I was a bit disappointed by the number of stories about the IG Report on the domestic surveillance program last week that claimed the report revealed the program was larger or more extensive than previously admitted or known. After all, the report itself notes,
The specific details of the Other Intelligence Activities remain highly classified, although the Attorney General publicly acknowledged the existence of such activities in August 2007.
Moreover, the "Other Intelligence Activities" have in fact been reported. Just days after the program was initially exposed, for example, Lichtblau and Risen reported,
The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.
The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system’s main arteries, they said.
As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.[my emphasis]
In other words, those two aspects of the program–massive collection of data directly from telecommunication circuits and subsequent data mining of that data–has been reported almost from the first reporting on this program. And EFF wrote a 63-page brief collecting the many acknowledgments, from both Administration officials and members of Congress briefed on the program, of the expansive collection and data mining aspects of the program.
The "Other Intelligence Activities" Were the Source of the March 10 Hospital Confrontation
I think it important to emphasize that we do know what these "Other Intelligence Activities" (OIA) are because the report confirms that these OIAs were the source of the March 10 hospital Confrontation.
A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.