Former American Idol wannabe Corey Clark made no mention of the terrorism allegations swirling around Idol judge Paula Abdul on ABC's expose last night. But sources close to the aspiring singer say that he dismisses any link between his former lover and the terror group al-Qaeda out of hand. Clark says that while he is supportive of the US-led war on terror he doesn't believe that Ms. Abdul has any ties to terrorism.
Clark says he and Abdul made 'mistakes,' but terrorism not among them
By Deanna Swift
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LOS ANGELES--Former American Idol wannabe Corey Clark made no mention of the terrorism allegations swirling around Idol judge Paula Abdul on ABC's expose last night. But sources close to the aspiring singer say that he dismisses any link between his former lover and the terror group al-Qaeda out of hand. Clark says that while he is supportive of the US-led war on terror he doesn't believe that Ms. Abdul has any ties to terrorism. "He just wants to move on with his life," says the source. "This is over as far as he's concerned."
Patriot Act snares Paula
News reports surfaced yesterday that Ms. Abdul was the unintended victim of a sting operation intended to sniff out Jordanian terror suspect Buelah Abdul. The voicemail messages she left for Mr. Clark were recorded by federal agents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
ABC reportedly obtained the voicemails that Ms. Abdul left for Mr. Clark from FBI agents who confused the Hollywood A-list Abdul with her similarly named counterpart on the US terror list. The agents are said to have relied on roving wiretaps to monitor the lovebirds' conversations as well as to tape numerous voicemails left by Ms. Abdul for the 22-year-old Clark. Under the Patriot Act, passed in the weeks after September 11, 2001, the federal government may monitor the phone calls of individuals "proximate" to the primary person being tapped, in this case, Ms. Abdul.
Talk of 'judges' raises alarm
A high-ranking intelligence source says that FBI agents believed that they had correctly targeted suspect Buelah Abdul because of the content of the conversations overheard between Ms. Abdul and Mr. Clark. Agents reportedly heard talk of 'silencing the judges,' leading them to believe that Ms. Abdul and the American Idol hopeful planned to target federal judges as part of a terror operations. Suggestions that Mr. Clark 'trim his beard in order to look more mainstream' also raised a red flag, as did references to a person or persons being "the bomb" or "bombing."
The suspicious terms and phrases used by the Ms. Abdul and Mr. Clark were automatically picked up by the National Security Agency's ECHELON program, a global surveillance operation that listens for key words used by terror suspects.
Was Paula profiled?
But when Buelah turned up in Amman, Jordan in February and was detained by police there, the FBI realized that they'd been after the wrong Abdul. Agents reportedly removed the wiretap from Ms. Abdul's phone and inadvertently returned the voicemail messages to Mr. Clark, who then sold them to ABC.
A spokesperson for the ACLU quickly condemned the incident, charging that Ms. Abdul was singled out because she is a prominent Arab-American. Ms. Abdul was recently featured in a brochure created by another prominent Arab-American, Casey Kasum, entitled "Arab Americans Making a Difference." "You have to understand that to the Bush Administration all Abduls are the same," says ACLU spokeswoman Lucy Travis. "Paula Abdul epitomizes what's great about this country. She's the star of a show that features amazing talent, where everyone has a fair shot at becoming famous. Isn't that really what America is all about?"
What star on 'tap' next?
The number of court-authorized wiretaps in the US jumped by 19% in 2004, not counting the 1,754 court orders for terror-related investigations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, like the one that entrapped Ms. Abdul. Ms. Abdul is the first star to be snared under the Patriot Act, the federal law that greatly expands the US government's ability to conduct surveillance operations on its citizens.
If Paula Abdul had been found to be planning a terrorist operation, would you still watch American Idol? Talk back to firstname.lastname@example.org.