The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency warned Lebanese officials last week that al Qaida-linked groups are planning a campaign of bombings that will target Beirut’s Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria, Lebanese officials said Monday.And yes, the information was gathered by NSA surveillance.
“They had transcripts of calls made from known al Qaida people in Lebanon to people in the Gulf that included detailed information about the attacks, including the amounts of explosives that had been smuggled into Lebanon,” said one Lebanese intelligence official who is barred from speaking openly to reporters. “We have already begun to make arrests.”What makes this even more intriguing is that the Al Qaeda plot that was thwarted targeted Hezbollah and Russian support for the Syrian regime in Lebanon. Its not difficult to imagine that it is in the United States interests to prevent the violence in Syria from spreading to Lebanon. But it certainly makes for some strange bedfellows, doesn't it?
The official said Lebanese officials had monitored a series of militant phone calls but had not been able to listen to the calls’ content because it was encrypted. The United States, however, was able to listen to the calls, he said.
“America might hate the NSA right now, but they were able to actually hear the calls and warn us what was said,” the official said.
This example demonstrates that - while many foreign governments will feign outrage about NSA surveillance - they are also aware of how this technology benefits them. And its also a reminder of the complexities involved in avoiding a "good vs evil" foreign policy. That is a lesson that not only folks like Sen. McCain need to learn. Snowden, Assange and Greenwald - who cast the United States as the "evil" in a simplistic view of the world - make the same mistake in mirror form.