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.

Full story


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

    @ lieNoMore –

    Obama's not breaking the law? What planet are you from? He fired an IG, he accepted bundled funds from foreign sources...he's still not produced a vaulted copy of his birth certificate..(yeah, it's nice to have deeply rooted friends in the pentagon...that keep me informed...)
    So, before you think that Obama's the schizzle...you need to step back and perhaps study and read the law....seems like you've been visiting too many obama buttkissing websites...

    July 10, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Bill

    @Respect
    If you want to blame someone, blame Clinton. He let Bin Laden and company gain strength and ignored there first bombing of the world trade center, along with the bombing of the USS Cole. You, Not Bush, are sitting like an idiot blaming Republicans for the attack. Bush inherited that mess, and all your denying won't change that fact.

    July 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. BILL, WI

    If Bush and his cronies actually committed a crime we would not be discussing when they will be charged, the talk would be how long of a trial. If the warrantless search did not target a U.S. citizen then no warrant would be needed. Terrorists in this country to attack us do not have the full protection of criminal law. The rights afforded to them are under Title 50 USC.

    July 10, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Joe

    First, recognize that you don't know anything about the Constitution. You don't have the slightest appreciation for its legal complexities. Remind yourself that you've not even read the text, not to mention the interpreting cases.

    Second, refrain from writing a comment that references the Constitution. Thanks.

    July 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Too True For You

    @Reality, you unfortunately have fallen into the right-wing propaganda trap that tries to equate the efforts of Obama to save our nation by investing government interest on a national scale with the efforts of the Bush administration to destroy our personal freedoms on an individual scale.

    It is ironic that Bush gleefully trampled on what used to be the sacred republican ground of individual constitutional rights. It is a specious comparison whose only purpose is right wing agitprop.

    I really don't understand so-called republicans that defend that action; they must be RINOs that went to Christian bible schools and never read 1984 or Animal Farm. If they had, the obvious growth of the Bush police state where "some are more equal than others" would have scared the bejesus out of them like it did a lot of us.

    July 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Patch12

    Maybe I'm crazy but does anyone believe that our elected officials should obey The Constitution of the United States of America? It's ironic that we want to implement our form of government on nations that supposedly violate human rights...which is EXACTLY what the Bush administration did! This will be amusing many years from now.

    July 10, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    @ Respect- Do you remember that 9/11 happened within a year after he was elected? An operation like that takes a long time, years to plan and execute. It doesn't just happen over night or a few months. By your statement and thought process Bill Clinton was responsible for the Bombing in the World Trade center on 2/23/1996. That was also another act of terrorism that was conducted by Al Queda whose head was Osama Bin Laden. Bush had to respond to an attack and take decisive measures that Bill did not have the guts to do because he didn't feel like it was important enough to go after people who attacked us on our soil! That's Democrats for you, never having the backbone to go into a fight, at least not politicians. The President, the intelligence communities around the world, and our servicemen responded and did their job. You should be thankful that they were willing to go out and defend our country.

    July 10, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Buddy Gilmour

    Actually, what seems to have escaped most people is that through it all (meaning the 8 blundering years of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld) the FBI has maintained its core principles and done a pretty good job, and thats why Robert Mueller has been kept on by Obama as FBI Director. The problems at DoJ were caused by the political animals like Ashcroft, Gonzales and Yoo.

    July 10, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Steve (the real one)

    GOPBslapper July 10th, 2009 5:01 pm ET
    Steve, how about breaking our 4th Amendment rights for starters.
    Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    ----------------------------
    The key is UNREASONABLE! Is it UNREASONABLE that the current adminstration is continuing this policy or Is it only UNREASONABLE when a republician president do it?

    July 10, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. kansas 25

    In all honesty i don't care in the government knows what im doing.
    Heres an idea what if these programs were voluntary. You as an individual could say yes or no to the government surveillance the same way you could request to be on the national and state on call lists.

    just thinking out loud

    July 10, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. IsaacTheForcedCatholic

    "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."

    Spoken like a true coward. Who is afraid of the boogy man? Tim "The coward" and most rethuglicans!

    July 10, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. NVa Native

    Kevin B – so right.
    I have two sons in USMC that I am very proud of. My biggest concern is having another punk pair like Bush/Cheney who so little regard of our military that they commit such a blatant screw up (mistake) as the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
    Shame on them all and those who still blindly refuse the truth. And as you can see in these posts – the Repugs/Bush/Cheney still to this day terorize our population with claims of perpetual fear and "what if?" Cowards all of you!

    July 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. dale

    Hate, intolerance, fear, war, torture, NSA warrantless searches....

    Why is it that I get this knot in my stomach whenever neocons try to justify the Bush administration? Instead of "All we have to fear is fear itself" the Republican motto is "All we have is fear."

    July 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Jose in McAllen Tx

    @GOPBslapper:

    Read your history. Let's not forget that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was not intended to be used against average Americans. TSP was using the FISA act (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) as its basis which basically said that one of the parties being "wiretapped" had to have a foreign origin. In many instances, the CIA didn't have time to get approval from a court, since the conversation they were about to listen to was about to take place and our intelligence analysts didn't have all of the information to fill out a request and then turn it in to a court for a judge's approval.

    July 10, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. Ernesto

    Treason can be defined as CITIZENS attacking our country and Constitution. What does it take to get investigation and presecution for these crimes? Republican or Democrat members of any branch of government should be screaming for some accountabilty.

    Bush did little to keep America safe. Our borders remained porous, our ports basically without security and Bush just decided to invade Iraq with no intelligence that mattered. Oh, he was sooooo heroic and now Dick Cheney may have been running assasination squads? At least let us investigate openly and, if necessary, prosecute vigoriously.

    July 10, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    It's time to issue an arrest warrant for George Bush.

    July 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Lowell

    It's a violation of the fourth amendment. They violated the Constitution and our civil rights. Bush and company and any who agreed to it (republican or democrat) should be arrested and tried to the fullest extent of the law.

    July 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. Dwayne

    ...and the list continues even after his presidency. Are there any laws Bush and his cronies abided by other than the ones they made up so they could break the others? Seriously!

    July 10, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Stu

    Who cares! So the gov't listened in looking for terrorists. The amount of info on citizens available in public records databases, available to all for a few bucks on the internet, is far more dangerous. We need to get with the program and realize that the enemies of this nation will continue their efforts.

    You might read the 911 Report. The Feds failed to search zacarias moussaoui's laptop because they didn't think they had probable cause for a search warrant. The only thing that would have been "lost" would have been the "ability" to prosecute in a court, and put him in a prison where he would have a captive audience of malcontents to "preach to" (most of whom would re enter society someday). The info on that laptop would have provided enough info on the 911 plans to give us a chance to stop it before it happened.

    As long as any info gleaned is used exclusively for anti-terror efforts, it is justified. Stop bellyaching about it already.

    July 10, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  20. American.

    Yes, there was surveillance after 9/11. WE didnt know about it. SO WHAT??. We didnt have another attack by brainless terrorists. Doesn't it enough? You gotta be kidding when you blame bush and you must be out off your mind. You will thank bush, if you sit in india or israel and get your bottom blown every now and then by terrorist, then you will embrace and thank bush.

    July 10, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    Come on people, this isn't a partisan issue. Either you believe 'security' is more important then personal privacy or you don't. I would have to imagine though that the majority of American's think the governement overreached. The Scary part is we don't even know half of what they have been doing over the years. We need to demand to know the who, how and what of these programs so we can determine what is illegal, against our values or ok.

    The biggest failure to come out of this was congress not allowing us to sue the crap out of the telecommuncation companies that complied with the presidential order.

    July 10, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Kevin B

    Like everything else in the Bush adminstration, this was handled in a completely partisan and incompetent fashion.

    This is a prime example of the rot that had set into the nation affairs at the end of the Bush era and an example of the stain and stench the american people and Mr Obama's team have work at cleaning up for next few years.

    God bless America.

    July 10, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. vet in texas

    The bombing of the WTC and the USS Cole was a direct response and retaliatory effot to the attempted bombing of Bin Laden during Clinton's terms in office. at their meeting and in the letter of former vs. new, Clinton told Bush that the first thing he needs to do is get Bin Laden, what did Bush do? Go to Crawford to clear brush......if you buy a house and the old owner tells new owner that the back gate is loose and the rotwieller next door comes in and is vicous and dangerous, and you do nothing, then your child gets mauled by that same dog......whose fault is it?

    Essayons!

    July 10, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    I can't wait for Nancy to claim she can't recall all 17 briefings.

    July 10, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Rick

    You all are trying to tie this too one idiot (Bush) while glossing over the fact that a large number of both Rep and Dem members of congressional intelligence committees knew about this program and many others, yet did nothing about it.
    Including that blow hard Pelosi.

    And then you need to ask yourself if the programs were so bad, why has Obama not stopped them?

    Think about that before you start party bashing.

    July 10, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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