Spying on Americans: Pardon us while we gloat

When President George W. Bush gathered his shell-shocked cabinet together in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he turned to then attorney general John Ashcroft and said “John, you do whatever is necessary to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Those instructions to Ashcroft are documented in Steven Brill’s book, After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era, about the days following 9/11 and the Showtime docudrama on the event. It is also well-known that Ashcroft, a zealot who doesn’t allow the Constitution to get in the way of his crusades, took Bush’s command to heart, creating the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act, the controversial law that allows the federal government to spy on Americans without cause, without court order and without restraint.

But Bush went even further, turning the giant communications monitoring apparatus of the National Security Agency into a personal machine to snoop into the lives of Americans and setting Adm. John Poindexter loose to create the Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA) program.

Congress thought it shut down TIA but Bush ran an end around on the Hill by transferring TIA into the Pentagon’s “black bag” operations, a fact we first reported in June of last year.  We also reported the program used technology developed by the National Security Agency to snoop on phone calls and emails and that some NSA employees were pissed about being involved in spying on Americans.

“I know NSA employees who have quit rather than cooperate with DARPA,” Paul Hawken, owner of information company Groxis says. “NSA’s mandate is to track the activities of foreign enemies of this nation, not Americans.”

But Bush ordered the NSA to start tracking the activities of Americans, something tht was part of the TIA program we reported a year ago and reported today by The New York Times. We also reported, last year, the Pentagon was building a huge super secret database on Americans, something NBC News just got around to confirming this week.

According to the “instant experts” who expound ad infinitum behind anonymous handles on partisan computer bulletin boards, we sit in our den in our mountaintop retreat and make all this stuff up, that nothing we print ever ends up in the so-called “mainstream media.”

No wonder they don’t use their real names. If I was as wrong as these keyboard commandos, I’d hide behind an anonymous name too.

We realized early on that the Bush Administration has discarded the Constitution and set the federal government on a course to snoop, pry and invade the private lives of Americans at will.

We knew it. We reported it and the naysayers claimed it couldn’t possibly be true.

As usual, they were wrong. As usual, we were right. And, as usual, it took the rest of the “mainstream media” about a year to catch up.