Salon today published a new article in it's series of investigations into the Bush administration's illegal spying programs: Exposing Bush's Historic Abuse of Power (log-in may be required).
The article describes how some in Washington D.C. are discussing the idea of a new and sweeping investigation into the White House's surveillance programs, one inspired by the famous Church Committee investigations of the 1970s. The Church Committee uncovered the extent of illegal surveillance begun during the McCarthy era and expanded under President Nixon, and lead eventually to the FISA reforms which President Bush has so famously ignored.
The article also makes new claims about the extent of the current spying program, citing the use of a secret database with roots in programs begun under President Reagan in the 1980s:
A prime area of inquiry for a sweeping new investigation would be the Bush administration's alleged use of a top-secret database to guide its domestic surveillance. Dating back to the 1980s and known to government insiders as "Main Core," the database reportedly collects and stores -- without warrants or court orders -- the names and detailed data of Americans considered to be threats to national security.
According to several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations, Main Core in its current incarnation apparently contains a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. One former intelligence official described Main Core as "an emergency internal security database system" designed for use by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law. Its name, he says, is derived from the fact that it contains "copies of the 'main core' or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community."
EFF has long claimed that the true extent of illegal activity in the Bush administration's spying program has yet to be revealed. With each new revelation of wrong-doing, with each report that the spying was more extensive, more illegal, and more dangerous than anyone thought, it becomes more and more clear that now is not the time to give up. EFF's fight against illegal spying will not end until the full extent of illegal spying is exposed and the illegal programs brought to an end.