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WP Knocks Down ‘Wiretap Delay’ Story

From the ACLU’s media outlet, the Washington Post:

Army Pfc. Joseph Anzack, one of the three captured soldiers. His body was later recovered from the Euphrates river..

Iraq Wiretap Delay Not Quite as Presented

By Dan Eggen
Saturday, September 29, 2007; A08

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress last week that a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured south of Baghdad.

But new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours and was caused primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.

Justice officials also spent nearly two hours trying to reach then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to authorize the emergency wiretap. He was in Texas appearing before a gathering of U.S. attorneys.

Earlier, the DNI’s attorney had determined that legal requirements for surveillance had been met, but Justice lawyers and intelligence officials spent four hours debating that issue and obtaining more evidence, according to officials and a summary of events provided to the House intelligence committee Thursday. Justice officials say the lengthy deliberations were necessary to ensure that the surveillance was legal…

“The idea that this incident has something to do with these soldiers getting killed is just outrageous,” said Michael German, a former FBI counterterrorism agent who now works as policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is all internal bureaucracy. It has nothing to do with the law.”

But DNI spokesman Ross Feinstein said yesterday that the delays were caused by unnecessary legal restrictions, which have since been removed as part of the changes approved by Congress last month.

“There shouldn’t be any delay in focusing on foreign-to-foreign communications for Iraqi insurgents,” Feinstein said. “It should take a matter of seconds, not hours.” …

By the way:

But new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours…

Justice officials also spent nearly two hours trying to reach then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to authorize the emergency wiretap…

According to my calculations, if you add a 9.5 hour delay and a 2 hour delay you get 11.5 hour delay. So, yes, the earlier reports may have been off by up to 30 minutes, if we can believe this article.

Thank goodness the Washington Post (acting on behalf of the ACLU) made that important correction. We wouldn’t want people to think it had been a 12 hour delay.

And never mind that every mainstream news account reported only a ten hour delay anyway. Such as the one we cited yesterday from Reuters:

U.S. details wiretap delays in Iraq kidnap case

By Randall Mikkelsen

U.S. authorities racing to find three kidnapped American soldiers in Iraq last May labored for nearly 10 hours to get legal authority for wiretaps to help in the hunt, an intelligence official told Congress on Thursday…

Some might call 9 and a half hours nearly “10 hours.” So exactly what great misrepresentation is the Washington Post correcting here?

Of course there was no point to the story except to give the Post an excuse to run the headline: Iraq Wiretap Delay Not Quite as Presented.

They just had to tamp that inconvenient story down.

Meanwhile, isn’t it telling how the Washington Post presents the claims of a disgruntled FBI “whistle-blower” now working for the ACLU as fact?

Indeed, Mr. German now figures in just about every wiretapping story sourced from the ACLU. Which is to say just about all of the stories we see in our watchdog media.

Mr. German’s vaunted expertise on counter-terrorism seems based upon his once “infiltrating” a group of white-supremacists in an operation that led nowhere.

Of course Mr. German had to blame everyone else. Though his supervisor later said he lacked confidence in his abilities, according to the Associated Press:

FBI Bungled Florida Terrorism Investigation, Justice Department Finds

By Mark Sherman
Tuesday, December 6, 2005; Page A12

… Martinez told another FBI official he would not use German in the training programs — despite his previously regular participation in such training — because he lacked confidence in him, the report said. Martinez said that he did not recall saying that, but that if he did, it was a “knee-jerk reaction but did not mean to indicate I was retaliating against him.” …

But never mind any of that.

Mr. German’s former FBI status gives him total creditably in the eyes of our media. Credibility that current and gruntled FBI agents never seem to enjoy with them.

The ACLU is surely getting their money’s worth from that hiring.

Still, because the Washington Post has pointed out the highly significant difference of thirty minutes, we will award this article only 4.5 (out of a possible 5) Pinocchios:

Though they probably deserve a full 5 for effort.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, September 29th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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