From Gonzales, hints of another spying program

The attorney general declines to rule out a "purely" domestic eavesdropping program.

By Farhad Manjoo
April 7, 2006 6:29PM (UTC)
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Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a simple question during a House hearing yesterday. Can the president wiretap purely domestic phone calls -- phone calls between two people in the United States -- without court approval? Easy answer: No. But here was Gonzales' answer: "I'm not going to rule it out."

Why not? The president and other officials have repeatedly insisted that their warrantless wiretapping program only applies to people who are making calls from the United States to points outside. So why not just assure us, plainly, that people making calls in the country have nothing to worry about?


Because, well -- what if that's not the case? What if the government is currently monitoring domestic phone calls? Could that be so? Am I being paranoid?

Maybe I am. But so too then is Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen, who saw in Gonzales' testimony the ghostly wisps of perhaps something far more serious going on in the government. "In yesterday's testimony, Gonzales reiterated earlier hints that there may be another facet to the NSA program that has not been revealed publicly, or even another program that has prompted dissension within the government," Eggen wrote. At one point, discussing whether some people inside the administration have challenged the spying plan, Gonzales said that those disagreements "did not relate to the program the president disclosed. They related to something else, and I can't get into that."

Something else?

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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