In an interesting interview at Reason Online, NSA surveillance whistleblower Russell Tice explains what prompted him to speak out about the program:
As a signals intelligence officer, kids who go right out of college and work for the NSA, this is drilled into you, especially when you’re young: You will not do this. This is number one of the NSA’s Ten Commandments: You will not spy on Americans. Even after you’ve had all those introductory briefings when you’re a new employee, for the rest of your career, at least twice a year they call you in for a briefing, and this is always covered. “You will not do this,” they shake their fingers at you. “If you do this you can be thrown in jail.” And all of a sudden you find out the people who’ve been shaking their fingers are doing what they’re telling you is against the law and coming out with some cockeyed nonsense excuses for why everything’s OK. It’s sort of like having your parents drill it into you not to smoke cigarettes or do drugs or whatever, and then after you’re a good little boy coming home from school at 15 and finding your parents out on the balcony doing all that.
Fear rules the day right now. For the most part, people know, NSA employees know, that this is wrong, that this is illegal. In many cases they feel betrayed by their own leadership. . . .
And the president—I’m a Republican, I voted for this guy. I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t like the PATRIOT Act; I don’t like a lot of what I’ve seen. But I’ve always felt that this president, in his heart, felt he was doing his best to protect the American people. I thought PATRIOT, and throwing the key away on Jose Padilla, were unconstitutional, but I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt. I’m certainly hoping that he’s been misled, and that if a broad-brush approach was used that the president wasn’t aware of it or didn’t understand the ramifications, that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans could have their rights violated. But if that happened and the president knew totally the extent of it, and everything we’re hearing now is just damage control from the White House… Well, some time ago, we impeached a president for cheating on his wife, which as far as I’m concerned should’ve been between his family, his wife, and if he believes in one his God upstairs. When it comes to high crimes and misdemeanors, knowingly and willingly doing this and then being arrogant about it and saying we’re going to continue doing it—I would certainly think falls into that category of high crimes.
Hat tip: Orin, as usual.
Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions
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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.