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

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)

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 12, 2007: SSCI staffer writes (PDF 7) to Ben Powell at NSA stating

… you indicated that the Oversight sectlon (section o) would be problemat¡c lf the DOJ lG was empowered to review NSA’ss compliance with acquisition and minimization procedures

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November 2007: FBI issues draft guidance on Community of Interest requests.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.

March 13, 2008: IG Report on NSLs, assessing corrective actions of FBI and describing NSL usage in 2006

March 14, 2008: SSCI staffer states they would prefer to have Intelligence Inspector General conduct IG Review of warrantless wiretap program (suggesting opposition to Glenn Fine) (PDF 81)

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

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.