Author: Charlie Savage

Solving the mystery of Qwest, Joe Nacchio, and the February 2001 NSA “illegal” request

As a follow up to my pre-Thanksgiving blog post discussing some of the revelations in Power Wars about the invention and significance of transit authority for understanding surveillance, I thought I’d highlight a nugget that is buried in the endnotes. I found or figured out so much stuff in reporting out Power Wars that some had to be […]

Power Wars document: Transit Authority and the 1990 Lawton surveillance memo

Although “Power Wars” is mostly about the Obama era, “Chapter 5: Stellarwind (Surveillance 1928-2009)” focuses on events years before he took office. In it, I piece together fragments of recently revealed information – from the Snowden leaks, the resulting wave of government declassifications, and FOIA lawsuits by myself and others – to form the first […]

Power Wars Documents: Violating the Notice Law for the Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange Deal

This is a set of documents related to the Obama administration’s disputed decision to transfer five higher-level Taliban detainees to Qatar as part of the prisoner exchange deal for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured by the Taliban in 2009 after wandering off his outpost and was being held under horrific conditions. I discuss […]

Power Wars Document: Rice’s memo to Hagel on risk and transferring Guantanamo detainees

This document, whose full text has not previously been made public, is a three-page memo that Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, sent to Chuck Hagel, then the secretary of defense, in May 2014. (The existence of this memo has been previously reported.) I discuss it in Chapter 10, Section 14: “Risk Aversion.” At the time, Hagel was […]

Power Wars Document: Office of Legal Counsel white paper on amendment barring prosecution of the 9/11 case in civilian court

This previously undisclosed document is a five-page summary of an unsigned, unofficial “white paper” developed by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It was written in January 2010 by David Barron, then the acting head of the office and now a federal appeals court judge.  I discuss it in Chapter 7, Section 2: “Democrats Get to […]

Power Wars Document: Lindsey Graham’s grand bargain proposal over Guantanamo

This previously undisclosed document is a proposal Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, developed in 2009. It was a starting point for what became lengthy but unsuccessful negotiations with the Obama White House over a grand bargain on detainee policies. (The existence of those negotiations has been reported.) I discuss it in Chapter 4, Section […]