In 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?