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The memo, dated October 23, 2001, was written just days before Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, briefed four House and Senate leaders on the NSA's secret wiretapping program for the first time.
The memo remains secret, but its existence was disclosed last Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret memo, dated March 14, 2003, released by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The recent disclosures underscore the Bush administration's extraordinarily sweeping conception of executive power," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project. "The administration's lawyers believe the president should be permitted to violate statutory law, to violate international treaties and even to violate the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. They believe that the president should be above the law."