On the Record edited by Annie Harrison

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A Few Questions For Mr. Gonzales


I have just emerged from the delirium of a savage week-long bout with the flu and spent what energy I had trying to figure out if the Democrats were really serious about taking on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over the NSA's warrentless interception of international communications from inside the U.S.

Gonzales made his case to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that Bush had the authority to spy due to the 2001 resolution permitting him to use force against Al Qaeda. Surveillance wasn't mentioned in the resolution. But so far, Gonzales is getting away with sidestepping the big questions such as how many American citizens have been the target of eavesdropping operations and when did the program start.

Bob Herbert's Op-Ed in Monday's NYT summed up these questions well. Here are some of Herbert's questions that we should all be asking. C'mon senators, grill that Gonzales weasel until he squeaks.

Who is being spied upon and why?
Who determines what calls or e-mails are to be monitored in the U.S. without warrants, and what are their guidelines?
How many of those who were spied upon were found to have been in involved in terror-related activities?
How many were referred to the F.B.I. or other agencies for further investigation?
Of those who were referred, how many were cleared of wrongdoing?
What kind of information is being collected about people who are spied upon without warrants but are not referred to law enforcement agencies?
How is that data being used and how is it being stored?
Is the government collecting information about the political views of the people who are being spied upon?
With whom is that information being shared?
What has been the nature and extent of the objections from people inside the government to the warrantless spying?

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