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Speaking of the AP...

There's a couple of "what did they know and when did they know it" stories about NSA spying out today. The first, from the New York Times, seems to indicate that the NSA began the program on its own authority, operating under an executive order signed by President Reagan in 1981. President Bush would later authorize the program explicitly.

That seems to be the main point of the Times article, but, as is often the case with the Times, I find the really interesting stuff is buried deeper in the story. To see what I mean, check out the headline on another news story, this one from AP:

Intelligence Panel Had Clue About Spying

The article states that congressional intelligence committee members (and Nancy Pelosi in particular) might have had a "hint" as to what the NSA was up to as early as 2001.

"Clue?" "Hint?" Well, yeah, I'd say they had quite a lot of "hints," and not very subtle ones at that. Back to the Times piece (emphasis mine):

The N.S.A. operation prompted questions from a leading Democrat, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said in an Oct. 11, 2001, letter to a top intelligence official that she was concerned about the agency's legal authority to expand its domestic operations, the documents showed.

Ms. Pelosi's letter, which was declassified at her request, showed much earlier concerns among lawmakers about the agency's domestic surveillance operations than had been previously known. Similar objections were expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, in a secret letter to Vice President Dick Cheney nearly two years later.

The letter from Ms. Pelosi, the House minority leader, also suggested that the security agency, whose mission is to eavesdrop on foreign communications, moved immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks to identify terror suspects at home by loosening restrictions on domestic eavesdropping.

The congresswoman wrote to Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then head of the N.S.A., to express her concerns after she and other members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees received a classified briefing from General Hayden on Oct. 1, 2001, about the agency's operations.

Ms. Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said, "I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting."

In other words, Pelosi and other congressional Democrats knew about the program almost from the very beginning. Moreover, it seems that Pelosi's only reservation about the program was whether or not the president was aware of it.

Honestly, the Democratic outrage on this is ringing more and more hollow every day.