Thursday, December 15, 2005

Secret domestic spying: "No Such Agency" does the once unspeakable

i.e. Tapping e-mail and phone. From today's NY Times:

President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages. . . .

"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."

Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

. . .

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

. . .

Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said. Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.
Emphasis added. It's actually a reassuring article in that it suggests hackles raising in a timely fashion and plausible, innocent-enough motives for the apparent constitutional violations committed so far. And anyway who didn't already assume they were spying on us?

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Good point. I always like to say as many trigger words as possible when on an overseas call:

arms dealer
new-kew-ler reactor
weapons stash
Port of Los Angeles

I just like to give 'em something interesting to listen to.