NSA warrantless wiretapping targeted non-terrorists, including journalists

NSA whistleblower Russel Tice says that the Bush administration's illegal spying campaign was even worse than suspected: the administration specifically targeted "non-terrorist" groups for special surveillance, including journalists.

Whistleblower reveals surveillance target (Thanks, Bill!)


  1. This guy has my admiration. I wish all government employees took the Constitution this seriously, and that Obama would do more to address this issue.

  2. If you are bilking trillions of dollars from everyone, it’s very important that you spy on your enemy (the American public) to help foster info for your misinformation campaigns. Keep the herd bewildered and in your control at all times. It’s also nice to hear all those “private” business communications and profit from that info.

    I’m sure many Americans will be up in arms about this. They’ll put up their arms, stretch, yawn and watch more fucking TV shows.

  3. did I misunderstand, or did he imply that any telephone conversation under two minutes was probably monitored?

  4. Ummm… you do know the FISA court ruled on this “illegal” activity, and said it wasn’t illegal, right?

  5. This guy looks like he’s absolutely scared for his life during this interview. Maybe he’s just shy about being on television, but it seems like he perceives himself as being in danger for speaking out.

    The new administration MUST pursue legal action against the former, if for no other reason than to send a message to future executives that they cannot get away with this kind of activity.

  6. It just occurred to me while watching the segments where GWB is talking… all the squinting, the mispronouncing, the posturing, the sniggering,THOSE ARE TELLS! I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me before? He’s been lying his ass off for eight years!

  7. @ manys

    1MacGeek is full of shit apologist. Using the same, old, tired tactics of throwing out half-“truths” to propagate complete lies.

    The court ruled that eavesdropping on Americans believed to be agents of a foreign power “possesses characteristics that qualify it for such an exception.”


    The FISA court did not directly address whether President Bush was within his constitutional powers in ordering domestic wiretapping without warrants, without first getting Congressional approval.


    The ruling had limited application, since it dealt narrowly with the carrying out of a law that had been superseded by new legislation.

    A journalist investigating corruption in the White House is fucking NOT under suspicion of being the agent of a foreign power if they aren’t making international phone calls on a regular basis. They are being wiretapped.. ILLEGALLY.

  8. I am afraid [and even more afraid that I am right] that this is jus the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take years to unravel just how fucked up the bush administration was.

  9. Is this really any surprise? C’mon, this is the adminsitration that started wars for fun (and money), decided the Geneva Convention was just a bad 70s rock group and had an 8-year long “let’s piss on the Constitution” party. The only questions are why Obama is protecting the Telco’s and whether he’ll put anyone’s head on the block for it (“because he’s a politician” and “no”, in case you were wondering).

  10. TO quote the gut wrenching site Rotten.com (and projecting it towards bush) “At least there are no pictures of people eating babies”, (Unless they caught Cheney)

  11. It will be interesting to see which skeletons fall out of which cupboards as the new FOIA directive starts to take effect.

  12. Except that rotten dot com does have pictures of people eating babies.

    I think this is why Bush didn’t pardon anyone. He didn’t feel threatened. These crimes must be prosecuted and the criminals brought to justice. Not just the low level flunkies either. If we don’t then you can kiss democracy goodbye because the next republican administration will simply take it to the next logical step.

  13. @ 1MACGEEK

    This isn’t what the FISA court ruled on at all. The FISA court ruled on the CONSTITUIONALITY of the Protect America Act, a law passed by Congress AFTER the NSA had been doing this for years in clear violation of the existing FISA law, and which has since expired and been replaced with a new FISA amendment. Nor, so far as I can tell, did the court even rule on whether the actions of the NSA were in compliance with that law. In fact, I’d be surprised if monitoring journalists wasn’t illegal even under the more permissive (and overall bad) Protect America Act and the (only marginally better) more recent FISA amendment.

    See here for more details, including documentation:

  14. Targeting? Targeting journalists?
    For gov surveillance? Upon what grounds? Oh, it’s a secret….
    This has GO TO BE ILLEGAL, or else you Americans are at war with your own government, and have simply not realized it yet.

  15. Our government was at war with us, for six years at least. It took a lot of work, over time, to get this many people this angry. Trashing the constitution does raise that anger eventually, though.

  16. Dropped a T in my shock & awe, I mean, shock & outrage.
    Sorry ’bout that.
    I mean everyone keeps a journal, eh?

  17. Things like this really bring out the skeptic in me. I won’t go so far as to say he’s full of s***, because he might not be. Also, remarks like that are only allowed if you support the popular mindset. (So COWCIDE is safe, I guess.)

    How do you know if any whistleblower is telling the truth, outright lying, or speculating about something he might not have all the details of?

  18. “Ummm… you do know the FISA court ruled on this “illegal” activity, and said it wasn’t illegal, right?”

    FISA judges are called on a case-by-case basis, and rule whether a wiretap is warranted or not. They don’t even preemptively rule; DOJ can wiretap at will, but must present their request to the FISA judge within 72 hours. And FISA judges have refused permission to wiretap very, very infrequently.

    AFAIK, FISA judges don’t rule on the applicability of laws. They stamp or don’t stamp permission. That’s it. If you want rulings on constitutionality, you want Federal courts or the Supreme Court itself.

    And to present an argument I’ve long espoused, and now stands vindicated: Bush could wiretap at will within the bounds of the FISA laws. He merely had to ask approval no less than 72 hours laters. He didn’t want the paper trail. He did not want a record. He was spying on journalists and Congress, I will bet you any amount of cash. Anti-war groups. We already know he had Blair’s office and phone tapped. I’ve been pushing my notion out that the reason Pelosi and Reid and any number of Democrats were so servile is that they knew instinctively, or were subtly informed, that all their conversations and emails were being monitored. How much did Bush’s gnomes have on them? EVERYTHING.

  19. I don’t know, maybe Obama should continue the program. It’s pretty clear by now that our democracy is little more than a joke. So let’s go for it. Let’s have it out in the open and turn that massive spy operation on them for a change. See how they like it.

    And as every rightwing pundit on TV and the internet has said that waterboarding isn’t really torture then lets keep that too. I bet they’d be singing a different tune real quick. That’s the only reason the media straps on the kneepads and gets busy servicing the republicans anyway. It would be nice to turn that around for a change.

    And hey, it would be a good thing. Some people only value abstract concepts like “freedom” when they are gone. So it would be educational. What could be wrong with that?

  20. CATBELLER – you start off strong but then your tinfoil hat starts to get a little crumpled.

    Regarding the whole journalists thing: Wasn’t there news a while ago about journalists and peace workers in Iraq calling into the US being listened to by the intercept operators? Is this the same story?

  21. Look on the bright side.

    Anywhere else in the world and Bush wouldn’t have left office without a coup or a few hundred dead bodies.

    The system still mostly works.

  22. “Pelosi said one of her favorite moments from Inauguration Day was when Marine One lifted off the Capitol grounds, signifying former President George W. Bush’s exit from Washington. “It felt like a 10-pound anvil was lifted off my head,” she said.”

  23. Well, SWORM, Bush didn’t leave office until he’d sponsored multiple coups (Venezuela’s unsuccessful one, for example) and created a million or so corpses.

    But in other countries, for the most part, so that’s a success, right?

    I nearly wept when Obama stepped off the Inaugural dais still alive. I never thought it could happen with murderous rogues like the former administration in power. I just assumed they’d have him capped by a sniper and start the RAHOWA that the Bush core constituency hungers for.

  24. #18 posted by WeightedCompanionCube:

    Things like this really bring out the skeptic in me […] How do you know if any whistleblower is telling the truth, outright lying, or speculating about something he might not have all the details of?

    A measure of skepticism is always healthy as long as it isn’t allowed to overwhelm common sense. It’s usually best to give whistleblowers the benefit of the doubt, because most of the time they are taking significant risks by speaking out. So remain a skeptic if you wish, but also ask yourself the following:

    1) Is the story plausible? It certainly doesn’t contradict any of the other information that’s been leaked about the NSA’s secret wiretapping programs.

    2) Is the source credible? Nobody disputes Tice was in a position to have this information, and so far many of his earlier leaks in have been substantiated by others. He’s also been under close media scrutiny since he started discussing these topics publicly in 2005 and nobody’s uncovered anything to hurt his credibility.

  25. Here is what Bush said on May 11, 2006 (verbatim from a Google cache of the whitehouse.gov website). Read the statement in the context of these new allegations. I don’t think the two can be reconciled; so somebody is or was not telling the truth.

    President Bush Discusses NSA Surveillance Program
    Diplomatic Reception Room

    12:03 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: After September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack. As part of this effort, I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. In other words, if al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States or out of the United States, we want to know what they’re saying.

    Today there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America. I want to make some important points about what the government is doing and what the government is not doing.

    First, our international activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.

    We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates. So far we’ve been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.

    As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy. Our most important job is to protect the American people from another attack, and we will do so within the laws of our country.

    Thank you.

  26. @29: “said”? Wrote, possibly. Or had written for him. But almost certainly did not, nor could not, “say”.

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