Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whistleblower: NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists

These are truly extraordinary - and sadly not unexpected - new revelations regarding the scope of the Bush Administration's secret wiretapping program. The good news is this is just the kind of jaw dropping, Constitution smashing, and privacy eviscerating revelations that might force the Obama Administration to both investigate past Bush crimes, but also take a stronger position on the issue of wiretapping in general (namely by revisiting and revising the "Protect America Act"). The bad news is Bush crimes against the Constitution were greater than even I suspected (well, I actually assumed quite a lot).

Thanks to whistleblower Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, we now have come to learn that journalists were even targeted by the Administration, and that nearly everyone else in this country may have been swept up in the warrantless wiretapping program too. He claims the administration was targeting specific groups of Americans for surveillance, non-terrorist Americans.

Remember too, the NSA was already estimated to have collected millions of transmissions, e-mails and phone calls of average Americans simply by patching into the networks of cooperative telecommunications companies.

Clearly, and rightfully, Mr. Tice feared to reveal what he knew while George Bush occupied the Oval Office. Now he's gone public! Of course, what we still don't know, and that he admittedly doesn't either, is what the Administration used this information for, and why do it in the first place?

Before I get to the article in Raw Story on this breaking scandal, watch Tice on Keith Olbermann's Countdown last night.

A few especially noteworthy claims made by Tice in the interview last night:

OLBERMANN: I mention that you say specific groups were targeted. What group or groups can you tell us about?

TICE: Well, there's sort of two avenues to look at this. What I just mentioned was sort of the low-tech dragnet look at this. The things that I specifically were involved with were more on the high-tech side. And try to envision, you know, the dragnets are out there, collecting all the fish and then ferreting out what they may. And my technical angle was to try to harpoon fish from an airplane kind of thing. So it's two separate worlds.

But in the world that I was in, as to not harpoon the wrong people in some -- in one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations just supposedly so that we would not target them. So that we knew where they were, so as not to have a problem with them.

Now, what I was finding out, though, is that the collection on those organizations was 24/7, and you know, 365 days a year, and it made no sense. And that's -- I started to investigate that. That's about the time when they came after me, to fire me. But an organization that was collected on were U.S. news organizations and reporters and journalists.

Raw Story Reports:

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA's warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists.

"The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications -- faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications," Tice claimed. "It didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications."


Tice first began alleging that there were illegal activities going on at both the NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency in December 2005, several months after being fired by the NSA. He also served at that time as a source for the New York Times story which revealed the existence of the NSA's wireless wiretapping program.

Over the next several months, however, Tice was frustrated in his attempts to testify before Congress, had his credibility attacked by Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in an apparent attempt at intimidation.Tice is now coming forward again now because George Bush is finally out of office.

He told Olbermann that the Obama administration has not been in touch with him about his latest revelations, but, "I did send a letter to, I think it's [Obama intelligence adviser John] Brennan -- a handwritten letter, because I knew all my communications were tapped, my phones, my computer, and I've had the FBI on me like flies on you-know-what ... and I'm assuming that he gave the note to our current president -- that I intended to say a little bit more than I had in the past."

Stay tuned...I'll be covering this issue like a hawk right here.

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