With the astonishing number of ways the NSA can spy on Americans, one must consider the ways this trove of information could be used in the wrong hands (as if there are “right” hands). A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency has gone on record saying that the NSA spies on persons of interest specifically for political reasons — seemingly nothing to do with national security. These persons include congressmen, senators, important committeemen, judges, and even the man who was four years from becoming President of the United States.
“Its incredible what NSA has done,” said Russell Tice, who spent 20 years as an analyst in U.S. government intelligence agencies. “They basically have turned themselves in my opinion in to a rogue agency that has J. Edgar Hoover capabilities on a monstrous scale on steroids.”
Former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover was known for spying on politicians in order to obtain dirt on them that could be later used to leverage them politically. When Tice was asked about the potential for massive blackmail, he responded that it “absolutely” exists.
Tice once described his duties in the government as “black world operations” that included sophisticated dragnet spying on Americans in order to stop terrorism — or so he once believed. A few years after 9/11/2001 he became aware of the widespread abuses of the NSA and attempted to voice his concerns. In 2003, his clearance was quickly revoked and his career was ended.
The following dialogue was featured on the Boiling Frogs radio podcast with Sibel Edmonds and Peter Collins. Listen here.
RUSS TICE: Okay. They went after — and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things — they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the — and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people. They went after antiwar groups. They went after U.S. international–U.S. companies that that do international business, you know, business around the world. They went after U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business. They went after NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work. They went after a few antiwar civil rights groups. So, you know, don’t tell me that there’s no abuse, because I’ve had this stuff in my hand and looked at it. And in some cases, I literally was involved in the technology that was going after this stuff. And you know, when I said to [former MSNBC show host Keith] Olbermann, I said, my particular thing is high tech and you know, what’s going on is the other thing, which is the dragnet. The dragnet is what Mark Klein is talking about, the terrestrial dragnet. Well my specialty is outer space. I deal with satellites, and everything that goes in and out of space. I did my spying via space. So that’s how I found out about this.
PETER COLLINS: Now Russ, the targeting of the people that you just mentioned, top military leaders, members of Congress, intelligence community leaders and the–oh, I’m sorry, it was intelligence committees, let me correct that–not intelligence community, and then executive branch appointees. This creates the basis, and the potential for massive blackmail.
RUSS TICE: Absolutely! And remember we talked about that before, that I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on. Now here’s the big one. I haven’t given you any names. This was is summer of 2004. One of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with, with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator from Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives right now, would you? It’s a big white house in Washington, DC. That’s who they went after. And that’s the president of the United States now.