Edward Snowden and his revelations are a very big deal. But he isn’t the only NSA whistleblower. One who has not gotten anywhere as much attention as he deserves is Russell Tice. Wait ‘til you hear what he has to say.
We transcribed the following July 10, 2013 interview with Russell Tice, NSA Whistleblower, by Abby Martin on RT’s Breaking the Set:
Abby: As the ongoing NSA revelations [bring out] more information on the government’s secret spying program, the man who leaked the story, Edward Snowden is in [the] spotlight.
However it’s important to remember that this is far from the first time someone has come forward to expose the overreach of the NSA. Before Edward Snowden, it was Thomas Drake, a former senior executive, and before him, it was Bill Binney, a former intelligence official.
But before Binney, the very first person to claim the title of NSA whistleblower is a man you probably heard the least about. His name is Russell Tice, and he served twenty years within various government intelligence agencies, including the NSA. In 2005, Tice blew the whistle on the NSA engaging in unlawful and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens. He’s here to tell his story and why he thinks that Snowden’s leaks are just barely scratching the surface.
Russ Tice, thank you so much for coming on.
Tice: Thanks for having me on.
Abby: What did you see that made you come and blow the whistle initially?
Tice: Well, the first thing I saw was … I’m a satellite systems specialist, so with the things I was doing with satellites, I found out sort of inadvertently, that American citizens were being spied upon by our base capabilities. So that was my first sort of heads up as to what was going on and I was just shocked because NSA was not supposed to do this, it was against regulation, it was against the law, it was against our Constitution. So it was sort of a come-to-Jesus moment for me.
Abby: Wake-up call there. You’ve said there are abuses that go far beyond what people are even talking about right now. How far does it go, Russ?
Tice: Well, it goes very far. Because initially what I saw was they were targeting news organizations, they were targeting U.S. companies that did international business, they were looking at financial institutions. But they were also going after the State Department and Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time. And they were going after high-ranking military generals and that was just what my space capabilities that I saw. Now later, when I got together with colleagues, and we started to put together the terrestrial side – that’s the side that’s being done with all those nodes, all over the country, the fiber optics and that sort of thing – then we found out that it got much worse. Because, and this was just the phone, that we were looking at. But it was also being done at the e-mail level, but that wasn’t the information I was getting. The information I was seeing were phone numbers that were being plugged into a system that was going after people’s phone numbers and associated numbers. And a lot of numbers I wasn’t even sure. But they went after law firms and lawyers, they went after more generals, General Petraeus was one of the guys. It seemed like right about that three-star level they were going after admirals and generals. They went after the supreme courts, of which I held Judge Alito’s paperwork in my hand. Numbers associated with Judge Alito that somebody had put into the system that NSA used to spy on Judge Alito.
Abby: Let’s just break this down a little bit, because these are explosive allegations right now that I have not heard anyone talk about before. That there are actually orders that you personally saw in your hands, to wiretap Judge Alito, high-ranking intelligence officers, David Petraeus, Barack Obama…