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  • Wednesday, February 01, 2006


    More About Domestic Spying and the Rule of Law

    Following on from my previous post, and in anticipation of the upcoming congressional hearings, I wanted to collect some of the most salient (but by no means complete set of) official pronouncements, legal analyses, and opinions that have been and are still being issued on this subject.

    Soon after the NSA spying program was first disclosed by the New York Times in a December 16, 2005 article, there was a Press Briefing on December 19, 2005 by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and General Michael Hayden in which the Attorney General claimed: “The authorization by the President is only to engage in surveillance of communications where one party is outside the United States, and where we have a reasonable basis to conclude that one of the parties of the communication is either a member of al Qaeda or affiliated with al Qaeda.”

    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a letter dated December 22, 2005 purporting to summarize the legal authority supporting “the NSA activities described by the President.”

    A response to the December 22, 2005 DOJ letter was issued on January 9, 2006 by fourteen (14) law professors and former government officials.

    The Congressional Research Service issued a report dated January 5, 2006 entitled “Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information.” This report presents a comprehensive analysis of the legal arguments on both sides.

    On January 19, 2006, DOJ issued a 42-page “white paper” entitled: “Legal Authorities Supporting The Activities Of The National Security Agency Described By The President.”

    Update: On February 2, 2006, the 14 law professors and former government officials issued their response to the DOJ White Paper.

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