TBR News October 30, 2019

Oct 30 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. October 30, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for October 30:”The impeachment drama is gaining strength in the House and causing spastic colon among very far right Republicans and also our beloved President. As it progresses, watch Republican Senators begin to waffle their support until a significant number of them break ranks and join the Democrats in their laudable effort to remove an unstable and very dishonest President.”


The Table of Contents

  • Democrats unveil impeachment inquiry plan detailing a ‘clear path forward’
  • An Imperfect Bit of Statecraft
  • The Windows of Wong Tai Sin
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • Report on the President’s Surveillance Program 


Democrats unveil impeachment inquiry plan detailing a ‘clear path forward’

Resolution sets procedures for next phase of investigation, including allowance for public release of interview transcripts

October 29, 2019

by Joan E Greve in Washington and Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

The Guardian

House Democrats unveiled a resolution on Tuesday authorizing and laying out procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, saying it will provide “a clear path forward” as the House begins a public phase of the investigation.

“This is a sad time for our country,” said Democratic congressman James McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee. “None of us came to Congress to impeach a president, but each of us took a solemn oath to protect and defend the constitution.”

The resolution came on a day of alarming testimony regarding Trump’s 25 July call with the Ukranian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which was central to the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

On Tuesday, Alexander Vindman, a former army colonel and diplomat, told House investigators that he listened to the Trump-Zelenskiy call and escalated his concerns.

“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman said, according to written testimony obtained by the Associated Press. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine.”

Top Democrats later said his testimony was “extremely disturbing” and called him “very credible”.

The impeachment inquiry up to this point has largely consisted of closed-door interviews, led by the House intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs committees. Under the process proposed by the resolution, the intelligence committee will take control, leading any public hearings.

The president and his allies have complained that the inquiry so far has been too secretive and denied Trump any chance to defend himself.

The White House made clear that the resolution had not changed its opinion; a statement from the press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, called it a “scam” and complained that the Trump administration was being denied “basic due process rights”.

House Republicans are unlikely to support the resolution. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told the Washington Post on Tuesday. “Due process starts from the beginning.”

The House rules committees is expected to consider and possibly amend the impeachment resolution tomorrow afternoon, with a vote on the proposal still set for Thursday.

The impeachment resolution notes that, at the beginning of public hearings, the chairman and ranking member of the House intelligence committee – Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Devin Nunes – can ask witnesses questions for up to 45 minutes each before proceeding to other committee members. (They may also defer to a committee staffer.)

The resolution also allows for the public release of transcripts from interviews so far, “with appropriate redactions to protect classified and other sensitive information”.

According to the resolution, the House intelligence committee will take the lead on planning public hearings as the inquiry advances.

The resolution also establishes that Republicans may ask to hear testimony from certain witnesses, but those requests will be declined or approved by Schiff. This procedure is in line with the rules for the minority party during the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, according to the Washington Post.

In a statement, House committee leaders said: “The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election.

“Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct.”

Pressure on Trump in the impeachment inquiry is mounting rapidly. And when the hearings become public, many Americans will for the first time encounter the damaging accusations against Trump from the witnesses making them. A recent poll found that a majority of people now support the investigation.

Tom McCarthy and agencies contributed reporting


An Imperfect Bit of Statecraft

Trump cancels the pullout from Syria then flip-flops, threatens war with Turkey and gives money to terrorists

October 29, 2019

by Philip Giraldi

The UNZ Review

The long nightmare in Syria might finally be coming to an end, but not thanks to the United States and the administration of President Donald Trump. Trump’s boast that “this was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else” was as empty as all the other rhetoric coming out of the White House over the past two and a half years. Nevertheless, it now appears that the U.S. military just might finally be bidding farewell to an exercise that began under President Barack Obama as a prime bit of liberal interventionism, with American forces illegally entering into a conflict that the White House barely understood and subsequently meddling and prolonging the fighting.

The fundamental reason why the U.S. was so ineffective was that the Obama Administration’s principal objective from the beginning was to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, yet another attempt at “humanitarian” regime change similar to that which produced such a wonderful result in Libya. Al-Assad was never in serious danger as he had significant popular support, including from the country’s Christian minority, and American piecemeal attempts to negotiate some kind of exit strategy were doomed as they eschewed any dealing with the legitimate government that was in place. The Syrian civil war supported and even enabled by Washington caused more than 500,000 deaths, created some 9 million internal and external refugees, and destroyed the Syrian economy and infrastructure while also almost starting a war between the U.S. and Turkey.

The Russians understood the American mistake and consequently were able to arrange a settlement which now appears to be viable. They were able to deal with the Syrian government, Turkey, and the Kurds who had been set adrift by Washington. The arrangement arrived at has a number of significant features. First, it guarantees Syria’s territory integrity, which presumably means the U.S. will eventually have to evacuate its remaining positions in the oil region. Second, it satisfies Turkish legitimate security demands for a disarmed safe zone, which means that Kurdish militias will have to disarm and/or move twenty miles away from the border. The safe zone will be patrolled by the Syrian Army and the Russians with Turkish observers. Third, all separatist groups (terrorists) will be hunted down and eliminated and further attempts by them to reestablish in Syria will be opposed by all parties to the agreement. Fourth, steps will be taken to make possible the orderly return of refugees to Syria.

It is undeniably true that throughout the Syrian farrago, President Trump’s admittedly inherited policy could not possibly have been more incoherent, occasionally bizarre, predictably inconsistent, and actually dangerous to genuine American interests in the region. It is to everyone’s benefit that the game is finally over, but one can expect the neoconservatives in the United States to do their best to bring about yet another reversal by Trump.

It must be conceded that along the way, President Trump was not exactly acting with a free hand. He has been beleaguered by a Deep State conspiracy against him that began even before he was nominated, though he didn’t have to help his enemies by shooting himself in the head at every opportunity through tweets and demeaning language. The apparent commitment to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria was long overdue as Washington’s involvement in the fighting was wrong by every measure right from the beginning and remaining has only served to make more complicated the country’s recovery from eight years of conflict. It also was contrary to its publicly stated objective of destroying ISIS. A strong Syrian government was and is best placed to do just that and Washington, in a panic to recruit, train and arm mercenaries to fight Damascus often wound up arming terrorists.

But doing what is right does not go far in today’s United States of America and the fact that Trump is now taking credit for a ceasefire and by extension a settlement of the conflict means little as he has predictably folded already once on plans to withdraw. The argument that the Kurds have been betrayed has a certain cogency, but the reality is that the Kurdish leaders entered into a relationship with the U.S. military based on their own interests with no expectation that Washington would be backing them up forever. They are now well placed to cut their own deals with both Damascus and Ankara, with Russia in the middle working to sustain the agreement to end the fighting and restore the Syrian state’s status ante bellum.

To give Trump his due, his original announcement that he was removing ALL U.S. troops from Syria made powerful new enemies in the Israel Lobby, which has been backing the president because of his many favors to Tel Aviv but which has never really liked or trusted him. Israel has long, and even openly, promoted the breaking up of Syria into its component tribal and religious parts to enable the acquisition of even more land in the Golan Heights and to reduce dramatically the threat coming from any unified government in Damascus. It has also seen the Syrian civil war as a proxy conflict fought by the its poodle the United States against Iran. Israel and its friends in Congress and the media will, to say the least, be disappointed if the war is now truly ended and the U.S. military is withdrawn.

Trump also must continue to deal with the fallout from his Democratic Party opponents, having given them a cudgel to beat him over the head with as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff all wax emotional over how they really love those “freedom fighting” Kurds. The Democrats, having denounced Trump with one voice, were joined by Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and the ever-versatile Lindsay Graham, all dedicated to the continuation of an interventionist foreign policy, though they would never quite call it that. It is not likely that any of them are really pleased with a deal to end the Syrian fighting.

So the opposition, coming from multiple directions against a Donald Trump also on the impeachment block for Ukraine, will continue and as of this writing it is by no means clear what will happen vis-à-vis the Pentagon announcing that some troops, augmented by armor units, would remain in Syria to protect the oil fields. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper  explained to reporters  that the remaining U.S. troops would seek “to deny access, specifically revenue to ISIS and any other groups that may want to seek that revenue to enable their own malign activities.” The president has also suggested, in true Trumpean fashion, that “We want to keep the oil, and we’ll work something out with the Kurds. … Maybe we’ll have one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly,” a step that even the feckless Obama Administration had hesitated to take on legal grounds as the oil unquestionably belongs to Syria. Trump’s amigo Senator Lindsey Graham elaborated on the plan, saying bluntly that “We can use some of the revenues from future Syrian oil sales to pay our military commitment in Syria.”

And there will be additional fallout from Syria in the damaged relationships in the region. Demonstrating that it could actually screw up two things simultaneously, the White House had unleashed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned last Tuesday that the United States was ready to go to war against Turkey if it proved necessary. He said “We prefer peace to war… But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action.” Pompeo’s comment comes on top of Trump warnings that he would “obliterate” or “destroy” the Turkish economy, statements that did not sit well in Ankara and will predictably only create new problems with a NATO member that has the largest army and economy in the Middle East.

And in another maladroit move, the White House has just announced that it will be giving $4.5 million to the so-called White Helmets, the major propaganda arm of the Syrian “resistance.” Falsely claiming to be a humanitarian rescue and relief organization, the White Helmets produced carefully edited films of “heroism under fire” that have been released worldwide. The films conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operated in rebel held territory, which enabled them to shape the narrative both regarding who they were and what was occurring on the ground.

The White Helmets travelled to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what was filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

Some White Helmets continue to operate in Syria’s terrorist-controlled Idlib province, raising the question whether the United States is prepared to give more taxpayer derived money directly to terrorists. Several months ago, as the Syrian Army closed in on some of the other pockets where the White Helmets operated, the U.S. and Israel mounted an operation to evacuate many of them. Some of them and their families were moved to Israel and Jordan and many of them have wound up in Canada. If the White House again does a flip-flop and pulls the plug on the money earmarked for them it would truly be a welcome sign that the U.S. has realized that the game is over and its direct involvement in Syria should be ended.


The Windows of Wong Tai Sin

In a Hong Kong neighborhood, pulling back the curtains reveals a city in crisis

The struggles of the people who live in the concrete towers of a Kowloon working-class district are woven into the soul of the city. As protests pit neighbor against neighbor, residents face a test of what locals call “the Lion Rock spirit” – a sense of unity and grit in the face of hardship.

October 30, 2019

by James Pomfret and Jessie Pang


”In life, there is joy, but inevitably there is also sorrow

We all met below the Lion Rock.”

“Below the Lion Rock,” theme song for long-running Hong Kong drama series

rom the top of Lion Rock, all of Hong Kong reveals itself: the sprawl of the Kowloon Peninsula directly below, the iconic Star Ferry plying the waters of Victoria Harbor, the moneyed heights of Hong Kong island beyond. Like a crouching beast, the craggy ridgeline stands guard over a city on edge.

In the shadow of the revered mountain rise huge monoliths, drab concrete tower blocks far removed from the glittering glass highrises of Hong Kong island’s steroidal skyline. Here, in a neighborhood of public housing estates called Wong Tai Sin, seemingly endless stacks of aging windows heave with drying laundry and hum with air conditioners sweating droplets onto the pavement below.

At night, the towers slowly light up, each window’s glowing rectangle framing a second glowing rectangle flickering with the latest soaps and news. Every evening, at exactly 6:30, many residents take part in a daily ritual: tuning in to the main newscast on broadcaster TVB for the latest on a political crisis raging in this former British colony now ruled by China.

Sparked by anger against a controversial extradition bill, protests spread through many of Hong Kong’s 18 districts, putting the city’s freedom-loving populace on a collision course with the local government, and China’s Communist Party leaders behind it.

Over the summer and autumn, millions have marched. Protesters have hurled Molotov cocktails and bricks at police, sprayed revolutionary graffiti on walls, burned Chinese flags and vandalized businesses linked to the world’s second-largest economy. Police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons, arresting more than 2,600 people on charges including rioting.

The violence has also come to the concrete towers of Wong Tai Sin, home to tens of thousands of working-class families whose struggles are woven into the fabric and lore of Hong Kong’s global rise. And with the unrest has come a test of what Hong Kongers call “the Lion Rock spirit” – this city’s sense of community and grit in the face of hardship.

Elaine Chan heard gunshots. She opened the window of her flat in Lung Kwong House, or Dragon Bright House, and smelled something vinegary. Her eyes and skin began to smart. Tear gas. She started coughing. “I felt like being sick,” said the 39-year-old office worker, who has spent most of her life in Wong Tai Sin.

Two days later, on August 5, clashes broke out again in Wong Tai Sin as hundreds of anti-government protesters dressed in black blocked roads as part of a citywide strike. Chan had just finished eating a bowl of rice noodles at a place in the Temple Mall when a group of youngsters ran past, fleeing riot police.

“Follow me,” she yelled, then guided them into her building’s communal area via a back staircase, keying in the passcode to the security door to let them through to safety.

Chan, the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, felt indignant and maternal.

“We had to help them,” she said. “They were terrified.”

She’d seen video clips of police beating skinny teenagers, smashing batons over their bodies and heads. She wondered what the Hong Kong she’s known her whole life had come to.

“Some people say Hong Kongers no longer have the Lion Rock spirit,” Chan said. “The ’60s and ’70s immigrants are different. You felt that they were really striving for Hong Kong. Helping one another, with no airs. Hong Kong has lost this. It’s become zero now.”

Lion Rock speaks to the constantly fluctuating Hong Kong identity over decades of transformation, hardship and reinvention. Many locals revere the peak, in the way Japanese cherish Mount Fuji, or Parisians love Notre Dame cathedral. In recent years, the mountain has become a politically charged space, with banners including those in support of full democracy draped from the peak.

Back in the 1970s, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, RTHK, began running a television series called “Below the Lion Rock.” Airing periodically for decades, it chronicled the lives of regular Hong Kongers as they worked their way out of poverty, touching on social issues. With diverse characters including a policeman, an odd-jobs man, an office worker and a bookseller abducted by Chinese authorities, the show seemed to illuminate part of Hong Kong’s essence, a kind of can-do spirit that had elevated it from almost nothing into one of the world’s wealthiest cities.

The title song, “Below the Lion Rock,” is an unofficial Hong Kong anthem, and hearing its Cantopop melody and we’re-in-this-together Cantonese lyrics can make normally stoic residents choke up, particularly older ones who suffered deprivation and grinding poverty.

“The impression it gives me is of being very small at the time, watching it on telly,” Chan said, her voice cracking, as she listened on a mobile phone to the opening refrain, “In life, there is joy, but inevitably there is also sorrow.”

Today, she said, some people have criticized the protests because the unrest has disrupted the unfettered capitalism for which the city is famous.

“People only feel that this movement has meant they make less money, stops them from going to work,” she said. “Making money is most important.”

She has no time for that kind of thinking.

“The Lion Rock spirit is that no matter how tough things are, Hong Kong people will use each arm and each leg to help one another; if you can’t go on, I’ll help you. If I can’t make it, then you help me back. Real Hong Kong people still have this spirit. I really hope that I can pass this spirit to my next generation.”

The only fully landlocked district in the city of 7.4 million, Wong Tai Sin extends along the flanks and approach of Lion Rock with a population of 420,000. Once a squatter area full of tin shacks and wooden shanties, the district was redeveloped by the then-British administration to provide affordable public housing blocks with elevators, running water and toilets to meet the chronic needs of a population that had been swelling with Chinese immigrants for decades.

The first of the modern public housing blocks in Wong Tai Sin, 15 of which are named after dragons, was built in 1982. Some had a then-innovative H-shaped design with open corridors to allow better ventilation and natural light. The apartments, some as small as 200 square feet, are utilitarian, with basic kitchens and bathrooms. Their doors are often left open to let in air, guarded only by concertina metal grilles.

Since the return from British to Chinese rule in 1997, more than 1 million people have arrived in Hong Kong from mainland China, but public housing hasn’t kept pace, meaning queuing times for flats are now over five years.

But for some new arrivals from the mainland, the housing crunch hasn’t mattered.

“It was like heaven on earth when I arrived,” said Chun Hui, a pork butcher at Wong Tai Sin’s Tai Shing Street wet market, a sprawling building crammed with stalls selling everything from pak choi to silver carp.

The 28-year-old came to Hong Kong 10 years ago from a coastal town in eastern Guangdong province after his mother married a Hong Kong man. “The people, the education, the politeness,” he said. “It was so civilized!”

Chun, who has a Japanese manga tattoo of Son Goku from the martial arts cult series “Dragon Ball” on his right forearm, gets to work every day at half past 5 in the morning, when he chops up several whole pig carcasses into cuts of meat for the day’s trade.

“Hong Kong is a good thing. The Hong Kong spirit, the mutual respect,” he said as a man flame-torched a pig’s head behind him.

He said soaring pork prices in China from African swine flu have made life more difficult and eroded his monthly income. He gets home around 8 p.m. and takes one day off a month to spend with his 5-year-old daughter.

He sees the protesters ultimately losing out.

“Hong Kong will become more mainlandized. But so what? We just need to fill our stomachs, wear warm clothes, have a job, buy a mobile phone. What more do you need?” he added, lighting up a cigarette and flicking the ash into a used Nescafe can.

All around him, locals wandered with red plastic bags of groceries, hailed loudly by stall owners and haggling back with equal volume.

Wong Tai Sin had long tended to vote for pro-Beijing candidates in local elections given its older populace and deep-rooted ties to patriotic Chinese political groups in the area. In Hong Kong, such China and government supporters are described as being in the “blue” camp. Yet the recent unrest has seen lots of residents turn against the police given the perceived excessive violence. They’ve shifted to the “yellow” camp of the protesters and democracy advocates, including those who supported the Occupy movement, which spearheaded pro-democracy protests in 2014.

Chun is troubled by this split. “The Lion Rock spirit is about unity. If a society isn’t unified, then the country will collapse,” he said.

He’s uneasy with the violence that has marked some demonstrations. “I feel that if you just protest with some violent individuals, including those who throw petrol bombs, I think this is very wrong,” he said. “I understand that they’re striving for something, but they shouldn’t do it this way.”

Many Hong Kongers believe their city’s success is underpinned by not only geography, but also myth. A coastal city on the South China Sea, it has one of the best deep-water harbors in Asia, cradled between the hills of the Kowloon Peninsula to the north and the peaks of Hong Kong island to the south.

The ridgeline of Lion Rock runs uninterrupted down to the seas to the east and west of Kowloon. Nestled in these hills are believed to be the spirits of nine dragons, or Kau Lung, after which the Kowloon Peninsula was named.

“The lion guards over Hong Kong,” said Wai Nang-ping, 69, who has been a soothsayer in the Wong Tai Sin Temple for more than three decades.

The temple is one of the most famous in the city, drawing visitors with its promises of luck, wealth and health. The Taoist place of worship has done a roaring trade with a flood of mainland Chinese tourists. The visitors shake fortune sticks that are then read by soothsayers such as Wai, who channels prophecies from the gods from a two-story collective of her fellow seers

Many Hong Kongers believe their city’s success is underpinned by not only geography, but also myth. A coastal city on the South China Sea, it has one of the best deep-water harbors in Asia, cradled between the hills of the Kowloon Peninsula to the north and the peaks of Hong Kong island to the south.

The ridgeline of Lion Rock runs uninterrupted down to the seas to the east and west of Kowloon. Nestled in these hills are believed to be the spirits of nine dragons, or Kau Lung, after which the Kowloon Peninsula was named.

“The lion guards over Hong Kong,” said Wai Nang-ping, 69, who has been a soothsayer in the Wong Tai Sin Temple for more than three decades.

The temple is one of the most famous in the city, drawing visitors with its promises of luck, wealth and health. The Taoist place of worship has done a roaring trade with a flood of mainland Chinese tourists. The visitors shake fortune sticks that are then read by soothsayers such as Wai, who channels prophecies from the gods from a two-story collective of her fellow seers.

Wai Nang-ping has been a soothsayer in the Wong Tai Sin Temple for more than three decades.

“Each year, the environment shifts and the fortune sticks change. Especially for the youth and boys, there will be more trouble.”

Wai Nang-ping, fortune teller at Wong Tai Sin Temple

Their building was tear-gassed in the recent protests, and these days, the temple is half-empty as many Chinese stay away from the city given the unrest. The carpark is no longer crammed with tourist coaches, and it’s much easier to get a table for dim sum in the mall next door. Fewer people take selfies beside the sinuous dragons that twist all over the eaves, walls and columns of the temple or the 12 bronze statues of the animals of the zodiac, in anthropomorphized form, arrayed in a half-crescent in front of the public housing estate to the south.

“Lion Rock is very auspicious and has a strong spirit,” Wai said. “Hong Kong is a lucky place. But sometimes the environment changes, and this year, the feng shui has three jade stars coming to the south, so you have squabbles.

“Each year, the environment shifts and the fortune sticks change. Especially for the youth and boys, there will be more trouble.”

On September 13, Wong Tai Sin residents celebrated the traditional mid-autumn festival at a piazza near the temple surrounded by swirls of incense smoke. The crowds linked arms, singing, holding lanterns.

“Liberate Hong Kong!” came the shouts of hundreds, followed by its paired refrain, “Revolution of our times!” These twin bursts of defiance carried above the roaring traffic on a highway near Wong Tai Sin Lower Estate and its cluster of 15 tawny-sided buildings.

Suddenly the crowd hushed and everyone looked up to a floodlit spot above where a young man in a yellow helmet and goggles held a trombone. He played a few wistful bass notes through his face mask, and the crowd began singing “Glory to Hong Kong,” a song written by an anonymous composer over the summer that has galvanized protesters.

That same evening, Yan, the 17-year-old son of a policeman, climbed Lion Rock with four of his schoolfriends and thousands of other Hong Kongers. The Wong Tai Sin teenager set off at 7 p.m. and didn’t get home until 1 in the morning.

It was so packed at the summit, Yan said, that he couldn’t make it to the very top. Many people shone mobile phone flashlights and headlamps, giving the mountain a halo effect. Across the harbor, on Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island, people also shone laser beams, creating a crisscrossing light show with the beams on Lion Rock. The Peak is a wealthy residential neighborhood, while Lion Rock is seen as an egalitarian symbol of the poor and striving in the city.

Hong Kong’s wealth gap is one of the biggest in the developed world. Hong Kong real estate is among the most expensive anywhere, making it difficult for youngsters to get on the home ownership ladder without being left with crippling lifelong mortgages –  and feeding a sense of disillusionment in society.

On September 13, Wong Tai Sin residents celebrated the traditional mid-autumn festival at a piazza near the temple surrounded by swirls of incense smoke. The crowds linked arms, singing, holding lanterns.

“Liberate Hong Kong!” came the shouts of hundreds, followed by its paired refrain, “Revolution of our times!” These twin bursts of defiance carried above the roaring traffic on a highway near Wong Tai Sin Lower Estate and its cluster of 15 tawny-sided buildings.

Suddenly the crowd hushed and everyone looked up to a floodlit spot above where a young man in a yellow helmet and goggles held a trombone. He played a few wistful bass notes through his face mask, and the crowd began singing “Glory to Hong Kong,” a song written by an anonymous composer over the summer that has galvanized protesters.

That same evening, Yan, the 17-year-old son of a policeman, climbed Lion Rock with four of his schoolfriends and thousands of other Hong Kongers. The Wong Tai Sin teenager set off at 7 p.m. and didn’t get home until 1 in the morning.

It was so packed at the summit, Yan said, that he couldn’t make it to the very top. Many people shone mobile phone flashlights and headlamps, giving the mountain a halo effect. Across the harbor, on Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island, people also shone laser beams, creating a crisscrossing light show with the beams on Lion Rock. The Peak is a wealthy residential neighborhood, while Lion Rock is seen as an egalitarian symbol of the poor and striving in the city.

Hong Kong’s wealth gap is one of the biggest in the developed world. Hong Kong real estate is among the most expensive anywhere, making it difficult for youngsters to get on the home ownership ladder without being left with crippling lifelong mortgages –  and feeding a sense of disillusionment in society.

Yan, the son of a police officer, spray-paints a protest slogan onto the ground at a demonstration. It reads “Death to the families of the black police.” Photo by Jessie Pang

“I’m afraid of being arrested, as my dad works for the force. If I’m arrested, it will create pressure for him, especially from his colleagues.”

Yan, a teenage protester whose father is a police officer

So far, however, the protesters haven’t directed their ire at the city’s billionaire tycoons. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, started off as a penniless migrant from China and still commands respect in this capitalist haven, where even pensioners play the forex markets and the stock exchange.

Yan  said the rich and poor came together that evening amid protests that have crossed economic divides. A recent poll of 613 protesters by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey backs him up, showing that demonstrators are fairly evenly split between those living in private apartments, who tend to have higher incomes, and those in public or subsidized housing, who tend to be working or lower-middle class.

“There were a lot of people that night. You can see Hong Kong people, above and below, are of one heart. They go up together and come down together; no one is left behind,” he said.

“It was tough, but I enjoyed it. I was moved, seeing lots of people on the same road going up the hill.”

Yan spoke on the condition that he be identified by his Chinese nickname to protect his father,  who declined to talk for this story.

“I’m afraid of being arrested, as my dad works for the force,” he said. “If I’m arrested, it will create pressure for him, especially from his colleagues.”

His dad knows he joins the protests, with a rucksack bulging with kit: body armor, change of clothes and, to shield him from the tear gas, three gas masks, including a 3M 6800 full-face respirator with double filters that he bought on Amazon.

“We just don’t talk about politics,” he said with a shrug. “We don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings.”

Yan said of his dad: “He understands that the government ignores people’s voices, and that it’s a good thing for the people to protest. But he doesn’t support violence.”

Yan doesn’t want independence – which China resolutely opposes – but he hopes for a brighter future.

“If we win, I hope young people can take over Hong Kong,” he said. “One day, the future belongs to us.”

h Bi, a homemaker who grew up in Wong Tai Sin, was in the piazza on the evening of the mid-autumn festival. In the disarming euphoria of that night, she said, the protests had brought division, but also unity.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “There’s a connection between people.”

The protests had already changed Ah Bi’s life. On August 3, she was in the Temple Mall on Ching Tak Street with her 12-year-old daughter when a group of riot police blocked the road and shouted at passers-by. As she tried to get closer, she was pushed back and forced against the wall of the Wong Tai Sin Catholic Primary School.

“My daughter sprinted up the steps into the shopping center,” and the two were separated, she said.

A group of police special forces, known as “raptors” or “fast dragons” in Cantonese, charged at the crowds and grabbed a young man by his shirt and pressed him to the ground. The crowd began growing – and getting more agitated. “Black police!” and “Triads!” they yelled, likening the police to members of Hong Kong’s notorious organized criminal gangs, given their beatings of protesters.

When Ah Bi was finally reunited with her daughter and they had made it home, her hands were trembling as she put her daughter to bed. “The police didn’t used to be like this. What happened, mummy?” her daughter said, her head on the pillow.

Ah Bi went out into the streets again after her daughter was in bed, outraged by the actions of the police. She joined crowds outside the station, demanding they release those arrested.

“I prayed very late that night. I couldn’t sleep. We adults are not worried so much about our peace and safety but the future for our children. I want to do something for Hong Kong, to protect our home.”

Days later, Ah Bi did something unprecedented. On August 8, she joined a “citizens press conference” and spoke on behalf of the protest movement in a live broadcast beamed across the city and abroad. She has remained politically active since.

“My mum used to say I didn’t care about politics,” she said. “But that day, my personality changed.”

A greater percentage of elderly people live in Wong Tai Sin than any other Hong Kong district. One in four people here are over 65.

Poon Wing-cheung, a retired electrician, lives near the top floor of the 28-story Lung Hing House, or Dragon Vigour House, with his wife and grown daughter. He has a steadfast daily routine: a brisk walk or run into Morse Park with its landscaped grounds and football pitches, followed by an afternoon nap on the sofa and a stroll over to the Tai Shing Street wet market. A contented man with a round Buddha’s face and ready smile, his eyes dance with delight at this simple pleasure.

The 65-year-old moved into Dragon Vigour House 34 years ago when it was first built. The city has changed, he said, but also remained unchanged in other ways. He paused, leaving these words to settle upon the mind.

He talked of politics in the abstract, and said he rarely turns on the television for news of the protests anymore because “they keep doing the same every day. What’s the use? There’s no point watching.”

Some afternoons, when no one else is home, he takes out his DVD of pop singer Roman Tam performing “Below the Lion Rock” from a shelf crammed with a selection of animated films like “Finding Nemo” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” He slips it in, takes out his karaoke mic and starts singing.

“There used to be a lot of things we were unhappy about with the government, but they can’t possibly agree to everything you want,” he said after one of the sessions. “It’s not about not striving for something, but you sometimes have to accept the bigger picture.”

Sitting in his flat with a wall full of family pictures Blu-tacked behind the sofa, he said: “Singing this song at this time seems to have some meaning. I feel a bit helpless somehow. I can’t think of what we should do, how to change things.”

He crossed his arms with a contemplative smile. “Can anyone figure out a way?”

he worst violence in months of protests flared on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Across the city, 269 people were arrested, and a policeman shot an 18-year-old in the chest, an escalation that shocked the city.

In Wong Tai Sin, thousands blocked Lung Cheung Road, one of Kowloon’s key highway links, and battled riot police on the tarmac in front of the Wong Tai Sin Temple.

Yan, the cop’s son, stood a little farther back, extinguishing tear-gas canisters with bottles of water. Elaine Chan watched the smoky projectiles arc in the air toward the youngsters from a footbridge to the Temple Mall. Poon, the retired electrician, stayed home several hundred paces away in Dragon Vigour House. Ah Bi, the homemaker, watched the clashes from her flat overlooking the temple, and went down several times to join the crowds occupying Lung Cheung Road. Chun, the butcher, had been at work at his pork stall since before dawn.

Nearly two weeks later, as the change in weather brought the first of the autumn birds down from the north, a group of protesters hatched a plan. Meeting at midnight at a temple on the lower slopes of Lion Rock, the masked men stood like ninjas in the shadows. Before long, a truck arrived with the cargo they would hoist to the summit.

The worst violence in months of protests flared on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Across the city, 269 people were arrested, and a policeman shot an 18-year-old in the chest, an escalation that shocked the city.

In Wong Tai Sin, thousands blocked Lung Cheung Road, one of Kowloon’s key highway links, and battled riot police on the tarmac in front of the Wong Tai Sin Temple.

Yan, the cop’s son, stood a little farther back, extinguishing tear-gas canisters with bottles of water. Elaine Chan watched the smoky projectiles arc in the air toward the youngsters from a footbridge to the Temple Mall. Poon, the retired electrician, stayed home several hundred paces away in Dragon Vigour House. Ah Bi, the homemaker, watched the clashes from her flat overlooking the temple, and went down several times to join the crowds occupying Lung Cheung Road. Chun, the butcher, had been at work at his pork stall since before dawn.

Nearly two weeks later, as the change in weather brought the first of the autumn birds down from the north, a group of protesters hatched a plan. Meeting at midnight at a temple on the lower slopes of Lion Rock, the masked men stood like ninjas in the shadows. Before long, a truck arrived with the cargo they would hoist to the summi

“This new Lion Spirit is to fight against injustice, and for all of society to strive for freedom.”

The men made their way up steep and winding mountain paths, their headlamps flickering upon the dismembered parts of a giant statue known as “Lady Liberty.” The statue, which had been displayed on university campuses and at various protests, was heavy, so the men had dismantled her to make the climb easier. In small teams, they carried her legs, her torso and her upraised arm through the scrubby slopes, then over the craggy ridgeline until they came to the very head of the lion. There, the glowing rectangles of the windows of Wong Tai Sin spread below them.

One of the men, a Wong Tai Sin resident, talked about wanting to create a new Lion Rock spirit. “We feel that it’s not enough to just try hard in life. You also have to care about society,” he said. “This new Lion Spirit is to fight against injustice, and for all of society to strive for freedom.”

As they struggled to tether Lady Liberty with metal struts and wires, the four-meter-high symbol of the protest movement began to sway. They drilled into the granite with power tools in the howling winds of a sudden thunderstorm, and eventually managed to secure it. Then, at dawn, the weather cleared and the statue could be seen from afar, a beacon atop Lion Rock.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 30, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.



Conversation No. 36

Date: Sunday, September 15, 1996

Commenced:  11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11: 37 AM CST


RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Been to church early today?

GD: No, haven’t been to church for some time. Yourself? I mean someone who lives on Cathedral Avenue ought to have some nearby inspiration.

RTC: No, I get out very seldom these days what with my hip problem and I do have a balance issue. Asthma  makes me short of breath sometimes. Never mind that. Anyway, I was looking for some papers on the Vietnam business….for addition to my book on that sorry time…and I found an analysis of the flying saucer business we talked about.  I pulled it out for you. On the Vietnam business, I’ve finished the manuscript long ago but I keep thinking that I ought to put more documentation with it. Stupid dreams because I can never publish it. Had to sign that paper, you know. Bill has looked at it and thinks it would become a best seller but I am not going to give it to him in spite of what he thinks. Trento would love to lay his hands on it. He wouldn’t publish it, of course, but would run to Langley for that pat on the head and another nice pen set. Joe does love to collect pen sets and get those loving pats on the head.

GD: Could I look at it, Robert?

RTC: Ah….I might consider it but you couldn’t use any of it while I am still kicking. But anyway, this Roswell business…and oh yes, one in Montana about three years later…now the Company had nothing to do with any of this but we did get a copy of an official and very secret report, not because we cared about a spaceship wreck or little green men but because of the methodology used in containing and negating the story. Too many people knew about this so the cover-up had to be through and intense. It was a sort of primer for us. We improved on it, of course, but it was an excellent foundation for other matters.

GD: Such as?

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, one thing at a time. Yes, an excellent primer.

GD: I used to live in Las Cruces which is close by that area and from talking with people down there, it is almost universally believed. I believe a space ship crashed there and the Air Force was involved. The locals are still afraid of the threats they got back in ’47-’48 so I feel that where there is smoke, there must once have been fire.

RTC: What is your understanding of the incident?

GD: There was a big thunderstorm then and much lightening and one of the farmers or ranchers found debris all over his landscape. The Air Force people descended on the place and in essence shut everyone up. I was told repeatedly that bodies of aliens were found. Is that in your paper? Make a wonderful story.

RTC: Yes, as I recall, about four dead ones and one living.

GD: Little green men?

RTC: As I read it, not green but a sort of grayish green or gray. About four feet in height with no body hair, fewer fingers than ours and large eyes. I mean no question because there are original photographs attached. And the dead ones started rotting right away and the stink was monumental. There were complete autopsies, of course, but not in situ. Flew them out, iced up, for work at Wright.

GD: And the live one?

RTC: Died a little later. They were not of this world, Gregory but it was, and is, amazing how they at least resembled humans.

GD: That alone would drive the religious freaks nuts. Human forms from outer space?

RTC: Yes and that’s why in the movies you see giant crabs or whatever. Can’t look like us.

GD: Such closed minds. Darwin was basically right and someday, they will discover the so-called missing link that proves him right. Would that get suppressed, do you think?

RTC: Depends who is in power in the White House at the time. But let me send the report off to you to evaluate. I personally don’t see this as tabloid news about green men but how the story was contained and essentially countered. The one in Montana was much safer because this one crashed into a mountain, way up, with no busybody farmers and local hicks around to pick up dangerous souvenirs

GD: What was the determination there?

RTC: Essentially the same as Roswell. Unworldly metals and other debris, crisped remains of small people…I guess four feet was general…and so on. Again, lightening storms in the area. These things can be detected by a certain form of radar but not by most so there was a fix and that’s how the wreckage was found. The metal in both sites was odd enough. Very light but impossible to bend or even cut into. Equipment containers that were impossible to open or even open. That drove them all crazy because if we could construct aircraft, or even tanks, from such a metal, the advantages would be obvious. No shell could penetrate and the light weight would be a huge advantage in combat. As I understand it, no one could ever figure the composition out.

But again, the methodology…the mixture of threats of death and the cover stories are what this report was mostly about. Of course the press does just as it’s told as do the local police and so on. And no one in the Air Force is going to talk or they’ll end up taking a long walk on a very short pier. Time goes by and everyone but a few forget and that’s the end of it.

GD: Did they have any idea where these things came from?

RTC: No, they never did and therein lies another factor. Truman ordered silence, or rather approved the order on it because no one wanted a panic. The Cold War was just starting and they were afraid of the Orson Wells business all over. No, there could be no mass panic. My God, every attention-starved nitwit in the country would chime in with fictional stories about landings in their yard and so on. That no one wanted so rather than stifle any talk about genuine sightings, they rigged thousands of fakes ones until the public thought it was all too funny for words and went back watching baseball games on the idiot box. We took this and refined it. I wrote some suggestions on this and I will attach them for you. Sometimes we can’t cover up some nasty action so the best way to hide it is to magnify it so much and pass it to so many gabbling idiots that the public is quickly bored. I recall the business of people vanishing and that is true so the story goes out about flying saucers landing in cow pastures and kidnapping cows or fake stories about this or that child vanishing, and then his turning up later in a local candy store. A few dozen like this every year gets the public accustomed to disbelieving abduction stories. Or we could throw in a child molester from time to time just to spice up the pot. Hell, we, and the Pentagon, among others, have full-time departments handling fake stories. We leak them to the supermaket press.

GD: Or one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid rags…

RTC: Yes, Rupert can be so accommodating.  He keeps the trailer park crowd in a state of perpetual excitement. Bread and circuses. Always the same.

GD:  Do you know how many actual incidents got investigated?

RTC: I know of the two specifically. The one in New Mexico in ’47 and then the Montana one about two years later. I am sure there are more. The Russians had their own problems but they have much better control over the media that we do. They had less running around and creative writing issues.

GD: Nothing hostile?

RTC: Not that I ever heard about. I think just recon trips. That’s the educated guessing. Roswell was near some of our more sensitive A-bomb areas but I can’t figure out Montana.

GD: Maybe they were looking to kidnap some mountain goats for sexual escapades.

RTC: As I recall, they had no sex organs. I think goats would be out.

GD: No organs? How could they reproduce the species?

RTC: I don’t think the Pentagon was interested in that question. Maybe they just came out of a big machine somewhere, did their routines and died. I understand that they rotten very quickly and the stink when they did made it really impossible to do effective autopsies.

GD: I had that problem with floaters. Or abdominal cancer. God, what stenches from both. I used to wear a mask soaked in bay rum but I have seen techs puke on the spot. You just have to blot it out. A little like waking up after a drunken party and finding yourself in the sack with a really ugly woman. Never happened to me but did to a friend. A quiet departure. And a quick one too. And the forlorn cries of ‘Oh Honey, where are you going?’ echoing behind him. ‘Why outside to puke, my lovely one” might be an appropriate answer. Later, send her flowers you filched out of a cemetery and a zucchini in remembrance of things past. I don’t think Marcel would like that. I think he liked sailors.

RTC: Who?

GD: Marcel Proust. Wrote a book called that. Well, at this point either the visitations have stopped or the little gray men with no dicks have all gone into Congress. Except those thieves stink before they are dead. Well, send it all on and I promise to read it with interest….

RTC: Yes, and keep quiet indeed.

GD: A given.

(Conclusion at 11:37:AM CST)



Encyclopedia of American Loons

Matt Singleton et al.


Matt Singleton is a Baptist minister in Louisville who also runs an Internet talk-radio program. A staunch supporter of the nearby Ark Park, Singleton is a fierce critic of evolution, calling teachings on evolution a lie that have led to drug abuse, suicide and other social afflictions. His criticisms have, not the least, been directed at Kentucky’s academic standards for public schools, which, as they should, include evolution: “Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion [no less!] of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Singleton said. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state” – relatively silly though possibly effective rhetorical gambit showing that someone is completely out of touch with anything resembling reality, of course.

Singleton made the comments when the Kentucky science standards were up for review in 2013. He was not the only one. Parent Valerie O’Rear, for instance, said the standards promoted an “atheistic world view” and a political agenda that pushes government control. Dena Stewart-Gore, meanwhile, suggested that the standards would marginalize students with religious beliefs, leading to ridicule and physiological harm in the classroom, and create difficulties for students with learning disabilities: “The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,” she said, adding that “we are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.” This would be an unusual definition of “socialism” outside of America.

Diagnosis: No, there is probably nothing you can do. It’s hopeless.


 Al Ouimet


Goodnighties is a sleepwear product that will ostensibly “maximize sleep benefits” by neutralizing “the stress our bodies produce.” It does so since it is “made with a smart-fabric” that is “stimulating blood flow with negative ions to tired strained muscles.” If you worry about “bullshit” based on that description, rest assured that your worries will not be allayed by trying to go further into the details (some of which are discussed here). In any case, the sleepwear is supposed to be impregnated with a substance that emits negative ions. How that is connected to “the stress our bodies produce” is anybody’s guess, and that’s without even raising the question of how it is supposed to cureit, even if the ions could be directed to specific “tired, strained muscled” when absorbed by our bodies, which they cannot, even if they existed in the product, which tests (this one is a good report of various tests done on the product) suggest they do not. None of that prevents the company from making some spectacularly grandiose claims about the product, such as that the negative ions “increase blood flow and oxygen to relieve pain and restore joint mobility, “restore pH balance”, and (at the same time) “promote an alkaline reaction in the cells,” and that athletes use the product, the primary function of which is to provide a more peaceful sleep, as “a stimulus to enhance physical performance”. The product has, however, been promoted by Dr. Oz. So has astrology and communication with the spirits of the dead.

Most of the, uh, science supposedly supporting the product has been systematized by one Dr. Albert Ouimet, their leading scientist (we’re not sure whether there are more) and part of the original IonX development team (ditto). Ouimet has more recently also expanded the product sortiment, all based on ridiculous nonsense. Energy Athletic Golf (“powered by IonX”), for instance, can ostensibly “improve all aspects [products like this usually come with pretty strong claims] of a golfer’s game, helping to energize, increase focus and add power during every round” by “ionization”. The claim is discussed here. According to Ouimet, “science has learned […] that ionization energizes the body’s electrical circuits,” which “stimulates blood flow, increases efficiency of power and speeds up recovery.” Ah, yes, the science. If Ouimet knows what it means, then surely his target audience does not. How does it work? “With coverage many times greater than a bracelet or necklace, the IonX Ionized Energy Fabric, exclusive to Energy Athletic Golf, delivers ionized energy to the entire upper body through a negatively charged electromagnetic field built into the molecular structure of the fabric.” And apart from some technobabble and the claim that the shirt in question works with the body’s own “force field”, that’s pretty much all the details you will get. You will, however, also be told that “wearing Energy Athletic powered by IonX will have the advantage of increased average power of 2.7%” – “power” being that bar in the upper right of your screen that blinks red when it’s low. He’s also got a graph. And testimonials, of course.

Diagnosis: Some may find it hard to believe that Al Ouimet is a loon, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt (or not, depending how you see it), and suggest that he is a derangedly insane crackpot. His customers definitely are, at least.




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.” 1

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.”

Several different agencies had roles in the PSP. At the request of the White House, the NSA was involved in providing the technical expertise necessary to create the program. The NSA also was responsible for conducting the actual collection of information under the PSP and



1 In Title III of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008 (FISA Amendments Act), the President’s Surveillance Program is defined as the intelligence activity involving communications that was authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11,2001, and ending on January 17,2007, including the program referred to by the President in a radio address on December 17, 2005 (commonly known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program).

FISA Amendments Act, Title III, Sec. 301(a)(3).

disseminating intelligence reports to other agencies such as the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) for analysis and possible investigation.2  In addition, the NSA Office of General Counsel and Office of the Inspector General were responsible for reviewing and monitoring the NSA’s PSP operation. With the exception of the NSA, the Department of Defense (DoD) had limited involvement in the PSP.

Components of the Department of Justice (DOJ) other than the FBI also were involved in the program. Most significantly, DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provided advice to the White House and the Attorney General on the overall legality of the PSP. In addition, DOJ’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (now called the Office of Intelligence in DOJ’s National Security Division) worked with the FBI and the NSA to address the impact PSP-derived information had on proceedings under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). DOJ’s National Security Division also handled potential discovery issues that may have involved PSP-related information in international terrorism prosecutions.

The CIA, in addition to receiving intelligence reports as PSP consumers, requested information from the program and utilized this information in its analyses. The CIA also initially prepared threat assessment memoranda that were used to support the periodic Presidential Authorizations.

Beginning in 2005, the newly-created ODNI assumed responsibility for preparing these threat assessment memoranda. In addition, NCTC analysts received program information for possible use in analytical products prepared for the President, senior policymakers, and other Intelligence Community (IC) analysts and officers.

  1. Scope of Report


Title III of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 (FISA Amendments Act) – signed into law on July 10,2008 – required the Inspectors General of Intelligence Community agencies that participated in the PSP to conduct a comprehensive review of the program. The review required to be conducted under the Act was to examine:


2 The National Counterterrorism Center was made a subcomponent of the Office of

the Director of National Intelligence by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and is charged with being the primary U.S. Government organization for analyzing and integrating counterterrorism intelligence, except for intelligence pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorists and domestic counterterrorism.



(A) all of the facts necessary to describe the establishment, implementation, product, and use of the product of the Program;

(B) access to legal reviews of the Program and access to information about the Program;

(C) communications with, and participation of, individuals and entities in the private sector related to the Program;

(D) interaction with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and transition to court orders related to the Program; and

(E) any other matters identified by any such Inspector General that would enable that Inspector General to complete a review of the Program, with respect to

such Department or element.


The Inspectors General (IGs) of the DoD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and ODNI collectively  the “PSP IG Group” – conducted the review required under the Act. This classified report summarizes the portions of the collective results of the IG reviews that can be released in unclassified form. A separate classified report summarizes the classified results of the individual IG reviews. In addition, the individual IG reports that document the results

of each of the participating IGs’ reviews and investigations, which provideadditional classified details concerning the PSP and each agency’s role in the PSP, are included as attachments to the classified report.

Title III of the FISA Amendments Act required that the report of any investigation of matters relating to the PSP conducted by the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) be provided to the DOJ Inspector General, and that the findings and conclusions of such investigation be included in the DOJ OIG review. OPR has initiated a review of whether any standards of professional conduct were violated in the preparation of the first series of

legal memoranda supporting the PSP. OPR has not completed its review.


  1. Methodology of this Review


The PSP IG Group collectively interviewed approximately 200 government and private sector personnel as part of this review. Most of the interviews were conducted separately by the individual OIGs as part of their agency-specific reviews, although some interviews were conducted jointly. Among the interviewees were former and current senior government officials, including Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John D. Negroponte, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and DNI Michael McConnell, NSA and CIA Director and Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI) Michael V.Hayden, White House Counsel and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Certain senior officials either declined or did not respond to our requests to

be interviewed for this review, including Counsel to the Vice President David Addington, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Attorney General John Ashcroft, DOJ Office of Legal Counsel Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, and former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.

The OIGs also interviewed many agency managers and personnel, including attorneys, NSA operational personnel, FBI special agents and analysts, and CIA officials and analysts who were responsible for the day-to-day operation of the PSP, including the legal issues associated with the program.

In addition to these interviews, the PSP IG Group reviewed thousands of documents and electronic records, including the Presidential Authorizations and Threat Assessments supporting reauthorization of the program, OLC legal memoranda, contemporaneous notes and e-mails of various senior officials describing significant events during the program,

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pleadings and orders, and documents that were used to disseminate PSP-derived leads to FBI field offices and CIA stations for investigation and for other purposes related to the PSP. Finally, there were previous NSA OIG reports and supporting documentation to use as additional sources.

  2. Expansion of NSA’s Collection Activities

Prior to September 11,2001, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and Executive Order 12333 were generally viewed as the principal governing authorities for conducting electronic surveillance for national security purposes.3 The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. § 1801, et seq., was enacted in 1978 to “provide legislative authorization and regulation for all electronic surveillance conducted within the United

States for foreign intelligence purposes.” S. Rep. No. 95-701, at 9 (1978), reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3973,3977. Executive Order 12333 placed ,3 Executive Order 12333 was amended on July 30,2008 by Executive Order 13470.

This report refers to Executive Order 12333 as it existed prior to that amendment. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. § 1801, et seq. also was amended by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.( Unless otherwise indicated, this report refers to FISA as it existed prior to 2008.) restrictions on intelligence collection activities engaged in by Executive Branch agencies, including the NSA, while also seeking to foster “full and free exchange of information” among these agencies. In 2000 the NSA

reported to Congress that (U) The applicable legal standards for the collection, retention,

or dissemination of information concerning u.s. persons reflect a careful balancing between the needs of the government for such intelligence and the protection of the rights of u.s.

persons, consistent with the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment, as determined by factual circumstances. (U) In the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Executive Order (E.O.) 12333, Congress and the Executive have codified this balancing. (Citations omitted.)4 As explained below, the PSP expanded the NSA’s authority by allowing

it to conduct electronic surveillance within the United States without an order from the FISC when certain factual conditions and legal standards were met.

  1. Presidential Authorization of the PSP

In the days immediately after September 11, 2001, the NSA used its existing authorities to gather intelligence information in response to the terrorist attacks. When Director of Central Intelligence Tenet, on behalf of the White House, asked NSA Director Hayden whether the NSA could do more against terrorism, Hayden replied that nothing more could be done within existing authorities. When asked what he might do with more

authority, Hayden said he put together information on what was operationally useful and technologically feasible. This information formed the basis of the PSP.

Shortly thereafter, the President authorized the NSA to undertake a number of new, highly classified intelligence activities. 5 All of these activities were authorized in a single Presidential Authorization that was periodically reauthorized.

The specific intelligence activities that were permitted by the Presidential Authorizations remain highly classified, except that beginning

4 Legal Standards for the Intelligence Community in Conducting Electronic Surveillance, Report to Congress pursuant to Fiscal Year 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act.

5 See Letter from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Senator Patrick Leahy,

Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Gonzales Letter), August 1,2007. in December 2005 the President and other Administration officials acknowledged that these activities included the interception without a court order of certain international communications where there is “a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a member of

al-Qa’ida, affiliated with al-Qa’ida, or a member of an organization affiliated

with al-Qa’ida.”

6 The President and other Administration officials referred to this publicly disclosed activity as the “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” a convention we follow in this unclassified report. We refer to other intelligence activities authorized under the Presidential Authorizations as the “Other Intelligence Activities.” The specific details of the Other

Intelligence Activities remain highly classified, although the Attorney General publicly acknowledged the existence of such activities in August


7 Together, the Terrorist Surveillance Program and the Other Intelligence Activities comprise the PSP.

The Presidential Authorizations were issued at intervals of approximately every 45 days. As described in the next section, with each reauthorization the CIA and later the NCTC prepared an assessment of current potential terrorist threats and a summary of intelligence gathered through the PSP and other means during the previous authorization period.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel reviewed this information to assess whether there was “a sufficient factual basis demonstrating a threat of terrorist attacks in the United States for it to continue to be reasonable under the standards of the Fourth Amendment for the President to [continue] to authorize the warrantless searchesAttorney General whether the constitutional standard of reasonableness had

been met and whether the Presidential Authorization could be certified “as to form and legality.” Each of the Presidential Authorizations included a finding to the effect that an extraordinary emergency continued to exist, and that the circumstances “constitute an urgent and compelling governmental interest” justifying the activities being authorized without a court order.

Each Presidential Authorization also included a requirement to maintain the secrecy of the activities carried out under the program. The President also noted his intention to inform appropriate members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the program “as soon as I judge that it can be done consistently with national defense needs.”

As discussed in Section III.B.2. below, beginning on October 25,2001, White House

6 Press Briefing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and General Michael Hayden,

Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence (December 19, 2005) (statement of

Attorney General Gonzales).

7 Gonzales Letter, August 1, 2007. officials and Hayden provided briefings on the PSP to members of Congress and their staffs.

Although there was no legal requirement that the Authorizations be certified by the Attorney General or other Department of Justice official, current and former DOJ officials told us that this certification added value by giving the program a sense of legitimacy. Former Attorney General Gonzales stated that the NSA was being asked to do something it had not done before, and it was important to assure the NSA that the Attorney General had approved the legality of the program. He also stated that it was important that the cooperating private sector personnel know that the Attorney General had approved the program. In addition, Gonzales said that for “purely political considerations” the Attorney General’s approval of the program would have value “prospectively” in the event of congressional or inspector general reviews of the program.

  1. Threat Assessment Memoranda Supporting Authorization of

the PSP

The CIA initially prepared the threat assessment memoranda that were used to support the Presidential Authorization and periodic reauthorizations of the PSP. The memoranda documented intelligence assessments of the terrorist threats to the United States and to U.S. interests abroad from al-Qa’ida and affiliated terrorist organizations. These assessments were prepared approximately every 45 days to correspond with

the President’s Authorizations of the PSP.

The Director of Central Intelligence’s (DCI) Chief of Staff was the initial focal point for preparing the threat assessment memoranda. According to the former DCI Chief of Staff, he directed CIA terrorism analysts to prepare objective appraisals of the current terrorist threat, focusing primarily on threats to the U.S. homeland, and to document those appraisals in a memorandum. Initially, the analysts who prepared the threat assessments

were not read into the PSP and did not know how the threat assessments would be used. CIA’s terrorism analysts drew upon all sources of intelligence in preparing these threat assessments.

After the terrorism analysts completed their portion of the memoranda, the DCI Chief of Staff added a paragraph at the end of the memoranda stating that the individuals and organizations involved in global terrorism (and discussed in the memoranda) possessed the capability and intention to’ undertake further terrorist attacks within the United States.

The DCI Chief of Staff recalled that the paragraph was provided to him initially by a senior White House official. The paragraph included the DCI’s recommendation to the President that he authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance activities under the PSP. CIA Office of General Counsel (OGC) attorneys reviewed the draft threat assessment memoranda to determine whether they contained sufficient threat information and a compelling case for reauthorization of the PSP. If either was lacking, an OGC attorney would

request that the analysts provide additional threat information or make revisions to the draft memoranda.

The threat assessment memoranda were then signed by the DCI. George Tenet signed most of the threat memoranda prepared during his tenure as DCI. On the few occasions when he was unavailable, the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, John E. McLaughlin, signed the memoranda on behalf of Tenet. McLaughlin also signed the memoranda in the capacity of Acting DCI in August and September 2004.

In November 2004, Porter J. Goss became DCI and assumed responsibility for signing the memoranda. There were no occasions when the DCI or Acting DCI withheld their signatures from the threat assessmentmemoranda. The memoranda were co-signed by the Secretary of Defense, reviewed by the Attorney General, and delivered to the White House to be attached to the PSP Presidential Authorizations signed by the President. Responsibility for drafting the threat assessment memoranda was transferred from the CIA to the newly established Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TIIC) in May 2003. This responsibility subsequently was retained by TIIC’s successor organization, the NCTC. The DCI

continued to sign the threat assessment memoranda through April 2005.

The ODNI was established in April 2005, and the NCTC became a subcomponent of the ODNI. Once Ambassador Negroponte was confirmed as the DNI, senior IC officials believed that DNI Negroponte, as the President’s new senior intelligence advisor, should make the IC’s recommendation to the President regarding the need to renew the PSP.

The preparation and approval of the threat assessments became the ODNI’s primary role in the PSP. Beginning in April 2005, and continuing at specific intervals until the program’s termination in early 2007, ODNI personnel prepared and approved threat assessments in support of the periodic renewal of the PSP. The ODNI OIG found that the ODNI threat assessments were drafted by experienced NCTC personnel who prepared the documents in a memorandum style following an established DOJ format used in earlier PSP

renewals. Throughout the ODNI preparation and approval process, the threat assessments were also subject to varying degrees of review and comment by DOJ and ODNI attorneys.  Each threat assessment was designed to set forth the DNI’s view regarding the current threat of an al-Qa’ida attack against the United States and to provide the DNI’s recommendation whether to renew the PSP. NCTC personnel involved in preparing the threat assessments told the ODNI OIG that the danger of a terrorist attack described in the threat assessments was sobering and “scary,” resulting in the threat assessments becoming known by ODNI and IC personnel involved in the PSP as the “scary memos.” During interviews, ODNI personnel said they were aware the threat assessments were relied

upon by DOJ and White House personnel as the basis for continuing the PSP, and understood that if a threat assessment identified a threat against the United States the PSP was likely to be renewed. NCTC analysts also reported that on a less frequent basis they prepared a related document that set forth a list of al-Qa’ida affiliated groups that they understood were targets of the PSP. The ODNI OIG found that the threat asses~mentsand

the less frequent list of al- Qa’ida-affiliated groups underwent the same ODNI approval process.

The ODNI OIG also determined that the ODNI threat assessments were prepared using evaluated intelligence information chosen from a wide variety of IC sources. ODNI personnel told the ODNI OIG that during the period when the ODNI prepared the threat assessments, the IC had access to fully evaluated intelligence that readily supported the ODNI assessments that al-Qa’ida terrorists remained a significant threat to the United States.

The ODNI OIG found that once the ODNI threat assessments were approved

within NCTC and by the NCTC Director, the documents were forwarded through an established approval chain to senior ODNI personnel who independently satisfied themselves that the documents were accurate, properly prepared, and in the appropriate format.

Once the draft threat assessments were subjectedto this systematic and multi-layered management and legal review, the documents were provided to the DNI or his Principal Deputy (PDDNI) for consideration and, if appropriate, approval. Overall, the ODNI OIG found that the ODNI process used to prepare and obtain approval of the threat assessments was straightforward, reasonable, and consistent with the preparation of other

documents requiring DNI or PDDNI approval.

NCTC analysts involved in preparing the threat assessments told the ODNI OIG that only a portion of the PSP information was ever used in the ODNI threat assessments because other intelligence sources were available that provided more timely or detailed information about the al-Qa’ida threat to the United States. During interviews, the NCTC analysts noted that PSP information was only one of several valuable sources of intelligence

information available to them. The NCTC analysts also told ODNI OIG staff that during the period when the NCTC prepared the threat memoranda, the intelligence demonstrating the al-Qa’ida threat to the United States was overwhelming and readily available to the IC.

  1. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s Early

Memoranda Supporting the Legality of the PSP

From the outset of the program, access to the PSP for non-operational personnel was tightly restricted. Former White House Counsel and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that it was the President’s decision to keep the program a “close hold.” Gonzales stated that the President made the decision on all requests to “read in” any non-operational persons, including DOJ officials.

DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo was responsible for drafting the first series of legal memoranda supporting the program.9 Yoo was the only OLC official “read into” the PSP from the program’s inception in October 2001 until Yoo left DOJ in May 2003. 10 The only other non-FBI DOJ officials read into the program during this period were Attorney General Ashcroft and Counsel for Intelligence Policy James Baker.

Jay Bybee was OLC Assistant Attorney General from November 2001 through March 2003, and Yoo’s supervisor. Bybee told the DOJ OIG that in early July 2001, before he was confirmed, he learned that Yoo was already under consideration for one of OLC Deputy Assistant Attorney General slots. Bybee said he was “enthusiastic” about Yoo and later agreed to Yoo’s request to be assigned to the “national security portfolio” because Y00 had

more national security experience than any of the other OLC deputies. However, Bybee stated he was never read into the PSP and could shed no further light on how Yoo came to draft the OLC opinions on the program.

He said that Yoo had responsibility for supervising the drafting of opinions  related to other national security issues when the September 11 attacks

8 Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 18,2006, that

“[a]s with all decisions that are non-operational in terms of who has access to the program,

the President of the United States makes the decisions, because this is such an important


9 The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) typically drafts memoranda for the Attorney

General and the Counsel to the President, usually on matters involving significant legal

issues or constitutional questions, and in response to legal questions raised by Executive

Branch agencies. In addition, all Executive Orders proposed to be issued by the President

are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel as to form and legality, as are other matters that require the President’s formal approval.

10 The process of being “read into” a compartmented program generally entails

being approved for access to particularly sensitive and restricted information about a

classified program, receiving a briefing about the program, and formally acknowledging the

briefing, usually by signing a nondisclosure agreement describing restrictions on the

handling and use of information concerning the program.


11 Bybee described Yoo as “articulate and brilliant,” and said he had a “golden resume” and was “very well connected” with officials in the White House. Bybee said that from these connections, in addition to Yoo’s scholarship in the area of executive authority during wartime, it was not surprising that Yoo “became the White House’s guy” on national security matters.

In September and early October 2001, Yoo prepared several preliminary opinions relating to hypothetical random domestic electronic surveillance activities, but the first OLC opinion explicitly addressing the legality of the PSP was not drafted until after the program had been formally authorized by President Bush in October 2001. Attorney General Ashcroft

approved the first Presidential Authorization for the PSP as to “form and legality” on the same day that he was read into the program.

The first OLC opinion directly supporting the legality of the PSP was dated November 2, 2001, and was drafted by Yoo. As discussed in Section IV of this report, deficiencies in Yoo’s memorandum identified by his successors in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General later became critical to DOJ’s decision to reassess the

legality of the program in 2003. Yoo’s November 2,2001 memorandum focused almost exclusively on the activity that the President later publicly confirmed as the Terrorist

Surveillance Program. Y00 acknowledged that FISA “purports to be the exclusive statutory means for conducting electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence,” but opined that “[s]uch a reading of FISA would be an unconstitutional infringement on the President’s Article II authorities.” Yoo characterized FISA as merely providing a “safe harbor for electronic surveillance,” adding that it “cannot restrict the President’s ability to engage

in warrantless searches that protect the national security.” According to Yoo, the ultimate test of whether the government may engage in warrantless electronic surveillance activities is whether such conduct is consistent with the Fourth Amendment, not whether it meets the standards of FISA. Yoo wrote that “unless Congress made a clear statement in FISA that it sought to restrict presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches in the

11 As noted above, Yoo, Ashcroft, Card, and Addington declined or did not respond

to the DOJ OIG’s request for interviews, and the DOJ OIG does not know how Yoo came to

deal directly with the White House on legal issues related to the PSP. In his book “War by

Other Means,” Yoo wrote that “[a]s a deputy to the assistant attorney general in charge of

the office, I was a Bush Administration appointee who shared its general constitutional

philosophy…. I had been hired specifically to supervise OLC’s work on [foreign affairs

and national security].” “War by Other Means,” by John Yoo, at 19-20. national security area – which it has not – then the statute must be construed to avoid such a reading.”

12 Yoo’s analysis of this point would later raise serious concerns for other officials in OLC and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) in late 2003 and early 2004. Among other concerns, Y00 did not address the section of FISA that creates an explicit exemption from the requirement to obtain a judicial warrant for 15 days following a congressional declaration of war. See 50 U.S.C. § 1811. Yoo’s successors in OLC criticized this omission in Yoo’s memorandum because they believed that by including this provision in FISA Congress arguably had demonstrated an explicit intention to restrict the government’s authority to conduct electronic surveillance during wartime. Yoo’s memorandum also analyzed Fourth Amendment issues raised by the Presidential Authorizations. Yoo dismissed Fourth Amendment concerns regarding the PSP to the extent that the Authorizations applied to non-U.S. persons outside the United States. Regarding those aspects of the program that involved interception of the international communications of U.S. persons in the United States, Yoo asserted that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence allowed for searches of persons crossing the border and that interceptions of communications into or out of the United States fell within the “border crossing exception.” Yoo further opined that electronic surveillance in “direct support of military operations” did not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures, in part because

the Fourth Amendment is primarily aimed at curbing law enforcement abuses.

Yoo alsowrote that the activity described in the Presidential Authorizations was “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment and therefore did not require a warrant. In support of this position, Yoo cited12 On March 2, 2009, DOJ released nine opinions written by OLC from 2001 through 2003 regarding “the allocation of authorities between the President and Congress in matters of war and national security” containing certain propositions that no longer reflect the views of OLC and “should not be treated as authoritative for any purpose.”

Memorandum for the Files from Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, “Re: Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the

Mtermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” (January 15,2009), at 1, 11.

Among these opinions was a classified February 2002 memorandum written by Yoo which asserted that Congress had not included a clear statement in FISA that it sought to restrict presidential authority to conduct warrantless surveillance activities in the national security area and that the FISA statute therefore does not apply to the President’s exercise of his Commander-in-Chief authority. In Bradbury’s unclassified January 15,2009,

memorandum (included among those released in March 2009), Bradbury stated that this

proposition “is problematic and questionable, given FISA’s express references to the

President’s authority” and is “not supported by convincing reasoning.” Supreme Court opinions upholding warrantless searches in a variety of contexts, such as drug testing of employees and sobriety checkpoints to detect drunk drivers, and in other circumstances “when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and

probable-cause requirement impracticable.” Veronia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 u.S. 464, 652 (l995)(as quoted in November 2,2001 Memorandum at 19). Yoo wrote that in these situations the government’s interest was found to have outweighed the individual’s privacy interest, and that in this regard “no governmental interest is more compelling than the security of the Nation.” Haig v. Agee, 435 U.S. 280, 307 (1981). According to Yoo, the activity authorized by the Presidential Authorizations advanced this governmental security interest. Yoo’s legal memoranda omitted any discussion of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952), a leading case on the distribution of government powers between the Executive and Legislative Branches. Justice Jackson’s analysis of President Truman’s Article II Commander-in-Chief authority during wartime in the Youngstown case was an important factor in OLC’s subsequent reevaluation of Yoo’s opinions on

the legality of the PSP. legality of the PSP.

Y00 also discussed in his memoranda the legal rationale for Other Intelligence Activities authorized as part of the PSP. To the extent that particular statutes might appear to preclude these activities, Yoo concluded that “we do not believe that Congress may restrict the President’s inherent constitutional powers, which allow him to gather intelligence necessary to defend the nation from direct attack.”

However, as detailed in Chapter Three of the DOJ OIG report, Yoo’s discussion of some of the Other Intelligence Activities did not accurately describe the scope of these activities. Yoo’s factual discussion of these activities was later identified by his successors in the Office of Legal Counsel and ODAG in late 2003 as insufficient and presenting a serious impediment to recertification of the program as to form and legality.

The President continued to reauthorize the PSP periodically during late 2001 and 2002, with some modifications of the scope of the intelligence activities being authorized. In October 2002, at Attorney General Ashcroft’s request, Yoo drafted another opinion concerning the PSP. This memorandum, dated October 11, 2002, reiterated the same basic analysis contained in Yoo’s November 2, 2001, memorandum in support of the legality of the PSP. As the only OLC official read into the PSP through early 2003, Yoo consulted directly with White House officials about the PSP during this period. Because the DOJ OIG was unable to interview Yoo, it could notdetermine the exact nature and extent of these consultations. The DOJ OIG was also unable to determine whether Attorney General Ashcroft was fully aware of the advice Y00 was providing directly to the White House about the PSP.

Former Attorney General Gonzales and former OLC Assistant Attorney· General Bybee both told the DOJ OIG that they did not know how Yoo became responsible for analyzing the legality of the PSP. Bybee told us that he was “surprised” and “a little disappointed” to learn through media accounts that Yoo had worked on the PSP without Bybee’s knowledge.

Bybee said that it would not be unusual for a Deputy Assistant Attorney General such as Yoo to have direct contact with the White House for the purpose of rendering legal advice, but that the OLC Assistant Attorney General must be aware of all opinions that issue from OLC. Other senior DOJ officials also criticized the assignment of a single OLC attorney to draft the legal rationale for the program. These officials noted that OLC traditionally adheres to a rigorous peer review process for all legal memoranda it issues. They also cited the importance of having the OLC Assistant Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed official accountable for the work of that office, be aware of all OLC legal memoranda. Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that the Yoo opinions represented the legal opinion of DOJ, and that it was Ashcroft’s decision as to how to satisfy his obligations as Attorney General. Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that Ashcroft complained to the White House that it was “inconvenient” not to

have the Deputy Attorney General or Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff read into the PSP, but Gonzales also stated that he never got the sense from Ashcroft that this affected the quality of the legal advice about the program that DOJ provided to the White House. As noted, Ashcroft declined the DOJ OIG’s request for an interview. The DOJ OIG therefore was unable to determine from Ashcroft whether he sought additional DOJ read-ins to assist in the

legal analysis of the program, how hard he may have pressed for these additional read-ins, or whether he believed he was receiving adequate legal advice about the program from Yoo alone during this early phase of the PSP.



  1. NSA Intelligence Activities under the PSP

According to the NSA OIG report, the first Presidential Authorization was the product of discussions between former NSA Director Hayden and White House officials. Hayden also consulted with NSA senior technical experts and experienced attorneys from the NSA’s Office of General Counsel. While he consulted with NSA personnel in identifying critical intelligencegaps, only Hayden knew about and participated in the development of the

Presidential Authorization by serving as a technical advisor. After the Authorization was signed, NSA attorneys supported the lawfulness of the resulting program. Hayden stated that DOJ did not participate in his early meetings about the NSA’s collection activities. As noted, the Attorney General was read into the program on the same day he signed the first

Authorization as to form and legality.

When the NSA received the first Presidential Authorization, Hayden noted that he was assured by the signature of the Attorney General that the program was iawful and had been reviewed by the White House and DOJ. After Hayden received the first Authorization, he assembled 80 to 90 people in a conference room and explained what the President had

authorized. Hayden said: “We’re going to do exactly what he said and not one photon or electron more.” The NSA’s purpose in implementing the PSP was to collect foreign intelligence. According to Hayden, the activities were targeted and focused with the purpose of “hot pursuit” of communications entering or leaving the United States involving individuals believed to be associated with al-Qa’ida, not to intercept conversations between people in the United States. The intercepted communications had to be reasonably

believed to be al-Qa’ida communications, one end of which was in the United States.  According to the NSA OIG, the PSP had standards for targeting al-Qa’ida. There were several layers of review, starting with an NSA management review, and the NSA OIG conducted a review of target folders to ensure compliance with program standards and additional management controls. 13 A sample of target folders was tested to determine whether targeting decisions were adequately supported. Any ambiguities were

discussed with analysts and adequately resolved.

The NSA OIG reported that the NSA’s conduct of the PSP was reviewed and monitored by the NSA Office of General Counsel and the NSA OIG. According to the NSA OIG, NSA employees involved in the program received tailored training and their work was overseen to ensure that all activities were consistent with the letter and intent of the Authorization and with the protection of civil liberties. The NSA OIG report concluded that it

found no evidence of intentional misuse of the PSP.

13 Internal control, or management control, comprises the plans, methods, and

procedures used to meet missions, goals, and objectives. It provides reasonable assurance

that an entity is effective and efficient in its operations, reliable in its reporting, and

compliant with applicable laws and regulations. Hayden stated that although he understood that the PSP activities were more aggressive than those available traditionally under FISA, he believed that the PSP was less intrusive because the period of time in which mcollection was conducted was, in most cases, far less than was authorized in a typical FISC order. Additionally, the sole purpose of the overall PSP was to detect and prevent terrorism against the United States. According to Hayden, the program was designed to provide the NSA with the operational agility to cover terrorism-related targets.

  1. Access to the PSP
  2. Executive Branch Personnel

Knowledge of the PSP was strictly controlled and limited at the express direction of the White House. Further information about the number of Executive Branch employees who were read into the program is provided in the classified report.

As discussed below and in more detail in the DOJ OIG report, the DOJ OIG found that overly restrictive limitations on the number of DOJ personnel read into the program created several problems. Among other things, these limitations prevented DOJ from adequately reviewing the PSP’s  legality during the earliest phase of the program’s operation. The subsequent identification of what DOJ officials perceived to be serious factual and legal flaws in Yoo’s early legal analysis ofthe PSP also precipitated a major dispute between DOJ and the White House over reauthorization of the program that nearly led to the resignations of several senior DOJ and FBI officials in March 2004. In addition, the ODNI OIG found that the opportunity for ODNI oversight components to participate in oversight of the PSP was limited by ODNI oversight personnel not being granted timely access to the PSP.

  1. Congressional Briefings

On October 25,2001, White House officials and Hayden conducted a briefing on the PSP for the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Nancy P. Pelosi and Porter J. Goss; and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, D. Robert Graham and Richard J. Shelby. According to the NSA, between October 25,2001, and January 17,2007, Hayden and

current NSA Director Keith Alexander, sometimes supported by other NSA personnel, conducted approximately 49 briefings to members of Congres and their staff, 17 of which took place before the December 2005 media reports regarding what was called the “Terrorist Surveillance Program.” Hayden told us that during the many PSP briefings to members of Congress no one ever suggested that NSA should stop the program.

  1. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Briefings

From January 2002 to January 2006, only FISC Presiding Judge Royce Lamberth, followed by Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, were read into the PSP. The classified report and the full DOJ OIG report describe the circumstances under which the Presiding Judge was notified of the existence of the PSP and read into the program, and the measures

subsequently taken to address the effect of the PSP on the government’s relationship with the FISC.

  1. FBI Participation in the PSP

The DOJ OIG report also describes the FBI’s participation in the PSP, particularly as a recipient of intelligence collected under the program. The DOJ OIG addresses the challenges the FBI faced in disseminating this information to FBI field offices for investigation without revealing the source of the information, as well as the efforts the FBI made to improve

cooperation with the NSA to enhance the usefulness of PSP-derived information to FBI agents. Further details about these topics are classified and therefore cannot be discussed here. The DOJ OIG generally found that the FBI implemented reasonable procedures for expeditiously disseminating PSP-derived information to FBI field offices for investigation while protecting the sources and methods by which the information was obtained. However,

the DOJ OIG also found that the highly compartmented nature of the PSP created obstacles for the FBI’s process for handling program-derived information and understandably frustrated FBI agents responsible for

  1. CIA Participation in the PSP

The CIA OIG report describes the CIA’s participation in the PSP. CIA officials, as PSP consumers, requested information from the program and utilized this information in their analyses. The CIA OIG found that CIA officials appeared to have had an adequate understanding of the justification needed to request PSP-derived information, and that CIA

requests were adequately justified. Senior CIA officials, including former Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI) Hayden and Goss, and former Acting Director McLaughlin, stated that

the PSP addressed a gap in intelligence collection. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there was concern that additional acts of terrorism would be perpetrated by terrorist cells already inside the United States. Senior IC officials believed that providing IC analysts access to increased signals intelligence could lead to the discovery of terrorists in the U.S. and planned terrorist attacks. However, collection of such

communications required authorization under FISA, and there waswidespread belief among senior IC and CIA officials that the process for obtaining FISA authorization was too cumbersome and time consuming to address the current threat. CIA officials stated that FISA required extensive paperwork and high-level reviews and approvals by the DCI and the

Attorney General and the FISC did not always approve FISA applications in a timely manner. Hayden and other senior IC officials also told the CIA OIG that, at the time that the PSP operated, Congress had not updated FISA since its 1978 enactment to reflect changes in communication technologies.

  1. ODNI Participation in the PSP

PSP-derived information was closely held within the ODNI and was made available to a limited number of NCTC analysts for review or, if appropriate, use in preparing NCTC analytical products. Generally, the NCTC analysts approved for PSP access received PSP-derived information in the form of NSA intelligence products. NCTC analysts told the ODNI OIG that they generally obtained access to the PSP-derived information from a secure IC database or directly from an NSA representative. NCTC analysts told the ODNI OIG that the PSP-derived information was subject to stringent security protections. The NCTC analysts said that they received training regarding the proper handling of IC signals intelligence, and they reported that they handled all such information, including PSP-derived information,

consistent with standard rules and procedures.

  1. Impact of PSP-Derived Information on the FISA Process

Chapters Three and Six of the DOJ OIG report describe how DOJ and the FISC addressed the impact PSP-derived information had on the FISA process. The DOJ OIG concluded that it was foreseeable that such information might impact the process and that the initial delay in reading anyone from DOJ’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) or the FISC into the PSP unnecessarily jeopardized DOJ’s relationship with the

Court. In addition, overly restrictive limitations on the number of OIPR attorneys and FISC judges who were read into the program created significant and avoidable problems of workload imbalance in the functioning both of OIPR and the FISC. The DOJ OIG concluded that once the PSP began to affect the functioning of the FISA process, the number of OIPR staff and FISC judges read into the PSP to manage the program’s impact should have increased.

  1. Discovery Issues The DOJ OIG reviewed DOJ’s handling of PSP information with

respect to its discovery obligations in international terrorism prosecutions. DOJ was aware as early as 2002 that information collected under the PSP could have implications for DOJ’s litigation responsibilities under FederalRule of Criminal Procedure Rule 16 and Brady v. MdfyfaJul;,~t:3 U:§. 83 (1963).

Analysis of this discovery issue was first assignedt() die DeputY Assistant Attorney General Yoo in 2003: However, no DOJ attorneys with terrorism prosecution responsibilities were read into the PSP until mid-2004, and as a result DOJ continued to lack the advice of attorneys who were best equipped to identify and examine the discovery issues in

connection with the PSP.

Since then, DOJ has taken steps to address discovery issues with respect to the PSP, which is discussed in the DOJ OIG classified report. Based upon its review of DOJ’s handling of these issues, the DOJ OIG recommends that DOJ assess its discovery obligations regarding PSP-derived information, if any, in international terrorism prosecutions.

The DOJ OIG also recommends that DOJ carefully consider whether it must

re-examine past cases to see whether potentially discoverable but undisclosed Rule 16 or Brady material was collected under the PSP, and take appropriate steps to ensure that it has complied with its discovery obligations in such cases. In addition, the DOJ OIG recommends that DOJ implement a procedure to identify PSP-derived information, if any, that may be associated with international terrorism cases currently pending or likely

to be brought in the future and evaluate whether such information should be disclosed in light of the government’s discovery obligations under Rule 16

and Brady.



Chapter Four of the DOJ OIG’s report describes the period in late 2003 and early 2004 when DOJ determined that aspects of the PSP were not supported by law and advised the President that the program should be modified.

  1. Justice Department Attorneys Become Concerned About

the Legality of Some Activities under the PSP

As noted above, John Yoo was the sole OLe attorney who advised Attorney General Ashcroft and White House officials on the PSP from the program’s inception in October 2001 through Yoo’s resignation from DOJ in May 2003. Upon Yoo’s departure, another DOJ official, Patrick Philbin, was selected by the White House to be read into the PSP to assume Yoo’s role as advisor to the Attorney General concerning the program. In addition, Jack Goldsmith replaced Jay Bybee as the Assistant Attorney General for OLC on October 6,2003. Even though Bybee had never been read into the PSP, Philbin persuaded Counsel to the Vice President David Addington to read in Goldsmith, Bybee’s replacement.

After being read into the PSP, Goldsmith and Philbin became concerned about the factual and legal basis for Yoo’s legal memoranda supporting the program. For example, FISA prohibits persons from intentionally engaging in electronic surveillance “under color of law except as authorized by statute[.]” 50 U.S.C. § 1809(a). Yoo’s analysis concluded that this provision did not implicate the legality of the PSP because FISA did not expressly apply to wartime operations. However, Yoo’s memoranda omitted any reference to the FISA provision allowing the interception of electronic communications without a warrant for a period of 15 days following a congressional declaration of war. See 50 U.S.C. § 1811.

Goldsmith and Philbin were concerned that this provision contradicted Yoo’s assertion that Congress did not intend FISA to apply to wartime operations. They also were troubled by other aspects ofYoo’s legal analysis and by the lack of an adequate factual description in his memoranda of how the PSP operated.

  1. OLC Begins Developing a New Legal Analysis for the PSP

Goldsmith and Philbin began developing an analysis to more fully address the FISA statute with respect to the PSP. This new analysis relied on the legal argument that the Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution (AUMF), enacted shortly after the attacks of September 11,2001, effectively exempted some of the activities under thePSP from FISA. However, Goldsmith and Philbin became concerned that this revised analysis would not be sufficient to support the legality of certain aspects of the Other Intelligence Activities that the President had authorized under the PSP.

Beginning in August 2003, Philbin and later Goldsmith brought their concerns about the OLC legal opinions to Attorney General Ashcroft. With Ashcroft’s approval, Philbin began preparing a new OLC memorandum assessing the legality of the PSP. During this period in late 2003, Goldsmith and Philbin advised Ashcroft to continue to certify as to form and legality the Presidential Authorizations for the PSP pending completion of the new legal analysis.

  1. DOJ Officials Convey Concerns to the White House

In December 2003, Goldsmith and Philbin met with Counsel to the Vice President Addington and White House Counsel Gonzales at the White House to express their growing concerns about the legal underpinnings of the program. Goldsmith said he told them that OLC was not sure the program could survive in its current form. According to Goldsmith’s contemporaneous notes of these events, these discussions did not contemplate an interruption of the program, although the White House officials represented that they would “agree to pull the plug” if the problems with the program were found to be sufficiently serious.

In late January 2004, at Goldsmith’s request, the White House agreed to allow Deputy Attorney General James Comey to be read into the PSP following Comey’s confirmation as the Deputy Attorney General in December 2003. After being briefed, Comey agreed that the concerns about Yoo’s legal analysis were well-founded. 14 Comey told the DOJ OIG that of particular concern to him and Goldsmith was the notion that Yoo’s legal analysis entailed ignoring an act of Congress, and doing so without full congressional


  1. Conflict Between DOJ and the White House

Comey told the DOJ OIG that he met with Attorney General Ashcroft on March 4, 2004, to discuss the PSP and that Ashcroft agreed with Comey and the other DOJ officials’ assessment of the potential legal problems with the PSP. Later that day, Ashcroft was struck with severe gallstone pancreatitis and was admitted to the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. 15

On March 5, 2004, Goldsmith advised Comey by memorandum that under the circumstances of Ashcroft’s medical condition and hospitalization, a “clear basis” existed for Comey to determine that “this is a case of ‘absence or disability’ of the Attorney General” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 508(a). The “cc” line of Goldsmith’s memorandum to Comey indicated that a copy of the memorandum was also sent to White House

Counsel Gonzales.

Later on March 5, Gonzales called Goldsmith to request a letter from OLC stating that Yoo’s prior OLC opinions “covered the program,” meaning the PSP. Philbin told the DOJ OIG that Gonzales was not requesting a new opinion that the program itself was legal, but only that the prior opinions had concluded that it was. As a result of Gonzales’s request, Goldsmith, Philbin, and Comey re-examined Yoo’s memoranda with a view toward determining whether they adequately described the actual intelligence activities of the NSA under the Authorizations. Goldsmith, Philbin, and 14 Corney also discussed DOJ’s concerns about the legality of the program with FBI Director Mueller on March 1,2004. Mueller told the DOJ OIG that this was the first time he had been made aware of DOJ’s concerns.

15 Ashcroft’s doctors did not clear Ashcroft to resume his duties as Attorney

General until March 31, 2004.

Corney concluded that Yoo’s memoranda did not accurately describe some

of the Other Intelligence Activities that were being conducted under the

Presidential Authorizations implementing the PSP, and that the memoranda

therefore did not provide a basis for finding that these activities were legal.


On Saturday, March 6, Goldsmith and Philbin, with Corney’s concurrence, met with Addington and Gonzales at the White House to convey their conclusions that certain activities in the PSP should cease. According to Goldsmith’s notes, Addington and Gonzales “reacted calmly and said they would get back with us.”

On Sunday, March 7,2004, Goldsmith and Philbin met again with Addington and Gonzales at the White House. According to Goldsmith, the White House officials informed Goldsmith and Philbin that they disagreed with their interpretation of Yoo’s memoranda and on the need to change any of the NSA’s intelligence activities under the PSP.

On March 9 Gonzales called Goldsmith to the White House in an effort to persuade him that his criticisms of Yoo’s memoranda were incorrect and that Yoo’s analysis provided sufficient legal support for the program.

After Goldsmith disagreed, Gonzales next argued for a “30-day bridge” to get

past the expiration of the current Presidential Authorization on March 11, 2004. Gonzales reasoned that Ashcroft, who was still hospitalized, was not in any condition to sign a renewal of the Authorization, and that a “30-day bridge” would move the situation to a point where Ashcroft would be well enough to approve the program. Goldsmith told Gonzales he could not agree to recommend an extension because aspects of the program lackedlegal support.

At noon that day, another meeting was held in the White House office of Andrew Card, the President’s Chief of Staff. According to Director Mueller’s notes, Mueller, Card, Vice President Cheney, CIA Deputy Director McLaughlin, Hayden, Gonzales, and other unspecified officials were present.

Corney, Goldsmith, and Philbin were not invited to this meeting. After a presentation on the value of the PSP by NSA and CIA officials, it was then explained to the group that Corney “has problems” with some activities authorized under the program. Mueller’s notes state that Vice President Cheney suggested that “the President may have to reauthorize without [the] blessing of DOJ,” to which Mueller responded, “I could have a problem with

that,” and that the FBI would “have to review legality of continued participation in the program.”

Another meeting at the White House was held on March 9, this time with Corney, Goldsmith, and Philbin present. Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that the meeting was held to make sure that Corney understood what was at stake with the PSP and to demonstrate the program’s value. Corney saidVice President Cheney stressed that the PSP was “critically important” and warned that Corney would risk “thousands” of lives if Corney did not agree to recertify the program. Corney said he stated at the meeting that he, as Acting Attorney General, could not support reauthorizing certain intelligence activities unless they were modified. According to Corney, the White House officials said they could not agree to that modification. Goldsmith, Philbin, and Corney met in the early afternoon of March 10, 2004, to discuss the meeting at the White House the day before and how DOJ should proceed. Goldsmith and Philbin confirmed their position to Corney that some of the Other Intelligence Activities under the PSP could not be legally supported and would have to be changed or shut down.

Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that after President Bush was advised of the results of the March 9, 2004, meeting, the President instructed Vice President Cheney on the morning of Wednesday, March 10, to call a meeting with congressional leaders to advise them of the impasse with DOJ. On the afternoon of March 10, at approximately 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., Gonzales and other White House and intelligence agency officials, including Vice President

Cheney, Card, Hayden, McLaughlin, and Tenet, convened an “emergency meeting” with congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room.

The congressional leaders in attendance were Senate Majority and Minority Leaders William H. “Bill” Frist and Thomas A. Daschle; Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts and Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller; Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and House Permanent Select Committee onIntelligence Chair Porter Goss and Ranking Member Jane Harman. This congressional group was known informally as the “Gang of Eight.” No officials from DOJ were asked to attend the meeting. According to Gonzales’s notes of the meeting, individual congressional

leaders expressed thoughts and concerns related to the program. However, Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that the consensus of the congressional leaders was that the program should continue. 16

16 When Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 24,

2007, he essentially described the congressional leaders’ reactions to the March 10, 2004,

“Gang of Eight” briefing as he did in his handwritten notes of the briefing, stating, “The

consensus in the room from the congressional leadership is that we should continue the

activities, at least for now.” However, after Gonzales testified Representative Pelosi, Senator

Rockefeller, and Senator Daschle issued statements sharply disputing Gonzales’s

characterization of their statements at the March 10, 2004, meeting, stating that there was

no consensus at the meeting that the program should proceed. Pelosi’s office also issued a

statement that she “made clear my disagreement with what the White House was asking”

concernipg the program. The DOJ OIG did not attempt to interview the congressional

(Cont’d.) Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that following the meeting with the congressional leaders on March 10, President Bush instructed him and Card to go to the George Washington University Hospital to speak to Ashcroft, who was in the intensive care unit recovering from surgery.

According to notes from Ashcroft’s FBI security detail, at 6:20 p.m. that evening Card called the hospital and spoke with an agent in Ashcroft’s security detail, advising him that President Bush would be calling shortly to speak with Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s wife told the agent that Ashcroft would not accept the call. Ten minutes later, the agent called Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff David Ayres at DOJ to request that Ayres speak with Card about the President’s intention to call Ashcroft. The agent conveyed to Ayres Mrs. Ashcroft’s desire that no calls be made to Ashcroft for another day or two.

However, at 6:45 p.m., Card and the President called the hospital and, according to the agent’s notes, “insisted on speaking [with Attorney General Ashcroft].” According to the agent’s notes, Mrs. Ashcroft took the call from Card and the President and was informed that Gonzales and Card were coming to the hospital to see Ashcroft regarding a matter involving national security. At approximately 7:00 p.m., after learning that Gonzales and Card were on their way to the hospital, Ayres relayed this information to Corney.

According to Corney’s May 2007 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Corney called his Chief of Staff and directed him to “get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately.” Corney next called FBI Director Mueller and told him that Gonzales and Card were on their way to the hospital to see Ashcroft, and that Ashcroft was in no condition to receive guests, much less make a decision about whether to recertify the

PSP. According to Mueller’s notes, Corney asked Mueller to come to the hospital to “witness [the] condition of AG.” Mueller told Corney he would go to the hospital right away.

Philbin said he was leaving work that evening when he received a call  from Corney, who told Philbin that he needed to get to the hospital right away because Gonzales and Card were on their way there “to get Ashcroft to sign something.” Corney also directed Philbin to call Goldsmith and tell him what was happening.

Corney arrived at the hospital between 7: 10 and 7:30 p.m. In his congressional testimony, Corney said he ran up the stairs with his security detail to Ashcroft’s floor, and he entered Ashcroft’s room, which he described as darkened, and found Ashcroft lying in bed and his wife leaders and obtain their recollections as to what was said at this meeting because this was beyond the scope of its review. standing by his side. Corney said he began speaking to Ashcroft, and that it was not clear that Ashcroft could focus and that he “seemed pretty bad off[. ]”

Goldsmith and Philbin arrived at the hospital within a few minutes of each other. Corney, Goldsmith, and Philbin met briefly in an FBI “command post” that had been set up in a room adjacent to Ashcroft’s room. Moments later, the command post was notified that Card and Gonzales had arrived at the hospital and were on their way upstairs to see Ashcroft. Corney, Goldsmith, and Philbin entered Ashcroft’s room and, according to

Goldsmith’s notes, Corney and the others advised Ashcroft “not to sign


Gonzales and Card entered Ashcroft’s hospital room at 7:35 p.m., according to the FBI agent’s notes. The two stood across from Mrs. Ashcroft at the head of the bed, with Corney, Goldsmith, and Philbin behind them. Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that he carried with him in a manila envelope the March 11, 2004, Presidential Authorization for Ashcroft to sign; According to Philbin, Gonzales first asked Ashcroft how he was feeling and Ashcroft replied, “Not well.” Gonzales then said words to the effect, “You know, there’s a reauthorization that has to be renewed ….” Gonzales told us that he may also have told Ashcroft that White House officials had met with congressional leaders “to pursue a legislative fix.” Corney testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that at this point Ashcroft told Gonzales and Card “in very strong terms” about his legal concerns with the PSP, which Corney testified Ashcroft drew from his meeting with Corney about the program a week earlier. Corney testified that Ashcroft next stated: “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the Attorney General. There is the Attorney General,” and he pointed to me – I was

just to his left. The two men [Gonzales and Card] did not acknowledge me; they turned and walked from the room.

Records kept by the Attorney General’s security detail indicate that Gonzales and Card left Ashcroft’s room at 7:40 p.m. Moments after Gonzales and Card departed, Mueller arrived at the hospital. At approximately 8:00 p.m., Mueller went into Ashcroft’s room for 5 to 10 minutes. Mueller wrote in his notes: “AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.”

Before leaving the hospital, Corney received a call from White House Chief of Staff Card. Corney testified that Card was very upset and demanded that Corney come to the White House immediately. Corney told Card that he would meet with him, but not without a witness, and that heintended that witness to be DOJ Solicitor General Ted Olson. Corney and Olson subsequently went to the White House at about 11 :00 p.m. that evening and met with Gonzales and Card. Gonzales told the DOJ OIG that little more was achieved at this meeting other than a general acknowledgement that a “situation” continued to exist because of the disagreement between DOJ and the White House regarding legal authorization for the program.

  1. White House Counsel Certifies Presidential Authorization

Without Department of Justice Concurrence

On the morning of March 11,2004, with the Presidential Authorization set to expire, President Bush signed a new Authorization for the PSP. In a departure from the past practice of having the Attorney General certify the Authorization as to form and legality, the March 11 Authorization was certified by White House Counsel Gonzales. The March 11 Authorization also differed markedly from prior Authorizations in three other respects. It explicitly asserted that the President’s exercise of his Article II Commander-in-Chief authority displaced any contrary provisions of law, including FISA. It clarified the description of certain

Other Intelligence Activities being conducted under the PSP to address questions regarding whether such activities had actually been authorized explicitly in prior Authorizations. It also stated that in approving the prior Presidential Authorizations as to form and legality, the Attorney General previously had authorized the same activities now being approved under the March 11 Authorization. I7White House Chief of Staff Card informed Corney by telephone on the morning of March 11,2004, that the President had signed the new Authorization that morning. At approximately noon, ,Gonzales called

Goldsmith to inform him that the President, in issuing the Authorization,had made an interpretation of law concerning his authorities and that DOj should not act in contradiction of the President’s determinations. Also at noon on March 11, Director Mueller met with Card at the White House. According to Mueller’s notes, Card told Mueller that if no “legislative fix” could be found by May 6, 2004, when the March 11 Authorization was set to expire, the program would be discontinued.

17 The DOJ OIG determined that this statement subsequently was removed from

future Authorizations after Ashcroft complained to Gonzales that the statement was

“inappropriate.” In a May 20, 2004 memorandum, Ashcroft wrote that it was not until

Philbin and later Goldsmith explained to him that aspects of the NSA’s Other Intelligence

Activities were not accurately described in the prior Authorizations that he realized that he

had been certifying the Authorizations prior to March 2004 based on a misimpression of

those activities. Mueller wrote that he told Card that the failure to have DOJ representation at the congressional briefing and the attempt to have Ashcroft certify the Authorization without going through Corney “gave the strong perception that the [White House] was trying to do an end run around the Acting [Attorney General] whom they knew to have serious concerns as to the legality of portions of the program.” Card responded that he and Gonzales were unaware at the time of the hospital visit that Corney was the Acting Attorney

General, and that they had only been following the directions of the President.

  1. Department of Justice and FBI Officials Consider Resigning

Several senior DOJ and FBI officials considered resigning after the Presidential Authorization was signed without DOJ’s concurrence. Corney told the DOJ OIG that he drafted a letter of resignation because he believed it was impossible for him to remain with DOJ if the President would do something DOJ said was not legally supportable. Corney also testified that Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff David Ayres believed Ashcroft also was likely to resign and thus Ayres urged Corney to wait until Ashcroft was well enough to resign with him. I8

Goldsmith told the DOJ OIG he drafted a resignation letter at around the same time as Corney. According to his contemporaneous notes, Goldsmith cited the “shoddiness” of the prior OLC legal review, the “over-secrecy” of the PSP, and the “shameful” incident at the hospital as among his grievances.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on March 12, 2004, FBI Director Mueller drafted by hand a letter stating, in part: “[A]fter reviewing the plain language of the FISA statute, and the order issued yesterday by the President … and in the absence of further clarification of the legality of the program from the Attorney General, I am forced to withdraw the FBI from

participation in the program. Further, should the President order the continuation of the FBI’s participation in the program, and in the absence of further legal advice from the AG, I would be constrained to resign as Director of the FBI.” Mueller told the DOJ OIG that he planned on having the letter typed and then tendering it, but that based on subsequent events his resignation was not necessary.

18 In written responses to Senator Charles Schumer following his testimony, Corney

wrote that he believed that several senior DOJ officials, including Chuck Rosenberg, Daniel

Levin, James Baker, David Ayres, and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Attorney General David

Israelite, were also prepared to resign. Corney wrote that he believed that “a large portion”

of his staff also would have resigned if he had. On the morning of March 12,2004, Corney and Mueller attended the regular daily threat briefing with the President in the Oval Office. Corney said that following the briefing President Bush called him into the President’s private study for an “unscheduled meeting.” Corney told the President of DOJ’s legal concerns regarding the PSP. According to Corney, the President’s response indicated that he had not been fully informed of these concerns. Corney told the President that the President’s staff had been advised of these issues “for weeks.” According to Corney, the President said that he just needed until May 6 (the date of the next Authorization), and that if he could not get Congress to fix FISA by then he would shut down the program. The President emphasized the importance of the program and that it “saves lives.”

The President next met with Mueller. According to Mueller’s notes, Mueller told the President of his concerns regarding the FBI’s continued participation in the program without an opinion from the Attorney Generalas to its legality, and that he was considering resigning if the FBI were directed to continue to participate without the concurrence of the Attorney

General. Mueller wrote that he explained to the President that he had an “independent obligation to the FBI and to DOJ to assure the legality of actions we undertook, and that a presidential order alone could not do that.” According to Mueller’s notes, the President then directed Mueller to.meet with Corney and other PSP principals to address the legal concerns so that the FBI could continue participating in the program “as appropriate under the law.” to cease cooperating with the NSA in conjunction with the program. Corney’s decision is documented in a one-page memorandum from Goldsmith to Corney in which Goldsmith explained that the President, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive with the constitutional duty to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” made a determination that the PSP, as practiced, was lawful. Goldsmith concluded that this

determination was binding on the entire Executive Branch, including Corney in his exercise of the powers of the Attorney General.

On March 12,2004 an interagency working group led by OLC was convened to continue reanalyzing the legality of the PSP. In the days that followed, Goldsmith continued to express doubt that a viable legal rationale could be found for some of the Other Intelligence Activities being conducted under the PSP.

On March 16,2004 Corney drafted a memorandum to White House Counsel Gonzales setting out his advice to the President. According to the memorandum, Corney advised that DOJ remained unable to find a legal basis to support certain Other Intelligence Activities that had beenauthorized as part of the program and that such activities should be discontinued immediately. Comey cautioned that he believed some ongoing  activities under the program raised “serious issues” about congressional notification, “particularly where the legal basis for the program is the President’s decision to assert his authority to override an otherwise applicable Act of Congress.” Gonzales replied by letter on the evening of March 16. The letter stated, in part:

Your memorandum appears to have been based on a misunderstanding of the President’s expectations regarding the conduct of the Department of Justice. While the President was, and remains, interested in any thoughts the Department of Justice may have on alternative ways to achieve effectively the goals of the activities authorized by the Presidential Authorization of March 11,2004, the President has addressed definitively for the Executive Branch in the Presidential Authorization the interpretation of the law.

  1. White House Agrees to Modify the PSP

Notwithstanding Gonzales’s letter, on March 17, 2004 the President decided to modify certain PSP intelligence-gathering activities and to discontinue certain Other Intelligence Activities that DOJ believed were legally unsupported. The President’s directive was expressed in two modifications to the March 11, 2004 Presidential Authorization. On May 6,2004 Goldsmith and Philbin completed an OLC legal memorandum assessing the legality of the PSP as it was operating at that time. The lOB-page memorandum traced the history of the program and analyzed the legality of all of the intelligence activities conducted under the program in light of applicable statutes, Executive Orders, cases, and constitutional provisions. Much of the legal reasoning in the May 6, 2004 OLC memorandum was publicly released by DOJ in a “White Paper” issued

after one aspect of the program was revealed in The New York Times and publicly confirmed by the President in December 2005 as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The OLC memorandum stated that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001 gave the President authority to use both domestically and abroad “all necessary and appropriate force,” including signals intelligence capabilities, to prevent future acts of international terrorism against the United States. According to the memorandum, the AUMF was properly read as an express authorization to conduct targeted electronic surveillance against al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, the entitiesresponsible for attacking the United States, thereby supporting the President’s directives to conduct these activities under the PSP.

  1. Department of Justice OIG Conclusions

The DOJ OIG concluded that it was extraordinary and inappropriate that a single DOJ attorney, John Yoo, was relied upon to conduct the initial legal assessment of the PSP, and that the lack of oversight and review of Yoo’s work, as customarily is the practice of OLC, contributed to a legal analysis of the PSP that at a minimum was factually flawed. Deficiencies in the legal memoranda became apparent once additional DOJ attorneys were read into the program in 2003 and when those attorneys sought a greater understanding of the PSP’s operation. The DOJ OIG concluded that the White House’s strict controls over DOJ access to the PSP undermined DOJ’s ability to perform its critical legal function during the PSP’s early phase of operation. The DOJ OIG also concluded that the circumstances plainly called for additional DOJ resources to be applied to the legal review of the program and that it was the Attorney General’s responsibility to be aware of this need and to take steps to address it. Ashcroft’s request during this period that his chief of staff David Ayres and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson be read into the program was not approved. However, the DOJ OIG could not determine whether Attorney General Ashcroft aggressively sought additional read-ins to assist with DOJ’s legal review of the program during this period because Ashcroft did not agree to be interviewed.



Certain activities that were originally authorized as part of the PSP have subsequently been authorized under orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The activities transitioned in this manner included the interception of certain international communications that the President publicly described as the “Terrorist Surveillance Program.” As a result of this transition, the President decided not to reauthorize these activities and the final Presidential Authorization expired on February

1, 2007. The White House stated that work on the transition of authority over a two-year period addressed Administration concerns about preserving the speed and agility that the Terrorist Surveillance Program provided. The transition of certain PSP-authorized activities to FISC orders is described in detail in Section 5 of the classified report and Chapter Five ofthe DOJ OIG Report. Further details regarding this transition are classified and therefore cannot be addressed in this unclassified report.

In August 2007, the Protect America Act was enacted, amending FISA to address the government’s ability to conduct electronic surveillance in the United States of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. This legislation expired in early 2008, and in July 2008 the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was enacted. This latter law authorized the government to intercept inside the United States any communications of

non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, provided a significant purpose of the acquisition pertains to foreign intelligence. This legislation gave the government even broader authority to intercept international communications than did the provisions of the Presidential Authorizations governing the activities that the President

acknowledged in December 2005 as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The DOJ OIG review concluded that several considerations favored initiating the process of transitioning the PSP to FISA authority earlier than had been done, especially as the program became less a temporary response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and more a permanent surveillance tool. These considerations included the PSP’s effect on privacy interests of U.S. persons, the instability of the legal reasoning on which the program rested for several years, and the substantial restrictions placed on FBI agents’ access to and use of program-derived information due to the highly classified status of the PSP.



  1. NSA’s Assessment of the PSP

The NSA OIG reported that Hayden, referring to portions of the PSP in 2005, said there had probably been no communications more important to NSA efforts to defend the nation than those involving al-Qa’ida. NSA collected communications when one end was inside the United States and one end was associated with al-Qa’ida or terrorist groups associated with al Qa’ida in order to detect and prevent attacks inside the United States.

Hayden stated that “the program in this regard has been successful.” During the May 2006 Senate hearing on his nomination to be CIA Director, Hayden said that, had the PSP been in place before the September 2001 attacks, hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi almost certainly would have been identified and located. In May 2009, Hayden told NSA OIG that the value of the Program was in knowing that NSA signals intelligence activities under the PSP covered an important “quadrant” of terrorist communications. NSA’s Deputy Directorechoed Hayden’s comment when he said that the value of the PSP was in the confidence it provided that someone was looking at the seam between the foreign and domestic intelligence domains.

  1. DOJ OIG’s Assessment of the PSPIn 2004 and 2006, the FBI’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) attempted to assess the value of PSP information on FBI counterterrorism efforts. Neither of these efforts represented a comprehensive assessment of the PSP’s value. The FBI conducted a more comprehensive survey of the impact of PSP-derived information, also in 2006. The results of these surveys are summarized in the DOJ OIG Report. Based in part on the results of one study, FBI management, including Director Mueller and Deputy Director John Pistole, concluded that the PSP was “of value.”

The DOJ OIG sought as part of its review to assess the role of PSP-derived information and its value to the FBI’s overall counterterrorism efforts. Director Mueller told the DOJ OIG that he believes the PSP was useful. Mueller said that the FBI must follow every lead it receives in order to prevent future terrorist attacks and that to the extent such information can be gathered and used legally it must be exploited. Mueller also stated

that he “would not dismiss the potency of a program based on thepercentage of hits.”

The DOJ OIG interviewed FBI officials, agents, and analysts responsible for handling PSP information about their experiences with the program. These assessments, more fully described in Chapter Six of the DOJ OIG’s report, generally were supportive of the program as “one tool of many” in the FBI’s anti-terrorism efforts that “could help move cases

forward.” Even though most PSP leads were determined not to have any connection to terrorism, many of the FBI witnesses believed the mere possibility of the leads producing useful information made investigating the leads worthwhile.

However, the DOJ OIG also found that the exceptionally compartmented nature of the program created some frustration for FBI personnel. Some agents and analysts criticized the PSP-derived information they received for providing insufficient details, and the agents who managed counterterrorism programs at the FBI field offices the DOJ OIG visited said the FBI’s process for disseminating PSP-derived information failed to

adequately prioritize the information for investigation.

The DOJ OIG also examined several cases that have frequently been cited as examples of the PSP’s contribution to the IC’s counterterrorism efforts. These assessments, more fully described in Chapter Six of the DOJOIG’s report, generally were supportive of the program as “one tool of many” in the FBI’s anti-terrorism efforts.

In sum, the DOJ OIG found it difficult to assess or quantify the overall effectiveness of the PSP program as it relates to the FBI’s counterterrorism activities. However, based on the interviews conducted and documents reviewed, the DOJ OIG concluded that although

PSP-derived information had value in some counterterrorism investigations, it generally played a limited role in the FBI’s overall counterterrorism efforts.

The reasons for this conclusion are classified and are described in the

classified report and Chapter Six of the DOJ OIG report. As noted above, certain activities that were originally authorized as part of the PSP have subsequently been authorized under orders issued by the FISC. The DOJ OIG believes that DOJ and other IC agencies should

continue to assess the value of information derived from such activities to the government’s counterterrorism efforts.

  1. CIA OIG’s Assessment of the PSP

The CIA OIG reviewed the impact of the PSP on the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts. The CIA OIG reported that senior administration officials considered the PSP to be a valuable counterterrorism tool. In his December 2005 press conference, President Bush also said that there was an on-going debate in Washington, D.C. that criticized his, and previous, administrations for not “connecting the dots” prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He went on to say that the USA PATRIOT Act and the NSA program (the PSP) are helping to connect the dots as best as his administration possibly can.

During a December 2005 press briefing, Hayden said that information had

been obtained through this program that would not otherwise have been available. Senior CIA officials also told the CIA OIG that they had received PSP reporting with information that was previously unavailable. One senior official told the CIA OIG that the program eliminated some of the impediments that the CIA had encountered in accessing and analyzing communications between foreign and domestic locations. Another said that

the PSP was a key resource, and without it there would have been a missing piece of the picture.

The CIA OIG determined that the CIA did not implement procedures to assess the usefulness of the product of the PSP and did not routinely document whether particular PSP reporting had contributed to successful counterterrorism operations. CIA officials, including Hayden, told the CIA OIG that PSP reporting was used in conjunction with reporting from other intelligence sources; consequently, it is difficult to attribute the success ofparticular counterterrorism case exclusively to the PSP. In a May 2006 briefing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior CIA official said that PSP reporting was rarely the sole basis for an intelligence success, but that it frequently played a supporting role. He went on to state that the program was an additional resource to enhance the CIA’s understanding of

terrorist networks and to help identify potential threats to the U.S. homeland. Other officials told the CIA OIG that the PSP was one of many tools available to them, and that the tools were often used in combination. NSA disseminated PSP-derived information in its normal reporting channels when it could be done without revealing the source of the

information. As such, CIA officers, even those read into the program, would have been unaware of the full extent of PSP reporting. In the course of this review, the CIA OIG learned of numerous PSP reports that provided leads.

However, because there is no means to comprehensively track how PSP information was incorporated into CIA analysis, officials were able to provide only limited information on how program reporting contributed to successful operations, and the CIA OIG was unable to independently draw any conclusion on the overall effectiveness of the program to the CIA. The CIA OIG determined that several factors hindered the CIA in making full use of the product of the PSP. Many CIA officials stated that too few CIA personnel at the working level were read into the PSP. At the program’s inception, a disproportionate number’ of the CIA personnel who were read into the PSP were senior CIA managers. According to one CIA manager, the tight control over access to the PSP prevented some officers who could have made effective use of the program reporting from being read in. Another official stated that the disparity between the number of senior CIA managers read into PSP and the number of working-level CIA personnel resulted in too few CIA personnel to fully utilize PSP information for targeting and analysis.

Officials also told the CIA OIG that working-level CIA analysts and targeting officers who were read into the PSPhad too many competing priorities, and too many other information sources and analytic tools available to them, to fully utilize PSP reporting. Officials also stated that much of the PSP reporting was vague or without context, which led analysts

and targeting officers to rely more heavily on other information sources and analytic tools, which were more easily accessed and timely than the PSP.

CIA officers also told the CIA OIG that the PSP would have been more fully utilized if analysts and targeting officers had obtained a better understanding of the program’s capabilities. There was no formal training on the use of the PSP beyond the initial read-in to the program. Many CIA officers stated that the instruction provided in the read-in briefing was not sufficient and that they were surprised and frustrated by the lack ofadditional guidance. Some officers told the CIA OIG that there was insufficient legal guidance on the use of PSP-derived information. The CIA OIG concluded that the factors that hindered the CIA in making full use of the PSP might have been mitigated if the CIA had                       designated  an individual at an appropriate level of managerial authority whopossessed knowledge of both the PSP and CIA counterterrorism activities to be responsible and accountable for overseeing CIA involvement in the


  1. ODNI’s Assessment of the PSP

Hayden told the PSP IG Group that during his tenure as Director of the NSA, he sought to disseminate PSP information within the IC while also protecting the PSP as the source of the information. Hayden said this policy likely resulted in IC analysts not having a full appreciation of the PSP’s mvalue because they likely did not realize that some NSA reporting was mderived from the PSP. NCTC analysts confirmed that they often did not

know if the NSA intelligence available to them was derived from the PSP.

The NCTC analysts said they understood that NSA marked PSP information in a manner that protected the source of the information. intelligence product was derived from the PSP, the analysts said they reviewed the PSP information in the same manner as other NSA intelligence products and, if appropriate, incorporated the PSP information into analytical products being prepared for the DNI and other senior intelligence officials. NCTC analysts with access to PSP information told the ODNI OIG that they had broad access to a wide variety of high-quality and fully evaluated terrorism related intelligence, including some of the most sensitive and valuable terrorism intelligence available to the IC. In this

context, NCTC analysts characterized the PSP information as being a useful tool, but noted that the information was only one of several valuable sources of information available to them. During ODNI OIG interviews, some NCTC analysts and ODNI personnel described the PSP information as “one tool in the tool box” or used equivalent descriptions to explain their view that the PSP information was not of greater value than other sources of intelligence.

The NCTC analysts noted that the NSA policy protecting the source of the PSP information would have resulted in them not fully understanding the value of the PSP  information. Hayden said the PSP information allowed IC leaders to make valuable judgments regarding the allocation of national security resources. Hayden described the PSP as an “early warning system” for terrorist threats.

Hayden told the ODNI OIG that the PSP was extremely valuable in

protecting the United States from an al-Qa’ida terrorist attack. He cited al-Qa’ida operatives or assist in terrorism investigations.

  1. Intelligence Community Activities Supported by the PSP

Most IC officials interviewed by the PSP IG Group had difficulty citing specific instances where PSP reporting had directly contributed to counterterrorism successes. Although it was difficult for a variety of reasons already discussed to independently identify instances where PSP reporting contributed to successful counterterrorism efforts, there are

several cases identified by IC officials and in IC documentation where PSP reporting may have contributed to a counterterrorism success. These cases cannot be discussed in this unclassified report, but are described in the classified report and accompanying individual OIG reports.



PROGRAMAs noted above, aspects of the PSP were first disclosed publicly in a series of articles in The New York Times in December 2005. Subsequently, Attorney General Gonzales was questioned about NSA surveillance activities in two public hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2006 and July 2007. As part of its review, the DOJ OIG examined whether Attorney General Gonzales made false, inaccurate, or misleading

statements to Congress related to the PSP in those hearings.

Through media accounts and former Deputy Attorney General Comey’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony in May 2007, it was publicly revealed that DOJ and the White House had a major disagreement related to the PSP in March 2004. As discussed in Section IV of this unclassified report, this dispute – which resulted in the visit to Attorney General

Ashcroft’s hospital room by Gonzales and Card and brought several senior DOJ and FBI officials to the brink of resignation – concerned certain of the

Other Intelligence Activities that were different from the communication interception activities that the President later publicly acknowledged as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, but that had been implemented through the same Presidential Authorizations.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales stated that the dispute at issue between DOJ and the White House did not relate to the Terroris Surveillance Program that the President had confirmed, but rather pertained to other intelligence activities. The DOJ OIG concluded that this testimony created the misimpression that the dispute concerned activities entirely unrelated to the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which was not accurate. As previously noted, both activities had been authorized

by the President in a single Presidential Authorization. In addition, the DOJ OIG concluded that Gonzales’s testimony thatDOJ attorneys did not have “reservations” or “concerns” about the programthe “President has confirmed” (the Terrorist Surveillance Program) wasincomplete and confusing. As detailed in Chapter Four of the DOJ OIGreport, there also was a dispute about this portion of the program.

Although this dispute was not the subject of the hospital room confrontation

or the threatened resignations, DOJ’s concerns over this issue were  communicated to the White House in several meetings over a period of months prior to and including March 2004 before the issue was resolved.

The DOJ OIG recognized that Attorney General Gonzales was in the difficult position of testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about a highly classified program in an open forum. However, the DOJ OIG concluded that Gonzales, as a participant in the March 2004 dispute between the White House and DOJ and, more importantly, as the nation’s

chief law enforcement officer, had a duty to balance his obligation not to disclose classified information with the need not to be misleading in his testimony about the events that nearly led to resignations of several senior officials at DOJ and the FBI. The DOJ OIG concluded that Gonzales did not intend to mislead Congress, but it found that his testimony was confusing, inaccurate, and had the effect of misleading those who were not knowledgeable about the program.

VIII. CONCLUSION Pursuant to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the Inspectors General of the DOJ, DoD, ODNI, NSA, and CIA conducted reviews of the

PSP. In this report, the classified report, and the accompanying individual reports of the participating IGs, we describe how, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President directed that the NSA’s signals intelligence collection capabilities be used to detect and prevent acts of terrorism within the United States.

Pursuant to this authority the NSA conducted new intelligence activities, including the collection of the content of communications into and out of the United States, where one party to the communication was reasonably believed to be a member of al-Qa’ida or its affiliates. The NSA analyzed this information for dissemination as leads to the IC, principally to the CIA and the FBI. As described in the IG reports, the scope of this collection authority changed over the course of the PSP.

The IG reports describe the role of each of the participating agencies in the PSP, including the NSA’s management and oversight of the collection and analysis process, the CIA’s and FBI’s use of the PSP-derived intelligence in their counterterrorism efforts, the ODNI’s involvement in the program byproviding periodic threat assessments and using the program intelligence to produce analytical products, and DOJ’s role in analyzing and certifying the legality of the PSP. With the exception of the NSA, the DoD had limited

involvement in the PSP.

The IG reports also describe the conflicting views surrounding the legality of aspects of the PSP during 2004, the confrontation between officials from DOJ and the White House about the legal basis for parts of the program, as well as the resolution of that conflict. The ensuing transition of the PSP from presidential authority to statutory authority under FISA is also described in the IG reports.

The IGs also examined the impact of PSP information on  counterterrorism efforts. Many senior IC officials believe that the PSP filled a gap in intelligence collection thought to exist under the FISA statute  shortly after the al-Qa’ida terrorist attacks against the United States.

Others within the IC, including FBI agents, CIA analysts and officers, and other officials had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the PSP to counterterrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many available analytic and intelligence-gathering tools in these efforts. The IG reports describe several examples of how PSP-derived information factored into specific investigations and operations.

Finally, the collection activities pursued under the PSP, and under FISA following the PSP’s transition to that authority, involved unprecedented collection activities. We believe the retention and use by IC organizations of information collected under the PSP and FISA should be carefully monitored.


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