Was the NSA listening?

NBC's Andrea Mitchell asks whether the Bush administration's spy program eavesdropped on a CNN reporter.

Published January 4, 2006 8:33PM (EST)

Does NBC's Andrea Mitchell know something about the Bush administration's domestic spying program that the rest of us don't? As AMERICAblog's John Aravosis notes, Mitchell put a question to the New York Times' James Risen Tuesday that suggests that she might.

In an interview with Risen, Mitchell asked if he had any information suggesting that the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Risen said he hadn't heard that. Has Mitchell heard something to that effect, or was she just using Amanpour's name as the example of what might have gone wrong with the spying program?

We don't know the answer to that, and neither does Aravosis. But as Aravosis notes, the implications of tapping Amanpour's phone lines could be enormous. There's the chilling thought that government officials might be listening in on the conversations of a reporter, and then there's this: Amanpour's husband, who like any husband might have had occasion to use his wife's phone, happens to be Jamie Rubin, the former Clinton administration official who served as a foreign policy advisor for John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Update: As several readers note in the comments below, the exchange between Mitchell and Risen about Amanpour has rather mysteriously disappeared from the transcript of the interview posted on the MSNBC Web site. If MSNBC has an explanation for why Mitchell's question and Risen's answer have disappeared, we'd sure like to hear it. Did Mitchell not ask the question -- that seems unlikely, doesn't it? -- or does someone at MSNBC just wish she hadn't?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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