July 2002: CAU formed
March 14, 2003: First exigent letter issued in NY
May 2003: First contract with telecom for onsite exigent assistance
March 2004: Last contract with telecom for onsite exigent assistance
February 2, 2005: Operation W NSL signed; Tracker database attempted
February 2006: Procedures to verify factual accuracy of FISA applications
March 9, 2006: Bush signs PATRIOT extension with new Section 215 guidelines
May 12, 2006: First blanket NSL (for Company B)
May 17, 2006: Assistant General Counsel sends email regarding exigent letters (leads to OGC “learning” of practice)
May 24, 2006: First Section 215 order approved by FISC
July 5, 2006: Second blanket NSL
August 2, 2006: AGC sends follow-up on exigent letters blanket NSL for Company B
September 18, 2006: Youssef cancels hot number service from Company C
September 21, 2006: Third blanket NSL
October 10, 2006: Company B changes policy on exigent letters to require SSA to say it is emergency involving death or serious injury.
November 7, 2006: AGC sends email to Valerie Caproni on blanket NSL, heads up for IG investigation
February 22, 2007: AGC tells Youssef the blanket NSLs may be PIOBs, need to be reported within 14 days
March 1, 2007: FBI draws up new guidelines, requiring factual predicate and limiting people who can authorize exigent letters
March 9, 2007: IG Report on NSLs including “any illegal and improper use” in 2003 though 2005
June 1, 2007: FBI Guidance on who could sign NSLs
August 28, 2007: First OLC request to approve exigent letters.
October 31, 2007: FBI tells IOB it will send letter on blanket NSLs and purge all illegally acquired information.
November 2007: FBI issues draft guidance on Community of Interest requests.
December 2007 to January 2008: Telecom personnel move out of CAU.
January 11, 2008: FBI issues new protocol for requesting phone records.
February 29, 2008: Bush guts the Intelligence Advisory Board, stripping it of investigative ability and oversight over IGs. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2008/03/14/president_weakens_espionage_oversight/?page=1
March 13, 2008: IG Report on NSLs, assessing corrective actions of FBI and describing NSL usage in 2006
November 5, 2008: OLC issues opinion in response to August 28, 2007 request
January 16, 2009: OLC issues a response on whether Acting DADs and other Acting officials could sign NSLs
March 31, 2009: FBI formally informs IAB of NSL problems
August 17, 2009: Obama appoints Chuck Hagel to IAB.
October 29, 2009: Obama restores investigative ability to Intelligence Advisory Board
January 20, 2010: IG Report on exigent letters
June 5, 2013: Guardian publishes Section 215 order to Verizon calling for all call metadata on all customers over 3 month period. Dianne Feinstein makes it clear this is part of program in place since 2006.
As a series of Presidents continue to claim the September 18, 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force authorizes fairly unlimited power on an unlimited battlefield, I keep coming back to this Tom Daschle op-ed, in which he described how Congress refused to extend the AUMF to US soil.
Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words “in the United States and” after “appropriate force” in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas — where we all understood he wanted authority to act — but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.
The op-ed is, as far as I know, the only public statement describing how Congress narrowed a breathtakingly broad claim for military force.
Until Wednesday’s drone hearing, that is.
In response to a comment from John Bellinger that it was appropriate for the Executive Branch to refuse to share its OLC memos with Congress, Zoe Lofgren suggested (1:36 and following) the President was exceeding the terms of the AUMF (she comes very close to saying the President broke the law, but stops herself). She refers to — as Daschle did — negotiations leading up to the AUMF that actually did get passed.
Lofgren: If you take a look at the Authorization to Use Military Force, which all of us voted for — those of us who were here (there was only one no vote in the House) — it says “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks.” Now, are we to believe that everyone on this list was responsible for the 9/11 attack? I mean, is that the rationale?
Bellinger: No, your exactly right. All four of us agree with you that the 2001 AUMF, which was only about 60 words long — I was involved in drafting it literally almost on the back of an envelope while the World Trade Center was still smoldering — now is very long in the tooth. The good government solution, while extremely difficult and controversial, would be for Congress to work together with the Executive Branch to revise that AUMF. It’s completely unclear about what it covers, who it covers, where it covers.
Lofgren: If I may, I think it’s not as unclear as you suggest. There are — this was a limitation, and there were big arguments about it as you’re, I’m sure, aware, there was a prior draft that was much more expansive. There was a prior draft that was much more expansive and it was narrowed so we could get bipartisan consensus and it was narrowed for an important reason. And I guess I — yes, the Executive has the ability to keep his legal advice confidential, that’s a long-standing principle, but since it looks like — at least, questions are raised — as to whether the executive is complying with the law, then if he feels he is, then I feel it would be a very positive thing for the Administration to share that legal advice with this committee and with the American people. Continue reading
Teddy did a diary this morning on a newly-reported detail in the case of Mohamed Mohamud–the Portland man accused of attempting to set off a bomb. The FBI had contacted him a year earlier than originally disclosed. The first contact with Mohamud the complaint describes took place in June 2010, after Mohamud was prevented from boarding a flight to Alaska.
On June 14, 2010, MOHAMUD was contacted at Portland, Oregon International Airport after he attempted to board a flight to Kodiak, Alaska. MOHAMUD was not allowed to board the aircraft. Shortly thereafter, MOHAMUD was interviewed by the FBI.
Shortly thereafter, an undercover agent contacted Mohamud, leading up to the July 30, 2010 meeting that was not taped.
An FBI Undercover Employee (UCE1) contacted MOHAMUD in June 2010 under the guise of being affiliated with UA1 and UA1′s associates. MOHAMUD and UCE1 ultimately agreed to meet in Portland on July 30,2010.
But a filing submitted yesterday shows that the Oregon State Police got a report on him in November 2009, after which an FBI agent named Bill Smith started contacting Mohamud.
As noted above, the government seeks to characterize a November 2009 interaction withMohamed as “an unrelated matter.” Resp. at 17. While the direct contact with Mohamed appeared to involve only the Oregon State Police (OSP), the FBI was clearly involved behind the scene. As the government has only provided minimal discovery related to the FBI’s involvement, with much of it redacted, Mohamed cannot assess the extent of the information the FBI gathered andsubsequently used in crafting its sting operation.
What the discovery does show is that the OSP immediately notified the FBI upon receiving a complaint about Mohamed, despite the fact that the substance of the report would ordinarily not result in FBI involvement. Although the redactions in the FBI report prevent the defense from understanding the full scope of the FBI’s role, it appears that agents met with OSP officers prior to contact with Mohamed and were involved with the subsequent interview. OSP then requested consent to image Mohamed’s computer, which was provided to an FBI analyst within hours. Seven days later, agent Bill Smith began contacting Mohamed and soliciting his participation in violence against the West. A short time later, the FBI analyst copied specific information from Mohamed’scomputer and provided it to a fellow agent. The analyst did not write a report of his actions until ayear later.
Other filings make it clear that the OSP polygraphed Mohamud at this point and suggests the search of his computer was consensual.
At first, the government didn’t admit that “Bill Smith” worked for the government (and it remains unclear who he works for). Only after the defense confronted them with that fact did they concede he was, but they claimed these earlier contacts have no connection to this case.
The discovery provided up to [the discovery deadline of February 15] and after included no indication that Bill Smith was a government agent. The government must possess the paperwork and reports that are necessarily generated by a government agent who contacts a citizen for such investigative purposes. If not for fortunate defense work, this exculpatory fact would have continued to be suppressed. It was only by backtracking through voluminous emails, and clearing out hundreds of lines of distracting code, that the defense was able to understand Bill Smith’s apparent connection to the government. Once confronted with the defense conclusions,the government admitted Bill Smith acted as a government agent. However, the conscious determination by the agency that Bill Smith should not be disclosed to the defense as an agent,purportedly because the government does not believe the information is helpful to the defense,establishes that the government alone should not be permitted to determine what is exculpatory without this Court’s supervision and instruction.
While the government claims this contact was discontinued in May 2010 (a month before the contact they claim started this investigation), Mohamud continued to email “Smith” until August 2010.
Bill Smith had e-mail contact with defendant beginning in late 2009 and continuing through May 2010. The contact with Smith did not relate to the facts of this case, and was discontinued by the government. Defendant, however, on his own continued to contact Smith through August 2010, after the government had ceased contact with him, by forwarding Smith e-mails, including one that supported violent jihad.
The fact that the government delayed admission of these earlier contacts also means the government has not disclosed the extent to which this earlier contact was used to tailor conversations with Mohamud.
[T]he undercover agents clearly used information from surveillance activities in approaching Mohamed. One obvious example is that agent Bill Smith attempted to ingratiate himself with Mohamed by recommending an online publication based on the government’s belief that Mohamed had connections to the publication.
While it appears that Mohamud was under surveillance before the first contact with the OSP (the complaint cites some emails he had with someone in Yemen August 2009), the earlier contact raises a whole bunch of questions about what led the government to pretend to follow-up on his emails in June 2010.
In response to the news that David Margolis spiked the misconduct conclusion in the OPR Report on OLC justifications for torture, I wanted to put together a timeline of its construction. Two things stick out. First, the role of Mary Patrice Brown–who replaced Marshall Jarrett at a time when OPR was backing off its offer of transparency–deserves further scrutiny in this report. When she presented the report to Holder in August, she apparently recommended that he reopen investigations into torture.
Also, I still think the timing suggests DOJ delayed its release to protect Yoo in the Padilla suit.
January 4, 2008: Padilla sues Yoo.
February 12, 2008: Senators Durbin and Whitehouse request that OPR investigate torture authorizations
February 18, 2008: Marshall Jarrett informs Durbin and Whitehouse that torture authorizations included in OPR investigation of OLC, agrees to share report with them and–possibly–release an unclassified public version
Late December 2008: Draft of OPR submitted, Michael Mukasey and Mark Filip demand that Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury get to respond
February 14, 2009: Isikoff reports that OPR report came to harsh conclusions of OLC lawyers’ work; reports Mukasey and Filip allowance for lawyer response
February 16, 2009: Whitehouse and Durbin inquire about process used with OPR report
March 6, 2009: Hearing in Padilla-Yoo law suit
March 25, 2009: OPR response (signed by M. Faith Burton, Acting AAG) to Whitehouse and Durbin states Mukasey/Filip comments already integrated, OLC lawyer counsel in process of reviewing report; it doesn’t mention “career prosecutor” review:
When the review and comment [from Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury's lawyers] is concluded, OPR intends to review the comments submitted and make any modifications it deems appropriate to the findings and conclusions. OPR will then provide a final report to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. After any additional review they deem appropriate, the department will determine what disclosures should be made.
The letter backs off Jarrett’s earlier promise to release the report:
In determining appropriate disclosures, we will be mindful of the considerable interest that Congress has previously expressed in connection with this matter and will seek to accommodate the information needs of our oversight committees in response to requests from their chairmen. While we appreciate your request for a disclosure commitment, we can only fully evaluate the scope of appropriate disclosures once the review process is completed. We trust you understand that those decisions depend in part on the content and conclusions of the OPR final report and the outcome of any further Departmental review.
March 31, 2009: Durbin and Whitehouse reply to OPR letter
April 8, 2009: Holder names Mary Patrice Brown to replace former OPR head, Marshall Jarrett
May 4, 2009: According to AAG Ronald Welch, deadline for Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury response to OPR report; on that day, Welch responds to Durbin and Whitehouse laying out the following as “normal” process for OPR reports:
In the past, former Department employees who were subjects of OPR investigations typically have been permitted to appeal adverse OPR findings to the Deputy Attorney General’s Office. A senior career official usually conducted that appeal by reviewing submissions from the subjects and OPR’s reply to those submissions, and then reaching a decision on the merits of the appeal. Under this ordinary procedure, the career official’s decision on the merits was final. This appeal procedure was typically completed before the Department determined whether to disclose the Report of Investigation to the former employees’ state bar disciplinary authorities or to anyone else. Department policy usually requires referral of OPR’s misconduct findings to the subject’s state bar disciplinary authority, but if the appeal resulted in a rejection of OPR’s misconduct findings, then no referral was made. This process afforded former employees roughly the same opportunity to contest OPR’s findings that current employees were afforded through the disciplinary process. While the Department has previously released public summaries of OPR reports under some circumstances, public release of the reports themselves has occurred only rarely. In the past, the release of a public summary occurred only after the subjects were afforded an opportunity to appeal any adverse findings.
The May 4 letter also informed the Senators of the CIA review.
May 6, 2009: WaPo reports OPR report still recommends sanctions against Yoo and Bybee
June 12, 2009: Judge rules Padilla suit can move forward
June 17, 2009: Whitehouse reveals that CIA conducting “substantive comment and classification review”
July 9, 2009: Yoo appeals decision on Padilla suit–and DOJ stops representing Yoo; Miguel Estrada would take on that role
July 12, 2009: Scott Horton reports that reading OPR Report was one thing that convinced Eric Holder to launch criminal review of torture
Prior to August 24, 2009: OPR submits report to Holder, recommends reopening criminal investigation into torture
August 24, 2009: Holder announces criminal investigation, citing (among other things) OPR report
November 16, 2009: Yoo submits opening brief in Padilla suit appeal
November 20, 2009: Padilla requests extension–because of delay in government brief–until January 15
December: Margolis, purportedly reviewing OPR report, out sick (though reports say Yoo’s lawyer making last appeal for changes)
December 3, 2009: DOJ submits amicus brief claiming that OPR can address Padilla’s concerns
December 29, 2009: Yoo starts book publicity
January 18, 2010: Padilla submits response to appeal
January 29, 2010: Klaidman and Isikoff report OPR conclusions have been altered
The known dates pertaining to Hassan Ghul’s capture and subsequent OLC memos authorizing his torture. The interesting things about this timeline are:
March 16, 2003: Detainee testifies that Ghul took intended 9/11 participant, Mushabib al Hamlan, to Abu Zubaydah guest house in March 2000
January 19, 2004: General Sanchez requests investigation of Abu Ghraib abuse
January 22 or 23, 2004: Hassan Ghul detained by Kurds
January 31, 2004: Taguba appointed to conduct investigation
February 2 to 29, 2004: Taguba’s team investigating in Iraq
February 21, 2004: Directorate of Intelligence document, "US Efforts Grinding Down al-Qa’ida," says Ghul was captured while on a mission "to establish contact" with Zarqawi
February 24, 2004: Tenet mentions Ghul–along with top al Qaeda members–in hearing before SSCI
March 9, 2004: Taguba submits report
March 12, 2004: Letter to Goldsmith (possibly in support of GC opinion) claims Ghul "perform[ed] critical facilitation and finance activities for al-Qa’ida," including "transporting people, funds, and documents," and says CIA suspected Ghul of playing an active part in planning attacks against United States forces
March 18, 2004: Jack Goldsmith concludes non-Iraqi members of al-Qaeda not "protected persons" under Geneva Convention
March 19, 2004: Jack Goldsmith drafts memo finding that US can remove some people of Iraq
April 28, 2004: Hamdi and Padilla argued before SCOTUS; Paul Clement assures the Court that we don’t torture; 60 Minutes breaks Abu Ghraib story and proves he’s wrong
May 7, 2004: CIA IG report finds torture program cruel and inhuman
June 15, 2004:Goldsmith informs Ashcroft he will withdraw Bybee Memo and resigns
June 17, 2004:Jack Goldsmith announces his resignation.
July 2004: Scott Muller resigns as General Counsel of CIA
July 11, 2004: Tenet resignation effective
July 20, 2004: CIA requests new legal advice from OLC (13 page letter)
July 22, 2004: Ashcroft confirms to Acting DCI (McLaughlin?) that all techniques except waterboarding legal under CAT
July 23, 2004: Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan arrested by Pakistani authorities
July 25, 2004: Capture of Ahmed Khalifan Ghailani
July 26, 2004: DNC begins
July 30, 2004: Letter to Daniel Levin including description of torture techniques
August 1, 2004: Government raises threat level, announces surveillance of financial institutions, though reports are years old; NYT publishes Khan’s name
August 2, 2004: Letter from John Rizzo to Levin, including details on when the CIA would use waterboarding and a medical and psychological assessment of Ghul
August 6, 2004: Daniel Levin advises that subject to reservations, CIA’s use of waterboarding not illegal
August 19, 2004: Letter to Daniel Levin detailing new limits on waterboarding
I’m working on a series of posts about the 2005 Bradbury Memos and Hassan Ghul. But first, I want to make a couple of points about a document that plays a key role in them–particularly in the Combined Memo: an April 22, 2005 fax from the CIA’s Assistant General Counsel (the name is always redacted) to Steven Bradbury.
Before I get into the significance of the fax, here’s the chronology of it:
December 30, 2004: Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques; Daniel Levin torture memo published
February 2005: Daniel Levin leaves DOJ
April 8, 2005: Draft "Techniques" and "Combined" OLC Memos (at that point, 57 pages in length) sent to CIA
"Several weeks" before April 27, 2005: Pat Philbin alerts Jim Comey to problems with "Combined" draft
April 20, 2005: DOJ announces Jim Comey’s resignation
April 22, 2005: Meeting between Pat Philbin, Jim Comey, Steven Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales about May 10 torture memos
April 22, 2005: Fax to Steven Bradbury from Assistant General Counsel, CIA
April 26, 2005: Comey gets latest draft of Combined memo (no mention of Techniques draft), meets with Gonzales to express concerns, concurs with Techniques memo
April 27, 2005: White House tells Gonzales memos must be finalized by Friday, April 29
April 28, 2005: Gonzales’ Chief of Staff, Ted Ullyot, tells Comey the memo will have to be "sent over" tomorrow
Note a few points. The May 10, 2005 memos were drafted by April 8, 2005. Apparently not long after CIA received that draft, Pat Philbin notified Jim Comey of problems with the "Combined" memo and (though there’s no reason to believe they’re related events) Comey resigned.
And then, on Friday April 22, two things happened. Comey and Philbin tried to talk Gonzales and Bradbury into fixing the "Combined" memo. And Bradbury received the April 22 fax from the Assistant General Counsel of the CIA. Also note, while it’s clear Comey saw a draft of the "Combined" memo after April 22 (the one he describes as being worse than the previous draft he had seen), it’s not clear he saw another draft of the "Techniques" memo before he concurs with it on April 26–though we know the memo would have changed in the interim, since it cites the April 22 fax.
We don’t know what happened after that point. Continue reading
In two earlier posts I laid out where Vaughn Walker seems to be going with the warrantless wiretapping cases. In this post, I’m going to consider his suggestion–made in his ruling rejecting a challenge to retroactive immunity–that the plaintiffs could sue the telecoms for activities after January 17, 2007 (note, Walker said January 7, but it’s almost certain he meant January 17).
Because, however, section 802’s immunity provision may only be invoked with regard to suits arising from actions authorized by the president between September 11, 2001 and January 7, 2007, the dismissal is without prejudice. On May 15, 2009, plaintiffs submitted a “notice of new factual authorities in support of
plaintiffs’ opposition to motion of the United States” to dismiss. Doc #627. In the notice, plaintiffs cite news articles published in 2009 reporting post-FISAAA warrantless electronic surveillance activities by the NSA. Plaintiffs argue that these articles constitute “proof that the certification of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey that is the sole basis for the government’s pending motion to dismiss is not supported by ‘substantial evidence.’” Doc #627 at 3. The court disagrees. The court believes that the Attorney General has adequately and properly invoked section 802’s immunity to the extent that the allegations of the master
consolidated complaints turn on actions authorized by the president between September 11, 2001 and January 7, 2007. The court also believes, however, that plaintiffs are entitled to an opportunity to amend their complaints if they are able, under the ever-morestringent pleading standards applicable in federal courts (see, e g, Ashcroft v Iqbal, ___ US ___, 129 S Ct 1937 (2009)), to allege causes of action not affected by the Attorney General’s successful invocation of section 802’s immunity.
EFF had submitted the recent Lichtblau and Risen article in support of their argument that they could sue for past abuses, and in response, Walker said, "Well, why don’t you sue for more recent abuses?"
Is Walker serious? Does he really think there is means to do that?
The Recent History of the Wiretap Program and the Immunities
Let’s start by looking at the recent history of the mass wiretap program along with the immunities offered by Congress in 2007 and 2008.
January 10, 2007: FISA Court issues first order covering the program
January 17, 2007: Alberto Gonzales informs Congress FISA Court will now approve wiretap program
May 2007: FISA Court judge rejects Administration’s order for a basket warrant
May 15, 2007, 10 AM: US Intelligence meets to discuss collecting more intelligence in case of kidnapped soldiers in Iraq
I suggested yesterday that one of the explanations for the CIA’s unreliable record of briefings on torture and terrorism in 2002 and 2003 might reflect an attempt to hide certain information.
Did CIA not reveal they were torturing detainees to dodge any question about the accuracy of claims about Iraq intelligence?
While we don’t know the full schedule of briefings on Iraq intelligence, the schedule of intelligence documents pertaining to Iraqi ties to terrorism suggests that might be possible. Significantly, according to Bob Graham and Nancy Pelosi, they were not briefed that Abu Zubaydah had been tortured before the NIE appeared integrating his August 2002 interrogation reports. And Jane Harman was not informed he had been tortured until after the last major report on Iraqi links to terrorism came out in January 2003.
Here are the intelligence documents mentioned in the SSCI Report on Iraq, interspersed with the torture briefings.
September 21, 2001: Document written by Cofer Black (then Director of CounterTerrorism) and Near East and South Asia Directorate. Distributed only to President’s Daily Brief principals, and not revealed to Congress until June 2004. The document is described as "taking a ‘Q&A’ approach to the issue of Iraq’s possible links" to 9/11.
October 2001: NESA document discussing Iraq’s overall ties to terrorism.CIA refused to share the document with SSCI, explaining its dissemination was limited to PDB readers.
December 18, 2001: Ibn Sheikh al-Libi captured.
February 22, 2002: First report doubting al-Libi’s claims of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
March 28, 2002: Abu Zubaydah captured.
June 21, 2002, Iraq and al-Qaida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship: Ostensibly a joint project between CTC and NESA, the report was a subject of a CIA Ombud invsetigation into a complaint from a NESA analyst alleging that the document did not adequately reflect the views of NESA. The document was intentionally expansive, as described by Jamie Miscik: "If you were going to stretch to the maximum the evidence you had, what could you come up with?"
July 26, 2002: OLC orally authorized waterboarding.
July 31, 2002: Second report doubting al-Libi’s claims of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
Summer 2002, Dougie Feith’s Propaganda: This led to a series of briefings in August 2002 apparently designed to reinsert previously discredited claims into the CIA stream of intelligence. In particular, George Tenet agreed to hold up the production of Iraqi Support for Terrorism until CIA could attend a meeting with Feith’s people; the meeting took place on August 20, 2002. Continue reading
John Lopresti noted that it might be helpful to have a timeline of all the torture documents released in the last several weeks. And you know I can’t resist requests for timelines. So here goes:
April 6: NYRB posts the Red Cross report on high value detainees
April 9: CIA Director Leon Panetta bans contractors from conducting interrogations
April 16: Obama statement on memo release, torture memos released:
April 21: Senate Armed Services Committee releases declassified Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody
April 22: Senate Intelligence Committee releases declassified Narrative Describing the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s Opinions on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (Jello Jay’s statement on the release)
April 23: Ali Soufan, FBI interrogator, publishes NYT op-ed describing early interrogation of Abu Zubaydah
April 23: DOJ announces it will release a number of photos showing detainee abuse that had previously been FOIAed, along with thousands more
April 24: In ACLU FOIA case, Judge Hellerstein orders a more expansive response on torture tape documents from CIA
One reason I’m posting this today: if Gonzales’ claim that he probably wrote his notes during the weekend immediately after the Hospital confrontation is correct, it suggests he didn’t take his notes until after Bush learned Comey and Mueller might resign. Also, he wrote his notes of the Gang of Eight meeting after Mueller had already first saved his notes on the confrontation.
This timeline is a combination of this timeline of Robert Mueller’s notes (which is, IMVHO, one of my better timelines, so click through and read it for more analysis), this timeline of the OLC opinions pertaining to the program from the time period, details from Comey’s testimony before SJC, as well as other known events. I will add details from Barton Gellman’s book in the next week.
October 3, 2003: Jack Goldsmith confirmed as head of OLC.
Mid-November 2003: Goldsmith writes draft memo for Ashcroft: Review of Legality of the [NSA] Program
December 11, 2003: Comey confirmed Deputy AG.
Monday, March 1, 2004: Mueller meets with Comey in his office.
Thursday, March 3 or 4: Comey and Ashcroft decide not to reauthorize the warrantless wiretap program.
Thursday, March 4: Ashcroft hospitalized with pancreatitis. Comey becomes Acting AG.
Tuesday, March 9
12:00PM: Meeting at Card’s office, VP, CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, NSA Director Michael Hayden, Robert Mueller, Alberto Gonzales and others present. (Note, Mueller does not record that Comey was at this meeting.)
4:00PM: Meeting at Card’s office with Mueller, Comey, attorneys from OLC, VP, Card, Gonzales, Hayden and others. (Note, this meeting is basically an extension of the earlier meeting, this time with the lawyers from DOJ present.)
Time unknown: Comey refuses to reauthorize the program.
Wednesday, March 10
Time unknown: Briefing for the Gang of Eight (Denny Hastert, Bill Frist, Porter Goss, Pat Roberts, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Daschle, Jane Harman, and Jello Jay). According to Gonzales, at the briefing "the lawmakers rejected emergency legislation but recommended that the program should continue despite the Justice Department’s opposition." Jello Jay disputes Gonzales’ account; it is unclear how he and Jane Harman responded.. Nancy Pelosi opposed the continuation of the program.
7:15PM? (Comey says around 8:00, but before the call to Mueller at 7:20): Ashcroft Chief of Staff David Ayres calls Comey as he is on his way home. He says Mrs. Ashcroft has received a call–possibly from the President–and "as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft."