NSA Whistleblower: Millions of Americans Potentially Watched Without Warrants

Russell TiceIn a groundbreaking revelation of the scope and size of the Illegal wiretaps authorized by the Bush Administration, 20-year National Security Agency veteran Russell Tice has come forward to expose the scandal, admitting to being a New York Times source. From an ABC News exclusive interview with Tice (video):

Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

“If you picked the word ‘jihad’ out of a conversation,” Tice said, “the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing.”

He notes that while the president has claimed that he only gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants, the reality of how the NSA’s wiretapping system works betrays that statement:

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.

“That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum,” Tice said.

This scandal is still unfolding, and the writing is surely on the wall that the Bush Administration is not just in violation of their Constitutional authority in some minor infractory way, but in a scope unheard of in presidential history. Impeachable offence whaaaaa?

Millions of Americans… Insane.

Update: Defense Tech has a whole lot more analysis and context. It seems the biggest grey area among the lawyerly crowd is whether the data-mining operation (which is really what this is, just a bunch of computers querying for phrases, words and patterns) is within the bounds of the constitution or if it’s actually some profiling operation akin to the buried Total Information Awareness program.

The reality is that there’s looming constitutional questions that everyday citizens now must answer: Exactly how much liberty are people willing to give up for safety? Are the presumption of innocence and privacy from government intrusion just quaint relics on display in the 9/10 museum?

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. Okay, hm, there isn’t a whole lot new here. I talked about Tice coming forward about three weeks ago. He didn’t mention being a source for NYTimes though.

    From my own investigations it would appear that most of what he will talk about took place within DIA rather than NSA, but I expect he might know something about this NSA program as well.

  2. Michael H,

    You forget, not everyone knows this yet… so redundancy is still important in reaching out to more people who are still walking around in the dark. After all, if all this spying was already so obvious, you’d probably see more of an outrage than what we have right now.

  3. Yeah, like NSA has the time to monitor millions of American phone calls on top of everything else they do… give me a break!

  4. Yeah, like NSA has the time to monitor millions of American phone calls on top of everything else they do… give me a break!

    This coming from someone posting from an osis.gov domain. Maybe the techies over at the NSA should spend less time coding data mining projects and more time surfing blogs?

  5. Judging from the interesting traffic I received on my website when I mentioned ‘scyld’. I would say that they have some pretty awesome and expensive (and secret) computing clusters set up.

    A distributed network of racked servers in datacenters nation-wide (perhaps world) to assure the “sanctity” of the american way.

  6. Interesting thing is that the designers do it because they can and they enjoy creating new things. It is the management (paper pusher type) that requires the perusal of the records.

    The creators need to stand up to the users and say NO.

  7. Sounds like the latest incarnation of Tempest / Carnivore / Altivore / Echelon / DCS1000 or whatever they’re calling it today. It’s a sort of big vacuum cleaner approach to surveillance. It’s still operating, check out cryptome.org for satellite photos. I’m pretty sure this is what’s been turned on American citizens, and BushCo doesn’t want us to know that. As such, getting a warrant for each person would be impossible since they don’t have names to put on those warrants… this is the whole reason for the end-run around the FISA court.

  8. As herself points out, this sort of activity may not even fit within the bounds of traditional Constitutional analysis, since the mechanism is so far removed from anything the Founders could have contemplated that the traditional precedents wouldn’t fit.

    I’d suggest that we need to put down some more statutes explicitly prohibiting this type of surveillance, and probably a Constitutional amendment for good measure.

    Yours truly,