In what might be the best testament to the wisdom of mounting primary challenges, Jane Harman has turned into a bulldog debunking this Administration’s lies to drum up support for expanded surveillance. On Olbermann yesterday, she revealed that the terror threat the Administration used to scare up support for the FISA amendment came from a source deemed to be unreliable.

Well the chatter was up all summer at the level of pre-9/11 chatter–that means the conversations that our intelligence community learns about but I had been told by a  member of Congress that there was a specific piece of intelligence about a threat to the Capitol. I found it. It took some work to find it. It’s classified, so I’m not going to tell you specifically what it said but on the face of the document it said that the intelligence community did not deem the source to be reliable. [my transcription]

This is bad enough–that some fan of Big Brother circulated this rumor even though it was, on its face, not a credible threat.

But I wanted to recall the nature of the unreliable sources behind the case for war against Iraq. There were at least three INC-sponsored defectors who had been coached to mislead the American intelligence community. Those defectors told the intelligence community precisely what they needed to hear to justify an invasion of Iraq. And that intelligence was used in spite of clear warning that it was unreliable.

Is this happening again? Does the AEI have another defector factory, supplying false intelligence about Al Qaeda threats to DC? It’d be awfully convenient if they could drum up a threat any time they needed to shred our civil liberties.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.