Profiles of Key Officials in NSA Domestic Spying

The NSA Domestic Spying program involved key personnel from across the government and at the highest levels of the White House, Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and National Security Agency (NSA). Few people were aware of the program, but those who were played vital roles in the process of its creation and execution. Our NSA Domestic Spying Timeline cites those officials, some of whom are not as public as others. As a result, we've created a list of key individuals with a picture and a short biography describing their positions held during their involvement with the Program. The individuals are listed by the Department they worked for. Our other pages on the NSA spying go over how we think the process works, an overview of one of the government's legal argument, and the word games the government plays. 

The Department of Justice

John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States

Nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the Attorney General in 2000. He served for the entire first term of Bush's presidency and retired shortly after President Bush won reelection in 2004. He was the first Attorney General who oversaw the alleged legal rationale for the program. As Attorney General, Ashcroft authorized and approved the Program on behalf of the Department of Justice. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

James B. Comey,
Deputy Attorney General,
and for a short time Acting Attorney General

Served as Deputy Attorney General beginning in 2003 and ending in the fall of 2005. He raised objections to Attorney General Ashcroft about the illegal nature of the Program in 2004, and as Acting Attorney General refused to give the Department of Justice's legal approval to the Program. He later signed off on a modified version of the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States

Originally served as White House Counsel from 2001 to 2005 and was appointed in February 2005 to serve as the 80th Attorney General. He resigned after two years in 2007 amid a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding numerous issues, including warrantless wiretapping.  As White House Counsel, Gonzales was personally involved in the creation, development, and implementation of the Program. As Attorney General, Defendant Gonzales authorized and approved the Program on behalf of the Department of Justice. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States

Served as the Attorney General from 2007 to 2009.  As Attorney General, Mukasey approved and authorized the Program on behalf of the Department of Justice. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Eric Holder,
Attorney General of the United States

Serves as the current Attorney General of the U.S. under President Obama and was sworn into office in February 2009. Has re-authorized the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Directors of National Intelligence

The Director of National Intelligence oversees the entire Intelligence Community and serves as the principal advisor to the President on intelligence matters.

Jim Clapper,
Director of National Intelligence

Serves as the current Director of National Intelligence under President Obama and was confirmed in 2010 by a unanimous US Senate vote. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

J. Michael McConnell,
Director of National Intelligence

He took over the position of Director of National Intelligence from John Negroponte in 2007, serving until 2009. He was replaced soon after President Obama began his administration by Dennis C. Blair. As Director, McConnell had authority over the activities of the US intelligence community, including the Program. He previously served as Director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996. (Full bio on Wikipedia

John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence

Negroponte was the first ever Director of National Intelligence after the position was created by Congress in the reforms passed after the attacks on September 11, 2001. He served under President Bush from 2005 until 2007, until he became the Deputy Secretary of State in 2007 and serving in that role until 2009. As DNI, Defendant Negroponte had authority over the activities of the U.S. intelligence community, including the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

The White House and the Office of the Vice President

David S. Addington,
Legal Counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney,
and later Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney

Served as legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2005 and then served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney from 2005-2009. He was the driving force behind much of the alleged legal rationale and fought to keep the Program secret from many others in the administration. Addington drafted many of the documents that purportedly authorized the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia

George W. Bush, President of the United States

43rd President of the United States. On October 4, 2001, President Bush, in concert with White House Counsel Gonzales, NSA Director Hayden, Attorney General Ashcroft and others, issued a secret presidential order authorizing a range of surveillance activities inside of the United States, including the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States

46th Vice President of the United States. Cheney was personally involved in the creation, development and implementation of the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia

National Security Agency

Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director of the NSA

Serves as the current Director of NSA since 2005 and is also currently the leader of the United States Cyber Command. As Director, he oversees the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia

Michael Hayden, Director of the NSA,
and later the Director of the CIA

Served as the Director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005 under Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush. From 2005 to 2006 he served as Deputy Director of National Intelligence before becoming Director of CIA in 2006. He served as Director of CIA until 2009. While Director of the NSA, he oversaw the Program. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Robert Mueller,
Director of the FBI

Served as Director of the FBI under both President George W. Bush and President Obama from September 2001 until September 2013. (Full bio on Wikipedia)

Department of Defense

John P. Carlin,
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security

Has served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security within the U.S. Department of Defense since assuming the role in March 2013. Carlin was nominated by President Obama in September 2013 for a permanent position as Assistant Attorney General. Carlin serves as the top national security lawyer for the Department of Justice.

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

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Privacy is a human right: Data retention violates that right | @AmerQuarterly https://eff.org/r.irnm

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