Warrantless Wiretaps: They’re Not Just for Terrorists Anymore; They’re for Pulitzer Prize Winners Too

The con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s adven­tures with war­rant­less wire­tap­ping first began in Decem­ber 2005, when the New York Times broke the sto­ry. Dur­ing the months that fol­lowed, the whole debate remained fair­ly abstract. We talked about indi­vid­ual rights and the pow­er of the exec­u­tive. We nev­er thought about the indi­vid­u­als who were actu­al­ly mon­i­tored by the pro­gram. And that’s because we did­n’t know who was on the gov­ern­men­t’s list, and because we assumed that the gov­ern­ment was tar­get­ing ter­ror­ists, or those close­ly con­nect­ed to them … which isn’t exact­ly how things turned out.

The lat­est edi­tion of This Amer­i­can Life (enti­tled “The Truth Will Out”) fea­tures an inter­view with an appar­ent tar­get of the wire­tap­ping pro­gram. It’s none oth­er than Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for The New York­er mag­a­zine (see his lat­est piece here) who cov­ers the Mid­dle East and won the Pulitzer Prize (2007) for his book: The Loom­ing Tow­er: Al Qae­da and the Road to 9/11. Dur­ing the seg­ment (which starts at minute 26 of the hour-long pro­gram), Wright recounts how he dis­cov­ered the tap­ping, and how Mike McConnell, the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence, react­ed when Wright con­front­ed him with this knowl­edge. You can down­load the pro­gram here: MP3iTunesFeed.

By the way, This Amer­i­can Life, per­haps the most pop­u­lar pod­cast out there, is look­ing to raise mon­ey to keep the pod­cast going. You can donate mon­ey here and sup­port pub­lic radio at its best.

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