Monday, October 15, 2007

Illegal Wiretaps Started Before 9-11?

Allegations are emerging now that the NSA, authorized by the White House, began using warrantless surveillance programs months and months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 2001. The program was widespread and threats were leveled at phone companies who did not comply. A report in the Washington Post says:

"[Former Qwest CEO Joseph]
Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

The allegations could affect the debate on Capitol Hill over whether telecoms sued for disclosing customers' phone records and other data to the government after the Sept. 11 attacks should be given legal immunity, even if they did not have court authorization to do so.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department, the NSA, the White House and the director of national intelligence declined to comment, citing the ongoing legal case against Nacchio and the classified nature of the NSA's activities. Federal filings in the appeal have not yet been disclosed.


Wired Magazine has more,
noting others who have made the same claims about the date when these programs actually began. The information completely undercuts claims by the president that warrantless wiretaps are vital to a war on terrorism, since he began authorizing prior to the terrorist attacks.

Does this explain why the White House is pushing hard for full immunity for those telecoms who allowed for the illegal eavesdropping?

UPDATE: Kevin Drum writes:

"
Unlike, say, MoveOn ads or Rush Limbaugh shows, this really does seem like a worthy object of congressional investigation, doesn't it?"

1 comment:

OXYMORON said...

I think it is worth noting in trying to fathom the Republican's mindset that a wiretap in the form of Linda Tripp taping the telephone calls of an unsuspecting "friend" by the name of Monica Lewinsky was part of the mechanism which Ken Starr used to impeach WJC.
The Nixon machine used wiretaps on people as a matter of routine and I would suppose everyone by now knows of the wiretaps and bugging of people like Martin Luther King.
Sure, the Busites are only interested in terrorists............