One of the "factual" offerings to support future use of military tribunals in trying terrorists is "information" that the Nairobi Kenya embassy bombing trial revealed (through testimony) that bin Laden's cell phone conversations were subject to surveillance. As soon as that trial testimony was known, the bin Laden terrorists stopped using cell phones.

Implied within this media story is that assumption that bin Laden and his cells was ignorant of the National Security Agency (NSA) capability of world wide monitoring of all communications through "Echelon". Such an assumption seems unlikely.

That "factual" offering needs to be examined from an informed intelligence standpoint.

An example of this offering is found in the National Review issue of December 17, 2001. See:

The trouble with these offerings from an intelligence standpoint is that they are not confirmed by other "intelligence" from the Internet. 

The Nairobi embassy bombing was on August 7, 1998. The trial of the terrorists began in January 2001. See: from the State Department.

The exposing of the NSA's capability with its ECHELON electronic surveillance came out in a well known book in 1996. This book was THE main source of information on "Echelon". Every intelligence service in the entire world was assumed to have read this book. See: Secret Power Publication web site (1996)

CBS "60 MINUTES" covered this story on "Echelon" on February 27, 2000 (almost a year earlier than the trial). See:

FORTUNE Magazine issued a warning about the NSA interests and capability in this area in November 1996. See: Fortune November 1996,1640,1880,00.html

As early as August 1988, the NEW STATESMAN set forth details about the NSA ability to impose surveillance on all electronic communications. See: New Statesman, August 12, 1988

All of us interested in the intelligence community have legitimate opinions about establishment of military tribunals. That issue is very important. Spreading of such misinformed propaganda is a disservice to our nation and the debate at hand.


The CIA releases its own intelligence:

During February 8 - 11, 2002, CNN carried a news item about a CIA aircraft drone that fired a missile at three men at a suspected Al Qaeda location in Afghanistan. The news, obviously a release from the CIA, gave the following intelligence information:

1. Several pickup type trucks (of the type used by Al Qaeda) met at a location in a remote mountainous region in Eastern Afghanistan.

2. A number of persons got out of the trucks and met as a group.

3. Then three of the individuals separated from the larger group.

4. One of the three was taller than the other two and he wore white (Bin Laden is 6'3" and often wears white).

5. A missile was fired and exploded at the location of the three individuals.

The intelligence given away in that CNN release would seem just a damaging to the U.S. national interest and to the intelligence community as the "cell phone" incident identified above - yet the CIA aircraft drone information was released with the complicity of the US intelligence community. These comparisons are interesting.