Chronology of NSA Spying

The USA Patriot Act was enacted 45 days after 9/11, expanding the government's ability to gather information on Americans. At that time, Congress voted overwhelmingly and purposefully to have certain provisions expire by the end of 2005 in order to give Congress a second chance to assess their impact on the traditional checks and balances on government powers that protect basic American freedoms.

The law was reauthorized and signed into law on March 6, 2006. PRCB made advances in restoring checks and balances in the final authorized legislation, but much more work needs to be done.

Chronology of Warrantless Spying and Monitoring of Telephone Call Information and Financial Transactions

December 16, 2005 ' The New York Times reports that in the months after the September 11th terrorist attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor international telephone calls and international emails of American citizens without court warrants as required by federal law.

January 17, 2006 ' Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) calls on Congress to hold open, substantive oversight hearings examining the President's authorization of the NSA to violate domestic surveillance requirements outlined in the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

March 16, 2006 ' Two bills are introduced in Congress. Senator Mike DeWine (R-Oh.) introduces the Terrorist Surveillance Program Act of 2006 (S. 2455) which would make it lawful for the administration to continue spying on innocent Americans. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduces the National Security Surveillance Act (S.2453) which would effectively end any investigation by this Congress while sanctioning the idea of "program warrants," which are antithetical to the purpose of the Fourth Amendment, allowing wiretapping of Americans based on innocent conduct.

April 6, 2006 ' Attorney General Gonzales reveals that the Bush administration may also be monitoring purely domestic emails and telephone conversations in violation of U.S. law.

May 8, 2006 ' President Bush nominates Air Force General Michael V. Hayden to replace Porter Goss as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Gen. Hayden was the architect and supervisor of the administration's warrantless surveillance program during his tenure as director of the NSA.

May 11, 2006 ' USA Today reports that the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program is even more expansive than originally believed. According to the paper, the government has collected tens of millions of Americans' phone records without warrants from AT&T;, Verizon and BellSouth since 2001 to create a mega-database of customers' call information. Verizon and BellSouth later deny that they have participated in the program.

May 18, 2006 ' PRCB urges members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to thoroughly question Gen. Hayden on his involvement with the NSA domestic spying and data-mining program created under his watch.

May 26, 2006 ' The U.S. Senate approves the nomination of Gen. Michael V. Hayden to be the new director of the CIA, despite his apparent involvement in the NSA's warrantless spying programs.

June 7, 2006 ' Senator Specter publicly calls on the Bush administration to stop interfering with the work of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Specter accuses Vice President Cheney of stonewalling the committee's inquiry into the NSA data-mining program by urging telephone company executives not to cooperate and actively lobbying Republican members to oppose any hearing with the phone company CEOs.

June 23, 2006 ' The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal report that the Bush administration has been secretly obtaining information about international financial transactions for years since shortly after September 11, 2001. Today, the program continues to monitor financial transactions between the United States and other countries and has transformed into an unfettered fishing expedition with no proper oversight.

July 13, 2006 ' Senator Specter caves in to pressure from the White House and agrees to amend his bill, the National Security Surveillance Act (S.2453), to allow the administration to continue aggressively monitoring the private lives of ordinary Americans in clear violation of U.S. law.

August 3, 2006 ' The Senate Judiciary Committee fails to act on legislation regarding the NSA warrantless spying program before the Senate's August recess begins.

August 10, 2006 ' British authorities thwart a plot to bomb U.S.-bound airliners with liquid explosives.

August 12, 2006 ' The Washington Post and other news media report that the FBI investigation into the failed airliner bombing plot included a significant increase in warrants for surveillance and searches from the FISA court, indicating that U.S. law does not hinder sensitive investigations.

August 17, 2006 ' A federal judge in Detroit found the warrantless wiretapping of Americans conducted by the National Security Agency to be unconstitutional, and ordered it to be stopped.

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