Unclassified Report on the President’s Surveillance Program

The Unclassified Report of the President’s Surveillance Program released on July 10, 2009 is a review of the National Security Agency Warrantless Search Program, created during the presidency of George W. Bush some time after September 11, 2001. The unclassified report was prepared by the inspectors general of five government bodies involved in the original program. Among its many observations it raises questions about both whether the extensive secrecy of the original warrantless surveillance program limited its effectiveness and the legal basis of the original program..

The following is an excerpt from the Introduction to the Unclassified Report followed by a link to the entire Report:

From the Introduction:

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a classified program to detect and prevent further attacks in the United States. As part of the NSA’s classified program, several different intelligence activities were authorized in Presidential Authorizations, and the details of these activities changed over time. The program was reauthorized by the President approximately every 45 days, with certain modifications. Collectively, the activities carried out under these Authorizations are referred to as the “President’s Surveillance Program” or “PSP.”

One of the activities authorized as part of the PSP was the interception of the content of communications into and out of the United States where there was a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication was a member of al-Qa’ida or related terrorist organizations. This aspect of the PSP was publicly acknowledged and described by the President, the Attorney General, and other Administration officials beginning in December 2005 following a series of articles published in The New York Times. The Attorney General subsequently publicly acknowledged the fact that other intelligence activities were also authorized under the same Presidential Authorization, but the details of those activities remain classified.

The President and other Administration officials labeled the publicly disclosed interception of the content of certain international communications by the NSA as the “Terrorist Surveillance Program.”


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