Monday, May 23, 2011
60 Minutes report NSA and Thinthread
CBS News) Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency had recordings of three of the al Qaeda hijackers plotting an attack. But the information, obtained by the National Security Agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot.
Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed the agency had a powerful tool that might have had a chance to head off 9/11. But it wasn't used.
One of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.
Drake tried to get the word out. But now, as a result, he has been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 and if convicted of all charges could spend the next 35 years of his life in prison. The government says he betrayed his country.
Drake says the only thing he betrayed was NSA mismanagement that undermined national security.
After a long career in U.S. intelligence, Drake never imagined he'd be labeled an enemy of the United States. As a young airman, he flew spy missions in the Cold War; in the Navy, he analyzed intelligence for the joint chiefs at the Pentagon.
Later, he worked for defense contractors in the highly technical world of electronic eavesdropping. He became an expert in sophisticated, top secret computer software programs and ultimately rose, in 2001, to a senior executive job at the NSA.
Drake told correspondent Scott Pelley his first day on the job was Sept. 11, 2001.
"NSA went into immediate crisis management mode. We had failed to protect the United States of America," he told Pelley.
Asked if he felt that was a failure of the NSA, Drake told Pelley, "The entire national security establishment - it was a failure, a fundamental systemic breakdown."
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:34 AM