Bush OK'd illegal spying before 9/11

News & Politics

Jason Leopold of Truthout reports that Bush authorized illegal spying before 9/11, according to a recently declassified document. In early 2001 the National Security Agency requested permission to undertake data mining operations that might bring up the names of American citizens.

The Agency requested that the administration delete those names, should they crop up. Keeping them would be illegal domestic spying. The administration ignored the NSA's request and used the names to compile an illegal enemies list.

Leopold writes:

What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.
Hat tips to: Unspun Blog, Suburban Guerilla.

Confederate Yankee issues the standard right-wing rejoinder: Cliiiiinton started it. CY notes that the declassified NSA report that Leopold cites was prepared under the Clinton administration. Can't argue with that. The introductory briefing for the new president was written while the old president was still in power. Then the incoming president wasted no time in authorizing a new illegal enemies list.

[Truthout, Unspun Blog, Suburban Guerilla, Confederate Yankee]

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