Domestic Security

2008 - 2009

Materials arranged chronologically.

Eggen, Dan. "FBI Chief Confirms Misuse of Subpoenas: Security Letters Used to Get Personal Data." Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2008. A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 5 March 2008, "FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told senators ... that agents improperly used" national security letters, a type of administrative subpoena, "to obtain personal data about Americans until internal reforms were enacted last year."

O'Harrow, Robert, Jr. "Centers Tap Into Personal Databases: State Groups Were Formed After 9/11." Washington Post, 2 Apr. 2008, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to a document obtained by the Washington Post, state-run intelligence centers, known as fusion centers, "have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports.... Government watchdogs, along with some police and intelligence officials, said they worry that the fusion centers do not have enough oversight and are not open enough with the public, in part because they operate under various state rules."

Lichtblau, Eric. "Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers." New York Times, 10 Jul. 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"The Senate gave final approval on [9 July 2008] to a major expansion of the government's surveillance powers.... The measure, approved by a vote of 69 to 28,... includes ... legal immunity for the phone companies that cooperated in the National Security Agency wiretapping program [President Bush] approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.... [Bush] promised to sign the measure into law quickly....

"The measure gives the executive branch broader latitude in eavesdropping on people abroad and at home who it believes are tied to terrorism, and it reduces the role of [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] in overseeing some operations.... The legislation also expands the government's power to invoke emergency wiretapping procedures. While the N.S.A. would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new seven-day period for directing wiretaps at foreigners without a court order in 'exigent' circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost. The law also expands to seven days, from three, the period for emergency wiretaps on Americans without a court order if the attorney general certifies there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism."

Lichtblau, Eric. "New Guidelines Would Give F.B.I. Broader Powers." New York Times, 21 Aug. 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"[F]our Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey in a letter on [20 August 2008] that they were troubled by what they heard" about a Justice Department plan that "would loosen restrictions" on the FBI "to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion.... The Justice Department said ... that in light of requests from members of Congress for more information," Mukasey "would agree not to sign the new guidelines before a Sept. 17 Congressional hearing."

Lichtblau, Eric. "Terror Plan Would Give F.B.I. More Power." New York Times, 13 Sep. 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 12 September 2008, the Justice Department announced "a plan to expand the tools the Federal Bureau of Investigation can use to investigate suspicions of terrorism inside the United States, even without any direct evidence of wrongdoing.... Under existing guidelines, F.B.I. agents cannot use certain investigative tools in conducting so-called threat assessments as a precursor to a preliminary or full inquiry. The revisions would allow agents to conduct public surveillance of someone, do 'pretext' interviews -- pose as someone other than an agent or disguise the purpose of the questions -- or send in an undercover source to gather information."

CNN. "U.S. Policymakers Mull Creation of Domestic Intelligence Agency." 20 Oct. 2008. [http://www.cnn.com]

On 20 October 2008, "at the request of Congress, the RAND Corporation outlined the pros and cons of establishing a domestic intelligence agency. It also discussed different ways to organize a new entity, either as part of an existing department or as a new agency."

Benson, Pam, and Terry Frieden. "Report: Domestic Surveillance Program Relied on Flawed [Legal] Analysis." CNN, 10 Jul. 2009. [http://www.cnn.com]

According to a report to Congress on 10 July 2009, the government's "no-warrant surveillance program initiated after the September 11 terrorist attacks relied on a 'factually flawed' legal analysis inappropriately provided by a single Justice Department official [John Yoo].... The report was compiled by the inspectors general of the nation's top intelligence agencies, the Pentagon and the Justice Department."

Lichtblau, Eric, and James Risen. "U.S. Wiretaps Were of Limited Value, Officials Report." New York Times, 11 Jul. 2009. [http://www.nytimes.com]

A report by the inspectors general of the Justice Department, NSA, CIA, Defense Department, and ODNI, released on 10 July 2009, says that the effectiveness of the government's program of warrantless wiretaps "was unclear.... Most intelligence officials interviewed 'had difficulty citing specific instances' when [NSA's] wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists, the report said....

"The report states that at the same time [President] Bush authorized the warrantless wiretapping operation, he also signed off on other surveillance programs that the government has never publicly acknowledged.... [C]urrent and former officials say that those programs included data mining of e-mail messages of Americans." See also, Carrie Johnson and Ellen Nakashima, "'Inappropriate' Secrecy Hurt Surveillance Effort, Report Says," Washington Post, 11 Jul. 2009.

Text of the Joint Inspectors General Report, dated 10 July 2009, is available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/psp.pdf.

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