that 9/11 could have been prevented if that call had been intercepted. Greenwald writes:

Mukasey’s new claim that FISA’s warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it’s all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the “Afghan safe house.” It just didn’t. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Greenwald pointed out yesterday that there are only two possibilities:

(1) The Bush administration concealed this obviously vital episode from the 9/11 Commission and from everyone else, until Mukasey tearfully trotted it out last week; or,
(2) Mukasey, the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, made this story up in order to scare and manipulate Americans into believing that FISA and other surveillance safeguards caused the 9/11 attacks and therefore the Government should be given more unchecked spying powers.

Abusive secrecy or calculated deceit? Frankly, we wouldn’t be surprised by either, but we’re hoping Rep. John Conyers’ inquiry into this matter yesterday will shed some light on this quandary.