On Thursday, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, hinted that the program thwarted a major terrorist attack, although he said no more than that. On Friday, Senior U.S. intelligence officials said that a combination of the phone records program and other intercepts, helped prevent the attack on New York's subway from going into effect. The praise of the phone records program in stopping the attack comes despite court testimony that it originally was an email that led investigators to the plot.
Saying that he was recruited by an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan, Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in the 2009 plot. He had sent an email to a Yahoo email address seeking help with his bomb recipe. Both British and U.S. intelligence operations were monitoring this Yahoo account. This still doesn't explain how the phone program helped with the investigation unless Zazi's calls were being monitored, which would have helped the U.S. and U.K. know what he was up to. The problem with obtaining records about the incident is that the program is classified. The PRISM program allegedly allows the NSA to collect metadata on calls over the Verizon, AT&T and Sprint networks.