Former intelligence analyst Russell Tice was one of the the sources for the December 2005 New York Times exposé of warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping that was taking place under the Bush administration — a story that the paper held until after the 2004 election.
When Tice wouldn’t appear on The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly had a producer track Tice down. When the whistleblower refused to comment, O’Reilly called him “disgraceful.”
O’Reilly’s animus toward Tice was matched by Fox host Sean Hannity, who called Democrats weak on defense for opposing NSA surveillance, which he now opposes under President Obama.
The hostility toward Tice from the right-wing media was so intense that the former NSA employee waited before Bush was out of office before he revealed his most shocking allegation on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show:
The things that I specifically was 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 [sic] collected on were U.S. news organizations and reporters and journalists.
Bush’s NSA was acting completely outside the law until the law was revised to put it under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the cooperating telecom companies were granted immunity.
Tice isn’t comforted by the inclusion of the court in the process. “They’ve had tens of thousands of requests and turned down maybe six at most,” he said.
In 2007, a FISA court judge wanted to share one of his rulings with Congress but was blocked by the Bush administration. Congress has since voted to keep such rulings secret but President Obama is reportedly considering the “primary order” that allows the NSA to track information about millions of Americans.
H/T: Alexis Ohanian