home

Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warrants

The New York Times has a ten page article explaining how President Bush, via executive order issued after 9/11, directed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on thousands of conversations and read e-mails, without a warrant. Not even a secret FISA warrant was obtained. The Times says it withheld reporting this for a year because the White House said it would alert terrorists.

Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States ­ including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners ­ is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.

As for numbers:

....officials familiar with it said the N.S.A. eavesdropped without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.

Here's how it used to be done:

Traditionally, the F.B.I., not the N.S.A., seeks such warrants and conducts most domestic eavesdropping. Until the new program began, the N.S.A. typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions in Washington, New York and other cities, and obtained court orders to do so.

Several officials complained about the program.

Some officials familiar with it say they consider warrantless eavesdropping inside the United States to be unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, amounting to an improper search. One government official involved in the operation said he privately complained to a Congressional official about his doubts about the legality of the program. But nothing came of his inquiry. "People just looked the other way because they didn't want to know what was going on," he said.

This is a long, long article, but it's one that those who care about privacy rights should read.

< New Jersey Senate Passes Death Penalty Moratorium | Bringing Back the Berlin Wall >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft


  • Display: Sort:
    Oh yeah, I trust these people to have this kind of power. Don't you? Not like they have ever abused power before or anything.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    Well, we all know that reality is exactly like 24, so Bush must have had really good reasons, and was probably personally foiling 10 nuclear attacks a day. You know, between his Xbox break and his afternoon nap.

    Some "official" said this and some "officials" who are familiar with something said that. Where the heck does the writer get his "facts?" Or does he?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#5)
    by Andreas on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    This is not simply "about privacy rights". It is part of the preparations to create a dictatorship by the Bush/Cheney-regime. That the NYT has withheld reporting is telling. It helped to violate democratic rights.

    Shame on the NYT. Such a blatant violation of our constitutional rights ought to have been reported without delay. If the NYT and WaPo could do a worse job of reporting on an administration, I really don't know how. This is a disgrace. Jeralyn speak up the next time your on the phone so the folks at Ft. Meade can hear you more clearly.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#7)
    by Linkmeister on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    Once again we see John Yoo's hands all over this sort of shady activity. The man would fit well in some of the more authoritarian regimes around the world.

    Interesting rumor, if true.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#9)
    by SeeEmDee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    There's some weird stuff going on over at NSA. Seems like those who have disagreements about the Iraq war are being hounded by the psych eval people there and forced into retirements or run out on trumped up charges. Shades of the Commie practice of throwing dissidents into mental wards for being 'insane' for protesting against Soviet brutalities. Now tell me again, who won the Cold War I helped fight? When this is going on?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#10)
    by SeeEmDee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    The dumb blonde piece of eye-candy on the foxnews morning show today brought cowardice to new heights. Allow me to paraphrase.. "I want to be safe, it's fine with me if govt. agents listen to my phone calls and read my emails. I am a good American and I have nothing to hide." She may have nothing to hide, but she is far from a good American. Thinking like that is a disgrace to the home of the BRAVE and the men that have died to protect a nation that does not allow the government to spy on its citizens. At least the legal analyst on the show had the decency to remind the viewers that such actions by the government are illegal and against everything this country stands for.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:04 PM EST
    Kdog: The dumb blonde piece of eye-candy on the foxnews morning show Is her middle name "Baaabaaara"? :P

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#13)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    let's not go as far as the bimbo on Fox but how about taking some deep breaths before you go off on "the dictatorship." You couldn't pay me enough money to work on the top of the Empire State Bldg. Maybe with a parachute. Was everyone in here clamoring about the Clintons using secret FBI files as placemats in the WH? I doubt it. And that was pre-9-11, which sorta changed things....

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#14)
    by DonS on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    Let's see where the courageous press corps lands and whether they will make Scotty choke on some variation of "9/11 changed everything, war on terra, protect Murcan people", blah, blah, blah. Not that I needed much convincing, but we have indeed met the enemy, and they are us.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#15)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    Gotta love those wacky war-profiteers. Someone needs to be reading this guys mail, and his profit margin.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#16)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    This is supposed to be troubling? For some reason I'm not. You guys fight this one, I think it was a necessary evil.

    This is supposed to be troubling? For some reason I'm not.
    Yes, it is very troubling. It appears to be a violation of the 4th ammendment. You don't think that the President of the United States sidestepping the constitution is troubling?

    What I want to know is did the Times hold onto this for exactly one year, or was it possibly slightly longer? Did the Times have this information before the election? The article specifically states that administration officials feared prosecution if John Kerry had been elected.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#19)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    You don't think that the President of the United States sidestepping the constitution is troubling?
    I'm confident there's legal precedent, and if not, I'm still OK with it. But that's just me. You want to make it an issue, go for it.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#20)
    by DonS on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    . . . spillover effect on the "Patriot Act" reauthorization immanently hitting some roadblocks in the Senate? If not, why not?

    geez, Patrick believes spying on American citizens is a necessary evil, who would of thunk it? You going to start a local ss unit Patrick?

    You want to make it an issue, go for it.
    Pat, it is an issue. The President has basically thumbed his nose at the other two, supposedly equal, branches of the government.
    I'm confident there's legal precedent
    Classified legal opinions as precedent is suspect at best.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#23)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    Mac, Then I'm sure the fine folks in congress and all those free from their own sin will take him to task on it. Otherwise, I can unnderstand the decision.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#24)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    Patrick, when are you organizing that SS unit? You disagree with these nutjobs on the left and BOOM; you're a Nazi? That kind of crazy rhetoric, like the talk of an impending dictatorship, helps noone. As stated before, was everyone in here acting like chicken little when the Clintons had HUNDREDS of secret FBI files at the WH? Chuck Colson did a jail term for one file yet Bill and Hill skated after browsing hundreds? Give me a break.

    LWW, Clinton's behavior regarding the FBI files scandal is certainly suspect (when I heard about this I didn't like it one bit), but, Bill Clinton is no longer the President of the United States and that is not the issue at hand. The current President was/is spying on US Citizens without obtaining a warrant. It deserves the attention it is getting. Just as Bill Clinton's FBI scandal received attention.
    That kind of crazy rhetoric, like the talk of an impending dictatorship, helps noone.
    I agree.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    Ha ha! You can tell how weak the wingnut case is when they bring up nixon and clinton;-) BTW, nixon is a better example because he INITIATED spying on his 'enemies', not just looked at records like some allege re clinton.

    Just for the record...I didn't trust Clinton, either. Now... If you didn't trust Clinton...why the hell would you trust Bush??

    personally, I think Bush is worse than Hitler. Hitler was lnsane, he did what did for some perverted nationalistic idea, bush did for oil wells, and at least he wasn't a coward like Bush.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#29)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    I for one was hoping to play Devil's Advocate on this one but I don't have a starting spot. Right-wing blogs are no help:
    • It was necessary to act quickly. This is an interesting practical (not legal) point regarding the first, say, 24 hours of the multi-year project.
    • At least one judge refused to issue a warrant, showing that they needed to go without warrants. Which is a novel "the courts are there to agree with you" theory.
    • My favorite, they're complaining about how newspapers aren't crying for charges against the leakers, as they did in Plamegate. Just the obvious attempt to deflect attention.
    So, instead, I just say impeach Bush. There may be some legal hoodoo by which he's not a criminal, but if there was this much evidence against me I'd be charged. It would even be a good thing for Iraq, showing them that democratically-elected leaders are not above the law.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#30)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    Roy, "It was necessary to act quickly. This is an interesting practical( not legal) point regarding the first,say,24 hours of the multi-year project." So 24 hrs after the WTC crashed to the ground this country was supposed to go back to business as usual? It's a joke right?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#31)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    LWW, this program was part of the organized & orderly effort after 9/11, not the mad scramble the day of. On various occasions, they got some intelligence indicating people it would be helpful to surveil, and I understand they'd want to act quickly. That doesn't explain why they didn't bother to get warrants for ongoing surveillance, after the immediate response to new intelligence. So my 24-hour gut feel is per incident, not 24 hours after 9/11. But you make a good point. So in your opinion, what's the grace period during which we allow the President to break the law after an emergency or getting important new intelligence? Maybe that's an unfairly loaded question, he might have acted legally, so what law gives him the authority to order this kind of surveillance without a warrant? (I think I've hit my 4/day limit, so my silence shouldn't be taken as conceding anything)

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    Warrantless searches were going on months after Sept. 11. 9/11 changed things, it didn't change the Constitution. I keep hearing that's why they hate us, our freedoms. BTW, I'd be satisfied if the President authorized warrantless wiretaps in the days after Sept. 11, but not on US citizens and not without court review after the fact. Dictatorship? I don't think that is impending. But a form of democratic tyranny is certainly possible if we are not careful, or if we don't give a damn. Maybe I'm over the top, but the foxnews lady whining "I wanna be safe" while living in one of the safest places on earth is over the top, through the middle, and underneath.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#33)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    Patrick, we should all be very scared when anyone in gov't violates the laws. 'No man is above the law'. Even repub senators realize this:
    "There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
    BTW, I find 'inappropriate' an incredibly mild word for violating the constitution.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    et al - That sound you just heard was millions of Americans yawing.

    et al - That sound you just heard was millions of Americans yawing.
    Ok Jim... I'll bite. Why is America yawning?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#36)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    Macro? Curiosity... cat... ;-)

    The danger in Bush ordering illegal spying on Americans is not the damage that has been done or is being done. The danger lies in the precedent that has been set should Bush not be held accountable for desecrating our Constitution and endangering our freedom.

    America and the rest of the world always yawns when wheezer does his trite posts.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    macro - Because the story has no legs. They recognize that this is just another attempt by the NYT to undercut the Bush administration, even if does alert terrorists and their allies in the US and around the world that they are being watched. Tell me. What's the difference between Plamegate and this? The envelope, please: This leak is actually important and harmful to the country. Any more questions?

    Tell me. What's the difference between Plamegate and this?
    It doesn't matter, this isn't Plamegate.
    Because the story has no legs. They recognize that this is just another attempt by the NYT to undercut the Bush administration
    They? You are speaking for the entire American public? From Foxnews:
    "There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He promised hearings early next year.
    Someone thinks it has legs. Before we debate this any further, let us see how this progresses. Right now, the only thing the American public knows is that the executive branch of the government may, and I emphasize may have violated the 4th amendment. So please, donít start linking to, and highlighting, articles that may show the President has the authority to do so.

    Right now, the only thing the American public knows is that the executive branch of the government may, and I emphasize may have violated the 4th amendment.
    I take that back. He did violate the 4th amendment. The real question is was he allowed. Regardless of whether or not he was allowed to authorize warrantless searches, if left unchecked, this will have serious implications on our freedom.

    I keep hearing that's why they hate us, our freedoms.
    So the plan is to get rid of our freedoms. Makes sense, don't it?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#43)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    even if does alert terrorists and their allies in the US and around the world that they are being watched Yes.... they NEVER would have guessed in a thousand years that they were being watched. Never. Those dummies at the NYT. Jezzuzzss! What traitorous fools. Print the facts? How subversive. Will they never learn?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#44)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    The NYT sat on this for a year, waiting to release it on.... Are you ready for this? .....the day of the Iraqi elections. Why? Why not last Sunday or next Wednesday?
    Yeah, why not last year before the election?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#45)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    George Bush: "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator." December 18, 2000

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#46)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    We have this from the king of moral relativism
    Along with your outrage over "Plamegate," and I am sure you are, let's hear your comment about the leak of this information, and the other information. Now, before you tell me about "good leaks" and "bad leaks," let me ask you if think "good laws" should be followed and "bad laws" ignored.
    The smell of hypocrisy is very strong this am.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#47)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    Sailor - If we take their statement that they sat on it for a year as correct, they didn't have it before the election. And if they had it, they would have used it. Can you spell "Rathergate?" SD - Yes, and the smell comes from you. My comment was, and has been, that the Mrs. Wilson affair was a tempest in a teapot, formulated by those in the CIA that opposed the war. We now have another chapter in the same sorry story. Repeat after me. If you don't want to be hypocritical you can't like some leaks and not like others. If the leakers wanted to out what was going on, they should have done so in public. Instead they hide in the dark. edgey - Whatever the terrorists would have thought... it would have been.... yes... A GUESS. Now, thanks to this, they know. A big difference. But, hey. You've told us the car bombers aren't terrorists, so why should we worry? Duhhhhh.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#48)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:08 PM EST
    How about we all chip in in a few cases of private stock Kool-Aid for whizzy for Xmas? ;-)

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#49)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:56:12 PM EST
    How about we all chip in in a few cases of private stock Kool-Aid for whizzy for Xmas?
    I don't think its such a good a idea. It appears from his posts that its already having toxic effects. When the king of moral relativism starts lecturing people on hypocrisy maybe its time to lay off the kool aid for a while.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#50)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 02:03:09 PM EST
    Jim, All leaks are good or all leaks are bad? Really? All drugs are good or all drugs are bad? All people are good or all people are bad? And of course there are good laws and bad laws, or the civil rights movement, for example, never would've needed to occur. Also, good laws can be applied in bad ways, unfairly and inequitably. You really want Dubya to have THIS kind of unchecked power? Seriously? It flies in the face of everything the founders used as the basis for separation of powers. People aren't angels, and all that, their power needs to be checked.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#51)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 02:48:16 PM EST
    edgey - Still smarting over me reminding you of your out of control comments, eh?

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#52)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 02:55:08 PM EST
    BTW - I'm not a Repub.
    votes for bush; defends bush, even when bush decries and disavows earlier statements. Walks like a duck ...

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#53)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 03:01:38 PM EST
    So 24 hrs after the WTC crashed to the ground this country was supposed to go back to business as usual?
    He didn't sign the first one until 2002. Maybve he had to finish "My Pet Goat" first.

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#54)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 03:30:09 PM EST
    Wow... I go out for four hours and look what happens. Looks like whizzy finally blew his last fuse. Heh! Or at least he's seems pretty close to a meltdown here. Careful, whiz. Don't bang your head on the celing beams while you're floating around there, huh? Amazing...

    Re: Bush Ordered Secret Surveillance Without Warra (none / 0) (#55)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 03:54:28 PM EST
    Once again, repubs have no argument, just personal attacks. If this isn't true, I call upon all moderate repubs to disavow ppj's rants. ... crickets ... Gee, I guess the 'moderate muslims' have plenty of company;-)