Check out this Washington Post piece about how
the British authorities broke open the terror plot:
“It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance.
From that vague but vital piece of information, according to a senior European intelligence official, British authorities opened the investigation into what they said turned out to be a well-coordinated and long-planned plot to bomb multiple transatlantic flights heading toward the United States -- an assault designed to rival the scope and lethality of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings.”
That’s right: It started with a TIP! In the American legal system, a tip – along with some basic corroboration – is a classic way to develop probable cause, and thereby to obtain warrants for searches or wiretaps.
In other words, the plot wasn’t discovered by massive, nationwide wiretaps or datamining bank records. It was uncovered by classic law enforcement techniques.
So the pro-Bush talking point arising out of this bust - that it proves the Bush Administration needs leeway over civil liberties to conquer terrorism - is exactly wrong. Rather, this case demonstrates quite clearly that we can fight terrorism using the same legal law enforcement methods we’ve been using for decades without trashing the Bill of Rights.