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Tag: warrantless wiretaps

Justice Dept. Drops Leak Probe into Warrantless Wiretaps That Earned NY Times a Pulitzer

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sometimes leak investigation fade into the sunset, never to be heard again.

That appears to be the case with the Justice Department, which has quietly dropped the  criminal investigation into a lawyer who admitted leaking information about President George W. Bush’s top-secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times. The Times ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize with the help of that disclosure, according to Josh Gerstein of Politico.

“The decision not to prosecute former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be charged for the disclosures that led to the Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story in December 2005 revealing that, after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush ordered the interception of certain phone calls and email messages into and out of the U.S. without a warrant — a move many lawyers contend violated the 1978 law governing intelligence-related wiretaps,” Gerstein wrote.

To read more click here.

President Ford Approved Warrantless Wiretaps in 1974

President Ford/whitehouse photo

President Ford/whitehouse photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Gerald Fold authorized the FBI to use domestic warrantless wiretaps in 1974, according to the website WIRED.

The website, which cites a classified memo recently obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, says Ford signed a Dec. 19, 1974 memo giving his approval  “just one month before the Senate established an 11-member panel, known as the Church Committee, to investigate government surveillance programs.”

It said he had reviewed the matter and found it was legal. The signing came at a time critics were up in arms over what they considered excessive government surveillance on the domestic front.

“The Church Committee would ultimately uncover other unconstitutional spying activities, such as that conducted by the National Security Agency under the rubric of Operation Shamrock,” WIRED wrote. “Two days after the memo was signed, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, writing in The New York Times, disclosed a covert government spying program that focused on monitoring political activists in the U.S.”

The website said Ford later supported the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which required permission from a special court so law enforcement  could conduct domestic surveillance.

The news of Ford’s memo comes after a federal judge in San Francisco ruled last week that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped conversations of two lawyers and a Saudi charity during the Bush years.

To read more click here.

Read Ford Memo

Stinging Report Says Bush White House Kept Justice Dept. Lawyers in the Dark on Warrantless Wiretaps

There’s no sugar coating the ugly truth about the way things were handled. The biting report also confirms outsiders’ suspicions that the White House undermined the Justice Department’s mission.

dark

By Carrie Johnson and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The Bush White House so strictly controlled access to its warrantless eavesdropping program that only three Justice Department lawyers were aware of the plan, which nearly ignited mass resignations and a constitutional crisis when a wider circle of administration officials began to question its legality, according to a watchdog report released today.

The unclassified summary by five inspectors general from government intelligence agencies called the arrangements “extraordinary and inappropriate” and asserted that White House secrecy “undermined” the ability of the Justice Department to do its work.

The report is the first public sign of a long running investigative review of a program that provoked fierce conflict within the highest levels of the Bush administration in 2004. At the time, the Justice Department’s second in command and the director of the FBI both vowed to resign if President Bush continued with electronic intelligence gathering that they believed was outside the boundaries of the law.

Today’s report was mandated by Congress in legislation last year that updated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to accommodate new technologies. The bulk of the review remains highly classified.

For Full Story

Read Report

Justice Dept. Attorneys Face Possible Sanctions In Calif. Wiretap Case

The government could get burned in this legal game of chess.

calif-mapdataEvan Hill
Law.com

Government lawyers trying to fend off a much-watched warrantless wiretapping case in federal court now face sanctions and the possibility of a judgment that the United States committed illegal surveillance, following an order filed on Friday by Northern District of California Chief Judge Vaughn Walker.

Walker, bringing to a head months of volleying between the government, the plaintiffs and himself, ordered Justice Department lawyers to explain why he should not essentially enter a default judgment against the government for violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by spying on the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

The government has refused to obey court orders by repeatedly stonewalling Walker’s attempt to move the case forward, Walker wrote.

If he rules as threatened, Al-Haramain would win without forcing the government to acknowledge surveillance.

“In some ways, this might be entirely satisfactory to the government,” said Jon Eisenberg, who represents the defunct Islamic charity.

For Full Story

New Atty. Gen. Holder Could Release Secret Memos on Interrogations, Warrantless Wiretaps

As Atty. Gen. Eric. H. Holder Jr. takes over, we may see some of the secret and controversial actions of the Bush Justice Department that will provide more insights to what happened in the past eight years.

By Jeff Stein
Spy Talk
WASHINGTON — “Far more secret memos” on hard interrogations, detention and warrantless wiretapping programs have been discovered, most originating in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), according to a new report.
And Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., confirmed Monday, has indicated that a number of them may be made public.
The list of the more than three dozen still highly classified documents was assembled by Pro Publica, an independent public interest journalism organization founded in 2007 by former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger.
“The Bush administration’s controversial policies on detentions, interrogations and warrantless wiretapping were underpinned by legal memoranda,” write Pro Publica reporters Dan Nguyen and Christopher Weaver. “While some of those memos have been released (primarily as a result of ACLU lawsuits), the former administration kept far more memos secret than has been previously understood. At least three dozen by our count.”
For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Appeals Court Backs Controversial Warrantless Wiretaps

Here’s a ruling bound to stir more controversy. Will things change in the Obama administration?

By Del Quentin Wilber and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — A special federal appeals court yesterday released a rare declassified opinion that backed the government’s authority to intercept international phone conversations and e-mails from U.S. soil without a judicial warrant, even those involving Americans, if a significant purpose is to collect foreign intelligence.
The ruling, which was issued in August but not made public until now, responded to an unnamed telecommunications firm’s complaint that the Bush administration in 2007 improperly demanded information on its clients, violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The company complied with the demand while the case was pending.
In its opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled that national security interests outweighed the privacy rights of those targeted, affirming what amounts to a constitutional exception for matters involving government interests “of the highest order of magnitude.”
For Full Story