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Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency


Timeline: Domestic Spying

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration launched a secret program allowing the National Security Agency to intercept the phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without warrant. A guide to the development of the controversial program:

2001
Sept. 11: Terrorist attacks kill more than 2,900 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Sept. 18: Congress authorizes use of military force against perpetrators of 9/11 attacks.
[President George W. Bush] Oct. 4: President Bush (right) authorizes warrantless domestic surveillance proposal presented by Vice President Cheney. The program goes operational two days later.
2003
Oct. 10: Jack L. Goldsmith is sworn in as chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. The job gives him authority to make legal rulings that bind the whole executive branch.
[John C Yoo] Late November: Goldsmith becomes doubtful about the legal memos prepared by John C. Yoo (right) in support of domestic eavesdropping.
[John Ashcroft] December: Goldsmith brings his doubts to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft (right) who tells him to do whatever is necessary to bring the program into compliance with the law.
[David Addington] Dec. 9: David S. Addington (right), Vice President Cheney's counsel, intercedes to stop Justice Department officials from showing the disputed legal memos to Vito Potenza, the NSA's acting general counsel, and Joel Brenner, the agency's inspector general.
2004
[Photo of James B. Comey] January: Ashcroft and Goldsmith ask for permission to consult Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey (right). Addington, backed by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, refuses. "Forget it," Addington tells Goldsmith.
[Photo of Michael V. Hayden] Feb. 19: Addington relents after Goldsmith threatens to rule against the program, and Comey is briefed on the codeword-classified program. Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden (right), the NSA director, tells Comey: "I'm so glad you're getting read in, because now I won't be alone at the table when John Kerry is elected president."
March 4: Ashcroft and Comey meet privately and decide to withhold legal approval unless the surveillance program is scaled back. Hours later, Ashcroft is hospitalized for acute gallstone pancreatitis and Comey becomes acting attorney general.
March 6: The Justice Department formally rules that parts of the surveillance program are illegal, refusing to certify a renewal order that is due on March 11.
[Dick Cheney] March 9: Vice President Dick Cheney (right) gathers intelligence chiefs, presses Comey to reauthorize surveillance: "How can you possibly be reversing course?" Still unaware of the crisis, Bush appears at an award ceremony in Northern Virginia.
[Andrew Card] March 10: Bush learns that the program is about to expire without Justice Department approval. He dispatches Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. (right) to visit Ashcroft in the hospital; Ashcroft backs Comey and says he never should have ruled the program legal.
[Robert S. Mueller III] March 11: Bush signs a new order, drafted in Cheney's office, that renews the surveillance program and asserts that the president is the final authority on the law. Comey, Goldsmith and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III (right), among many others, prepare to resign. Bush - unlike Cheney and Card - is unaware of their plans.
[Condoleezza Rice] March 12: After national security adviser Condoleezza Rice warns of turmoil at Justice, Bush pulls Comey aside for an unscheduled meeting. Comey is stunned when Bush accuses him of a "last minute" objection; Bush is surprised to learn that Mueller and Comey are about to quit. "Told him he is being misled," Comey writes in an e-mail sent moments after leaving Bush's private study. When Mueller confirms his intention to resign, Bush withdraws the order he signed the previous day.
March 19: Bush signs a new surveillance order, scaling back the program and bowing to the Justice Department's legal authority.
2005
Jan. 20: President Bush inaugurated to second term.
Dec. 16: New York Times first reports domestic surveillance program; executive editor says newspaper withheld the story for a year at White House's request.
Dec. 17: Bush defends warrantless wiretapping as "critical to saving American lives" and "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution."
2006
[Alberto Gonzales] Feb. 6: Testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (right) says NSA surveillance "falls squarely within the broad authorization" of military force.
July 13: In reversal, Bush administration agrees to submit wiretap program to federal court for constitutional review.
2007
Jan. 17: Justice Department transfers oversight of wiretap program to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
July 7: Federal appeals court rejects lawsuit challenging constitutionality of spy program, ruling plaintiffs had to prove they were directly targeted.
[Mike McConnell] Aug. 14: Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell (right) publicly acknowledges for first time that private companies cooperated with NSA program.
2008
July 9: Senate passes FISA amendments act, granting immunity to telecom companies that participated in domestic surveillance.

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