2001 October 4

President Bush Orders Illegal NSA Spying


On this day, President George W. Bush secretly ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct illegal warrantless spying in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). (See October 25, 1978 for the enactment of FISA.) When it was exposed by reporter Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times on December 16, 2005, the spying became a major scandal for the Bush administration.

On June 5, 2013, documents stolen and leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden revealed an even greater pattern of illegal spying by the NSA under President Barack Obama. The Snowden revelations, among other things, revealed that the 2005 New York Times story, explosive as it was, had uncovered only part of the NSA’s illegal spying activities.

Read: Eric Lichtblau, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice (2008)

Get the full story of the Snowden revelations: Luke Harding, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (2014)

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