Russell D. Tice is a former U.S. intelligence analyst who was the first NSA whistleblower 8 years ago, BEFORE the more famous Edward Snowden.
Wikipedia says Tice worked as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). During his nearly 20-year career with various United States government agencies, he conducted intelligence missions related to the Kosovo War, Afghanistan, the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tice was transferred from the Defense Intelligence Agency to the National Security Agency in 2002.
Tice was dismissed by the NSA in May 2005, just days after publicly urging Congress to pass stronger protections for federal intelligence agency whistleblowers facing retaliation, and claiming that whistleblowers were being punished.
In December 2005, Tice alleged that both (NSA) and the DIA were engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional conduct against the American people, sparking a national controversy. Tice stated that the activities involved the Director of the NSA, the Deputies Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and were conducted via very highly sensitive intelligence programs and operations known as special access programs (SAP), more commonly referred to as “black world” programs, or “black ops”. On December 23, 2005, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tice’s allegations that spying on Americans may involve a massive computer system known as ECHELON, which is able to search and filter hundreds of thousands of phone calls and e-mails in seconds.
In reaction to Tice’s claims, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, two prominent figures in conservative media, launched an offensive against his credibility. On his Fox News broadcast of January 11, 2006, O’Reilly said that Tice should be jailed for his whistleblowing activity.
In the interview below, Tice says that the NSA’s surveillance of American citizens was way more than what we know today, and way past what the law allows.
Speaking from his inside knowledge as an intelligence analyst in the NSA during the George W. Bush administration, Tice says that initially, the NSA targeted news organizations and U.S. companies that did international business.
Then the NSA’s phone and email surveillance (via wiretapping even unlisted home phones) went after the State Department, including then-Secretary of State Colin Powell; high-ranking (3 stars and above) military generals and admirals, including Gen. David Patreus; Supreme Court justices, including Justice Sam Alito; and then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama (beginning at the 3:27 mark in the video.
More disturbing still, Tice doesn’t know who in the NSA was/is administering the surveillance of the U.S. government’s top civilian and military officials. He says the surveillance was done “in the evenings” “on the sly” at the NSA because most NSA officials did not know what was going on.
Then Tice, who’s a Republican says (at the 5:18 mark) that a “high level, very senior person at the NSA” told him that “this was being directed from the Vice President’s office,” i.e., Vice President Dick Cheney.
The interviewer then asks Tice “why?” — What was the purpose of the surveillance? Was it blackmail?
Tice replies that although he doesn’t know for sure, it seems to him that blackmail would be the reason, as “a means of control.” Spying and listening in on people’s phone and email communications for years on end is bound to uncover “salacious information” that can be used for blackmail to control that person. He then points out that, despite sequester budget cutbacks, the intelligence budget isn’t hit, and asks “How is that possible? Is there some kind of leverage that’s being placed on our three branches of government to make sure that the intelligence community gets what they want? In other words, is the intelligence community running this country, and not our government?”
When asked specifically whether he thinks there’s a “shadow government,” Tice is reticent, saying he doesn’t really know, but his guess is that it’s the “upper echelons of the intelligence community” who are “running the show.”
Tice emphasizes that the NSA’s massive and secret surveillance of the government itself goes beyond politicians spying on opponent politicians:
“This is on an Orwellian scale. This is the everything scale. This isn’t just Richard Nixon going after the enemies list. This is everybody and everything. And now the NSA is literally tapping EVERY communication, every digital communication in this country. Content. Not just the meta data. Content. When they’re saying ‘It’s not that far,’ once again, they are lying. They continue to lie about their full capability. […] President Bush was lying to the American people. Now President Obama is lying to the American people. Is it because he’s being controlled? I don’t know. But I certainly know when he was candidate Obama, even though I was a Republican I heard that he wanted to stop these things.”
Tice is puzzled why when, years ago, he told the media that the NSA was going after journalists and news organization, the media was disinterested. He wonders if there was/is “some interest that’s making sure the media wasn’t covering this.” Now that Edward Snowden has come forth, with tangible evidence on paper — “tangible proof” of what Tice had said in the past — the media are listening.
Tice concludes by saying that we have a police state in America, but “they’re hiding the fact that it’s a police state. The fact that they can literally go into all our communications, all our digital communications, the fact that it’s been recently disclosed, the Post Office is now doing a cover on every tangible letter that goes into the post office. They’re taking a picture of everything. They’re looking at the return address, and they’re looking at the main address of who’s mailing something, and that is also being digitally stored. So every means of communication in this country, everything, is being watched by the federal government. And that is Orwellian, and that is the trademark of a police state.”