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Back in December 2005, we first learned about the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program from an article in the NY Times.
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
This program clearly violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
One would expect the President of the United States to be concerned about an agency under his control violating the Constitution. However, the administration instead choice to voice anger towards the leaker(s) of the information. This is from December 31, 2005:
The Justice Department said on Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a secret National Security Agency program under which President Bush authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States without court warrants.
''The leaking of classified information is a serious issue,'' said the spokesman, Trent Duffy.
''The fact is that Al Qaeda's playbook is not printed on Page 1, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications. You don't need to be Sun Tzu to understand that,'' he said, referring to the Chinese warrior who wrote ''The Art of War.''
The president last week denounced in strong language the leaking of information about the agency's program, saying: ''My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.''
Bushco and Associates were visibly agry that they had to answer questions about the illegal program and were determined to catch the leaker(s). From February 12, 2006:
Federal agents have interviewed officials at several of the country's law enforcement and national security agencies in a rapidly expanding criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding a New York Times article published in December that disclosed the existence of a highly classified domestic eavesdropping program, according to government officials.
At the same time, conservatives have attacked the disclosure of classified information as an illegal act, demanding a vigorous investigative effort to find and prosecute whoever disclosed classified information. An upcoming article in Commentary magazine suggests that the newspaper may be prosecuted for violations of the Espionage Act and says, ''What The New York Times has done is nothing less than to compromise the centerpiece of our defensive efforts in the war on terrorism.''
That sounds like a serious accusation: compromising the centerpiece of our defense in the GWOT. If they truly believed that, I can understand why they would be looking for the leaker(s) so vigorously. It would have been nice to see Bushco go after the leakers of Valerie Plame so aggresively.
Fast forward to May 22, 2006:
Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine ''the appropriate course of action in that particular case.''
''I'm not going to talk about it specifically,'' he said. ''We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity.''
Hmmmmm... it seemed like the administration backed away a little. The talk about finding and prosecuting the leakers is gone, as is the mention of prosecuting NY Times employees for violating the Espionage Act. That language is replaced by deliberate ambiguity from the chief law enforcement officer.
Since then, I have not seen anything about the prosecution of the leaker(s) of the warrantless wiretapping program. The next time Abu G appears before the SJC (if he doesn't resign or isn't impeached) the Senators should ask him about the progress in this investigation. It seems to me like the White House and DOJ backed away from the investigation because they wanted the story out of the news during an election year. If they honestly felt that the disclosure of the program was hurting the GWOT, why would they stop the investigation into the leak?
Answer: They either put politics ahead of national security or were lying about the importance of he eavesdropping program in the GWOT.