November 21, 2013
The NSA’s domestic spying program, known in official government documents as the “President’s Surveillance Program,” (“The Program”) was implemented by President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001. The US Government still considers the Program officially classified, but a tremendous amount of information has been exposed by various whistleblowers, admitted to by government officials during Congressional hearings and with public statements, and reported on in investigations by major newspaper across the country.
Our NSA Domestic Spying Timeline has a full list of important dates, events, and reports, but we also want to explain—to the extent we understand it—the full scope of the Program and how the government has implemented it.
In the weeks after 9/11, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a range of surveillance activities inside the United States, which had been barred by law and agency policy for decades. When the NSA’s spying program was first exposed by the New York Times in 2005, President Bush admitted to a small aspect of the program—what the administration labeled the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”—in which the NSA monitored, without warrants, the communications of between 500-1000 people inside the US with suspected connections to Al Qaeda.