Tuesday, January 03, 2006
AP: Intel Committee tipped in '01 about NSA wiretaps - Jan. 3
WASHINGTON - Congressional intelligence committees had at least a hint in October 2001 that the National Security Agency was expanding its surveillance activities after the 9/11 attacks, according to a letter released Tuesday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The California Democrat had raised questions to Gen. Michael Hayden, right, then the NSA director, about the legal authority to conduct the eavesdropping work.
In the October 2001 letter, Pelosi said she was told in a briefing that month that the agency "had been operating since the Sept. 11 attacks with an expansive view" of its authorities "to the conduct of electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related statutes, orders, regulations and guidelines."
"I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting," Pelosi, then the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, wrote Hayden.
But it appears that Hayden may have at least alluded broadly to the new surveillance work with a wider audience of House and Senate intelligence committee members during the classified October briefing. According to Pelosi's letter, Hayden spoke about the agency's new posture to expand its operations.
Hayden, who is now the nation's No. 2 intelligence official, told Pelosi he wanted to clarify ambiguities. "In my briefing, I was attempting to emphasize that I used my authorities to adjust NSA's collection and reporting," he wrote on Oct. 18, 2001.
The subsequent crucial sentences of the letter, released Tuesday, were blocked out for security reasons.
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