I don't know how I missed it, except that my last few weeks or so have been extremely busy, but it appears that one of the whistleblowers concerning the Bush Administration and NSA illegal wiretappings has been identified. Did I miss that information on this site, which I most assuredly read almost daily, if not all the diaries viewable when I arrive here...?
His name is Russell Tice, and if you already knew that, I apologize, but geeze louise, this is news to me.
On January 10, Tice - a conservative Republican who has twice voted for George W. Bush for President -- revealed himself on ABC's "Nightline" as one of the Times' sources for the NSA story. Formerly with the NSA and DIA, Tice served there as a technical intelligence specialist dealing almost exclusively with SAPs and operations.
Tonight, I went back to Findlaw and legal commentaries..a site that I visit as frequently as I can, and the quotes offered here are from that commentary, linked here:
The next three paragraphs of that commentary intrigued me even more:
Tice ultimately left his employment, however. After returning from a temporary overseas assignment in 2001, he observed that a DIA coworker exhibited the classic signs of involvement in espionage - and quietly made a report to that effect. Yet his suspicion was quickly dismissed by DIA's counterintelligence office. He continued to observe and report activity suggesting that there was an espionage problem.
Then Tice returned to the NSA and, busy with the Iraq war, dropped the issue. Again, he observed something that troubled him: A report that FBI agents had traded secrets to a China source in exchange for sex. Based on the report, he questioned the FBI's competence.
NSA retaliated by having Tice declared crazy, revoking his security clearance, relegating him to the motor pool, and eventually terminating his employment in May 2005.
It appears that Tice cannot claim traditional "whisteblower protection" because:
That's because employees working at intelligence agencies, including the CIA, DIA, and NSA, "and certain other intelligence agencies excluded by the President" are deemed excepted from the WPA, according to the Office of Special Counsel's publication, "The Role of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel." http://www.osc.gov/...
It appears that Tice must have complied with extra special requirements for whistleblower protection, and based upon the commentary offered...he did just that...
Instead, Tice must rely on the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (ICWPA). This alternate scheme for disclosing information without fear of reprisal provides a voice to intelligence agency employees who are statutorily denied protection under the WPA, or who have been exempted by presidential determination.
It thus promised to, in the words of then-House intelligence committee Chairman Porter Goss, "create a front door for rank-and-file information sharing with Congress." And the legislative history of the ICWPA is clear that it was meant to create a procedure that employees of intelligence agencies could follow in order to bring to the attention of Congress urgent and serious concerns about intelligence activities. And such concerns are just what Tice raised.
In the ICWPA, Congress asserted that it had the right to receive classified information from whistleblowers working for intelligence agencies in the case of "serious or flagrant" problems. But, seeking to balance its need for information with national security requirements, Congress gave intelligence community whistleblowers access to Congress only through the intelligence committees (or through the Inspector General of their respective agencies.)
Tice complied with the statute - by communicating directly with the committees, rather than with Congress as a whole. He thus deserves ICWPA protection.
The question then rests on Tice's disclosure to the NY Times, and the author of the commentary addresses this quite well...
Tice's Disclosure to the Times is Protected by the First Amendment
But what about Tice's disclosure to the New York Times?
That disclosure is protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, it rightly belongs in the rank of the whistleblowing by "Deep Throat," recently revealed to be Mark Felt, and by Daniel Ellsberg, who famously disclosed the Pentagon Papers.
According to the Supreme Court's decision in Pickering v. Board of Education, public employee speech is protected under the First Amendment if its public benefits --that is, its political and social importance - outweigh the government's interest in maintaining efficient operations without disruption.
Now of course we are the public, we are the individuals who benefit (do I mean suffer or lose our rights) from the political and social importance of wiretapping without warrant, whether it violates the FISA Act or the 4th Amendment. I am one who believes the 4th Amendment is a much stronger Constitutional authority than the FISA Act. Then again, as it relates toward spying on Americans and persons protected by our own Constitution, I don't have much doubt that the Bush #43 admistration has crossed the line, deserves impeachment, and executive power should be curbed.