NSA initially acted on its own after 9-11

Via the NYTimes today, we find out that in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 it was the NSA, not the President, who initiated the stepped up ‘spying’ tactics in an attempt to thwart future attacks:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 – The National Security Agency acted on its own authority, without a formal directive from President Bush, to expand its domestic surveillance operations in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to declassified documents released Tuesday.

The N.S.A. operation prompted questions from a leading Democrat, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said in an Oct. 11, 2001, letter to a top intelligence official that she was concerned about the agency’s legal authority to expand its domestic operations, the documents showed.


The letter from Ms. Pelosi, the House minority leader, also suggested that the security agency, whose mission is to eavesdrop on foreign communications, moved immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks to identify terror suspects at home by loosening restrictions on domestic eavesdropping.

This puts a big kink in the belief by the usual suspects that the President was foaming at the mouth after 9-11 to ‘spy on Americans.’

Antimedia sums up the ‘eavesdropping’ story perfectly:

So now what we have is the NSA, acting on its own, using its authority to loosen its own rules about surveillance in an attempt to widen the net and capture more terrorists. Congress then objects, prompting the administration to get involved and set up strict guidelines for surveillance. Eventually, the Attorney General objected to some element of the program, and the rules were tightened up even further.

So rather than a rogue administration running rampant over our civil rights, we have an agency acting within its authorities, the administration reacting responsibly to concerns expressed by Congress and setting up a program of routine auditing and notification to Congress. I suspect this news will be met with disappointment by those who hoped to impeach the President and with disgust by those who have been defending the President.

Yeah – disgust with the media and the whiners in the DNC who trumped up the ‘violation of civil liberties’ charge for all it was worth when all along it looks like the key players knew the real deal, and that this is a case of the NSA acting on its own in the initial stages, rather than the President being overly eager to ‘trample on the rights of Americans’ (to paraphrase the various anti-Bush arguments out there) as soon as he had the opportunity.

Read more via Captain Ed, Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy, AJ Strata, The Sundries Shack

Also, check out Cox and Forkum’s take on Chuck Schumer’s hypocrisy. Heh.

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