Justice Dept Issues White Paper on NSA Surveillance

01.20.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Department of Justice renewed its legal defense of warrantless domestic intelligence surveillance by the National Security Agency in a 42 page white paper transmitted to Congress yesterday.

The white paper essentially reiterates at greater length the previous defenses articulated by the Bush Administration: (1) the surveillance action was authorized by Congress when it passed the 2001 resolution on use of military force against al Qaeda; and (2) the President has inherent authority to conduct such surveillance in any case. Both assertions are widely disputed.

“The President — in light of the broad authority to use military force in response to the attacks of September 11th and to prevent further catastrophic attack expressly conferred on the President by the Constitution and confirmed and supplemented by Congress in the AUMF [authorization for use of military force] — has legal authority to authorize the NSA to conduct the signals intelligence activities he has described. Those activities are authorized by the Constitution and by statute, and they violate neither FISA nor the Fourth Amendment,” the document concludes.

See “Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of the National Security Agency Described by the President,” Department of Justice White Paper, January 19, 2006.