Did the NSA Really Stop the NYSE Bomb Plot?

Threat Level at Wired.com presents a compelling case that NSA surveillance did not stop the NYSE bomb plots, as stated yesterday by Deputy Director Sean Joyce in hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.

“[Khalid] Ouazzani had been providing information and support to this plot,” Joyce testified to the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

But as David Kravets points out, “the 2008 plot failed, not because the authorities broke it up, but because the alleged attackers decided against it.”

Ouazzani’s attorney was surprised to hear what Joyce had to say. 

“Khalid Ouazzani was not involved in any plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange,” Robin Fowler, the defendant’s defense attorney, said in a telephone interview.

Fowler’s client plead guilty to providing $23K in material support to Al-Qaeda, along with money laundering and bank fraud. No doubt Ouazzani is a dirtbag terrorist, but was he plotting to bomb the NYSE? 

New York defense Attorney Joshua Dratel stated that Ouazzani was a government informant in the prosecution of Sabirhan Hasanoff. “There was no plot. There was one guy was asked to check out a tourist site downtown. It was a year and a half before they arrested Hasanoff. So if they thought it was really a plot, what were they doing letting him run around?”  And the government’s sentencing memo confirms that the plot was called off. 

According to the government’s own memo: 

“Hasanoff relayed that the New York Stock Exchange was surrounded by approximately four streets that were blocked off from vehicular traffic and that someone would have to walk to the building. The Doctor [an undisclosed high-ranking al-Qaida operative] revealed that, although the information provided by Hasanoff could be used by someone who wanted to do an operation, he was not satisfied with the report, and he accordingly disposed of it. (The report apparently lacked sufficient detail about New York Stock Exchange security matters to be as helpful as the Doctor had hoped.)”

Hasanoff, also a dirtbag terrorist, has plead guilty to providing material support to terrorists. 

So if Ouazzani was informing on Hasanoff and the government itself states the facts were that Hasanoff’s contact “The Doctor” was not satisfied with the NYSE information and disposed of it, how do we get from that to the claim that the NSA surveillance stopped the bombing of the NYSE?