Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NSA prevents Al Qaeda terrorism...in Lebanon

As folks like Snowden, Assange and Greenwald do their best to disrupt diplomatic relationships between the United States and other countries, I'm guessing this story about the NSA might blow a few minds.
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.”

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.
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?

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.


  1. This is great news, but McCain, Snowden, Assange & Greenwald will probably turn it into an attack on Obama for backing the wrong side in Syria.

    1. Hezbollah vs al Qaeda - hard to see the "wrong side" there.

      The only "right side" is preventing the violence from spreading into Lebanon.

  2. NSA doing what NSA is supposed to do - spy on foreigners in foreign countries. Please don't conflate that with gathering data - be it specific or meta - on US citizens inside US boundaries communicating with other US citizens inside US boundaries.

    1. I didn't conflate anything.

      We know NSA is collecting metadata on our phone calls. But they have to get a warrant to actually listen to them.

      Not sure what point you're trying to make.

  3. This is part of the Obama administration light on Iran policy. The NSA and CIA have always been soft on Hezbollah. They should have let the bombing go forward.


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