When The Washington Post carried Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) claim that NSA surveillance programs had successfully thwarted a terror attack by Najibullah Zazi, the paper also highlighted the counter claim that Zazi’s plans were actually thwarted by good police work.
According to Feinstein, while living in Colorado Zazi made up his mind to “blow up a New York subway.” She said NSA surveillance “programs” helped foil the plans before they could be carried out.
However, as my colleague John Sexton has pointed out, public information on the Zazi case shows that he actually caught investigators’ attention because of an email flagged via good police work–not good NSA programs. According to these records, “the path to [Zazi’s] capture began in April 2009” when British police found emails between various accounts and an Al Qaeda affiliate on computer they had seized.
The Washington Post column points to this as well, by reporting that “documents show police work being responsible for apprehending Zazi.”
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