It appears that Dan Eggen has gotten a copy of the letter from Dick's office, detailing which documents he has that respond to FISA subpoenas. Among other things, Eggen's report appears to suggest that the warrantless wiretap program operated illegally for 9 days (and possibly as many as 22 days) before it was amended to satisfy DOJ; previously, we had only know it had operated illegally for one day.
Here're the relevant details:
Nonetheless, Coffin identified by date a series of memos and orders that "may be responsive" to the Senate committee's demands. They include 43 separate authorizations from President Bush for the program, which had to be renewed approximately every 45 days beginning on Oct. 4, 2001.
The letter also lists dates, from October 2001 through February 2005, for 10 legal memoranda from the Justice Department. Although Cheney's office has copies of the memos, none of them "was rendered to the Office of the Vice President," Coffin wrote.
The disclosure of the existence of the documents and their dates sheds new light on some events surrounding the NSA program, including a now-famous legal dispute in March 2004. A half-dozen senior Justice officials threatened to resign if the White House did not agree to change parts of the program that Justice lawyers had determined were illegal. Coffin's letter indicates that Bush signed memos amending the program on March 19 and April 2 of that year. The details of the dispute have never been revealed publicly. [my emphasis]
By my very rough estimate, there should have been about 47 reauthorizations of the program--so 43 is at least close, if the documents cover up until today (though they shouldn't--they should only cover up until January 10, 2007, since that's when the authorization of the program changed). But very important: Eggen doesn't say whether or not those reauthorizations include the March 10, 2004 one that would prove--presuming it bears Bush's signature--that Bush reauthorized the program after DOJ told him it was illegal. This was the document Sheldon Whitehouse was seeking when Gonzales was last before the Senate.
The line "Cheney's office has copies of the memos, none of them "was rendered to the Office of the Vice President" may well be the dodge mentioned earlier--that Cheney is once again claiming that OVP (as distinct from the Vice President himself), is independent of Executive Office of the President. If that's what this line is about, it suggests the dodge they're trying to pull is to pretend none of this is in OVP, so it's all safely ensconced in EOP in some kind of faerie vault where they keep all the evidence of criminal wrong-doing.
And then there are details showing Bush signed memos amending the program on March 19 and April 2. Here's how that fits into the chronology from Robert Mueller:
Wednesday 3/10/04, 1920: Called by DAG while at restaurant with wife and daughter. He is at AG's hospital with Goldsmith and Philbin. Tells me Card and J. Gonzales are on the way to hospital to see the AG but that AG is in no condition to see them, much less make decision to authorize continuation of the program. Asks me to come to AG's hospital to witness condition of AG.
Wednesday 3/10/04, 1940: At hospital. [click through for the description]
Wednesday 3/10/04, 2010: Saw AG. Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair, is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.
Wednesday 3/10/04, 2020: Departed the hospital.
Thursday 3/11/04, 1200: Meeting at Card's office with him at his request. [6 paragraphs are redacted]
Thursday 3/11/04, 1240: Stopped by J. Gonzales' office after meeting with Card.
Thursday 3/11/04, 1315: Meeting with Comey, et al., at his office.
Thursday 3/11/04, 1450: Telephone call from J. Gonzales.
Thursday 3/11/04: Reauthorization of program "including as amended by the Presidential memoranda of March 19 and April 2"
Friday 3/12/04, 0945: The President called me into the side office off the Oval Office after we had concluded our morning briefing of him. [7 paragraphs redacted]
Friday 3/12/04, 1045: Met with Comey and others at DOJ.
Friday 3/12/04, 1606: Mueller first saves this file.
Friday 3/12/04, 1650: Called Judge Gonzales.
Friday 3/12/04, 1700: Met with Comey and others.
Friday 3/12/04, 1845: Called Judge Gonzales.
Saturday 3/13/04, 0955: Called General Hayden.
Sunday 3/14/04, 1500: Meeting at DOJ with Comey, et al.
Sunday 3/14/04, 1820: Called Comey.
Sunday 3/14/04, 1845: Called Gonzales.
Monday 3/15/04, 0850: Discussed issues with Tenet after morning briefing in Sit Room.
Monday 3/15/04, 0930: Called Comey.
Monday 3/15/04: New DOJ opinion
Tuesday 3/16/04, 1345: Call from Judge Gonzales.
Tuesday 3/16/04, 1840: Call from Comey.
Tuesday 3/16/04, 2000: Call at home from Judge Gonzales.
Tuesday 3/16/04, 2030: Comey called.
Wednesday 3/17/04, 1105: Comey called.
Friday 3/19/04: Bush amends program
Tuesday 3/23/04, 1200: Meeting with Vice President at his request in his Office.
Friday 4/2/04: Bush amends program
The chronology tells us two things. First, the program appears to have operated illegally for 9 days. And second, that meeting with Cheney at the end of Mueller's involvement actually happened before the second amendment during this period. Given that the amendments weren't entirely completed by the time of that Cheney meeting ("at his request"), I wonder how much arm-twisting was involved?
Update: Ah, didn't see the copy at TPMM. I've added updates to the chronology.
It appears that, after they altered the program, the retractively included that in the 3/11 reauthorization, to paper over the fact that Bush reauthorized an illegal program.
The business about OVP seems to be a two-fold thing. First, they're going to contest the Senate subpoena in the first place, claiming the Committee never authorized to send a subpoena to OVP specifically, as distinct from EOP, nor did it ask nicely for the documents first. This contest, presuming Cheney will launch it, will delay any subpoena for 4 more months, at the least.
But the document also seems lay out Cheney's novel theory of the Fourth Branch. Just so you know how he's going to defy Congress from here on out.