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Is NSA exaggerating its surveillance successes?

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“Headline for this hearing HAS to be: Dragnet provides little upside, that can be provided in other, for massive risk,” she tweeted.

Ms. Wheeler and other critics focused on the alleged New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) plot as evidence that the NSA is scraping the bottom of its barrel of data for a positive example.

According to officials at the House Intelligence hearing, this plan was caught when the NSA was using its Internet intercept authority to monitor the communications of a known extremist in Yemen.

This suspect, in turn, was in contact with an individual in the United States named Khalid Ouazzani. Thus warned, the FBI investigated Mr. Ouazzani through traditional law enforcement methods, and discovered a burgeoning plot to bomb the NYSE.

“Ouazzani had been providing information and support to this plot,” FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce told lawmakers.

However, Mr. Ouazzani pleaded guilty to providing material support – in his case, money – to Al Qaeda, not to terror planning. His May 2010 plea agreement makes no mention of anything related to the New York Stock Exchange, or any bomb plot, notes David Kravets in Wired magazine.

Plus, Ouazzani’s defense attorney said Tuesday the stock market allegation was news to him.

“Khalid Ouazzani was not involved in any plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange,” attorney Robin Fowler told Wired.

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