(I found this through Pope Guilty’s diary over at dKos)

Truthout’s Jason Leopold wrote an article today providing evidence that the warrantless wiretaps began shortly after President Bush was inaugurated.  Leopold’s sources say that the domestic spying program began shortly after the NSA distributed their recently declassified Transition 2001 document in December 2000.
Leopold writes:

   What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.

    But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that’s not what happened. 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.

Note that this completely destroys a couple of the right wing talking points and justifications.

First and foremost, the bogus idea that 9/11 could have been prevented by this spying program no longer holds any water at all for obvious reasons.

In addition, if the wiretaps were taking place this far back, then another oft-cited argument is also smashed : that Bush has authority under the President’s war powers to conduct this program.  We were not at war before 9/11.

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