Entry for January 03, 2006

The above is by New Zealand’s Chris Slane.    Today, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewed Russell Tice , who publically announced two weeks ago that  he wants to testify before Congress.

 For the past two decades Tice worked in the intelligence field, both inside and outside the government, most recently with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  He says his firing in May 2005 came as the result of demanding to know what had happened to a report he had filed about a former colleague he suspected of spying for China. 

As Tice was quoted in a December 11 article on whistleblowers in the Austin American Statesman

You do the right thing, and then they take away your security clearance, your job, your life. It’s like committing suicide to come forward.

 Now, In letters to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee,  written  under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, Tice has  said,

It’s with my oath as a U.S. intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I wish to report to Congress acts I believe are unlawful and unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state.

When asked by Goodman if he particpated in any NSA wiretaps on American citizens, he said, if so ,it was unwittingly, and that would probably be the case for other intelligence officers:

More than likely this was very closely held at the upper echelons at N.S.A., and mainly because these people knew — General Hayden, Bill Black, and probably the new one, Keith Alexander, they all knew this was illegal. So, you know, they kept it from the populace of N.S.A., because every N.S.A. officer certainly knows this is illegal.

Tice is sure that he is under surveillance himself as a result of his actions.

I turned the tables on someone I thought was following me, and he ducked into a convenience store, and I just walked down there — and I saw him out of my peripheral vision — and I basically walked down to where he ducked into and in the store, I walked up behind him. He was buying a cup of coffee, and he had a Glock on his hip and his F.B.I. badge. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on there.

Tice belongs to the  National Security Whistleblowers’ Coalistion, which  issued a statement December 30 

It is indispensable that Congress reach deep inside the National Security Agency and other agencies, seeking out employees at the operational level to determine how the President’s illegal order was carried into action. To assure that this occurs, we need for people with information from the agencies involved to come forward and ask to be interviewed by Congress.

Sibel Edmonds, founded the group after she says the FBI terminated her for reporting security breaches, cover-up, and blocking of intelligence with national security implications. She complains that court proceedings in her whistleblower case have been blocked by the imposition of “State Secret Privilege,” and Congress has been prevented from discussion of her case through retroactive reclassification by the Department of Justice.

Cuurent legislation, Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act , HR1317,  actually reduces protection for whistleblowers. This bill exempts National Security Whistleblowers working for the NSA, CIA, DIA, and FBI.  It  does not:

*Protect disclosure to members of Congress concerning agency waste, fraud, abuse, or actions that endanger citizens and the national security, even when the disclosure is to members of committees having primary responsibility for oversight of the agency involved in the disclosure.

*Define retaliation against national security whistleblowers through suspension or revocation of security clearances as a prohibited personnel action.  A most popular method by administrators and agencies of “handling” national security whistleblowers is to revoke or suspend their clearances, which in effect is a termination of their employment.

*Contain a process of review for revocation or suspension of security clearances in retaliation for whistleblowing.  The process of revocation and suspension of clearances is arcane, unaccountable, and largely carried out by a small group of security officers.  Where adverse security clearance decisions are made in retaliation for the lawful reporting of malfeasance, some mechanism of accountability should be available to the whistleblower.

*Contain a provision authorizing whistleblowers to appeal their cases to any federal court of appeals of competent jurisdiction.  One of the chief problems with the Whistleblower Protection Act, and one that has been recognized in Congress on numerous occasions, is the failure of the Federal Circuit, which at present has exclusive jurisdiction over whistleblower appeals, to abide by the express desires of Congress in reviewing cases involving retaliation against whistleblowers.

The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition has asked for amendments to  apply federal whistleblower rights to employees of intelligence agencies and to federal contractors.

*to clarify that classified information may be disclosed to a member of Congress or congressional staff as long as that person is authorized to receive such information.

*to authorize the MSPB to review cases charging retaliation when an employee’s security clearance is revoked and if the MSPB finds retaliation, to reinstate the security clearance.

*to allow the Federal Circuit or any other Federal circuit court to hear whistleblower cases, ending the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction over whistleblower appeals. This provision would sunset after a period of five years.

GovernmentExec.com reported  writes on the bill, which  the  House Government Reform Committee sent to the House floor on September 29 Thursday by a vote of 34 to 1…  Republicans, led by Tom Davis of Virginia defeated an amendment that would have extended protections to employees at national security agencies.

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