Reports are emerging suggesting that secret US military intelligence aircraft were used to find and locate Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of attempting to set off a crude car bomb in Times Square. The CBS affiliate in New York reported today: "In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport." The post at 5:34 PM was titled "Army Intelligence Planes Led To Suspect’s Arrest." But then at 6:21 PM, the article’s title was changed to "Total Time Of Investigation: 53 Hours, 20 Minutes: Faisal Shahzad In Custody After Nearly Fleeing United States." As Rayne observed on FireDogLake, the paragraph about the Army planes was deleted from the CBS story. Screenshot of the original post here.
A US Special Operations Force source told me that the planes were likely RC-12s equipped with a Guardrail Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system that, as the plane flies overland "sucks up" digital and electronic communications. "Think of them as manned drones. They’re drones, but they have men sitting in them piloting them and they can be networked together," said the source. "You have many of them–four, five, six of them–and they all act as a node and they scrape up everything, anything that’s electronic and feed it back." The source added: "It sucks up everything. We’ve got these things in Jalalabad [Afghanistan]. We routinely fly these things over Khandahar. When I say everything, I mean BlueTooth would be effected, even the wave length that PlayStation controllers are on. They suck up everything. That’s the point."
Guardrail has been used for years by the US military. In recent years, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has also used the "Constant Hawk" and "Highlighter" aerial sensor platforms. All of these programs have recently undergone a series of upgrades.
So were US special forces involved with Shahzad’s arrest?
"My conjecture at the moment is that immediately after this went down and they knew that he was on the loose, parts of the domestic counter-terrorism operations that they had set up during the Bush administration were reactivated," says the Special Forces source. "They’re compartmentalized. So they kicked into high gear and were supporting law enforcement. In some cases, law enforcement may not have even known that some of the signals intelligence was coming from covert military units."
If true, that could mean that secretive programs such as "Power Geyser" or "Granite Shadow," remain in effect. These were the unclassified names for reportedly classified, compartmentalized programs under the Bush administration that allegedly gave US military special forces sweeping authority to operate on US soil in cases involving WMD incidents or terror attacks.
"They sidestep Posse Comitatus," said the source.
The Joint Special Operations Command, which was run by Gen. Stanley McChrystal from 2003-2008, is reportedly allowed to operate on US soil. That’s a result of Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25), an executive order drafted by President Clinton on May 3, 1994. The complete text remains classified, however, "The full text of PDD-25 is reported to exempt the Joint Special Operations Command from the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 18USC Sec.1385, PL86-70, Sec. 17[d]. which makes it illegal for military and law enforcement to exercise jointly," according to GlobalSecurity.org.