Report: Bush-era surveillance went beyond wiretaps; wiretaps of limited value
Posted in: Government & Policy at 11/07/2009 16:50
The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 surveillance efforts went beyond the widely publicized warrantless wiretapping program, a government report disclosed Friday, encompassing additional secretive activities that created "unprecedented" spying powers.
The report also raised new questions about how the Bush White House kept key Justice Department officials in the dark as it launched the surveillance program.
In a move that it described as "extraordinary and inappropriate," the report said the White House relied on a single, lower-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for assessments about the programs' legality.
U.S. Wiretaps Were of Limited Value, Officials Report
While the Bush administration had defended its program of wiretapping without warrants as a vital tool that saved lives, a new government review released Friday said the program's effectiveness in fighting terrorism was unclear.
The report, mandated by Congress last year and produced by the inspectors general of five federal agencies, found that other intelligence tools used in assessing security threats posed by terrorists provided more timely and detailed information.
Most intelligence officials interviewed "had difficulty citing specific instances" when the National Security Agency's wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists, the report said.