TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 13 May 2006 23:38:36 -0400

The New York Times
May 14, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 13 - In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice
President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the
National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone
calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists,
according to two senior intelligence officials.

But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against
domestic spying and reluctant to approve any eavesdropping without
warrants, insisted that it should be limited to communications into
and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity
to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. But just how Gen. Michael
V. Hayden, the director of the agency at the time, designed the
program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the
White House on its limits is not yet clear.

As the program's overseer and chief salesman, General Hayden is
certain to face questions about his role when he appears at a Senate
hearing next week on his nomination as director of the Central
Intelligence Agency. Criticism of the surveillance program, which some
lawmakers say is illegal, flared again this week with the disclosure
that the N.S.A. had collected the phone records of millions of
Americans in an effort to track terrorism suspects.

By several accounts, including those of the two officials, General
Hayden, a 61-year-old Air Force officer who left the agency last year
to become principal deputy director of national intelligence, was the
man in the middle as President Bush demanded that intelligence
agencies act urgently to stop future attacks.

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