Timeline Of U.S. Surveillance Under Bush and Obama

The Washington Post has a graphic timeline of electronic surveillance under Presidents Bush and Obama from 2001 through 2013.

But there are many more examples. In 2010, the FBI got the phone records of WAPO journalists. See, FBI Illegally Collected Thousands of Phone Records Through Fake Terror Emergencies. [More...]

From 2008, Intrusive New FBI Surveillance Guidelines Proposed, which the ACLU warned would result in mass data-mining:

“This seems to be based on the idea that the government can take a bunch of data and create a profile that can be used to identify future bad guys,” he said. “But that has not been demonstrated to be true anywhere else.”

Here is Ashcroft's 2002 pitch for more FBI surveillance tools, DOJ's 2002 guidelines factsheet, and 2003 NSA guidelines.

There's also this 2003 Defense Department memo where the DoD gets into the act of issuing national security letters. Here is the Defense Department's 2004 instruction sheet on getting information from financial institutions. On National Security letters, see The FBI is Spying on You and Me (2005.)

This has never been just about terrorism. Here's an example of the FBI using "sneak and peek" warrants in a domestic cock-fighting case. In 2004, Ashcroft used the Patriot Act to bust pot-smugglers. In 2005, Senator Russ Feingold warned us sneak and peeks are about drug cases, not terrorism. Remember in 2005 when they inserted a Meth bill to limit cold pills into the Patriot Act extension? And a narco-terrorism provision?

In 2005, the Justice Department opposed a provision in the House bill to renew the Patriot Act that "would require the Justice Department to report to Congress annually on government-wide efforts to develop and use data-mining technology to track intelligence patterns."

Also in 2005, the FBI was forced to admit it wiretapped the wrong numbers using authority in the Patriot Act.

More in 2005: Bush creates a new national security division within the Federal Bureau of Investigation that will fall under the overall direction of John D. Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence. Purpose: to tear down more of the wall between intelligence and law enforcement.

Bush also wanted the FBI to be able to avoid judicial review of FBI seizures of business and financial records. All they had to do was declare the records were relevant to a terrorism investigation (no obligation to assert the records are likely to reveal evidence of a crime.)

When the FBI got caught misusing its authority to get NSL letters, FBI Director Robert Mueller gave a mea culpa to Congress that basically said:

Yes, we abused our Patriot Act authority by spying on Americans who weren't suspected of terrorism, even though we promised that we wouldn't, but now that we've been caught, we really really promise not to abuse that authority again, so please don't take it away.

From 2006: FBI snoops on phone records of journalists at ABC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post to determine who in the government may have leaked classified information to news outlets.

From 2004: DARPA's plan to spy on entire cities using blimps. And Matrix, the Multistate Antiterrorism Information Exchange, which was an attempt to create a crime-fighting database with data mining capabilities that could have allowed police to create lists of people who fit criminal profiles based on their ethnicity, address or credit history. The GAO said that the federal government has more than 120 programs to collect and analyze personal data so they can predict the behavior of individuals.

From 2003, one that didn't make through Congress: Patriot Act II, officially named the Domestic Security Surveillance Act of 2003. Here's what Bush proposed in 2003. More here. Bush and Ashcroft also tried to give us the Victory Act, which redefined drug crimes as terrorism, with lots of increased surveillance authority, such as:

Raise the threshold for rejecting illegal wiretaps. The draft reads: "A court may not grant a motion to suppress the contents of a wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, unless the court finds that the violation of this chapter involved bad faith by law enforcement."

....Extend subpoena powers by giving giving law enforcement the authority to issue non-judicial subpoenas which require a person suspected of involvement in money laundering to turn over financial records and appear in a prosecutor's office to answer questions.

2003 also gave us the Lone Wolf bill, named for Zacarias Moussaoui.

"The legislation, known as the 'Moussaoui fix,' was approved 90-4. It would make it easier for the FBI to seek warrants for wiretaps and searches on non-Americans suspected of planning terrorist attacks, by eliminating a requirement to show the suspect was connected to a known terrorist group or a country that sponsors terrorism."

There's the Total Information Awareness Plan and many more examples in the timelime of how the U.S. became a surveillance state in the decade since 9/11. I'm out of time now and have just scratched the surface. TalkLeft has more than 500 posts on the Patriot Act alone. There's another 200 posts on electronic surveillance, going back to 2002 that I haven't reviewed today.

Shorter version of all this: Utter the word terrorism and while everyone ducks, the Government suspends the Constitution.

On giving terrorists what they want:

Who needs the terrorists to take down America when the Government is doing such a better job of it by eradicating the civil liberties that are the hallmark of this great nation? At one time we were the beacon of liberty in the free world. That light has been dimming since September 11, and unless we clap three times for Tinkerbelle, it's about to go out.

< Guardian Exposes NSA's "The Boundless Informant" | NSA Leak Source Comes Forward >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    some dolt on Morning Joe (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:44:09 AM EST
    on Friday said that if you were not doing anything wrong, why worry about the government having your information. She obviously doesn't know History, Nixon, Joe McCarthy, The Anti-war protests in the 60s, the civil rights movement.... nah, the government has never been a threat to the people, couldn't happen.

    I don't care if Bush started or if Obama made it.. (none / 0) (#1)
    by redwolf on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:28:37 PM EST
    worse.  I want every non political appointee who was involved in jail.  We can vote out our elected leaders but we can't vote out the nameless bureaucrats who committed these horrific violations of the constitution.  They must be fired, tried and prosecuted for treason.  I want the next president that says hey, can you guys spy on regular Americans to be told to pound sand the same way Nixon was told to take a hike by the IRS.

    But those elected officials gave a rubber stamp (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:20:35 PM EST
    to this unconstitutionality when they voted for the Patriot Act, when they voted to renew FISA legislation, when they sat in on classified meetings with administration heads and said and did nothing... We don't really know how much our electeds are up to their necks in, because they are either playing dumb about it, or toeing the line for continued secrecy. We absolutely need to drum out the spy chiefs and their henchmen, but they would not be able to claim the mantle of legality if not for the Congressional clowns who gave them the power to violate our rights in the first place.

    from what I have read and seen (none / 0) (#5)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:37:46 AM EST
    on the talking head shows, much of congress did not fully know what was going on. Of those who did know they had some sort of confidentiality order that was binding. Never the less they tried to warn us, saying that if the people knew they would not be happy about it. The problem is no one was listening. If the news media didn't make a huge song and dance number over what they were saying, the american people surely wouldn't pay attention.

    Ron Wyden and Mark Udall were warning us, (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by shoephone on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:12:37 AM EST
    but the others on the committee-- like DiFi -- went along with it all quite willingly. As for those who claim they didn't know, I think they didn't want to know. Plausible deniability. The Senate's job is advise and consent, not rubber stamp and play dumb.

    A bit severe...but I like it... (none / 0) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:45:57 PM EST
    When I think back to the uproar over (none / 0) (#4)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:32:14 PM EST
    Total Information Awareness, and that the only reason funding for it was suspended was because of Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden... Did Diane Feinstein  oppose John Poindexter's TIA? I really don't remember. If so, she sure seems like a convert for the idea these days.

    According to this 2002 Prisonplanet (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:19:55 PM EST
    article, Feinstein did deliver a few carefully worded statements.  

    The Pentagon tried to allay those concerns Wednesday, stressing that [the TIA program] is only ``an experimental prototype'' and that Poindexter's involvement is limited to the research. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she plans to introduce legislation to ensure that the project does not infringe on the privacy rights of Americans.

    ``This is a panoply, which isn't carefully conscribed and controlled, for a George Orwell America,'' Feinstein told the Mercury News. ``And I don't think the American people are ready for that by a long shot.''

    Apparently, 'long shot' meant eleven or twelve years.