Stewart M. Powell wrote:
> Secret court modified wiretap requests;
> Intervention may have led Bush to bypass panel.
> Saturday, December 24, 2005
> By STEWART M. POWELL
> SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER WASHINGTON BUREAU
> WASHINGTON -- Government records show that the administration was
> encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal
> surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and
> order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's
> A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the
> 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more
> wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four
> previous presidential administrations combined.
> The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap
> requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court
> nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying
> on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside
> the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged
> authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls,
> e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.
> "They wanted to expand the number of people they were eavesdropping
> on, and they didn't think they could get the warrants they needed from
> the court to monitor those people," said Bamford, author of "Body of
> Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency" and
> "The Puzzle Palace: Inside America's Most Secret Intelligence
> Organization." "The FISA court has shown its displeasure by tinkering
> with these applications by the Bush administration."
> Bamford offered his speculation in an interview last week.
> The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, adopted by Congress in
> the wake of President Nixon's misuse of the NSA and the CIA before his
> resignation over Watergate, sets a high standard for court-approved
> wiretaps on Americans and resident aliens inside the United States.
> To win a court-approved wiretap, the government must show "probable
> cause" that the target of the surveillance is a member of a foreign
> terrorist organization or foreign power and is engaged in activities
> that "may" involve a violation of criminal law.
> Faced with that standard, Bamford said, the Bush administration had
> difficulty obtaining FISA court-approved wiretaps on dozens of people
> within the United States who were communicating with targeted al-Qaida
> suspects inside the United States.
> The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps has approved at least
> 18,740 applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches
> from five presidential administrations since 1979.
> The judges modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102
> applications that were approved over the first 22 years of the court's
> operation. In 20 of the first 21 annual reports on the court's
> activities up to 1999, the Justice Department told Congress that "no
> orders were entered (by the FISA court) which modified or denied the
> requested authority" submitted by the government.
> But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for
> court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173
> of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003
> and 2004 -- the most recent years for which public records are
> The judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for
> warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection in the
> court's history.
> Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said last week that Bush authorized
> NSA surveillance of overseas communications by U.S.-based terror
> suspects because the FISA court's approval process was too cumbersome.
> The Bush administration, responding to concerns expressed by some
> judges on the 11-member panel, agreed last week to give them a
> classified briefing on the domestic spying program. U.S. District
> Judge Malcolm Howard, a member of the panel, told CNN that the Bush
> administration agreed to brief the judges after U.S. District Judge
> James Robertson resigned from the FISA panel, apparently to protest
> Bush's spying program.
> Bamford, 59, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, likens the Bush administra-
> tion's domestic surveillance without court approval to Nixon-era
> abuses of intelligence agencies.
> NSA and previous eavesdropping agencies collected duplicates of all
> international telegrams to and from the United States for decades
> during the Cold War under a program code-named "Shamrock" before the
> program ended in the 1970s. A program known as "Minaret" tracked
> 75,000 Americans whose activities had drawn government interest
> between 1952 and 1974, including participation in the anti-war
> movement during the Vietnam War.
> "NSA prides itself on learning the lessons of the 1970s and obeying
> the legal restrictions imposed by FISA," Bamford said. "Now it looks
> like we're going back to the bad old days again."
> Copyright 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
All we have of freedom, all we use or know
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw
Leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the Law.
So they bought us freedom not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,
Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.
Excerpted from The Old Issue by Rudyard Kipling
If any substantial number of Americans begin using encryption for
their ordinary emails even the NSA's Cray computers will bog down to a
Since the NSA is no longer under the rule of law I have begun
encrypting my ordinary emails so the NSA will not know how boring my
life really is without investing computing time to find out. Even the
NSA's resources are not unlimited. We can jam this genie back into
it's bottle. Encrypt your personal Email today and join a new main
stream civil liberties movement to protect the US from
"people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve=20
neither and will lose both" Benjamin Franklin
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I would be interested in finding out if
anyone could assist me in encrypting _this Digest_ each day. Could
anyone help with that?
Also, I _do_ need to speak with the gentleman who has helped me get
the Internet Historical Society back on line. Will you please call me
today or tomorrow, or email me. Thanks. PAT]