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January 06, 2006

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The Democrats in Congress who have repeatedly been briefed on the NSA program on warrantless international intercepts appear to have contracted some weird kind of buyer's remorse. After more than four years of updates, during which they raised few obje... [Read More]

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Yesterday, we commented on a most curious question posed by Andrea Mitchell to James Risen, author of State of War: Mitchell: You don’t have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might ha... [Read More]

Comments

Appalled Moderate

Ever notice nobody gets all that worked up about this stuff unless a *big* name is involved? Suppose somebody found out that this had happened to an aide at CNN (or an AP photographer). Would our lefties be as concerned? Would the hordes converge on the story?

By the way. Is Amanpour a citizen? If not, is there even really a scandal? Do we think, for example, that the NSA is keeping tabs on great reporter Fisk's phone. Or the phone bank at Al jazeera?

Just being provocative.

Capitalist Infidel

"Not that there's anything wrong with that! Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

What in the world makes you think al Qaeda is in any way an enemy of CNN or Amanpour?

kim

My guess is that the most serious misuse yet of this capability was to raid Chalabi, the Master of the Bazaar, on the basis of some idiot's interpretation, or translation, of an intercept in which Chalabi either spoke or was spoken of. Notice he is temporary head of the oil ministry, now?
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JLS

We should consider the possibility that the administration asked CNN and NBC to back off for national security reasons and they agreed to.

Maybe Amanpour was in contact with somebody they wanted to get and until recently thought they still could.

In that case, this time it may be the eagle-eyed bloggers that have ruined it instead of the NYT.

kim

The eagle is flapping frantically through the hall of mirrors, seeking exit, truth, or trout.
=============================================

macranger

Much as I can find out, and I have been asking, this more than likely a "tale" Andrea heard at one of those Washington Life Parties she's known to freguent. There is NADA on Amanpour on anyone's calendar at the NSA.

Stick a fork in this one.

kim

Andrea, the Great Insinuator.

It is an especially nice trick, which she has mastered, to have a disappearing insinuation.
=============================

maryrose

Solution for Andrea's fiasco- Put her on Imus and have him ask her the question of whether anyone knows if Amanpour is being tapped. It would be fun to watch her dance around that one. She definitely can't put her money where her mouth is.

richard mcenroe

Never mind these small fry! Was Jeff Gannon Being Tapped?!

kim

Maybe for a little illicit domestic abuse, hunh?
============================================

Gabriel Sutherland

Do you suppose that a call to Pervez Musharraf is flagged by the NSA?

Not that I expect the US government to confirm or deny that question, but it is possible that they do flag calls to Pervez as domestically, in Pakistan, they refer to him as UBL's greatest political ally.

Ms. Amanpour did conduct an interview with Pervez in 2001 during the rally in Afghanistan.

emptywheel

Actually, JM, I don't think that's right. All the claims that this might be US to US locale aside (because of the structure of communication at this point), Risen's articles have said the the NSA is tapping calls either from another country or to another country. So it may be that Amanpour, in the course of doing her job, called someone with ties to AQ to arrange an interview and got tapped that way.

Now that, in and of itself, raises some questions. On one hand, I'd say "great, we found an AQ guy by spying on Amanpour."

But I also happen to think some of the journalists who have covered AQ are more knowledgeable about AQ than our spies who are tracking it. Who has offered more useful information about AQ, Peter Bergen or Michael Scheuer? I'd vote Bergen, but in any case it'd be an interesting debate. If we start tapping people like Bergen, we're going to lose a lot of information that has helped us flesh out the organization and goals of AQ.

And then there's the related question. If Amanpour got tapped out of relatively innocent tapping of phone calls exhibiting a certain pattern, did her phone then remained tapped because she had contacts with contacts with contacts with bin Laden? Again, I can see the argument on both sides. The value of ongoing Amanpour taps would be that she might also be interviewing other AQ members. But the troubling aspect of ongoing Amanpour taps is that it would reveal every source she's got, on every story. It would also, presumably, constitute tapping some of her husband's communications, with all the partisan concerns that have been expressed.

Like I said, I can see the merit of both sides of these arguments. But that, to me, makes a case for oversight that it appears doesn't exist.

BurkettHead

As I understand it, most of the surveillance was of communications from another country, to another country, that "happened" to pass through a switch in the US. It appears that the initial phases of the NSA surveillance are primarily software or algorithmic. How many communications with al-Qaeda would it take before the algorithms dump Ms. Amanpour's name or numbers out & refer her to a human for further consideration? Enough communications to constitute probable cause, under FISA or otherwise?

kim

Once upon a time, everyone was known within their community; we may be returning to that state, to the somewhat distress of those who most mouth the value of community.
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marianna

"In that case, this time it may be the eagle-eyed bloggers that have ruined it instead of the NYT.'

Yes, this might have ruined a very useful intelligenc operation. That's the real "outrage" here, if there is one.

kim

What's the outrage? Bloggers should have limits? Truth won't go where it can? The eagle flaps and flees the traps.
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john marzan


It is not Amanpour that is being targetted for surveillance by the NSA, but the terrorist she is talking with. NSA were probably eavesdropping on an targetted al queda suspect who happened to talk to Amanpour on the phone.

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