Domestic Spying Leak Investigation
|This article is part of our coverage of the
Bush administration's domestic spying programs.
It was announced on Friday, December 30, 2005, that the U.S. Department of Justice had launched an investigation "to determine who divulged the existence" of President George W. Bush's "secret" domestic spying program. According to officials, the "inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted" by the National Security Agency since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Associated Press reported.
In a New York Times front-page story December 15, 2005, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau reported that only months after the events of September 11, 2001, President Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 which "secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying."
The Times withheld the news from publication for a year, "partly," the Times said, "at the request of the [Bush] administration and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm aspects" of the spying program, the Associated Press reported. "White House spokesman Trent Duffy said that the Justice Department undertook the action on its own" and that Bush "was informed of it" on Friday, December 30th.
The Justice Department investigation "is clearly political and meant to insulate the White House and intelligence agencies from further public scrutiny by saying they are under a criminal prosecution," James Ridgeway, wrote in the December 30, 2005, Village Voice. "It will be up to Congress to undertake a serious investigation, issuing its own subpoenas, and calling the major participants to testify," Ridgeway said.
"Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: 'It's pretty stunning that, rather than focus on whether the president broke his oath of office and broke federal law, they are going after the whistle-blowers'," the Associated Press reported. "Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor, agreed that the Justice Department is taking the wrong approach. ... 'Somebody in the government has enough concern about this programme that they are talking to reporters,' Silliman said. 'I don't think that is something the Justice Department should try to prosecute.'"
"The officials said that all federal probes into leaks of classified information were sensitive. But the level of sensitivity surrounding the current probe is extraordinary — and likely to intensify — because of the presumption that few government officials had access to the program's details. Most of those potential witnesses are high-ranking administration officials, in the NSA or other intelligence agencies, or in top-level posts in Congress or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Josh Meyer wrote in the December 31, 2005, Los Angeles Times.
- Bush administration leaks
- Feingold resolution for the censure of George W. Bush
- George W. Bush's phone records spying
- George W. Bush's domestic spying: SourceWatch Resources
- George W. Bush's domestic spying: Related Articles & Commentary 2001-2005
- George W. Bush's domestic spying: Related Articles & Commentary 2006
- Bill Berkowitz, "Escalating secrecy wars. Punish leakers of classified documents severely, says CIA veteran," Working for Change, July 9, 2003. re Dr. James B. Bruce, Vice Chairman of the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) Foreign Denial and Deception Committee in the National Intelligence Council (NIC)
- Toni Locy, "Update 9: Justice Dept. Probing Domestic Spying Leak," Associated Press (Forbes), December 30, 2005; also posted by Denver Post.
- Scott Shane, "Justice Dept. Opens Inquiry Into Leak of Domestic Spying," New York Times, December 30, 2005.
- James Ridgeway, "Justice Probe of Spy Leak Could Shield Bush. President gives self excuse not to talk about wiretaps," Village Voice, December 30, 2005.
- Josh Meyer and Daryl Strickland, "Justice Department to Probe Leak of NSA's Domestic Surveillance Program," Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2005.
- "US opens inquiry into spying leak," Associated Press (Al Jazeera), December 31, 2005.
- Patti Waldmeir, "US wiretap leak inquiry launched," Financial Times (MSNBC), December 30, 2005.
- Josh Meyer, "Leak in Domestic Spy Program Investigated. The Justice Department inquiry could extend into all branches of the federal government," Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2005.
- Dan Eggen, "US investigates leak of spy program. Prosecutors focus on disclosure to New York Times," Washington Post (Boston Globe), December 31, 2005.
- "Inquiry into leak of NSA spying program launched," CNN, December 31, 2005.
- Michael Hedges, "Feds Probe Wiretap Leak. The White House decries revelation of spying program as critics lash Bush," Houston Chronicle, December 31, 2005.
- Joe Gandelman, " The Moderate Voice, December 31, 2005. Provides a roundup of and links to news articles and blog entries.
- "Schumer Wants to Know Motivation Behind NSA Leak," Fox News, January 1, 2006. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), member of Senate Judiciary Committee, said investigation "needs to focus on the motivation behind the leak".
- Murray Waas, "The Case of the Gonzales Notes," The Atlantic, Sept. 26, 2008.
- Murray Waas, "What Did Bush Tell Gonzales?" The Atlantic, Sept. 26, 2008.