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I’m in the process of going really deep in the weeds on this Section 215 stuff, just adjusting my earlier timelines.
Several of us have noted the curious timing of the discovery of the problems with Section 215 dragnet. November 2, 2008 was the stated high number of identifiers which the NSA could contact chain, at 27,090 (though when NSA started cleaning this stuff up they only audited back through November 1, 2008).
On December 10, 2008, two analysts (whom I wildarseguess suspect were actually FBI Agents) start doing searches on unapproved identifiers, doing 280 over the next month and a half.
On December 11 and 12, 2008, Reggie Walton wrote the first systematic opinion on this program and approved a new Primary Order.
On December 15, 2008, the NSA stopped one of its abusive alert system processes.
On January 9, 2009, NSA told folks at DOJ’s National Security Division about them.
By January 15, 2009, NSA had seemingly purged thousands of identifiers from its alert list, because on that day (five days before the inauguration) it had only 17,835, down from 27,090 two days before Obama was elected.
January 20, 2009: Obama took the oath as President, replacing George Bush.
That, of course, led to change at key positions. One which I find remarkably interesting, however was that of Mike McConnell, who had spent two years as Director of National Intelligence (just long enough to get immunity for those who did all this illegally under Cheney’s program). McConnell left on January 27, 2009, leading to a delay on (reported) DNI involvement in this until his replacement Dennis Blair came in on January 29. Blair was briefed on this on his second day in office, January 30, 2009.
I don’t know — because the documents don’t say (see, especially, Keith Alexander’s chart on page 25 of his declaration that is totally non-responsive about anyone in DNI who would have known about these problems)– how much the revolving Intelligence Contractor Exec McConnell knew about NSA’s extension of the illegal Cheney program, illegally, under the FISC sanctioned Section 215 order.
But remember: as Vice Chair of Booz, Mike McConnell was (sort of) Edward Snowden’s boss until the latter absconded with proof of these gross violations under McConnell’s tenure at DNI.
Among other things, this rough outline suggests this wasn’t so much a “discovery” of violations, it was an attempt to hide what at least some people knew were systematic and gross violations of the Section 215 program, just before Obama came in and replaced some of the top players.
But I do find it ironic that McConnell’s company, Booz, played its small part in making all this clear.