The Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has recanted his testimony from Monday, where before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee he testifed that America's new, stronger surveillance law played a role in subverting the German terror plot last week.
Asked by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and reported here Tuesday, whether the new Protect America Act, which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to loosen eavesdropping restrictions on suspected foreign enemies of the United States, helped foil the German terror plots, McConnell responded:
Yes, sir, it did. The connections to al Qaeda, the connections specifically to what's referred to as IJU, the Islamic Jihad Union, an affiliate of al Qaeda. Because we could understand it, we could help our partners through a long process of monitoring and observation, realizing that the perpetrators had actually obtained explosive liquids, hydrogen peroxide, which they would condense -- or try to condense to an explosive.
Yesterday, Mike McConnell released a statement correcting his remarks from Monday, "However, information contributing to the recent arrests was not collected under authorities provided by the Protect America Act."
According to Raw Story, McConnell's correction was elicited by challenges from intelligence officials and the Democrats.
Intelligence officials quickly raised questions about McConnell's testimony, indicating that the US military had provided the information to the Germans 10 months ago, long before the new law was passed.
Democrats then challenged McConnell's statement, with House Judiciary Chair John Conyers requesting a clarification and House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes sending McConnell a letter asking for a public correction. The letter read, in part, "While revising FISA may provide a tool that could enhance future operations, it was not in play in the Germany case. In fact, FISA, which you repeatedly claim is 'outdated,' was precisely the tool that helped disrupt this plot."
Still, McConnell asserted in his statement that "The Protect America Act was urgently needed by our intelligence professionals to close critical gaps in our capabilities and permit them to more readily follow terrorist threats, such as the plot uncovered in Germany."