You will not spy on Americans
You should read this Reason magazine interview with Russell Tice, an ex-NSA guy who was one of the NYT’s sources for the warrant-free-wiretapping story. Take it with a grain of salt if you like; Tice has detractors who say he’s a malcontent. Some highlights:
REASON: Are you at all sympathetic to claims that the New York Times’ reporting on NSA surveillance may have harmed national security?
Tice: … With [James Risen's] book, someone has come across, and basically reported, a crime. It just so happens that somebody put some super-duper clearances on it to mask the fact that a crime was being committed. Now we’re claiming after the fact, to do some damage control, that “oh no, now the terrorists know.” Come on, let’s be rational about this. Do we think that the terrorists are just plain stupid? Do we think that, especially after 9/11, the terrorists aren’t smart enough to think that maybe the United States might be interested in the communications they conduct and how they conduct them? …
REASON: How scrupulous is the general culture of the NSA about avoiding spying on Americans?
Tice: 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.
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