Crossposted on Dailykos.
As you look at the recent revelation that Bush authorized illegal wiretaps prior to 9-11 - a picture slowly emerges which just might explain at least one reason why obtaining a FISA warrant even 72 Hours after the fact wasn't good enough for this President - and just who it was they were really spying on.
Ok so let's walk through this according to Truthout.org -
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...
So prior to 9-11 the NSA had a list of U.S. Citizens who've been flagged by Echelon as possibly making statements or having communications with persons who've made anti-American and/or pro-terrorist statements. And apparently some members of the Bush Administration (like say - John Bolton) have access to this information.
Then 9-11 happens and Bush says he wants the FBI to have this list -- and the NSA said "No!".
The NSA's domestic surveillance activities that began in early 2001 reached a boiling point shortly after 9/11, when senior administration officials and top intelligence officials asked the NSA to share that data with other intelligence officials who worked for the FBI and the CIA to hunt down terrorists that might be in the United States. However the NSA, on advice from its lawyers, destroyed the records, fearing the agency could be subjected to lawsuits by American citizens identified in the agency's raw intelligence reports.
It was at this point that these "Senion Administration Officials" apparrently convinced the President to sign orders which compelled the NSA to "get with the program"... however this sequence of events tells us quite a bit about what was going on.
The list of Flagged Names which had been culled over the course of months is the issue. With the pre-Patriot Act FISA Wall in place, any of these names which had been gained from information over 72-hours old could not be shared with any other agency.
The Bush Administration has claimed that "timeliness" is at issue, but it seems that it's not an issue of FISA being too slow -- it's far more likely that the issue is retention of data. The ability to compare against that list of flagged-names,to cross check and "connect the dots" between people on their list and current pro-active intelligence data coming in from other agencies...
From Walter Pincus:
Information captured by the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping on communications between the United States and overseas has been passed on to other government agencies, which cross-check the information with tips and information collected in other databases, current and former administration officials said.
The NSA has turned such information over to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and to other government entities, said three current and former senior administration officials, although it could not be determined which agencies received what types of information. Information from intercepts -- which typically includes records of telephone or e-mail communications -- would be made available by request to agencies that are allowed to have it, including the FBI, DIA, CIA and Department of Homeland Security, one former official said.
But it goes much farther than that -- there was a report/blog from last month that indicates that NSA isn't just spying on "al-Qaeda" or potential sympathisers like Stevens - they spied on their own people, other government employees, journalist and members of Congress!
NSA spied on its own employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts. WMR has learned that 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). Since the intelligence community's reorganization, the DCI has been replaced by the Director of National Intelligence headed by John Negroponte and his deputy, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.
In addition, beginning in 2001 but before the 9-11 attacks, NSA began to target anyone in the U.S. intelligence community who was deemed a "disgruntled employee." According to NSA sources, this surveillance was a violation of United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The surveillance of U.S. intelligence personnel by other intelligence personnel in the United States and abroad was conducted without any warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The targeted U.S. intelligence agency personnel included those who made contact with members of the media, including the journalists targeted by Firstfruits, as well as members of Congress, Inspectors General, and other oversight agencies. Those discovered to have spoken to journalists and oversight personnel were subjected to sudden clearance revocation and termination as "security risks."
This revelation puts the lie to Bush's claims that this surveillance only included phone calls from al-Qaeda into the U.S., clearly it goes much deeper than that - and very close to the creation of a Domestic ENEMIES LIST by the Administration.
And the real question is... once your name has been flagged by a "Special Access" Program like Echelon (which requires more than a Top-Secret Clearance in order to view) how exactly are mistakes corrected and inappropriate names removed from the list?
When, if ever, are any of these people going to clear there name?Vyan