There's a subscription only article written by Dianne Feinstein right now on the WSJ called "The NSA's Watchfulness Protects America" with a sub headline that says, "If today's call-records program had been in place in before 9/11, the terrorist attacks likely would have been prevented." Unfortunately, I can't read it, however…
According to www.historycommons.org, in 1997 the U.S. Military and NSA asked for access to Telecom networks. In documents filed in 2006 by Joe Nacchio concerning his trial on insider trading charges, a Lieutenant General "told Mr. (Dean) Wandry (a member of Qwest) that he ran the largest telecom operation in the world, he had looked at Qwest's network, and he wanted to use it for government purposes." […] "By 1999, Qwest is working extensively with the NSA."
In February 2001, three different U.S. Telecom firms cooperate with the NSA surveillance program, but Qwest refuses. The three that cooperate are AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. "Qwest officials are unsure that it is legal to hand over customer information to the government without court warrants." […] "(Joe) Nacchio is so disturbed by the idea of the NSA wiretapping phones without warrants, and is so unsure of what information would be collected and how it might be used, that he decides the company will not cooperate. The NSA tells Qwest and other companies that not only would it compile and maintain data on U.S. Citizens' phone habits, but it may well share that information with other U.S. Government agencies, including the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI."
So you see, it seems that "today's call-records program" in some fashion "had been in place before 9/11" not to mention a program called Echelon (at the time of 9/11, protests against Echelon were taking place), and PROMIS.
Putting aside all of that, the NSA and 9/11 is a murky subject to begin with. The 9/11 Commission barely investigated the NSA, and there are many, many, many (to name a few) things that need to be investigated.
So, whatever Dianne Feinstein and the Wall Street Journal. Stop lying to the American people.