Scanning the Times front page today, this hed caught my eye:
New U.S. Law Credited in Arrests Abroad
The government’s ability to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists overseas led to the arrests of three militants accused of planning attacks in Germany.
Which, you know, makes one pause a bit. Really? That sounds like a success for the NSA’s surveilence program that the Bush folks want renewed. Hmm. Maybe there’s something too it?
Or, maybe not, as we learn once we actually, um, read the story (itals mine):
The government’s ability to eavesdrop on terrorism suspects overseas allowed the United States to obtain information that led to the arrests last week of three Islamic militants accused of planning bomb attacks in Germany, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told senators on Monday.
But another government official said Mr. McConnell might have misspoken. Mr. McConnell said the information had been obtained under a newly updated and highly contentious surveillance law. But the official, who has been briefed on the eavesdropping laws and the information given to the Germans, said that those intercepts were recovered under the old law. The official asked for anonymity because the information is classified.
So, to review: On its front page, the Times suggests that the NSA program has provided a critical bit of information that helped foil a terrorist plot. But if you read further, you see that, at the very least, this assertion is in question. Oh.