Just one day after George W. Bush left office, an NSA whistleblower has revealed that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program targeted U.S. journalists, and vacuumed in all domestic communications of Americans, including, faxes, phone calls and network traffic.
Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst, spoke on Wednesday to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. Tice has acknowledged in the past being one of the anonymous sources that spoke with The New York Times for its 2005 story on the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
After that story was published, President Bush said in a statement that only people in the
But Tice says, in truth, the spying involved a dragnet of all communications, confirming what critics have long assumed.
"The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications," he said. "Faxes, phone calls and their computer communications. ... They monitored all communications."
Tice said the NSA analyzed metadata to determine which communication would be collected. Offering a hypothetical example, he said if the agency determined that terrorists communicate in brief, two-minute phone calls, the NSA might program its systems to record all such calls, invading the privacy of anyone prone to telephonic succinctness.
Tice was involved in only a small part of the project, that involved trying to "harpoon fish from an airplane."
He said he was told to monitor certain groups in order to eliminate them as suspects for more intense targeting. Those groups, he said, were
"It made no sense," he said.
Tice did not identify the reporters or organizations allegedly targeted.
Olbermann asked if this means there's a file somewhere containing every e-mail and phone conversation these reporters ever had with sources, editors and family members.
"If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be everything, yes." Tice answered.
By David Kravets January 22, 2009 | 4:32:47 PMCategories: Surveillance
Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a
In a filing in
Thursday's filing by the Obama administration marked the first time it officially lodged a court document in the lawsuit asking the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Bush administration's warrantless-eavesdropping program. The former president approved the wiretaps in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
"The Government's position remains that this case should be stayed," the Obama administration wrote (.pdf) in a filing that for the first time made clear the new president was on board with the Bush administration's reasoning in this case.
The government wants to appeal
The legal brouhaha concerns
The lawyers — Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoo — sued the Bush administration after the
The document's admission to the case is central for the two former lawyers of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation charity to acquire legal standing so they may challenge the constitutionality of the warrantless-eavesdropping program Bush publicly acknowledged in 2005.
The Friday hearing is needed, because disputes with pretrial decisions generally require the trial judge to permit an appeal.
The Obama administration is also siding with the former administration in its legal defense of July legislation that immunizes the nation's telecommunications companies from lawsuits accusing them of complicitity in Bush's eavesdropping program, according to testimony last week by incoming Attorney General Eric Holder.
That immunity legislation, which Obama voted for when he was a
A decision on the constitutionality of the immunity legislation is pending before Judge Walker in a separate case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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