PRISM’s ‘Success’: Dubious 2009 Plot Cited as Evidence of Surveillance’s Merit

Captured Suspect Had Bought Nail Polish Remover

Keeping a constant watch on the entirety of the American populace and indeed much of the human race takes a lot of work, but if the NSA’s overarching surveillance is so “vital” it must have it’s successes, right?

Not so much. The only arrest officials have been able to even tangentially relate to PRISM is the September 2009 capture of airport shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi, who was arrested after he bought “several bottles” of nail polish remover. Zazi eventually plead guilty to “conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction” based solely on the nail polish remover, some hydrogen peroxide he’d bought at a hair salon.

Zazi’s plot is much hyped by the Obama Administration, but its practicality appears tenuous at best. Zazi said he’d hoped to carry out the attack in retaliation for the US occupation of Afghanistan.

Moreover, Sen. Mark Udall (D – CO) was quick to point out that there’s no actual proof PRISM had anything to do with Zazi’s capture. Indeed, Zazi’s arrest is one of the few prospective terrorist plots that didn’t directly involve the FBI pretending to be al-Qaeda and giving some guy a phony bomb, so officials looking for a “foiled” plot they could try to tie to PRISM had a pretty short list to work with.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of