White House says spying broader than known: report

Reuters | August 1, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration's top intelligence official has acknowledged that a controversial domestic surveillance program was only one part of a much broader spying effort, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday edition.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell wrote in a letter that other aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program remain classified, the Post said.

"That is the only aspect of the NSA activities that can be discussed publicly because it is the only aspect of those various activities whose existence has been officially acknowledged," McConnell wrote, according to the Post.

Bush acknowledged the existence of a program that monitored domestic phone calls and e-mails without court oversight in December 2005. The administration has not confirmed other secret spying efforts reported by news outlets, such as one that searched millions of telephone records.

Bush signed an executive order that authorized "a number of ... intelligence activities" following the hijacking attacks of September 11, 2001, McConnell wrote.

The warrantless wiretapping program was put under court supervision in January but the administration now wants Congress to allow it to do many of the same activities without a court order.

The letter was sent on Tuesday to Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The letter was written to defend Attorney General Alberto

Gonzales, who has been under attack over his testimony to Congress about the warrantless spying program, the Post said.