Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Byrd (R-NC) appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and said the federal appeals court’s ruling last week puts the U.S. at pre-9/11 intelligence levels.
“That turns us back to pre-9/11,” he told host Martha Raddatz of Thursday’s decision by a federal appeals court.
“Well, there’s no absolute,” Burr said.
“I can only take the advice of those who were involved at the time and because of the connection we couldn’t make, they suggested that if we had been able to bulk collect telephone numbers, we could have traced and connected the dot and caught al-Mihdar, who was in San Diego,” he added of 9/11 terrorist Khalid al-Mihdar.
Burr is referencing the federal appeals court decision that ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of records “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized” under the Patriot Act.
The senator would like to see the program continued.
“Well, I do think it should continue for the simple reason that it’s very effective at keeping America safe,” he said. “And in addition to that, we’ve had absolutely no incident of anybody’s privacy being intruded upon,” Burr said.
Burr referenced the May 3rd “Draw Muhammad” shooting in Garland, TX, to show there is still active hostility from terrorists against the U.S.
And that’s an interesting example to offer because Elton Simpson, the lead shooter, had been on the FBI radar since 2006 for trying to join al-Shabab. He recently popped back “on the radar” when he made jihadi comments on the internet — and even with all the privacy-invading super powers the NSA has, he still managed to arrive at the Texas event armed and ready to kill.
“Well, let me just say that the men and women in the intelligence agency and through law enforcement are 24/7 on this,” he said.
“The intent is there,” Burr said.
“We can’t stay at this alert level 24/7, 365 days a year, but it’s important that we respond to any potential uptick in terrorism,” he added of the Pentagon’s decision on Friday to raise the threat level at all U.S. military installations.