Thursday, March 30, 2017

The FRONTLINE Interview


So when you say that you had gone down to get targeted sites, it was the Yemen safe house that was the renowned Al Qaeda center for telephone?

That was in the list of the targets, yeah. ... We actually had the worldwide network. That was simply one node in that network. So it was a key node, but it was still just one node. And we had all of them, and we were targeting them all as a group, for this deployment and all the access that we already had.

And your contention is that if Hayden had allowed it to go through, we would have known about 9/11?

Oh, absolutely, yeah. The most unreliable factor in this was the human beings. They were the most creative, but they were also the most unreliable, especially in terms of the massive amounts of data. If you have something buried in a massive amount of data, humans have to wade through it. They make pulls based on words or other kinds of combinations, and then they get a whole host of information out, and then they have to wait.

You worked in the NSA for quite a few years. You were an important person there, pushing them into the modern age. You look back at the NSA now, and what do you think?

I think the place needs a total lobotomy. I think they need to scrap it and start again, get rid of those people who are in it, because they were a part of this process and agreed to it. Take the workforce, take them and move them to someplace else, or get rid of the management, move them somewhere else, put them in isolation away from everything so they can't infect that process, and reconstruct the whole business. They need to stop doing this kind of illegal activity and focus in on really the meaningful jobs of foreign intelligence that they were charged to do.

... What a lot of people in the government will say is that you don't understand; we're still at war. Remember we lost 3,000 people on 9/11. This is a very important program. It has saved thousands of lives, as Cheney said at one point. There are multiple plots that have been stopped because of this program. You've got to be very careful about what you wish for, because if you do, you might have another attack, and you might have blood on your hands. What is your reaction to this question about the effectiveness of what all this has been?

First of all, they like to lump it in as one program and say you can't cancel the program. That's false to begin with. It's multiple programs. The one program that dealt with domestic spying was called Stellar Wind. They had the other foreign ones; you mentioned the names. There were other names that were listed in the PRISM program that was dealing with foreign intelligence. There were a whole bunch of those programs, not just one.

So the point is you stop the intelligence, the domestic intelligence program, period. U.S.-to-U.S. communications are not a part of it. Eliminate them. They're irrelevant to anything that is going on. All the terrorists would have been caught by the process that we put in place for ThinThread, which was looking and focusing in on the groups of individuals that we already had identified and anybody in close proximity to them in the social graph, plus anybody -- the other simple rules like anybody that was looking at jihadi advocating sites over and over again would imply that they might be becoming radicalized, so you would put them into that zone of suspicion, too.

That would get them all, and you didn't have to do the collection of all this other data that requires all that storage, transport of information to the storage, maintenance of it, interrogation programs, all of that added expense that they are incurring as a part of it over the last 10 years. You wouldn't have any of that, and you would still -- you would actually reduce the problem and focus it down for the analysts on meaningful information, and they would actually succeed, instead of failing like they're doing now, because they're taking in too much data and making themselves dysfunctional by that. ...

Marc Miller sent me this 3 year old Frontline piece a few weeks ago - without comment. After thinking about what to make of it, I eventually ended up here.

During the six months following the Kennedy assassination, Ruby repeatedly asked, orally and in writing, to speak to the members of the Warren Commission. The commission initially showed no interest. Only after Ruby's sister Eileen wrote letters to the commission (and her letters became public) did the Warren Commission agree to talk to Ruby. In June 1964, Chief Justice Earl Warren, then-Representative Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, and other commission members went to Dallas to see Ruby. Ruby asked Warren several times to take him to Washington D.C., saying "my life is in danger here" and that he wanted an opportunity to make additional statements.

He added: "I want to tell the truth, and I can't tell it here." Warren told Ruby that he would be unable to comply, because many legal barriers would need to be broken and public interest in the situation would be too heavy. Warren also told Ruby that the commission would have no way of protecting him, since it had no police powers. Ruby said he wanted to convince President Lyndon Johnson that he was not part of any conspiracy to kill Kennedy.

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