Thursday, January 12, 2006


Federal agents have launched an investigation into a surge in the purchase of large quantities of disposable cell phones by individuals from the Middle East and Pakistan, ABC News has learned.

The phones — which do not require purchasers to sign a contract or have a credit card — have many legitimate uses, and are popular with people who have bad credit or for use as emergency phones tucked away in glove compartments or tackle boxes. But since they can be difficult or impossible to track, law enforcement officials say the phones are widely used by criminal gangs and terrorists. ... "There's very little audit trail assigned to this phone. One can walk in, purchase it in cash, you don't have to put down a credit card, buy any amount of minutes to it, and you don't, frankly, know who bought this," said Jack Cloonan, a former FBI official who is now an ABC News consultant.

Law enforcement officials say the phones were used to detonate the bombs terrorists used in the Madrid train attacks in March 2004. The FBI is closely monitoring the potentially dangerous development, which came to light following recent large-quantity purchases in California and Texas, officials confirmed.

In one New Year's Eve transaction at a Target store in Hemet, Calif., 150 disposable tracfones were purchased. Suspicious store employees notified police, who called in the FBI, law enforcement sources said. In an earlier incident, at a Wal-mart store in Midland, Texas, on December 18, six individuals attempted to buy about 60 of the phones until store clerks became suspicious and notified the police. A Wal-mart spokesperson confirmed the incident.
RELIAPUNDIT: ALL of these large sales came RIGHT AFTER the NYTIMES NSA leak (12/15/05). Though this is circumstantial, it is HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE that the leak alerted the sleeper cells HERE (and perhaps elsewhere), and that they are adapting their SOP's as a result; thus, they are making it tougher for us to prevent an attack.

The jihdoterrorists might now each be using a series of phones (each only once or twice) to communicate with other jihadoterrorists who are also using a series of disposable phones - each only once or twice. All they have to do is tell their comrade which cellphone number to use next. NOW HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET WARRANTS ON THAT!? It's impossible. Which is why it's ABOSLUTELY necessary for the POTUS, as CinC, to use his Article II powers during wartime in order to get the foreign intelligence we need to DEFEND OURSELVES.

By exposing the NSA intercept program, the leakers and their comrades at the NYTIMES have CONFIRMED valuable information to the enemy, alerted the enemy to the information, and NOW - AS A RESULT - the enemy has adjusted. Therefore, the leakers and the NYTIMES have endangered the lives OF MILLIONS of Americans, and our entire economy and also the world's economy (which after all depends on the US economy). They should ALL be charged, tried, convicted, and executed for TREASON.

UPDATE 1/13/06: More discussion HERE and an excellent post HERE from THE ANCHORESS. MORE HERE AND HERE AND HERE AND HERE AND HERE.


8/14/06 UPDATE: here.


Anonymous said...

disposable cell phones are also used to detonate bombs.

the best defense is bad cell service...so let's just let the french run the network!

Chuckles said...

I think all bloggers should be allowed to judge and execute anyone they think committed a crime.

The NY Times did not commit treason. Bush could have gotten warrants, that is why we have a secret court for espionage of this nature, but the administration chose to circumvent that and thus broke US Law.

Reliapundit said...

maybe bush could've gotten warrants; MAYBE HE COULDN'T; and maybe the FISA law doesn't apply to intercepts done from overseas - or in the manner these were done. U JUST DON'T KNOW.

WE DO KNOW that Bush certainly DID apply for and use THOUSANDS of FISA warrants concurrently, so we know he aion;t allergis c top thje idea, and that therefore it is REASONABLE to assume a speicla need/use.

it is UNREASONABLE to presume a neafrious use; this is PURE BDS aka: "king george busHitlerburton-itis.".

he did NOT break the FISA law.

i want traitors tried in a court of law.

that is not unreasonable.

it will stop future leaks and make us all safer.

even folks like you who fear king george busHtilerburton more than al qaeda.

jp said...

Seems to me like a real attack threat was broken. Put together the Italy arrest and the cell phones threat and it sounds to me like a real threat was stopped.



jp said...

Seems to me like a real attack threat was broken. Put together the Italy arrest and the cell phones threat and it sounds to me like a real threat was stopped.



Anonymous said...

Let me guess Chuckles, you had never heard of FISA until the Dems told you to use it in your obvious DNC talking point.

First of all, FISA was established in 1978 equipped to serve warrants against espionage that usually involved covert agents who would be in particular places for a few hours to a couple days.

The time frame to obtain a warrant in a FISA court can take anywhere from one to a number of hours. The standard of proof for the Government is very high, probably too high a bar to intercept a phone call by a member of Al Queda "suspected" of discussing plans of jihad with someone in the US. YOu pretty much need to have happened already to search or arrest that suspect.

When the law was passed to develop FISA, court cases had already established the incredible power of the President to thwart attack during war (cases from 1971) and said that the FISA bill was not to usurp any of that claimed power. Hence, the President does not have to adhere to FISA in all cases.

FISA is totally useless as a court to intercept short telephone calls between foreign jihadists and jihadists in the US (notice I didnt say US Citizens, b/c most jihadists in American sleeper cells being contacted are NOT US Citizens).

Unfortunately, you are so worried about trying to get one up on this President, you are missing the big picture. We have not been attacked since 9/11 because of what has been put in place by this administration and the NYT just alerted the enemy to one of those defenses.

Wake up and smell the coffee, the day you woke up to read that NYT article, in the day the enemy read it too and the same day that they got a little wiser and we were a little less safe.

The NYT hurt all Americans that day, Im a little more worried than most simply b/c I live and work in NYC. It not a comforting thought to know that those who disagree with the President will aid the enemy to hurt his poll ratings.

Chief RZ said...

Great job, astute,
The NSA is, and was a TOP SECRET branch of our US government. Their activities are classified. The NYT's writers who were involved in this act of treason should be tried in our courts. We are at war.
The Truth: I was involved with uncovering several enemy agents (insurgents), Iraqi Bathists, etc in Iraq. They were turned over to our military before 28June04 and to the Iraqi courts on base after that date.
As I have posted in another place, we should require a background check similar to purchasing a gun and/or limit to one purchase a month!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where the actual data showing this spike in cellphone sales resides?
All I hear is word of mouth and its hard to debate something on those grounds.

ed said...


Just as an aside it's highly unlikely that disposable cellphones bought here in the USA would work in Iraq as some people have offered as an alternative explanation. Here in the USA we generally use the CDMA standard while the standard for Europe/Middle East is GSM. I believe the current cellphone network protocol for Iraq is GSM though there might be special purpose CDMA networks setup for the military or US government workers.

However it's pretty unlikely that either US military personnel or US government workers in Iraq would be buying 150 disposable cellphone from a Wal-Mart in Midland, TX. And it's even more unlikely that any Iraqi would be making such a purchase to send home to Iraq because it simply wouldn't work there.

So it really does look like we might be seeing some results from that NYT article.

Reliapundit said...

ed - good points. thanks

Reliapundit said...


i deleted your comment becasue it was MOSTLY a personal attack.

as for the substance of your claim:

i posted that the ABNEWS items was HIGLY SUGGESTIVE of a connection.

I stand by that.

I feel that the subsequent news that the police claim that there was no jihadost connection may or may not be disinformation - JUST LIKE the news today from pakistan:

yesterday the paksitnais were cla9iming we'd killed at least 5 al qaeda bigshots, and that one might've been zawahiri.

AND they said they were doing NDA tests that would take 48 hours.

NOW - less than 24 hours later - they say it was not alqaeda and that zawahiri wasn;t there.


are they merely playing up to their domestic audience - who are pissed off that they are letting us fly drones over their territory!?


And the police force in MIDLAND might be covering upo a newsityem that was never supposed to be leaked to the puiblic.

YUP: even this news helps the enemy.


that was the catch-phrase of WW2 - when FDR - much l,oved HERO of today's left, in spoite of putting 50,000 CITIZNES in concentrations camps - a MUCH worse offense then ANYTHING "king george busHitlerbuirton" has ever done!

anyhow, unlike you and your comrades on the left, i belive WE ARE AT WAR, and that the enemy has many MANY sleeper cells here.

That's why i advocate the UTMOST secrecy by our military and police.

i'd prefer iof we never read stories like the NSA leak or the one about the Midland disposable phone purchase.

i trust my goverment more than i trust the Left or the enemy.

you do not.

and the larger point remains: disposable phones have LONG BEEN and REMAIN a tool for those trying to evade electronic surveillance. that's just a FACT.

their existence makes law enforcement aned terror-prevention tougher. and makes FISA warrants very tough to get, in somne cass.

i believe that sionce Bush asked for a received THOSANDS of FISA warrantrs since 9/11, and that since HE ALSO wanted some surveiallance WITHOUT a warrant, that this PROVES that the court-orderless warrants were of a special nature.


that makes me as nutty as her. I'll take that any day of the week.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...



Reliapundit said...

bill - and any othe rlefti/crooks&liars readers;

let me add this:

i would rather have my government ERR on the side of caution (and, for example, look at the HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE nexus between a surge in large disposable cellphone purchases and the NSA leak), then to ERR ON THE SIDE OF RIGHTS FOR POTENTIAL TERRORISTS, as the Left would prefer.

I would rather we do eveything and then some to prevent another 9/11, than we not do enopugh inorder to protect some civil rights which exist in the "gray zone." especially if these are the "rights" of non-citizens, or enemy combatants.

i agree with JOE KLEIN who wrote:

"It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.

There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them—but also, on the plus side, hampering their ability to communicate with one another. ...

... until the Democrats make clear that they will err on the side of aggressiveness in the war against al-Qaeda, they will probably not regain the majority in Congress or the country."



Anonymous said...

Disposable cell phone purchases causally linked to rapid rise in acts of wingnut insanity and stupidity.

Case in point: this mouth foaming blog post.

Coming soon: some self appointed 'patriot' will be apprehended after capping somebody who 'looked foreign to me' who was attempting to buy a prepaid cell phone at WalMart. Odds are that the victim will be a Sikh or Latino that the weapon toting pinhead will be too moronic to realize are *not* members of minorities stereotypically associated with Middle Eastern terrorism.

And, another thing:

There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior,

This is what is referred to as A RUMOR, genius. When people go on the record or it gets corroborated, or better still, actual verifiable evidence is presented, then whaddya know, it is EVIDENCE. That's why it's called evidence, skippy.

If such unsourced, uncorroborated claptrap was 'evidence', it would not only be valid in a court of law, then Martin Luther King would have been 'proven' to be the ringleader of a commie plot. And yes, this is a rhetorical point; I do know that some of you idiots really do think the civil rights movement was 'a commie plot,' but you'll have to work that out with your therapists.

Reliapundit said...

(1) i actualy was a particpant in the civil rights movement, and need NO LECTURE on that subject.

(2) you lefties visitng from crroksnliars fail to note that i wrote that the purchase surge WAS HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE. i stand by that.

how do any of us know if the Midland purcahsers (who may have been drug dealers) weren't hired by jihadosts to ourchase the phones!? and we know NOTHING of the other purchases ABCNEWS reported.

i think it is more reasonable to be wary of jihadist sleeper cells than ashKKKroft of king george busHitlerburton.

and i agree wioth Harmon and Sunstein and Schmidt that the NSA program AS DESCRIBEd was legal and constitutional.

that measn i ain't a paranoid.

i think the left is paranoid about bush. it's BDS.


Ghost Dansing said...

Dubya's illegal decision to circumvent the FISA court has led to whistlblowing and general controversy about NSA capablities and procedures.

It sounds more like the incompetence of this Republican administration has jeopardized national security drawing national defense capabilities into public discussion through illegal activity.

Reliapundit said...


(1) the activity (potus authorized nsa intercepts of international calls) wasn't illegal; the leak was illegal.

(2) and as for bush "the effin incompetent": he has liberated 50 MILLION people plus the Lebanese, and the economy has grown, and we haven't has a terrorist attack.

if that's the incompetence, then i like it!

all the best!

Anonymous said...

Serious terror cells and criminal organizations have long practiced basic security. We know AQ does it overseas and would almost certainly do so in the land of the enemy.

It is likely that an increase in sales would be among innocent individuals who wanted to protect their privacy.

as for the huge number of "sleepr cells" what is the evidence that the FBI and others are so incompetent? Before 9/11 they had a sernse of who some of these people were, the government had simply underestimated the threat. In the winter of 2001/2002 when Osama called for major terrorist acts we had anthrax which was probablt not Me in origin, a shootup of an Israeli air counter by an individual who was more nut than professional and possibly the Beltway sniper shootings again by kooks.

Why didn't some of these huge number of cells go on the offensive when ordered?

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