This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 17, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: We've heard about the legal battle over the NSA's once-secret eavesdropping program. Now's there a report there has been fighting over the intel that's been collected. According to The New York Times, almost all of the names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers led to dead ends.
Joining us now is Bill Daly, former FBI investigator and senior vice president of Control Risks Group, a security consulting firm.
So the story is the NSA suddenly started dumping all this stuff on the FBI. Check this out, check that out. And that they go out and check things out and discover nothing. There was never — according to The New York Times report — an instance where they found something good. Do you believe that?
BILL DALY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: No. I don't believe it. First of all, John, let's put it in context. Right after 9/11 we had the concern about a second wave of attacks. We were trying to put a hand around this Al Qaeda organization and this worldwide network and part of it was like trying to take a drink from an open fire hydrant. There is a lot of data spewing out. There is a lot of raw data, meaning it hasn't been qualified. We're getting names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses and saying, track these down. We think they have had contact or perhaps a connection with Al Qaeda.
So I think that at the end of the day when this all sorts through we are going to find that maybe the raw data itself was not directly involved in arrests or identifying individuals but combined with other information. There is some suggestion here that the individual planned to attack or cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.
GIBSON: Iyman Faris.
DALY: Iyman Faris back in 2003 was identified with his communications with Al Qaeda and also his meetings with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and also there is the suggestion that the Lackawanna Five, the individuals in upstate New York who were identified as having gone through some training and contact with Al Qaeda were also the result of this program. So I think to kind of wipe it clean with one brush and say it didn't result in anything wasn't fair.
GIBSON: The allegation is that the intel program, gathering all this intelligence from the NSA just wasted thousands and thousands of man-hours of the FBI. That they went out and ran down all these leads and it was all just one big waste of time.
DALY: That's the intelligence business. The intelligence business is tracking down bits of information, points, usually connect the points, connect the dots and try to pull it together. Sometimes it takes a very long time. In the word of foreign counter intelligence it may take literally years to put together a case against a known or suspected intelligence officer. In this case we were trying to get our hands around an unknown enemy, unknown quality. Do we have sleeper cells here in a short period of time? So of course there are going to be dead ends. Of course it is going to be frustrating.
GIBSON: I'm to take it then that these complaints are grousing by FBI agents who resented having to go run down what were sure to be a lot of dead ends?
DALY: Well, perhaps. And perhaps they were frustrated because even the culture of the organization, since that time has been evolving. Mueller has done a great job — FBI director Mueller — in trying to change the culture in becoming more intelligence gathering and pro-active against terrorism.
We have to keep in mind, too, I think that this, John, is maybe making a story where there really isn't a story. The deal here is that that's their job. The job is to get data and facts and try to check them out. To me, that's what they did. If people weren't happy with it, well, I think we are all better served for it having been done.
GIBSON: Bill Daly. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
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