NSA Whistleblower Wants to Testify

The Washington Times reports that former National Security Agency official Russ Tice, a whistleblower who was dismissed from the NSA last year, has sent letters to the House and Senate intelligence committees asking to testify about the NSA spy program.

“I intend to report to Congress probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while I was an intelligence officer with the National Security Agency and with the Defense Intelligence Agency,” Mr. Tice stated in the Dec. 16 letters, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times.
Tice’s dismissal was the culmination of a four-year wrangle with his employers at the DIA and NSA, starting in 2001 when he reported suspicions that one of his co-workers was a Chinese spy.

Tice, a 20-year veteran of the federal intelligence agencies, worked at DIA until 2002. He made his initial report about the suspected spy at DIA after noticing that a co-worker voiced sympathies for China, traveled extensively abroad and displayed affluence beyond her means.
That set in motion a series of retaliatory actions which, as described by the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Project on Government Oversight, included:

a psychiatric evaluation that led to his security clearance being revoked. Tice was also assigned to unload furniture from trucks at a warehouse, which led to a back injury, and worked in the NSA motor pool for eight months chauffeuring agency officials and checking fluids, vacuuming and cleaning vehicles. This “unusually abusive retaliation” was an attempt to force Tice to resign, POGO said.

And in another retaliatory action, POGO said, NSA withdrew an award Tice received for his intelligence work during the Iraq war after he lost his security clearance.
When he spoke at an April 28, 2005 event decrying retaliation against whistleblowers, he was subsequently fired.

Undoubtedly, the administration will cast Tice as a crackpot. But my gut tells me this guy is no crackpot, and I certainly hope that Congress calls him in to hear what he has to say.

Related stories: The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Jane Harman of California, has sent a letter to Bush noting that “the limited Congressional briefings the Bush administration has provided on a National Security Agency eavesdropping program violated the law,” and John at AMERICAblog has some interesting updates on whether the NSA was spying on CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

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