US Attorneys firing tied to surveillance debate?

A colleague alerts me that illegal wiretapping began before 911, and I located a well-written article on this very subject at Truthout. Truthout is a great resource for well-documented articles on matter which doesn’t get looked at in depth in the major news media outlets.

The NSA’s vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

. . . On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

James Risen, author of the book State of War and credited with first breaking the story about the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations, said President Bush personally authorized a change in the agency’s long-standing policies shortly after he was sworn in in 2001.

“The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions,” Risen wrote in the book. “Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders” and “the most ambitious got the message.”

This same colleague points out that the firing of the nine United States prosecutors in 2006 is linked, in her mind, to questions they were asking about the legality of this practice, which were considered not politically correct. Yesterday’s NY Times article wonders about this as well,

The inspector general is investigating other issues related to accusations of politicization in the Justice Department, including the central question of why the United States attorneys were dismissed in late 2006.

Full Truthout article

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