From the Crazy, Mixed-Up Files of the National Security Agency


“U.S. intelligence intercepted two messages the day before the Sept. 11 attacks that indicated an event was planned the following day. . . . The National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on communications worldwide, intercepted messages that said ‘tomorrow is zero hour’ and ‘the match begins tomorrow,’ sources said on condition of anonymity. The agency did not translate the messages, which were in Arabic, until Sept. 12.” —Reuters

Some other bungled intelligence intercepts:

1. “Fuck Babe Ruth. We repeat: Fuck Babe Ruth.” (Japanese, intercepted Dec. 6, 1941; translated Dec. 8)

2. “Move the issiles-may into Uba-cay.” (Russian, intercepted Oct. 14, 1962; translated Oct. 16)

3. “You know what it’s like? It’s like in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, where Bugs twists Elmer’s rifle barrel around, so it’s pointing at him, but Elmer doesn’t know it, so he pulls the trigger and shoots himself! And he’s all covered in soot! . . . I know I shouldn’t laugh. . . . ” (Cuban, intercepted Nov. 21, 1963; translated Nov. 23)

4. “Tell Jeb it’s time for ‘Operation Nixon’s Revenge.'” (Texan, November 7, 2000; translated Nov. 8)

5. “The match is tomorrow. The match . . . The match. For Allah’s sake, you are SO dumb! We’re crashing the plane tomorrow! Into the—Yes! Right! Into the World Trade Center! In New York! . . . No, City! . . . Just set your alarm . . . THE ONE I GAVE YOU! Fuck! You are SUCH an idiot! GOODBYE!” (Arabic, intercepted Sept. 10, 2002; translated Sept. 12)

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