by D. Cupples | During a speech last week -- while trying to justify increased wiretapping powers for the Bush Administration under FISA -- Attorney General Michael Mukasey implied that 9/11 might have been prevented if the Administration had had broader wiretapping powers. Mukasey said:
"'We knew that there had been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went. You’ve got 3,000 people who went to work that day, and didn’t come home, to show for that.'"
House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers pointed out the obvious implications of Mukasey's implications: that either the Bush Administration is lying now or was incompetent before 9/11. In a letter to Mukasey, Conyers wrote:
"This statement is very disturbing for several reasons. Initially, despite extensive inquiries after 9/11, I am aware of no previous reference, in the 9/11 Commission report or elsewhere, to a call from a known terrorist safe house in Afghanistan to the United States which, if it had been intercepted, could have helped prevent the 9/11 attacks.
"In addition, if the Administration had known of such communications from suspected terrorists, they could and should have been intercepted based on existing FISA law.
For example, even assuming that a FISA warrant was required to intercept such calls, as of 9/11 FISA specifically authorized such surveillance on an emergency basis without a warrant for a 48 hour period.... If such calls were known about and not intercepted, serious additional concerns would be raised about the government’s failure to take appropriate action before 9/11." (See letter here or here)
In that same letter, Conyers demanded answers about the alleged phone call and other issues.
It'll be interesting to see whether the Bush Administration actually complies with the Judiciary Committee's request or just waives its figurative middle finger at Congress and notion of congressional oversight.
Memeorandum has commentary.