July 10th, 2009
02:50 PM ET
9 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.

Full story

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

    It was OK for Bush to let the govenment to wire tap our phones but now the GOP says Obama is making big government........

    July 10, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. smegmabreath

    The Bush administration needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Lucky for them, the Dems don't have the balls to do it.

    July 10, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Allen in Hartwell GA

    For the people who still think that Bush kept us safe, I guess nothing will change your minds. The recent GAO tests of the security of federal buildings showed many flaws. Tests of the TSA in airports regularly show faults.
    Just about everything that Bush and his administration did after 11 September 2001 was eyewash, designed to make it look like the government was doing something. The fact that we haven't been attacked again has very little to do with the Homeland Security empire that Bush built and a lot to do with lack of motivation.

    July 10, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. ali

    Reality? Really???? You're vision of Obama is parinoid. He proposes a plan to offer citizens the CHOICE of a national health care plan you interpret that to be his attempt to force everyone on a plan that takes away all options for healthcare and ultimately use the information to further controll the people.

    July 10, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Patrick

    I am thankful every day for that program. It is NOT unconstitutional. The burden is on the critics to prove how it is. It is only the citizens with their heads in the sand who don't realize that we're in the middle of a global war who oppose this. It has undoubtably saved lives.

    July 10, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. jon

    Oh yes, this was so criminal when Bush did it. Now it's ok that it's Obama...LOL! Let's review: No changes to the Patriot Act, no changes to wiretaps, no changes in the wars, etc. Now THAT'S change!
    Bush = Obama

    July 10, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. webman

    How is it that Bush didn't get impeached?

    Seriously, Obama needs to air the GOP dirty laundry from that administration or we're going to face another Republican administration that's worse than Bush. America will look like Iran after some fashion, and the conservative talking heads will say it's good to beat anti-American liberals into submission.

    The seeds are being set now.

    In the mean time, CNN and the other corporate media will keep us updated on the latest events of Michael Jackson's corpse.

    July 10, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Claudette

    Does this suprise anyone? It will take more than six months for President Obama to clean up the mess that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield left in our country.

    "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself".
    Alexander Hamilton

    July 10, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Harold Ramos

    Sometimes, people do things they wouldn't normally do; like when planes crash into building and kill 3,000 American citizens. The thing is, those policies probably saved American lives by stopping additional terrorist attacks. People need to remember that the first responsibility of government is to protect it's citizens. Everything else is secondary.

    July 10, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Dennis

    The whole thing sounds like a government running amock with no checks and balances. I'm not ever suprised to find out my constitutional rights have been sacrificed on the alter of preserving those same rights–it's the consumate arguement of governments everywhere! All government seeks is to collect power and resources from it's electorate. If you believe that the resources will be reallocated, I understand why you want to legalize marijuana. Let's all stop complaining and remove everyone possible who is now in power in 2010/2012. And, let's not replace the politicians with more of the same types of people (liars, cheats, theives, scallowags, lawyers, salespersons and insurance agents).

    July 10, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. David

    Hopefully America can truly return to the Land of the free. Sure, comparatively speaking, we are free to roam about the country as we wish......as long as you wear a seat belt, no texting, no radar detectors and abide by a plethora of local rules.

    I would rather have a 9-11 yearly than to give up a single freedom. Otherwise the Terrorist have won. It is not their goal to kill Americans. It is their goal to change our way of life. They are succeeding.

    July 10, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. w.l. jones

    All safe guard been in place since 1776 so what the beef.

    July 10, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. lieNoMore

    Wake up you idiot you are already dwarfed by big gov and big corp. And big corp is even worse than big gov. in many respects –witness the whining for gov. bailout just a few years after they were making the same dumb argument you are.

    The difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama has a brain and the Obama policies are not (yet) violating The Constitution so shut your piehole until you can compare apples to apples.

    July 10, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Respect

    Tim – actually just doing their job would have prevent 911. No need to be self righteous, just do your job; from Bush on down. Notice how nobody was fired for allowing it to happen.

    Bush sat like an idiot. Osama picked the very day Cheney was conducting, " terrorist flying planes into building exercises" to do the very real act, and our, "never lying" intelligence community was dumbfounded. Ms. Rice gave an explanation that, "nobody would ever imagine this would happen", while conducting exercises.

    I know if I allowed someone to watch my dog and my dog was hit by a car due to the incompetence of the dog watcher, that I would never allow the dog watcher another chance to watch my dog.

    Thanks Republicans!

    July 10, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Kelby In Houston, TX

    @ Reality
    Neither the article nor my comment made any mention of Obama. Your response to my statements lead me to believe that you are obsessed with Obama and fearful of the future. I am a proponent of universal healthcare, so none of that rhetoric you jus spouted off is going to change my opinion on that subject.
    Obama was elected with a mandate and he is doing exactly what I wanted him to do. I am not afraid...like you

    July 10, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Steve (the real one)

    @john u July 10th, 2009 4:10 pm ET
    The Bush crime family at work….now that's so christian conservative
    Your name calling isn't christian either. BTW, exactly what crimes? Have you been witholding evidence? People like you have chanted that cry so long but where is the evidence or is it just liberal hate? I'm betting the latter. Cancel the world court arguement as they have NO legal authority here!

    July 10, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Blake


    1. Those words used to describe the economy have been used by everyone on both sides to achieve their ends since late 2008. They are not Obama's nor the democrats sole stewardship.

    But hey, talking about the economy, without sugar coating it that "everything will be ok," still pales in comparison to recent fear-mongering by you people. From your statements about scary government control to Cheney saying there will be another terror attack just screams class.

    2. "Gov't Motors," as you so succinctly put it, comes as a double edged sword. They could either be "bailed out,' as they were in 1980 or in 2008 (when Bush signed the automaker bailout with no strings attached), and you people can claim "Government Motors, Socialism, blah, blah,"


    They could fail and take 2.5 million jobs with it. And you people can claim that Obama isn't doing anything to save jobs.

    3. The government health OPTION isn't replacing anyone's private health insurance. The people who have insurance already (through their jobs or by their own purchase) will not be affected or forced to take the government option. It's for those specifically who do NOT have or canNOT get health insurance.

    But fear mongering is easier than actually doing research isn't it?

    July 10, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. David

    That's because it was set up and ready to go for this instance. They've wanted to trash the Constitution for years.

    July 10, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Predicta

    so if it took years and years to plan 911 why didn't Clinton stop it? Or was he asleep too? Stop blaming Bush, support Obama's continuation a program that's obviously working to thwart terrorism and get on with your lives. No prosection of the Bush administration is going to happen because there is zero evidence that anyone did anything illegal. Period.

    July 10, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. TCM

    Hey libs...news flash...your beloved Clinton let Osama and his cronies get away...I know, I was deeply involved in the situation....we had the lock on....needed the go ahead...it didn't happen....Clinton's fault...a liberal democrat...

    yeah, slick Willy had him in the crosshairs...and opted for Monica and a cigar. So, Bush tried to close in on him....and 911 happened; Thank Bill Clinton. It happened while Bush was president. But, there wasn't a way to prevent it; unless, of course you count Clinton's failure. So, you ignorant liberal fools spouting off like you know something? You don't know squat, other than snappy phrases like "Hope, Change, Transparency, Make Work Pay..." and all the other crap you've been brained washed with.....Bush kept us safe; and you'll see that more and more as our adversaries in Iran, North Korea and other hotspots in the world make more aggressive moves. Liberals just can't see behind the end of their noses...keep believing Obama's propaganda..

    oh yeah, CNN stop censoring me!

    July 10, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    The wiretaps were not put used for everyone. It was used for people that were already suspected or people that had access to classified information or security clearances. This was not used for the AVERAGE JOE! The wire taps were used to protect the country. One of the things that president obama said during his campaign run was that he would make everything public about what had transpired during the Bush administeration. He hasn't done that. Would you people like to know why? i'll answer it for you. The things that President Bush did during his presidency are highly classified, productive, and letting everyone in the world know what we're doing to protect ourselves would cause even more problems because than enemies of the state would know what to look for. Also, Obama would've lost face if he said that he was wrong in accusing Bush of war crimes and he could not admit that he was wrong. Once he became President-elect, he wa briefed by the Joint Chief of Staff, Pentagon, CIA, FBI, NSA, and security agencies about what was going on and he than had a press conference where he decided not to comment on any questions dealing with the war, terrorism, or programs that were in use against terrorist that he so loudly went against in his campaigh run, meaning he didn't have the backbone to admit he was wrong. Look at what President obam is doing now, he's trying to control the media worse than what Nixon did by planting questions, even Bush didn't do that. He's been on an apology tour to evrywhere in the world but not defending his own country that he was elected to lead. Thats a great quality to have in a leader and President. He wouldn't have the backbone to face the difficult decisions that Bush did or stand up for his own country.

    July 10, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Too True For You

    To the Tim and Miguel bashers- they have their opinions, and they are welcome to them because this is still America, after all, in spite of what Bush.Cheney did to it. Miguels hyperbole indeed earns criticism, and once again Mississippi Mike does not fail to rise to the bait. But at least Tim made a stab at a rational argument as opposed to just name calling and idiotic rhetorical chest beating. Give him credit.

    But I have to agree totally with Kelby in Houston, TX. "Police State" is exactly the term I equate with the direction of Bush administration. I see these right wing militia and Christian groupies threatening and outright killing people, and the unabashed hate mongering by republicans against immigrants, minorities, and anyone they term "librul" and it is truly scary. They love to accuse democrats of insulting Bush and having a double standard with Obama. Well, yeah, we felt perfectly justified calling Bush things like "stupid" and "idiot". We didn't call him a socialist, communist, or collectivist, very hard epithets for Americans, or organize tea tantrums and advocate stocking up on guns and ammo to "enforce our rights", or secession. Big, big difference, guys.

    July 10, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Steve (the real one)

    @David July 10th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

    I would rather have a 9-11 yearly than to give up a single freedom. Otherwise the Terrorist have won. It is not their goal to kill Americans. It is their goal to change our way of life. They are succeeding.
    How nice of you to volunteer YOUR home! Do you realize the flat out ignorance of your words? You lose a loved one or friend on 9-11? Before making ignorant statements about an event most likely that cost you NOTHING, why don't you ask someone who did lose someone and find out if he or she would like to go through that again! Your post is ridiculous, dangerous, and ignorant!

    July 10, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. Kevin B

    Bush and company manipulated many cowardly americans to give up thier many freedoms for "security" and cower in fear from a bunch religious zealots.

    I did not serve twenty one years in the USN so some chicken hawk politcian can come along and give the terrorist exactly what wanted by giving up our freedoms and changing americans into cowering, mindless, fearful cowards. We fight for freedom not against it.

    It is generally those that never served thier country or anything other than themselves, being the ones to give up freedom so easily.

    July 10, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. NVa Native

    The terroists wanted to adversely change our society and destroy as much of our freedoms as they could on September 11, 2001.
    Under the Bush/Cneney regime they have succeded beyond their highest hopes. The Bush Cheney era was a blight of ignorrance and fear used to maipulate our country into a bunch of crazed whimps afraid of their shadow. Repugs are the party of fear.

    July 10, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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