Within hours of Newsweek's revelation that the FBI had raided the home of former DOJ official Thomas M. Tamm in connection with the 2005 NSA domestic surveillance leak, both ends of the blogosphere have begun a feverish search to learn more about man at the center of the story.
On the left, Tamm is portrayed as a not-too-mysterious whistle-blower who posted at sites likes Media Matters and perhaps more clandestinely at TPM Muckraker. And on the right, Tamm is being vilified as a Soros-funded quisling undermining the Bush administration during breaks in his work at the non-profit Equal Justice USA.
The first inklings about Tamm followed quickly on the heels of the Newsweek piece describing Tamm as a veteran DOJ prosecutor who until recently worked in the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), the "the supersecret unit that oversees surveillance of terrorist and espionage targets." A commenter on my post at DailyKos noted that a Thomas M. Tamm identifying himself as a former DOJ lawyer had posted comments on Eric Alterman's July 25th column at Media Matters:
Is not the administration's position that they would not permit the U.S. Attorney to prosecute a Congressional Contempt referral an implicit admission that they allow politics to impact prosecutions? They are admitting that they would interfere with the independent judgment of a prosecutor on a specific case. I suggest that this is precisely what the firings of the U.S. Attorneys are ultimately about. Yes, they serve at the pleasure of the president, but they do not prosecute at the pleasure of the president. The White House is guilty of taking the blindfold off lady justice, not just covering her breasts. I am a former DOJ lawyer, for what that is worth.Subsequently, others have noted a snarky November 29, 2006 comment by a Thomas Tamm at the New York Times' Caucus blog regarding the civil war in Iraq.
The revelations about Tamm have fueled speculation that he may the rumored "Deep Modem," an anonymous source of potential insider insights into issues surrounding the NSA domestic surveillance program at sites including TPM Muckraker and others.
Meanwhile, the conservative bloghounds are attacking Tamm with the ferocity they usually reserve for exploring the fonts on a fax to Dan Rather. AJ Strata at the Strata Sphere has aggregated their digging into post covering Tamm's life after the DOJ. Naturally, he smells a rat, noting that Tamm was a past contributor to the Democratic National Committee and that his post-DOJ work at the non-profit Equal Justice USA was underwritten by the George Soros-supported Quixote Center.
Along with other members of the conservative amen corner such as American Thinker and Just One Minute, Strata Sphere and its commenters are debating a unified theory of liberal perfidy centered on Tamm. For example, Tamm is part of an anti-Bush nexus involving Soros, Chuck Schumer and the DSCC. Tamm's potential role in the pre-9/11 Carnivore data mining program is noted, along with the implications of his family ties.
While the blogs left and right are generating heat if not light regarding Thomas M. Tamm, the crackdown on the NSA leaker(s) continues apace. As I noted this morning, conservatives are renewing their call for the indictment of staff at the New York Times for their role in the December 16, 2005 story revealing the illegal NSA domestic spying program. (As that story suggests, Tamm himself may be protected by the Whistleblower Act, should he in fact be involved.) Meanwhile, a triumphant President Bush is demanding Congress extend its recently extended FISA bill, by adding immunity to prosecution for government officials and their telecom partners.
And that's just day one. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Wired joins the chase.