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Bush Administration's intelligence chief acknowledges 'series' of other 'secret surveillance activities'
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday August 1, 2007


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President Bush authorized a "series of secret surveillance activities" by executive order after Sept. 11, 2001, according to a letter from Bush Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).

The disclosure marks the first time "that the administration has publicly acknowledged that Bush's order included undisclosed activities beyond the warrantless surveillance of e-mails and phone calls that Bush confirmed in December 2005," according to the Washington Post.

Bush's executive order authorized "a number" of intelligence activities. The name created by the Bush team -- 'Terrorist Surveillance Program' -- applied only to "one particular aspect of these activities," McConnell wrote.

"This is the only aspect of the NSA activities that can be discussed publicly, because it is the only aspect of those various activities whose existence has been officially acknowledged," McConnell said.

The Post did not say that the only reason warrantless wiretapping was acknowledged in the first place was due to a groundbreaking article by James Risen, that exposed the program in the New York Times.

McConnell's letter sought to defend Attorney General Gonzales from Senate Democrats' allegations of perjury. Gonzales told Congress that no legal objections were raised about the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," and then later shifted course, saying his remark was about "other intelligence activities."

These other activities were apparently those that McConnell acknowledges but does not disclose.

"But in doing so, McConnell's letter also underscored that the full scope of the NSA's surveillance program under Bush's order has not been revealed," notes Post reporter Dan Eggen. "The TSP described by Bush and his aides allowed the interception of communication between the United States and other countries where one party is believed to be tied to al-Qaeda, so other types of communication or data are presumably being collected under the parts of the wider NSA program that remain hidden."

"News reports over the past 20 months have detailed a range of activities linked to the program, including the use of data mining to identify surveillance targets and the participation of telecommunication companies in turning over millions of phone records," Eggen adds. "The administration has not publicly confirmed such reports."

Today's New York Times does not even carry the story on its front page.

In fact -- Risen's A11 piece today in the Times today is titled, "Democrats Scrambling to Expand Eavesdropping."

Read the full Washington Post story here.