July 10th, 2009
02:50 PM ET
5 years ago

Domestic surveillance program began soon after 9/11

A demonstration in Chicago in 2006 protests the Bush administration's wiretapping program.
A demonstration in Chicago in 2006 protests the Bush administration's wiretapping program.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The highly controversial warrantless surveillance program initiated by President George W. Bush began within weeks of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a newly released report to Congress compiled by the inspectors general of the nation's top intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department.

The report, mandated by Congress, provides context to information that has been leaked in press accounts and buttressed by congressional testimony and in books authored by former officials involved in the surveillance effort.

The report notes that several members of Congress - including then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nancy Pelosi - were briefed on the program on October 25, 2001, and a total of 17 times before the program became public in 2005.

Among other things, the report also cites a Justice Department conclusion that "it was extraordinary and inappropriate that a single DOJ attorney, John Yoo, was relied upon to conduct the initial legal assessment of the (surveillance program)."

"The lack of oversight and review of Yoo's work ... contributed to a legal analysis of the (program) that at a minimum was factually flawed," it says.

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Filed under: George W. Bush • Justice Department
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Bush and Cheney need to be on trial for all sorts of things.

    I won't rest easy until both of those criminals are behind bars. Period.

    July 10, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. G NO P

    Harold Ramos July 10th, 2009 4:42 pm ET

    People need to remember that the first responsibility of government is to protect it's citizens. Everything else is secondary.

    Perhaps you should read the oath that every President takes when sworn into office.

    July 10, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    @ Blake, who mentioned "double edged sword"

    Doesn't even need to be a catch-22 involved. They will complain no matter what. We're talking about people who have ranted the following two things back-to-back:

    "He's not the 'Messiah' and can't magically fix these huge problems with a snap of his fingers!!!"

    "It's been 3, 4, 5, 6, etc., months and we're still in a recession...what a failiure!!!"

    He could cure cancer and they'd accuse him of holding out on AIDS.

    July 10, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. stormerF

    Pelosi knew about it ,and the congress approved so whats the Beef? Un-less your a criminal or a terrorist supported.

    July 10, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. ib

    What Bush did is nothing compared to what Obama is doing to our freedoms and constitution. Bush tried to protect us Obama is taking our freedoms away.

    July 10, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. Phat Elvis

    How can Republicans try and fearmonger about Obama being Big Government when Bush brought Big Brother right into everyone's home?

    July 10, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Nunya

    >'harm in even one instance'

    The law was broken. That in and of itself constitutes 'harm'.

    > 'Besides, why is there an expectation that conversations held over the phone are private'

    Telephone conversations having an expectation of privacy has been established legally for a very, very long time.

    July 10, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. Nunya

    > Thank you Bush for your hard work of keeping this country safe. Maybe >Democrats wants to keep terrorists safe, I do not want terrorists to have >any help from my democrats friends

    I'm not a Democrat. Nor an I a Republican. I want to keep our country and its citizens safe – including safe from government run amok and intruding on and passing judgments on everyone's lives under the guise of fighting terrorism.

    July 10, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. annie s

    What amazes me about this is that the very people who now like to claim that President Obama is violating the Constitution defend the actions of the Bush administration – illegal actions that violated the right to privacy of American citizens and came close to turning us into a totalitarian regime. The true shame is that it seems Bush/Cheney are getting away with their crimes.

    July 10, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. mike

    ttbala,
    You are right the attacks took YEARS to prepare which means that it was prepared under Clinton who also expierenced the USS Cole bombing OCt 12, 2000; Several embassies bombed Aug 7, 1998; military housing facility in Saudi Arabia bombed June 25, 1996; These are the major ones with several other pipe bombs and RPG attacks at varying locations both within the United States and overseas.

    July 10, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  11. mike

    The reason these programs aren't being closed is because they are LEGAL. It is the same as police searching your car if they recieved a report of a similar car doing a drive by shooting. They can do it without a warrent it is the same principle with the wire tapping.

    July 10, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. erika morgan

    The wire taps were used for all calls! We have the reports of the listeners, and the sharing of salacious conversations as proof. What a tremendous waste on useless drivel. If there was something to be learned it was lost in data overload. They were not looking for anything to do with AlQida, they were looking for political "secrets". They were in bed with Osama and his family, they talked with them freely at will, that is why he remains free. The reason we have not begun the trials is because Palosi and co. are part of the Cabal against the American citizenry. Yes the cold war has been won by the forces for the few rich elite and against the poor stupid saps with inadequate education, and inadequate healthcare, to support their pursuit of happiness. WE AMERICANS NEED TO WAKE UP AND TAKE OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS BACK WHILE WE STILL REMEMBER WHAT THEY ARE.

    July 10, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Tatianna

    Were dems outraged at Clintons Echelon program. Did dems accuse Clinton of trampling on their rights that are guaranteed by the constitution. Obamas DOJ filed papers in San Fran, defending the Bush warrantless program in response to a lawsuit filed by AT+T customers. The first of its kind to seek damages against govt officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bushs NSA program. Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on state secrets privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush admin for illegal spying. Team Obama has now invented a brand new sovereign immunity never before advanced even by Bush admin, that under the Patriot Act, the govt is free to intercept all of your communications (calls,emails and the like) and even if its illegal – you are barred from suing the govt. So now since the warrantless wiretaps still continue, it is now called Obamas warrantless wiretapping.

    July 10, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. Tatianna

    This a question Hatch asked to Holder upon his confirmation: Hatch: Now, do you believe that the president has whoever is POTUS has inherent authority under Article 2 of the Constitutional to engage in warrantless foreign intell surveillance? Or, in your opinion, does FISA trump Article 2? Holder: Well, the president obviously has powers under the Constitution that cannot be infringed by the legislative branch. Hatch: That still doesnt negate the fact that the president may have inherent powers under Article 2 that even a statute cannot vary. Holder: Well, sure. Hatch: Do you agree with that statement? Holder: YES, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, AUTHORITY TO DO, THAT THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH CANNOT IMPINGE UPON.

    July 10, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  15. Donkey Party

    Why do idiot right-wingers keep saying Bush kept us safe??? 9/11 happened on HIS WATCH!!!

    July 10, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
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