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TPM: Tom Delay Briefed on Warrantless Surveillance in March '04

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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-15-07 10:31 AM
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TPM: Tom Delay Briefed on Warrantless Surveillance in March '04
Tom DeLay Briefed on Warrantless Surveillance in March '04

By Spencer Ackerman - August 15, 2007, 11:26 AM
Here's something that comes to us via very-alert DailyKos diarist drational. The day after Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card ran to John Ashcroft's hospital room to have him overrule acting attorney general James Comey's determination that the administration's warrantless surveillance program was illegal, the White House gave a briefing on the super-secret program to none other than Tom DeLay.

Practically no members of Congress knew about the surveillance. The White House typically limited Congressional notification about the program to the bipartisan political leadership of the House and Senate and the heads of the Congressional intelligence committees -- the so-called Gang of Eight. DeLay, then the top House Republican, has no intelligence experience, and just the day before, at the White House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert received a briefing about the program, making DeLay's presence the next day redundant. The second-ranking House Democrat in 2004, then-whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, didn't receive a similar briefing.

Practically no members of Congress knew about the surveillance. The White House typically limited Congressional notification about the program to the bipartisan political leadership of the House and Senate and the heads of the Congressional intelligence committees -- the so-called Gang of Eight. DeLay, then the top House Republican, has no intelligence experience, and just the day before, at the White House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert received a briefing about the program, making DeLay's presence the next day redundant. The second-ranking House Democrat in 2004, then-whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, didn't receive a similar briefing.

"It sounds like a political decision on the part of the White House, rather than one driven by legal imperatives or Congressional norms," says Steven Aftergood, an intelligence expert with the Federation of American Scientists. "The obvious speculation is that they judged that they had a political fight on their hands and wanted to enlist him on their side."



-snip
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003927.php
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-15-07 10:37 AM
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1. Link to drational @ kos:
Tom DeLay and Warrantless Wiretapping: Update
by drational

Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 05:06:38 AM PDT

I am going to admit up front that I do not know the answer to the question I am about to ask. But it is a question that needs to be asked and answered, and I welcome any good ideas....

Why was House Majority Leader Tom Delay briefed alone on the NSA-driven surveillance program for the first and only time on March 11, 2004, the day after the Comey-Gonzales Hospital Showdown?

drational's diary :: ::
According to James Comey's May 15, 2007 SJC testimony, on Thursday, March 4, 2004, Comey told Ashcroft that the NSA-driven Surveillance Program (which we now know included the spying activities later declassified and named the "Terrorist Surveillance Program", TSP) had no legal basis. The program was due for reauthorization on March 11, 2004, but Ashcroft was prepared to support the legal analysis and refuse to give the required DOJ authorization to the program. Shortly after the conversation with Comey, Ashcroft became severely ill with gallstone pancreatitis, and Comey Became Acting Attorney General.

On March 10, 2004, the "Gang of Eight" was briefed together (for the first time as a group) on the NSA-driven Surveillance Program. It is unclear whether they were told that the James Comey would not sign off on the program as acting Attorney General, nor is it known whether the Gang of Eight knew what the Administration was prepared to do to circumvent Comey's stance. Nonetheless, with Comey as acting AG, the program was not going to be authorized by the DOJ. After the March 10, 2004 Gang of Eight Briefing, Card and Gonzales initiated their infamous Hospital Signature Mission, attempting to get approval for the program from the ill and sedated John Ashcroft. This effort failed.



-snip

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/15/8638/81745
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-15-07 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
2. Referenced Emptywheel report on TIA & TSP timing:
July 30, 2007

TIA and TSP Timing

by emptywheel

Commenter joejoejoe sent me a superb timeline to show the chronology of Congress' building opposition to the Total Information Awareness program as it relates to the NSA's domestic wiretap program (how cool is that? I, the chronology weenie, am getting timelines out of the blue! Better than Christmas!!), which appears at the bottom of this post.

I'd like to pull out just a few salient dates and add four (in bold italics) to what joejoejoe did. I think the time line lends support for the argument that one of the problems--a big problem--with the domestic wiretap program is that it violated clear instructions from Congress.

2/20/03 - President Bush signed reconciled House Senate version of above law with provision that terminates funding to TIA in 90 days and requires a Congressional update.(Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, No.1087, Division M, 111(b) )

5/20/03 - 90 days later, Pentagon changes name of TIA from Total Information Awareness to Terrorist Information Awareness and calls it new program. Problem solved!

7/17/03 - Briefing for Intelligence Committee leadership (Pat Roberts, Jay Rockefeller, Porter Goss, and Jane Harman) on domestic wiretap program. This would be the last briefing before the crisis March 10 meeting.

7/17/03 - After his SECOND briefing on the program, Jay Rockefeller writes his CYA memo to Cheney, which states (thanks to Ann for the reminder on the date):

I am writing to reiterate my concerns regarding the sensitive intelligence issues we discussed today with the DCI, DIRNSA,Chairman Roberts and our House Intelligence counterparts.



As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance.



I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication.

7/18/03 - Senate votes unanimously to block funding for the Total Information Awareness program. According to the Defense Department appropriations, no funding "may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program." - - over Bush admin. objections. Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004, Pub. L. No. 10887, 8131, 117 Stat. 1054, 1102 (2003)

-snip

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/0...
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tbyg52 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-15-07 06:11 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R!
This is *very* interesting. Please rec it up.
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