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Declassified Letters Indicate NSA Initiated Domestic Spying Effort


A declassified letter from a U.S. congressional leader suggests the National Security Agency (NSA) may have begun domestic eavesdropping without specific permission from President Bush.

The letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, dated October 2001, asked General Michael Hayden, then NSA chief, if the president had specifically approved the expansion of NSA surveillance powers described in a House intelligence committee briefing.

General Hayden replied later that month that he used only "his authorities" to adjust NSA information-collecting and reporting policies.

Parts of both letters were edited for security reasons.

Newspaper reports revealed the domestic spying program last month. President Bush has said he ordered the agency, which normally monitors foreign communications, to begin domestic wiretapping in order to fight terrorism. Critics say the operation disregards U.S. privacy law.

Some information for this story provided by AP.