NSA UPDATE….Noah Shachtman reports that former NSA director Bobby Ray Inman, who until now has been silent about the NSA’s domestic spying program, has publicly called on the president to either change the law or end the program:

“This activity is not authorized,” Inman said, as part of a panel discussion on eavesdropping that was sponsored by The New York Public Library. The Bush administration “need(s) to get away from the idea that they can continue doing it.”….He called on the president to “walk into the modern world” and change the law governing the wiretaps ? or abandon the program altogether.

….Inman put the White House’s reluctance to change the surveillance regulations squarely on the shoulders of Vice President Dick Cheney. He noted that Cheney formerly served as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, who was in power before the FISA restrictions were put in place. Cheney never really agreed with the controls, Inman asserted. “The ultimate test,” the retired admiral added, will be whether President Bush “walks away from the vice president on this.”

Over at his blog, Noah adds the following tidbit:

In addition, Inman put to bed the notion that the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping program only examined the links between terror suspects ? not the contents of the conversations themselves. Is this all about who-called-who? “No, it isn’t,” he answered, on his way out the door (he had to leave quick, because of a bout of food poisoning). For voice communications, which are tough to search, that might be the case, he added. But with e-mail? No way.

It’s not clear what Inman bases this on, but he’s certainly a credible commenter.

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