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: MP3 – iTunes – Feed.
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.