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NSA Blocking Whistleblower From Telling Committee About Shocking, Illegal Activities

By Faiz Shakir on June 12, 2006 at 3:47 pm

"NSA Blocking Whistleblower From Telling Committee About Shocking, Illegal Activities"

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Last month, ThinkProgress reported that NSA whistleblower Russell Tice would meet with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss undisclosed unlawful activity that the Agency has engaged in. “I think the people I talk to next week are going to be shocked when I tell them what I have to tell them,” Tice said.

Since that time, little has been reported of Tice’s meeting. CongressDaily (sub. req’d) follows-up today, “Tice met last month in a closed session with senior staff from the Senate Armed Services Committee. Tice said he told the staffers everything he knew. But he said the aides did not say how, or if, they would follow up on his allegations.

CongressDaily also reports that House Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, through its Chairman Christopher Shays (R-CT) and ranking member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), is seeking to interview Tice, but the NSA is resisting.

Tice said his information is different from the terrorist surveillance program that President Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts last month that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. Because he worked on special access programs, however, it has not been clear on Capitol Hill which committees have jurisdiction to debrief him. Shays and Kucinich gave the NSA until Friday to explain any legal reason why they cannot interview him. But that deadline passed without a response, and a subcommittee aide today called the missed deadline troubling.

Shays and Kucinich had originally asked the NSA to give them a reason by May 26, but the agency asked for an extension until June 9. NSA spokesman Don Weber said today that the agency “is performing due diligence in developing a response to the committee’s request,” but added that Tice has not notified the agency of the alleged illegal activity. Tice said he does not believe he needs to notify the agency of his allegations.

Congress deserves to hear from Tice, who has a history for blowing the whistle on serious misconduct. He was one of the sources that revealed the administration’s warrantless domestic spying program to the New York Times.

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