State Secrets

Bush Wiretaps Produced Little

Not only did Bush hide his secret wiretapping program from the Department of Justice, but its scope was much larger than was believed, according to a new report. The Washington Post reported Friday that former President Bush conducted a “warrantless eavesdropping program that only three Justice Department lawyers were aware of,” and a team of federal inspectors general now says that the program pulled in “mountains” of information far beyond what was previously acknowledged. The so-called “unprecedented collection activities” began after Bush signed an executive order following the September 11 attacks, the inspectors’ general watchdog report says. The report called the arrangement “extraordinary and inappropriate,” and said the White House “undermined” the Justice Department’s ability to work. The three lawyers who knew about the wiretapping were Attorney General John Ashcroft, Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo, and intelligence policy lawyer James Baker. Most of the intelligence leads had no connections to terrorism, the report says, though the primary architect of the program, Michael Hayden, said the "extremely valuable" surveillance prevented future al-Qaida attacks.