Data Mining Might Have Stopped 9/11: FBI Chief
Robert Mueller takes his turn on Capitol Hill
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2013 12:06 PM CDT
FBI Director Robert Mueller is sworn in on on Capitol Hill Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Various security officials have made the case that the government's phone and Internet surveillance is necessary to keep the country safe, but FBI chief Robert Mueller brought out the big guns during testimony on Capitol Hill today. Had this kind of data mining been in place 13 years ago, the 9/11 attacks might never have happened, he said. Highlights of his argument, picked up by Mediaite:

  • “Before 9/11, there was an individual by the name of Khalid al-Mihdhar who came to be one of the principle hijackers. He was being tracked by the intelligence agencies in the Far East. They lost track of him.”

  • “At the same time, the intelligence agencies had identified an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. They understood that that al-Qaeda safe house had a telephone number, but they could not know who was calling into that particular safe house.”
  • Authorities learned after 9/11 that it was Mihdhar calling from San Diego. "If we had the telephone number in Yemen, we would have matched it up to that number in San Diego ... and identified Mihdhar."
Democrat John Conyers, who warned in his opening statement "that we are on the verge of becoming a surveillance state," wasn't wowed by the 9/11 argument, reports the Guardian. "I am not persuaded that makes it OK to collect every phone call."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
FBI Chief: Data Mining Might Have Stopped 9/11 is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 107 comments
Jun 14, 2013 8:01 AM CDT
This is the same organization that had field reports of Arab men wanting flight lessons that only dealt with taking off and flying and not landing. These reports were sent to FBI headquarters and were promptly dismissed. So these azzhats want every bit of data we produce so they can stop the bad guys. Hey NSA go screw yourselves.
Jun 14, 2013 6:53 AM CDT
It doesn’t work.. Without any suspicion of a target.. you can’t filter the Zillions of messages for anything relevant.. If you didn't have details of Boston, you couldn’t filter the data for “Boston Marathon” and Pressure Cooker” So you are stuck with a zillion messages of no relevance. The Target could have just as easy been “The Golden Gate Bridge” and “ “Hair Spray Propellant” It easy to say looking back.. “Hind Sight is 20/20” and see the plot.. But there is no way to us the data to predict the future.
Jun 14, 2013 2:19 AM CDT
When technology becomes available that can read people's minds from space, will that be allowed?