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. Ryan Wing

    I'm frankly surprised they waited a few weeks. Regardless, this is old news. They broke the law, they weren't called to answer for it, and they retroactively made a law saying their illegal activities were ok. Story closed, move on to why these Bush programs aren't all being ended now under Obama.

    July 10, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Tim

    Thank you Bush for doing what was necessary to keep us safe.

    Let the whiners begin to complain that their privacy was invaded, but then have the point out one instance where it lead to harm in even one instance.

    I'll complain that if it wasn't done, then my liberty and freedom to pursue hapiness was not upheld, and that my feedom and the collective freedom of all others outweights and freedom of privacy. Besides, why is there an expectation that conversations held over the phone are private. They are transmitted over public airways sold and leased by the government to businesses that sell the services to the public. I certainly don't have an expectation of privacy. The Mafia doesn't have an expectation of privacy, that's why they use secret code words when they talk about swimming with the fishes.

    July 10, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Julie

    We now see similar actions against a country's citizens being carried out in Iran. Similar actions and similar justifications. Interesting times.

    July 10, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Miguel

    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

    July 10, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Kelby In Houston, TX

    9/11 is a specimen of false flag terrorism.
    9/11 happened on Bush's watch. He did not keep us safe.
    Conservatives have long believed that the rights that we cherish so much, the same rights that the American soldier fought bled and died for, those very same rights are considered a threat to national security.
    9/11 was an excuse to go to war and trample on the rights that are gauranteed by The Constitution.
    Fear has caused some Americans (like Tim) to exchange their rights to privacy for the illusion of security. Terror has caused some to abandon the ideals and principals. I still believe what our nation's forefathers believe. Anyone who is willing to exchange their rights for the illusion of security deserve neither.
    The Bush Administration should be tried for their various crimes against this country and the world. We can not lead the world if we can't follow our own example of morality. Hypocrisy can not prevail

    July 10, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Kevin B

    The creeping police state the Bush administration started, was based on fear and is still illegal. Those in the country would trade thier freedom for "security" deserve niether and should be living in Iran or the PRNK.

    These are the same cowards that bash Obama for being a socialist, when it it obvious Mr Bush initiated neo-fascism and corporate socialism in the name of security.

    An America that allows for illegal wiretapping is cowardly. What ever happened to the"home of the brave"?

    July 10, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Jose in McAllen Tx

    Soooooooooo, Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the terrorist surveillence program as well? Why I'm shocked!

    July 10, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Doug

    President Obama, also known as Opposite Man, should end these programs immediately. He should stand with Free Americans everywhere and proclaim our independence from the government.
    Yes, right....good luck getting him to do the right thing.

    July 10, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Greg

    Because they are NOT illegal and obviously in the best interest of our national security. Don't like it? Do something about it or move to an isolated island somewhere that nobody cares enough about to monitor. You're fooling yourself to think your privacy is valued by ANYONE other than you... human nature and established law

    July 10, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. Patty in the CA mountains

    Does this really surprise anyone?

    July 10, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  11. Mark Billingsley

    This is ridiculous...any Repugnantcans wanna bet me that they spied on the Kerry campaign too? This just confirms – not that it was really needed though – that the Bush administration was the worst in American history.

    July 10, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. howie

    Put me in the program and survey me as much as you like, I have nothing to hide. I personally hope the government continues with this program

    July 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Rick

    Why don't you Obama fans ask yourself this question: Why is this program still in effect? If he doesn't stop it, he is just as bad as Bush. PERIOD.

    July 10, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. ttbala

    @ Miguel, @ Tim,

    Are you guys brainless or something to write what you wrote here, thanking Bush, you seem to forget that this happened under HIS WATCH while he was sleeping and enjoying life at Camp David, you guys are so blind and brainless that you cannot think, these kind of attacks does not happen often it takes years and years to prepare, so how could another attack come so fast after the first one,
    Bush did not keep us safe, Bush took this country and you two included to its distruction and grave you idiots, wake up.

    July 10, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Mississippi Mike

    Good, if it had been in place before 9/11, maybe we wouldn't have had a 9/11.

    July 10, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. Barney

    In terms of Presidential abuse, why did the Clinton WhiteHouse have the FBI files on some of their detractors, those who criticize Bush of targeting his politicial opponents

    July 10, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Old News

    I love how people still show their support for that bumbling idiot Bush even when it's proven he broke the law. They claim he was protecting them from terrorist, who are law breakers. I guess people still don't understand that two wrongs don't make it right. I'd rather protect myself than have any of these bureaucratic idiots do it for me. People make too much of September 11th. Not that it wasn't a tragedy, but really I've never been worried about terrorists more than I worry about my own government negatively impacting my life. If people are really that scared then they should move to the mountains and live in a cave because life is dangerous. People die for all sorts of reason some natural, but most are caused by the actions of others. Deal with it and stop wishing the government to act like bubble wrap around your pathetic lives. Stand up for yourselves or deal with being vulnerable. Stop wanting the government to solve your problems, cry babies. And yes privacy is a pillar of this country, it's none of your business what people are doing or talking about. You don't get to break the law to stop someone else from breaking it and that applies more so to the government that any other entity (read up on your history about our country). It's called innocent until proven guilty.

    July 10, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. candian pov

    Tim, Miguel and other like you, you are hilarious. Like Palin, Cheney, Bush et al you boast about America and her freedoms making her the best country in the world. You wrap yourselves in the flag and misquote the Constitution in your patriotic propaganda but you are so blind and ignorant when the very basic tenets of your rights and freedoms are eroded and your Constitution is made irrelevant by people like Bush and his cronies. From now on, CNN should put these stories on the entertainment thread because the comments can be so darn funny!

    July 10, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. Shingo from CA

    I've said it before and I will say it again...For the Bush Administration to begin this shows they totally disregard the US Constitution. It was an abuse of authority and a crime against the American people.

    July 10, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Reality

    @ Kelby In Houston, TX
    "Fear has caused some Americans (like Tim) to exchange their rights to privacy for the illusion of security. "

    Kelby,
    Our privacy as individuals is precious, I agree. However, I can't understand how you can bash Bush for the actions he took and turn a blind eye to what Obama and the Democrats are setting up for the country now. Talk about playing on ""FEAR". Obama continuously used the words "Disaster" and "Worst economy since the Depression" in order to pass the stimulus package, buy Govt. Motors, plan to institute a "public" health care system (aka – govt. owned). Talk about setting up the utmost invasion of public privacy. When the govt. owns everything, you better be ready to disclose everything about yourself because you won't have a choice. "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take everything you have."...including your PRIVACY. Start paying attention to what OBAMA is doing and stop living in the past – your future is NOW!

    July 10, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. john u

    The Bush crime family at work....now that's so christian conservative

    July 10, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Stuff like this is exactly why I say Trade Freedom for Security, and you Lose Both. This is very dangerous stuff and Obama needs to man-up and end it.

    July 10, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. the dude

    Many people do not understand the reason that the Constitution prohibits warrantless searches.

    The problem is not that warrantless searches, or warrantless wiretaps are impolite or that these somehow trample on "freedom" as an abstract concept. Like everybody else with common sense, I really don't care if somebody listens to my phone calls or reads my emails if this is being done to prevent terrorism.

    Instead it must be remembered that the principal objective of the Constitution was to prevent tyranny, which is the concentration of power in too few hands. The separation of powers is a good example of this.

    The real problem is that a government given authority to conduct warrantless searches cannot be trusted to use this authority only for good purposes. Instead, a government with that much power will inevitably become corrupt and use the power to perpetuate its grip on power.

    This is not just speculation, after all the Bush folks were willing to turn the criminal prosecution machinery of the Justice Department to their own political ends. Any US Attorney who objected to this, or did not cooperate, was purged.

    In sum, the requirement for an impartial judge to issue a warrant before a search is dictated by the practical concern of keeping the government from growing so powerful that the people no longer control it. This is why the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program was so dangerous to liberty.

    The problem is that a

    July 10, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Stop the madness...

    @ttbala
    wrote "Are you guys brainless or something to write what you wrote here, thanking Bush, you seem to forget that this happened under HIS WATCH ...."

    ttbala – you want to know what "brainless" is. Brainless is continually blaming one person for everything. The facts are that you can blame many of our past Presidents for what happened on 9/11. Many steps could have been taken PRIOR to Bush even being in office to help offset this tragedy. It's people like you who, it would seem, thrive on bitterness and resentment. Bitterness is Brainless. It only hurts you my friend.

    July 10, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. the dude

    Many people do not understand the reason that the Constitution prohibits warrantless searches.

    The problem is not that warrantless searches, or warrantless wiretaps are impolite or that these somehow trample on "freedom" as an abstract concept. Like everybody else with common sense, I really don't care if somebody listens to my phone calls or reads my emails if this is being done to prevent terrorism.

    Instead it must be remembered that the principal objective of the Constitution was to prevent tyranny, which is the concentration of power in too few hands. The separation of powers is a good example of this.

    The real problem is that a government given authority to conduct warrantless searches cannot be trusted to use this authority only for good purposes. Instead, a government with that much power will inevitably become corrupt and use the power to perpetuate its grip on power. For example, the warrantless wiretaps could be used to monitor the communications of political opponents to gain political advantage.

    This is not just speculation, after all the Bush folks were willing to turn the criminal prosecution machinery of the Justice Department to their own political ends. Any US Attorney who objected to this, or did not cooperate, was purged.

    In sum, the requirement for an impartial judge to issue a warrant before a search is dictated by the practical concern of keeping the government from growing so powerful that the people no longer control it. This is why the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program was so dangerous to liberty.

    July 10, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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