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What spying apologists don’t tell you about “thwarted plots”

Listen to defenders of the U.S. government’s recently revealed data collection practices, and you’re likely to hear claims about terrorist plots these sweeping activities have purportedly stopped.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., explained on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that in one of the signature uses of the dragnet collection of every American’s phone records, the NSA managed to track one of our own informants, David Headley, as he helped Islamic terrorists plan attacks. She did not mention that it did nothing to prevent the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, which killed 166 — and in which Headley had a role in planning.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the effort to track Headley – which did manage to thwart Headley’s 2009 plans to attack a Danish newspaper – a success, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell. Such is the value of these programs, it appears, that top proponents of the program celebrate the tracking of a DEA informant gone bad as their main talking point.

“U.S. officials say Headley simply slipped through the cracks,” ProPublica reported earlier this year in a blockbuster story on Headley. ProPublica describes competing claims about when the Drug Enforcement Agency, which first recruited Headley in 1997, stopped using him as an informant; DEA insists he was deactivated in 2002, while other sources say he remained a U.S. informant through 2005. What’s clear is that Headley spent the subsequent years leading up to the 2008 Mumbai attack traveling form Pakistan to India, casing out the terror plot.

Rest of article: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/10/what_spying_apologists_dont_...