Larry C. Johnson
"The claim by President Bush that he needs to ignore the FISA process in order to nab terrorists shows that he either does not understand that this law has been used to actually capture a terrorist based on a phone call from a foreign country or he is hiding something. In 1989 an Avianca plane exploded in mid-air in Colombia. The culprit? A henchman of Pablo Escobar, Dandeny Munoz-Mosquera. Mosquera was arrested in New York City on 21 September 1991. Here is the press account, which appeared in the Washington Post on 27 September 1991:
Federal authorities reported the arrest in Queens of , described as a leading assassin, and said they stopped a plot to kill a "very important target," possibly a world leader attending the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Robert Bryden, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York office, said Munoz-Mosquera, 24, was "the single most trusted assassin" for Colombia’s Medellin cocaine cartel. He said officials did not know Munoz-Mosquera’s target.
Munoz-Mosquera is suspected of killing 40 Colombian police officers, setting 12 car bombs and masterminding the murder of a Colombian presidential candidate in 1989, authorities said.
DEA agents staked out a pay telephone in Queens Wednesday night, according to court papers. A man later identified as Munoz-Mosquera got out of a car, made a phone call and was arrested, authorities said. "We have a lot of eyes and ears in New York in the Colombian community," Bryden said.
Now for the real story.
Mosquera was grabbed thanks to a roving wiretap. I’ve heard the story from friends who were involved with the operation. DEA officials learned that Mosquera’s mom was going to call him. They moved quickly to set up a roving wiretap. They knew he was in New York but did not know where. Mosquera took many precautions, including having the in bound call bounce around the United States. He sent a third party to answer the phone. When he left his vehicle, DEA agents closed in and put a major league killer in jail. He was later convicted and is serving a long sentence in a high security US penal facility. The FISA authorization was obtained subsequently.
So, President Bush is wrong. You don’t have to break a law to get quick action. Not only can you catch terrorists using FISA, we have caught terrorists. The real story behind the unauthorized wiretaps authorized by President Bush probably concerns the source of the info. It appears the most likely explanation is that the Bush Administration did not want to have to tell a Federal judge that they were using information obtained from interrogations that violated the spirit and the letter of the Geneva Conventions. Instead of protecting the nation the President is covering his derrier."