The Male Sibel Edmonds
Russell Tice is quite possibly, next to Barack Obama, the bravest man in America right now. The day after President Obama's inauguration, Russell Tice, former analyst for the NSA, went on Keith Olbermann's Countdown to reveal something that, sadly, isn't shocking considering the last eight years: That George W. Bush was spying on not just news organizations and individual journalists but on all Americans.
First all, some background on Mr. Tice. For twenty years, he had worked for several major intelligence agencies, including the DIA (the intelligence-gathering arm of the Pentagon), Naval Intelligence and, of course, the NSA. At the DIA and NSA, Tice was a technical intelligence specialist whose expertise was the implementation of SAP or Special Access Programs.
Since 2005, Tice had acquired a reputation as a whistleblower but his concerns about national security and unlawful activity in the highest echelons of the intelligence community began at the beginning of the Bush administration when Tice was concerned about a Chinese co-worker named Katrina Leung. Leung, Tice suspected, was a double agent who was passing secrets to the Communist Chinese that were first passed to her from agents within our own government.
As a result, Tice was transferred to NSA in 2003. Later, in a followup letter inquiring as to the status of his initial letter to the DIA counterintelligence office voicing his concerns about Leung, he was eventually ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and was, predictably, diagnosed with psychotic paranoia even though the doctor who'd administered the evaluation privately admitted to Tice that he'd presented no symptoms of psychotic paranoia. The very act of forcing him to undergo this evaluation is proof in itself of retaliatory actions against whistleblowers.
And this was after Leung had become an internationally-covered news story when it had come out that she'd been getting classified information from two FBI agents and was sending it on to Red China.
In early 2006, after the NSA wiretapping scandal had (finally, after sitting on this information for a year and a half) been busted, it was revealed that Tice himself was one of the New York Times' sources. Before he was fired by the NSA, this is what he'd been reduced to:
Two months later, in June, 2003, the NSA suspended his security clearances and ordered him to tasks such as maintaining the agency's vehicles, pumping gas, and driving officials around. By April 2005, after 14 months of paid leave, Tice was relegated to unloading furniture at the NSA's warehouses and cleaning them.
By this time, the inevitable witch hunt had been launched against Tice, spearheaded by right wing "hot air artists" Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, who furiously spun themselves into a tizzy in order to undermine Mr. Tice's credibility.
By the time Tice had appeared on Olbermann's Countdown on January 21 and 22, he had made some troubling but hardly shocking revelations: That the NSA, for purely political motivations and contrary to what Bush had told the nation when the NY Times story had broken, every American in the country was being spied on regardless of any credible suspicion of terrorist activity or lack thereof. In fact, Tice was being lied to. While collecting data with the vaguest of parameters (since terrorists make one to two minute phone calls, then all 60-120 second phone calls made by Americans were fair game), Tice was told the information he'd been collecting were for purely exclusionary purposes.
In fact, everything Tice was collecting, all the raw data he'd been told would be thrown out, was actually an all-inclusive "save" pile.
On several occasions, Tice had stated that he'd like to testify before Congress to tell them what he knows about his brief but eventful tenure at the NSA. Unfortunately, there are several problems with that:
#1 The SAPs on which he'd worked have long since been made so highly classified that even members of Congressional select intelligence committees and subcommittees, including the NSA's own Inspector General, do not have security clearances high enough to permit review of the evidence. This is coming directly from Renee Seymour, Director of the NSA Special Access Programs Central Office.
#2 As with Blackwater's amazingly sleazy legal dodge of designating themselves neither military nor civilian operatives, thereby escaping either military or civilian oversight, the NSA's extra-legal, domestic spying program has been designated depending on who asks both a military and an intelligence program, thereby momentarily blocking any attempts at Congressional oversight.
#3 I wouldn't imagine that a man who'd already been branded as "someone with baggage" by some congressional intelligence committee members would be taken seriously by a House panel in a chamber that had passed Jane Harmon's HR 1955, which could theoretically designate bloggers as unlawful dissidents, by a 404-6 margin.
The most worrisome thing is that Mr. Tice had volunteered his services to the new Obama administration not as an intelligence officer but as a guide showing them where the process is flawed. To date, the Obama administration has only been in touch with him to tell him that they know exactly who he is but that they haven't any intention of using him at this time. This may be a result of Obama surprisingly siding with Bush in a spy case pertaining to the very same NSA abuses that Tice is alleging.
In other words, he's my gender's answer to Sibel Edmonds, who's still waiting for the mainstream media to interview her so she can tell all.
The current whistleblower protection laws are a bad joke and Tice is proof of this. The Obama administration, no matter how full its plate is, needs to address this very serious issue. Tice has no intention of revealing classified information but he's very willing to give us many more details than he'd permitted himself to tell Keith Olbermann as to how involved is this massive, all-pervasive invasion of our fourth amendment rights.
Whatever the New York Times told us three years ago, Tice has much, much more to tell and we need to give him the chance to speak with impunity.