Wednesday, January 11, 2006


That's a big "IF"

posted by Rob at 8:22 AM

The Drudge Report has a red-headlined (ie. EVERY ONE OF MY MILLIONS OF READERS CLICK ON THIS NOW) report saying "NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying; Former Employee Admits to Being a NEW YORK TIMES Source..."

The link goes to an ABCNews.com report on "Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet."

As expected, the report is a bit hyperactive with regard to the threat the Bush administartion has imposed on democracy via wiretaps. This portion of the report caught my eye (emphasis mine):
President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.

But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used.
Notice it does not say the program has been used, is being used, or is planned to be used. Complaining of the potential misuse of a program's full range seems to me to be akin to harassing General Motors for making cars with speedometers that go past 100 mph when the highest legal speed anywhere in the U.S. is 65 mph.

Tice appears to love the word "IF", as evidenced by this interview he had with the left-leaning NPR program "Democracy Now" (emphasis mine):
AMY GOODMAN: What about the telecoms, the telecommunications corporations working with the Bush administration to open up a back door to eavesdropping, to wiretapping?

RUSSELL TICE: If that was done and, you know, I use a big “if” here, and, remember, I can't tell you what I know of how N.S.A. does its business, but I can use the wiggle words like “if” and scenarios that don't incorporate specifics, but nonetheless, if U.S. gateways and junction points in the United States were used to siphon off information, I would think that the corporate executives of these companies need to be held accountable, as well, because they would certainly also know that what they're doing is wrong and illegal. And if they have some sort of court order or some sort of paper or something signed from some government official, Congress needs to look at those papers and look at the bottom line and see whose signature is there. And these corporations know that this is illegal, as well. So everyone needs to be held accountable in this mess.

So either due to ignornace or some adherence to national secuirty concerns, Tice cuts loose on a "what if" scenerio that ends in what Congress "needs" to do.

Then, later in that same interview, Tice says "they" are out to get him. Notice the use of the words "I thought":

AMY GOODMAN: Do you expect you are being monitored, surveilled, wiretapped right now?

RUSSELL TICE: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, in – you know, sometimes you just don't know. And being, you know -- what they’ve basically accused me of, I can't just walk around thinking that everybody is looking at my heels and are following me around. But in one scenario I turned the tables on someone I thought was following me, and he ducked into a convenience store, and I just walked down there -- and I saw him out of my peripheral vision -- and I basically walked down to where he ducked into and in the store, I walked up behind him. He was buying a cup of coffee, and he had a Glock on his hip and his F.B.I. badge. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on there.

Mulder - I mean, Tice - has more rambling, and I do mean ramblings. He doesn't cite any specific cases of what he lays out (emphasis mine):

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the term “police state”?

RUSSELL TICE: Well, anytime where you have a situation where U.S. citizens are being arrested and thrown in jail with the key being thrown away, you know, potentially being sent overseas to be tortured, U.S. citizens being spied on, you know, and it doesn't even go to the court that deals with these secret things, you know, I mean, think about it, you could have potentially somebody getting the wrong phone call from a terrorist and having him spirited away to some back-alley country to get the rubber hose treatment and who knows what else. I think that would kind of qualify as a police state, in my judgment.

I certainly hope that Congress or somebody sort of does something about this, because, you know, for Americans just to say, ‘Oh, well, we have to do this because, you know, because of terrorism,’ you know, it’s the same argument that we used with communism years ago: take away your civil liberties, but use some threat that's, you know, been out there for a long time.

Again, he says Congress should do something "about this," though he gives no concrete example of exactly what "this" is.

Back to the ABC report, toward the end there's this - "The NSA revoked Tice's security clearance in May of last year based on what it called psychological concerns and later dismissed him." He sure sounds as if he has issues with reality.

I hope he does testify before Congress. I'd be interested in his reponses in a less sympathetic setting.


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