Wiretapping Report Released

Here are a few things that stand out.

Remember the bone that the Rockefeller and Feinstein threw to civil liberties activists when they were in the process of codifying the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program in the FISA Amendments Act--that they would order the IG's of the various agencies to write a report about the program? The report is out.

While I'm combing through, along with Marcy and Spencer, who are doing fantastic work, I want to highlight a few things that stand out.

First, and this is the blockbuster revelation that's going to be hitting the news, is that Bush personally tried to get to Ashcroft when he was in his hospital bed. Bush made phone calls to the hospital and he ordered the visit by Card and Gonzales to try to force Ashcroft to recertify the program, a program that Ashcroft and Comey were opposed to.

According to notes from Ashcroft’s FBI security detail, at 6:20 p.m. that evening Card called the hospital and spoke with an agent in Ashcroft’s security detail, advising him that President Bush would be calling shortly to speak with Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s wife told the agent that Ashcroft would not accept the call. Ten minutes later, the agent called Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff David Ayers at DOJ to request that Ayers speak with Card about the President’s intention to call Ashcroft. The agent conveyed to Ayers Mrs. Ashcroft’s desire that no calls be made to Ashcroft for another day or two. However, at 6:45 p.m., Card and the President called the hospital and, according to the agent’s notes, “insisted on speaking [with Attorney General Ashcroft].” According to the agent’s notes, Mrs. Ashcroft took the call from Card and the President and was informed that Gonzales and Card were coming to the hospital to see Ashcroft regarding a matter involving national security.

Another key element that reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post don't really cover is that there were separate programs--the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" that was essentially the program uncovered by Lichtblau and Risen in their December 2005 NYT article, but as well other, unspecified and still highly classified programs called in the report "Other Intelligence Activities" which together comprise what the report calls the “President’s Surveillance Program."

Other tidbits include the entirely unsurprising revelation that Bush administration offiicials, and particulary Alberto Gonzales, lied about the effectiveness of the surveillance programs to keeping America safe. Here's what Spencer pulls out from the Justice IG.

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