The Justice Department said on Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a secret National Security AGency program under which President Bush authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States without court warrants.
The investigation began in recent days after a formal referral from the N.S.A. regarding the leak, federal officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the investigation.
The program, whose existance was revealed in an article in The New York Times on Dec. 16, has provoked sharp criticism from civil liberties groups, some members of Congress and some former intelligence officials who believe that it circumvents the law governing national security eavesdropping.
The above is from Scott Shane's "Criminal Inquiry Opens Into Leak In Eavesdropping" which runs on the front page of the New York Times this morning. It shares space with an article that has no place on the front page (see next entry). The paper's still in vacation mode. Shane's article (which will note the end credits also attribute to David E. Sanger) may indicate some actual reporting may arrive before Tuesday but don't hold your breath. It is our spotlight entry this morning, selected as such by Billie, Eddie and Carl.
The administration attempts to deflect valid criticism by making the issue not their own actions but the leak. (The slow leak, the Times sat on the story for over a year.) Anthony Romero of the ACLU is quoted in the article noting that. His pull quote appears to come from this press release ("ACLU Slams DOJ Investigation of NSA Whistleblower, Says Government Must Independently Investigate Violation of Wiretap Laws"):
NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today sharply criticized a Justice Department investigation into the disclosure of an illegal National Security Agency domestic eavesdropping operation approved by President George W. Bush.
In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well as two full-page advertisements in the New York Times, the ACLU has called for the appointment of a special counsel to determine whether President Bush violated federal wiretapping laws by authorizing illegal surveillance of domestic targets.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero:
"President Bush broke the law and lied to the American people when he unilaterally authorized secret wiretaps of U.S. citizens. But rather than focus on this constitutional crisis, Attorney General Gonzales is cracking down on critics of his friend and boss. Our nation is strengthened, not weakened, by those whistleblowers who are courageous enough to speak out on violations of the law."
"To avoid further charges of cronyism, Attorney General Gonzales should call off the investigation. Better yet, Mr. Gonzales ought to fulfill his own oath of office and appoint a special counsel to determine whether federal laws were violated."
The ACLU's December 29 advertisement is online at:http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23271res20051229.html
The ACLU's December 22 advertisement is online at:http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23203res20051222.html
The ACLU's December 21 letter to Attorney General Gonzales is online at:http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/23184leg20051221.html
The ACLU's December 20 Freedom of Information Act request seeking information about the NSA's program of warrantless spying on Americans is online at:http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23150prs20051220.html
I'm working on the other entry as I finish this one up. My apologies because I'm moving slowly this morning. And on the phone with Jim and Dona trying to figure out when is the best time to start work on The Third Estate Sunday Review's latest edition because everyone has plans this evening -- including, for me, hosting a huge party. There's been some talk of posting later on Sunday, say in the afternoon (for some, for others it would still be morning). Nothing's determined yet.
In terms of this site, we have the "Other Items" entry that I'm finishing up. Also today, we should have a report by Ruth (she's working on it now). We'll have Kat's musical commentary and our year-in-review. Maria's doing the Democracy Now! headlines this week so look for that as well. However, if we go into emergency mode on The Third Estate Sunday Review, which is an option we're discussing on the phone right now, those entries may be late in going up and may, in fact post Sunday. Everything's up in the air at this point. Hopefully, there will be something decided by the time "Other Items" posts.
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