Wednesday, August 01, 2007



Something has been bugging me since Alberto Gonzalez testified last week. We all know that Gonzalez may have committed perjury when he denied that there were objections to the President's surveillance plan. He admitted there had been objections, but to other activities. These are the activities that Bush has not confirmed even exist. What other surveillance actions was Gonzalez talking about?

Among others, Spencer Ackerman and Paul Kiel have already done great work regarding what they dub "Project X."

Simply, Project X may have been a highly intrusive, possibly illegal, surveillance program that raised such strong questions about its illegality that John Ashcroft, James Comey, and many others threatened to resign en masse unless it was changed.

Assuming it existed and we aren't just talking about the well-known FISA violations.

After the threat of resignations it was apparently, allegedly, changed to make it legal.

I will blog more on this, but for now I have two questions, concededly big questions.

(1) What was Project X?

(2) Is it still going on?

Update: I and others have long speculated that the project involved some form of large-scale sifting through massive amounts of data accessible electronically, including phone calls, e-mails, and internet traffic. In others words, data mining. Such a project would not be amenable, at least on an ongoing basis, to FISA court approval, nor would it necessarily violate, at least in the mind of someone like Alberto Gonzalez or John Yoo, the Fourth Amendment. Computers, either here or overseas, utilizing Echelon or other such technology, could search for designated patterns or keywords, raising a flag.

What then? Do they get a warrant? What if both parties are overseas? What if one is? Many more such questions could be asked.

I for one do not believe it likely that Total Information Awareness was completely shut down. For one thing, it goes against everything we know about the Bush administration.

Whatever its status, it is interesting that they remain resolutely secret about the details of a program they claim no longer exists.


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