Cheney shoots Hayden in the foot over wiretapping

VP Dick Cheney recently justified the NSA's "domestic wiretapping program" by saying:

"If you'll recall, the 9/11 Commission focused criticism on the nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists at home and terrorists overseas. The term that was used is "connecting the dots" -- and the fact is that one small piece of data might very well make it possible to save thousands of lives. If this program had been in place before 9/11, we might have been able to prevent it because we had two terrorists living in San Diego, contacting terrorist-related numbers overseas. The very important question today is whether, on five years' reflection, we have yet learned all the lessons of 9/11."

The two terrorists in question are American 77 hijackers Khalid Al Mihdhar and Nawaf Al Hazmi. The terrorist-related number (why does he use the plural, what other number?) is 00 967 1200578, an Al Qaeda communications hub in Sana'a, Yemen. Unfortunately for Cheney, he forgot that one of the main things the administration is trying to cover up about 9/11 (for example the 9/11 Omission Report does not mention them) is that Al Hazmi made calls from the US to the hub and that the NSA intercepted them, as the hub was one of its hottest targets. So thanks for the slip, Dick.

The president made a similar slip about a year ago:

Please also bear in mind that:
(1) Both Al Mihdhar and Nawaf Al Hazmi had been known to US authorities as top Al Qaeda operatives since early 1999, at least, and the CIA had followed them halfway round Asia, knew Al Hazmi was in the US and knew Al Mihdhar had a US visa;
(2) In addition to the San Diego calls, the NSA intercepted several of their communications inside the Middle East;
(3) The NSA also intercepted calls made by Nawaf's brother, hijacker Salem Al Hazmi;
(4) At least two of the phones used to make the calls from/to the US were registered to Nawaf Al Hazmi;
(5) When not away on jihad, Al Mihdhar actually lived at the communications hub in Yemen with his wife and children, so the NSA were tapping a hijacker's home phone for three years before 9/11;
(6) The NSA intercepted the calls from/to the US - the ones that are the justification for the NSA's "domestic wiretapping program" - and drafted dispatches on some of them;
(7) Al Mihdhar was on the NSA's watchlist between January and May 2000, when some of the calls were made;
(8) Some of the US-Yemen calls were made when one or both of them was living with FBI informer Abdussatar Sheikh;
(9) The NSA has claimed they didn't realise it was Khalid Al Mihdhar making the calls even though the caller was named "Khalid" and was calling Al Mihdhar's home number (which the NSA knew Al Mihdhar was associated with) to talk to his wife;
(10) The NSA, which had a budget of USD 3.6 billion in 2000, has claimed it was impossible to trace the calls and that it was possible to trace the calls, but they didn't because they were frightened of domestic spying allegations. Both claims cannot be true. In addition, if they were worried about domestic spying allegations, then they must have known he was in the US.

In short, the NSA is telling us it couldn't figure out Al Mihdhar was in the US even though he made 8 calls from phones registered to his partner in San Diego to his home number, which was one of the NSA's hottest targets. Let's say I'm a touch suspicious of this.

Some interesting stuff on the topic: /
(Section entitled "The Calls" about 1/3 of the way down)

There's also a few heavily redacted sections about it in the Joint Inquiry Report.