George W. Bush's domestic spying
|This article is part of our coverage of the
Bush administration's domestic spying programs.
- "Contrary to what the NYT and others suggest, we don't have to look beyond data-mining to find something so horrible that a good conservative like James Comey would object. We just need to get to the point where the US is using data-mining of dubious connections to replace the idea of probable cause in a surveillance program."—Marcy Wheeler, The Next Hurrah Blog, July 29, 2007.
- 1 Background: media accounts
- 2 Cover-up?
- 3 Domestic spying rebranded
- 4 National Security Agency
- 5 U.S. Department of Justice
- 6 Central Intelligence Agency
- 7 Federal Bureau of Investigation
- 8 U.S. Department of Defense
- 9 U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- 10 U.S. Department of Energy
- 11 Resources and articles
Background: media accounts
- "In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks."—President George W. Bush's Radio Address, December 17, 2005.
- "Since October , news accounts have disclosed a burgeoning Pentagon campaign for 'detecting, identifying and engaging' internal enemies that included a database with information on peace protesters. A debate has roiled over the FBI's use of national security letters to obtain secret access to the personal records of tens of thousands of Americans. And now come revelations of the National Security Agency's interception of telephone calls and e-mails from the United States -- without notice to the federal court that has held jurisdiction over domestic spying since 1978.
- "Defiant in the face of criticism, the Bush administration has portrayed each surveillance initiative as a defense of American freedom."—Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, December 18, 2005.
- "But Mr. Bush secretly decided that he was going to allow the agency to spy on American citizens without obtaining a warrant - just as he had earlier decided to scrap the Geneva Conventions, American law and Army regulations when it came to handling prisoners in the war on terror."—Editorial, New York Times, December 18, 2005.
- "Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the power to spy on Americans. Fine, then Congress can just take it back."—Editorial, New York Times, December 20, 2005.
- National Security Agency whistleblower, intelligence agent Russell Tice, warns the Domestic Spying Program is a sign the U.S. is decaying into a “Police State”. 
- "What do we make of the president boldly proclaiming that he has spy powers? Does he have X-ray vision too?"—Bob Fitrakis, Online Journal, January 11, 2006.
Domestic spying rebranded
With Congressional hearings scheduled to begin February 6, 2006, and ejecting "critics' assertion that he broke the law by authorizing domestic eavesdropping without a warrant, saying he was doing what Congress authorized him to do to protect Americans from terrorist attacks," President Bush "kicked his administration's new intensive public relations effort to win support for the program run by the National Security Agency" by rebranding it the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," the Associated Press's Nedra Pickler reported January 21, 2006.
National Security Agency
Only months after the events of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 which "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," James Risen and Eric Lichtblau reported in the December 15, 2005, New York Times.
The NSA "has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible 'dirty numbers' linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications." 
"While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops 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 since the program began, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials." 
"The NSA activities were justified by a classified Justice Department legal opinion authored by John C. Yoo, a former deputy in the Office of Legal Counsel who argued that congressional approval of the war on al Qaeda gave broad authority to the president, according to the Times," Dan Eggen wrote in the December 16, 2005, Washington Post.
"That legal argument was similar to another 2002 memo authored primarily by Yoo, which outlined an extremely narrow definition of torture. That opinion, which was signed by another Justice official, was formally disavowed after it was disclosed by the Washington Post," Eggen wrote.
Related external articles
- "AP Reveals New Document Demonstrates ‘Clear Case’ Of Gonzales Perjury On Spying Program," Think Progress, July 25, 2007. See 4-page May 17, 2006, content/uploads/2007/07/may_17_tsp.pdf memo from John Negroponte to Dennis Hastert.
Spying on internet traffic
"Two former AT&T employees say the telecom giant has maintained a secret, highly secure room in St. Louis since 2002," Salon's Kim Zetter reported June 21, 2006. "Intelligence experts say it bears the earmarks of a National Security Agency operation."
"If the NSA is using the secret room, it would appear to bolster recent allegations that the agency has been conducting broad and possibly illegal domestic surveillance and data collection operations authorized by the Bush administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," Zetter wrote.
Spying on U.N. diplomats
- "Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency’s domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq." 
- "President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show," Jason Leopold reported December 27, 2005, for The Raw Story.
Spying on U.S. Government
- "the National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress, and oversight agencies and offices." ,
- "The journalist surveillance program, code named "Firstfruits," was part of a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was maintained at least until October 2004 and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss. Firstfruits was authorized as part of a DCI "Countering Denial and Deception" program responsible to an entity known as the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC)."
Sharing surveillance data
- Walter Pincus, "NSA gave other agencies surveillance data. Information from wiretapping was processed, cross-checked," Washington Post (MSNBC), January 1, 2006.
Related external articles
Due to the nature of this rapidly developing story, and the response to it, the large number of external links have been placed in separate files. Also see article links cited below.
- Dan Eggen and Susan Schmidt, "Secret Court Rebuffs Ashcroft. Justice Dept. Chided On Misinformation," Washington Post (Freedom of Information Center), August 23, 2002. Memorandum on Opinion, May 17, 2002.
- "U.S. spy court judge quits amid spying debate - paper," Reuters, December 21, 2005: On Monday, December 19, 2005, U.S. District Judge James Robertson, "one of 11 members" of FISA, "sent his resignation" to Chief Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts, Jr..
- Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer, "Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest. Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel," Washington Post, December 21, 2005.
- Gina Holland, "Judge Resigns Over Secret Surveillance," Associated Press (ABC News), December 21, 2005.
- "Media conservatives wrongly claimed provisions in FISA authorized Bush's domestic spying," Media Matters for America, December 21, 2005.
- Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer, "Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program," Washington Post, December 22, 2005: "U.S. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, expects officials from NSA and the Justice Department to explain the warrantless spying."
Bush administration warrantless wiretapping (The Bush administration's false FISA defense)
Citizen spies: Operation TIPS
- John J. Lumpkin, "CIA Ramps Up Presence at FBI Offices," Associated Press (ratical.org), October 23, 2002: "The goal is to have at least one CIA officer at each of the 56 FBI field offices in the United States."
- "ACLU Warns Against Domestic Spying Role For CIA; Urges Congress to Reject Flawed Bush Proposal," ACLU, May 2, 2003.
- "ACLU Says Bush Executive Order Could Put CIA Back in Business of Spying on Americans," ACLU, August 27, 2004.
- Kevin Johnson, "CIA role inside the USA greater," USA Today, November 7, 2004.
- Matthew Schofield, "Germany still awaits U.S. response to kidnapping allegations," Knight Ridder News Service, December 20, 2005.
- "US setting up new spying agency," BBC, October 13, 2005: "The National Clandestine Service (NCS) will oversee all human espionage operations - meaning spying by people rather than by technical means."
- Kate Randall, "Bush administration seeks to relax curbs on FBI domestic spying," WSWS, December 18, 2001.
- Doug Ireland, "'New' FBI, Same Old Problems," June 7, 2002: "What do you do with a federal agency of notorious incompetence that is also famous for regularly trampling on the Constitution? ... If you’re George W. Bush, you give it more money and power."
- Jerry Isaacs, "Bush administration cites September 11 'failures' to attack democratic rights. FBI gets blank check for domestic spying," San Francisco Indymedia, June 7, 2002.
- Dana Priest and Dan Eggen, "Bush advisers consider creating domestic intelligence agency. New unit would take counterterror spying, analysis from FBI," Washington Post (SFGate), November 16, 2002.
- Michael Moran, "Domestic spying vs. secret police. FBI walking tough, thin line on domestic surveillance," MSNBC, September 2, 2003.
- "Bush Signs Bill Expanding FBI Authority," Associated Press, December 14, 2003: "The bill expands the number of businesses from which the FBI and other U.S. authorities conducting intelligence work can demand financial records without seeking court approval. ... Under current law, 'national security letters' can be issued to traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to require them to turn over information. The bill expands the definition of financial institution to include other businesses that deal with large amounts of cash."
- Jim Bencivenga, "FBI expands its role in domestic spying. Should the CIA be worried about a power grab?" Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 2005.
- "FBI seeks expanded search powers. Justice Dept. also wants expiring Patriot Act provisions renewed," NBC News and news services, April 5, 2005.
- "Terror expertise not a priority at FBI," Associated Press (USA Today), June 19, 2005.
- Walter Pincus, "Pentagon's Intelligence Authority Widens. Fact Sheet Details Secretive Agency's Growth From Focus on Policy to Counterterrorism," Washington Post, December 19, 2005.
- "New Documents Show FBI Targeting Environmental and Animal Rights Groups Activities as 'Domestic Terrorism'," ACLU, December 20, 2005.
- Eric Lichtblau, "F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show," New York Times, December 20, 2005.
- "New 'NY Times' Shocker: FBI Spied on Activist Groups," Editor & Publisher, December 20, 2005.
- "FBI Official Defends Radiation Monitoring," Associated Press (CBS News), December 24, 2005.
- Declan McCullagh, "FBI director wants ISPs to track users," CNet, October 17, 2006.
- Murray Waas,"Cheney's Call" National Journal, Feb. 15, 2007.
- Declan McCullagh, "Report: FBI's snooping did not follow rules," CNet, March 9, 2007.
- Murray S. Waas "Internal Affairs", National Journal, March 15, 2007.
- Frank Rich, "When Will Fredo Get Whacked?" New York Times, March 25, 2007.
- Declan McCullagh, "Senators won't take away FBI surveillance power," CNet, March 21, 2007: "The FBI's illegal use of secret methods to obtain confidential information, including telephone and e-mail records, on American citizens, drew criticism from a U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday."
- Declan McCullagh, "FBI chief blames computers for privacy flap," CNet, March 27, 2007.
- Rodrique Ngowi, "FBI director defends use of national security letters," Associated Press (Boston Globe), April 26, 2007.
- "FBI involved in domestic spying?" Think Progress, May 17, 2007. See Bush administration warrantless wiretapping.
- Murray Waas,"Gonzales Investigated Subordinates Who Were Likely to Testify Against Him" Huffington Post, Oct. 7,2007.
- Murray Waas, "Justice Department Sought Guilty Pleas in NSA Case. Huffington Post, Oct. 19, 2007.
- Murray Waas,"Murray Waas: Justice Department Reopens Probe into Warantless Domestic Spying",the Huffington Post, Nov. 14, 2007.
- Murray Waas, "The Case of the Gonzales Notes," The Atlantic, Sept. 26, 2008.
- Murray Waas, "What Did Bush Tell Gonzales?" The Atlantic, Sept. 26, 2008.
- Murray Waas, "Dropped Call: Alberto Gonzales Won't Be Charged Over Testimony," New York Magazine, Nov. 23, 2009.
Targets of US spying ops
- American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
- Catholic Workers
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- Ryan Singel, "Pentagon Seeks U.S. Spy Powers," Wired News, June 20, 2004.
- "Citizen spies? Guard unit target of inquiry. Federal probe begins into possible spy functions of California force," Associated Press (MSNBC), July 6, 2005.
- Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, "Domestic Defense. Could proposed new intelligence-gathering powers for the Pentagon lead to spying on U.S. citizens? The question is being asked as the White House considers new roles for the military inside America's borders," Newsweek (MSNBC), October 5, 2005.
- Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit, "Is the Pentagon spying on Americans? Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks 'suspicious' domestic groups," MSNBC, November 14, 2005.
- Mike Whitney, "Ever-Expanding Powers. The Pentagon's Domestic Spying Operation," CounterPunch, November 28, 2005.
- "Pentagon Spied on Campus DADT Protests," Sirius OutQ Radio (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network), December 15, 2005.
- Barry Grey, "Pentagon’s domestic spying operations target opponents of Iraq war," WSWS (Global Research), December 16, 2005.
- Matthew Rothschild, "Rumsfeld Spies on Quakers and Grannies," The Progressive, December 16, 2005.
- William A. Arkin, "The Pentagon Breaks the Law," Washington Post, December 22, 2005.
DoD: Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA)
DoD: U.S. Military "Commandos"
- Eric Schmitt, "Commandos Get Duty on U.S. Soil," New York Times, January 23, 2005.
- "Yukon school group found on U.S. threat list," CBC (Canada), December 20, 2005.
- Brock N. Meeks, "Homeland Security opening private mail. Retired professor confused, angered when letter from abroad is opened," MSNBC, January 6, 2006.
Spying on college students
- Demian Bulwa, "Terror database tracks UC protests. U.S. agent reported on '05 rallies against military recruitment," San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2006: "A federal Department of Homeland Security agent passed along information about student protests against military recruiters at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, landing the demonstrations on a database tracking foreign terrorism, according to government documents released ... by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of student groups that protested against recruiters who visited their campuses in April 2005."
ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement)
U.S. Department of Energy
- James Gordon Meek, "Feds sniffed for nukes at Muslim sites," New York Daily News, December 23, 2005.
- Matthew L. Wald, "Widespread Radioactivity Monitoring Is Confirmed," New York Times, December 24, 2005.
- Richard A. Serrano, "Muslims angered by FBI radiation checks at mosques," Los Angeles Times (Seattle Times), December 24, 2005.
Resources and articles
- "Bush orders review of intelligence-gathering operations," CNN, May 12, 2001.
- David Morris, "We're Losing Our Civil Liberties for Nothing," AlterNet, May 30, 2002.
- Toni Loci, "Broader domestic spying allowed," USA Today, November 18, 2002.
- "Bush Aides Consider Bolstering Domestic Spying," Reuters (New York Times (Free Republic)), November 16, 2002.
- Jim Grichar, "George 'Big Brother' Bush?" LewRockwell.com, May 5, 2003.
- Murray Polner, OpEd: "Domestic spying on rise?" Boston Globe, March 22, 2004.
- Ted Lang, "More Than a Failing. Woke Up And America Was Gone," Information Clearing House, April 19, 2004.
- "Bush passes US intelligence bill," BBC, December 17, 2004.
- Chuck Baldwin, "Bush Administration Pushing Domestic Surveillance Envelope," The Conservative Voice, October 30, 2005.
- Frank Rich "When Will Alfredo Get Whacked?" New York Times, March 25, 2007.
- Walter Pincus, "Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity Fears of Post-9/11 Terrorism Spur Proposals for New Powers" Washington Post, November 27, 2005.