Did New Law Help Terorrism Probe?

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Intelligence chief Mike McConnell might have misspoken when he credited a new law with helping lead to the arrests of three suspects for planning bomb attacks in Germany.

McConnell told senators yesterday that the government recovered important information as a result of the new law regarding wiretaps of overseas communications, signed by President Bush on Aug. 5, the New York Times reports. The plotters’ conversations “allowed us to see and understand all the connections” they had with a cell of the Islamic Jihad Union terrorist group, he said.

But sources told the Times the conversations were recovered last year under the old law.

The remarks took on importance since Congress will consider whether to make the controversial new law permanent in the coming months, the Times says. The legislation, which sunsets in about five months, gives officials more leeway to monitor international communications without a warrant when they are routed through the United States.

McConnell told ABC’s Good Morning America that U.S. authorities are concerned about possible sleeper cells of al-Qaida sympathizers in the United States, the Associated Press reports. He said the government has stopped some efforts of would-be terrorists, but he’s not sure if “we can stop 100 percent of them.”

“We’re safer, but we’re not safe,” he said.

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