Interview with Russell Tice by Keith Olbermann, Countdown: N

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Interview with Russell Tice by Keith Olbermann, Countdown: N

Postby admin » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:41 am

Interview with Russell Tice by Keith Olbermann, Countdown: NSA Domestic Spying Targeted Journalists
MSNBC
October 21 & 22, 2009

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[Transcribed from the youtube videos by Tara Carreon]





Interview with Russell Tice by Keith Olbermann, Countdown: NSA Domestic Spying Targeted Journalists
MSNBC
10 21 09


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[Keith Olbermann] It's taken less than 24 hours after the Bush presidency ended for a former analyst at the National Security Agency to come forward to reveal new allegations about how this nation was spied on by its own government. Exclusively, here on Countdown.

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Our third story tonight, Russell Tice, has already stood up for truth before this evening as one source for the revelation in 2005, by the New York Times, that President Bush was eavesdropping on American citizens without warrants. Tonight, the next chapter for Mr. Tice -- the chapter he feared to reveal while George Bush occupied the Oval Office -- that under the color of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration was also targeting specific groups of Americans for surveillance, "non-terrorist" Americans if you will. Mr. Tice is prepared to name one of those groups tonight. The NSA was already estimated to have collected millions of transmissions, emails, and phone calls of average Americans, simply by patching into the networks of cooperative telecommunications companies.

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You will recall the infamous room 641A at the AT&T Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, in which the whole of AT&T's portion of the Internet was duplicated inside a room accessible only to the NSA.

Mr. Tice, however, was also involved in another program, and told us that he was first directed to focus on these specific groups in order to "weed them out" from legitimate surveillance targets, but ultimately concluded that the "weeding out" was actually an internal NSA cover story for a real goal which was simply spying on those Americans.

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Initially, Mr. Bush told the nation all his surveillance was legal.

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[President George Bush] Anytime you hear the United States Government talking about "wire tap", a wire tap requires a court order.

[Keith Olbermann] After the New York Times revealed that to be a lie, Mr. Bush claimed his surveillance circumvented the Constitutionally required process of requiring a court ordered warrant, only in cases of clear links to terrorism.

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[President George Bush] In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al-Qaeda, and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

[Keith Olbermann] Joining me now, in his first public revelation of these charges, is Russell Tice, former analyst with the National Security Agency. Thank you for your time, sir.

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[Russell Tice] Thanks for having me.

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[Keith Olbermann] Let's start with the overview. We heard the remarks of Mr. Bush in 2005 that the only Americans who would have been eavesdropped on without a warrant, were those who were talking to terrorists overseas. Based on what you know, what you've seen first-hand, and what you've encountered in your experience, how much of that statement was true?

[Russell Tice] Well, I don't know what our former president knew or didn't know -- I was sort of down in the weeds. But the National Security Agency had access to ALL Americans' communications, faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications. And it didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made any foreign communications at all. They monitored ALL communications.

[Keith Olbermann] To what degree is that likely to mean actual eavesdropping, and actual inspection? In other words, if not actually read or monitored by the NSA, everything was collected by the NSA, recorded, archived. Do you have any idea to what degree the information was ever looked at per se?

[Russell Tice] Well, it's actually, even for the NSA, it is impossible to literally collect ALL communications. Americans tend to be a chatty group. We have the best computers at the Agency, but certainly not that good. But what was done was sort of an ability to look at the metadata, the signaling data for communications, and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected. And basically filtering out, sort of like sweeping everything with that metadata, and then cutting down ultimately what you're going to look at, and what's going to be collected. And in the long run, having an analyst looking at needles in the haystack for what might be of interest.

[Keith Olbermann] I mentioned that you say that specific groups were targeted. What group, or groups, can you tell us about?

[Russell Tice] Well, there's sort of two avenues to look at this. What I just mentioned was sort of the low-tech, dragnet look at this. The things that I specifically were involved with were more on the high-tech side. And try to envision the dragnets are out there collecting all the fish, and ferreting out what they may, and my technical angle was to try to harpoon fish from an airplane kind of thing. So it's two separate worlds. But in the world that I was in, so as not to harpoon the wrong people in one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations just supposedly so that we would NOT target them, so that we knew where they were, so as not to have a problem with them. Now, what I was finding out, though, is that the collection on those organizations was 24/7, and you know, 365 days a year. And it made no sense. And I started to investigate that. That's about the time when they came after me to fire me. But an organization that was collected on were U.S. news organizations, and reporters and journalists.

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[Keith Olbermann] To what purpose? I mean, is there a file somewhere full of every email sent by all the reporters at the New York Times? Is there a recording somewhere of every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York? Is it like that?

[Russell Tice] If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be EVERYTHING, YES. IT WOULD BE EVERYTHING!

[Keith Olbermann] Do you have a sense of why, as you discovered this, do you have a sense of what this was, if it was used, to what end?

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[Russell Tice] I do not know. I do not know what was done with the collection. I'm sure the information, the collection, was digitized, and put on databases somewhere. I don't know what was done with it from that point.

[Keith Olbermann] And this bait-and-switch sort of idea that "this is the discard file. We're not going to look at the Media." And that it becomes apparent to you that the "discard" pile is in fact the "save" pile. How did that become apparent to you?

[Russell Tice] Well, as I was going for support for this particular organization, it sort of was dropped to me that, you know, this is 24/7. Because I was saying, you know, "I need collection at this time, at this point, for a window of time." And I would say, "Will we have the capability at this particular point?", and positioning assets. And I was ultimately told, "We don't have to worry about that because we've got it covered all the time." And that's when it clicked in my head, "This is not something that's being done on a one-sy, two-sy basis. This is something that is happening all the time.

[Keith Olbermann] In a broad sense, and I imagine this question would be asked 100 times with much more specificity, what other kinds of information are you aware of that was collected by the NSA on ordinary Americans?

[Russell Tice] On "ordinary" Americans? I don't know. The parameters that were set for how to filter -- now we're back to the low-tech side -- were things like looking for parameters like, if a terrorist normally would only make a phone call for one or two minutes, then you look for communications that are only one or two minutes long. Now, that also could be someone ordering a pizza, and asking their significant other what sort of toppings they wanted on their pizza. That's about a one to two-minute phone call.

[Keith Olbermann] We mentioned this idea of bait and switch, "This is the discard; no it's not, this is actually the target." Can you explain the maneuver, another sort of bait-and-switch, that was worked with the congressional committees that would have had to be asking questions about stuff exactly like this?

[Russell Tice] Well, the Agency would tailor some of their briefings to try to be deceptive for, whether it be a congressional committee, or someone who didn't even want to know exactly what was going on. So there would be a lot of bells and whistles in a briefing. And quite often, you know, the meat of the briefing was deceptive. One of the things that could be done was, you could take something that was part of the Department of Defense, and make it part of the Intelligence Community, and put a caveat to that; and make whatever the Intelligence Community is doing for support will ultimately be given a different caveat. So when the Defense committees on the Hill come calling, you say "You can't look at that, because that's an Intelligence program." But when the Intelligence program comes calling, you say "You can't look at that, because it's a Department of Defense program." So you basically have the little shell game that you are playing back and forth.

[Keith Olbermann] It's brilliant in its simplicity. It's wonderful in its simplicity in a different context. The last question here: What happens now? Can the Obama Administration stop this? That's the first part. And secondly, has anyone from the Obama Administration been in touch with you about this?

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[Russell Tice] No. Well, I've been in touch with -- basically I volunteered for the Obama Administration to act if they needed a consultant to Intelligence. And this was last February. And they said they knew who I was, my background in the Agency, but they never really utilized me. You know, I helped out as a volunteer yesterday in the inauguration, but certainly not in that capacity. And I even said I would go on camera for them if they wanted a commercial. But they really didn't utilize that. But I did send a letter to, I think it's Mr. Brennan, a handwritten letter, because I knew all my communications were tapped: my phones, my computer, and I've had the FBI on me sort of like flies on you-know-what. So I made sure it was handwritten. And I'm assuming he gave the note to our current president, that I intended to say a little bit more than I had in the past.

[Keith Olbermann] And you have done that. I think, if that's alright with you, I think we're going to have to do another interview tomorrow, because there's only about twice as many questions left. Russell Tice, former NSA Intelligence Analyst, it sounds corny: "Thank you for doing this for the country."

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[Russell Tice] Well, you know, I raised my hand, just like the president. And my oath was to support and defend the Constitution. Not a Director of an Agency; not a classification on a piece of paper; but ultimately, the Constitution. And these things were against the law that were happening. So I was just doing my job really.

[Keith Olbermann] Well, yeah, but doing your job sometimes earns you the lapel pin.
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Re: Interview with Russell Tice by Keith Olbermann, Countdow

Postby admin » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:49 am

Part 2

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[Keith Olbermann] Before last night, we already knew the Bush Administration had spied on some U.S. journalists inside the U.S. Last night, on this newscast, we revealed the new allegation that Mr. Bush's National Security Agency was systematically, 24 hours a day, monitoring not just individual reporters, but entire U.S. news organizations, as well as other organizations, the identities of which we still don't know.

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Tonight, in our third story, Russell Tice, the NSA whistleblower who revealed that breathtaking claim on our program last night, returns, and he is breaking more news.

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First, some context. In the New Yorker Magazine last year, Reporter Lawrence Wright revealed that the FBI had asked him about phone calls he made to a British lawyer who was representing former jihadists, calls, the FBI thought, that were made by Wright's college-age daughter. More than wire-tapping was at work here. The name of Wright's daughter was not in the phone records. So how the hell, Wright demanded, did the FBI know his daughter's name?

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In 2007, Wright asked Mike McConnell, then Director of National Intelligence. His reply: "I don't know." But Wright found it troubling that his daughter's name was on some NSA list somewhere.

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McConnell said, "It may be troublesome; it may not be. You don't know."

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As Mr. Tice is about to clarify now, now we know!

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But first, yesterday we asked the NSA to comment on his allegations.

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The Agency declined, saying only, "NSA considers the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens to be sacrosanct. The Intelligence Community faces immense challenges in protecting our nation. No matter the challenges, NSA remains dedicated to performing its mission under the rule of law." [Non-Denial Denial] That from a Bush holdover at the NSA. No reply yet from the Obama Whitehouse.

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Returning to our program tonight, Russell Tice, former NSA Analyst, now a very public whistleblower, thank you again for your time tonight, sir.

[Russell Tice] Good evening. Thank you. Thank you.

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[Keith Olbermann] Last night we discussed collection of phone and email data, the envelope info, like the length of the call, but also the content. But the information that they collected on journalists and other people, this was more than just phone and email info?

[Russell Tice] Well, as far as the information, the wire tap information that made it through NSA, there was also data mining involved. And at some point, information from credit card records, and financial transactions, was married in with that information. So the lucky U.S. citizens, tens of thousands of whom are now on digital databases at NSA, who have no idea of this, also have that sort of information included on those digital files that have been warehoused.

[Keith Olbermann] Throwing that kind of information in there too, your credit card records, where you have spent your money, does that make it clear to you who used this information, or why it was used, or what the goal was of gaining it? Do you have any better idea of what all this stuff was used for?

[Russell Tice] Well, the obvious explanation would be that if you did have a potential terrorist, you'd want to know where they were spending money and, you know, whether they had purchased an airline ticket, or something like that, and that sort of thing. But once again, we're talking about tens of thousands of innocent U.S. citizens that have been caught up in this trap, that they have no clue. This thing could sit there for ten years, and then potentially it marries up with something else, and ten years from now they get put on a no-fly list. And they of course won't have a clue why.

[Keith Olbermann] All of these tens of thousands of people that you refer to, do they at least have possible ties to terrorists? Like the story of this New Yorker magazine reporter, where there was a phone call made? That at least there's a starting point? Or do they not even have that?

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[Russell Tice] In most cases, they don't have that at all. This is garnered from algorithms that have been put together to try to just dream up scenarios that might be, information that is associated with, how a terrorist could operate. Like I mentioned last night, the one-to-two minute pizza delivery call. And things of that nature, of which an innocent citizen could be easily tied into these things. And once that information gets to NSA, and they start to put it through the filters there, where they have language interpreters and stuff, and they start looking for word recognition, if someone just talked about the daily news and, you know, mentioned something about the middle east, they could easily be brought to the forefront of having that little flag put by their name that says, "potential terrorist." And of course, this U.S. citizen wouldn't have a clue.

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[Keith Olbermann] This massive thing obviously did not grow of its own accord. Do you know, or do you have an educated guess, as to who authorized this, and who developed this?

[Russell Tice] I have a guess where it was developed. I think it was probably developed out of the Department of Defense. And this is probably the remnants of the Total Information Awareness that came out of DARPA. That's my guess. I don't know that for sure.

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[Keith Olbermann] The previous reports of individual incidents suggest they were looking for leaked sources. In 2006, the former NSA director Michael Hayden was asked if he targeted political opponents of the Bush Administration. And he refused to answer. Was he? Was that one of the factors in determining which journalists they targeted?

[Russell Tice] Um, I don't know the answer to that. But from the avenue that I know about, everyone was collected. So, you know, they sucked in everybody. And at some point, they may have cherry-picked from what they had, but I wasn't aware of who got cherry-picked out of the big pot.

[Keith Olbermann] Do you know who got to see the data? Who might have done any cherry-picking?

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[Russell Tice] You know, I started looking into this, and that's when ultimately they came after me. They must have realized that I'd stumbled onto something. And after that point, of course, I had no ability to find anything else out.

[Keith Olbermann] To your knowledge is all of this still going on?

[Russell Tice] I do not know whether it's going on, or not going on. I haven't had access, or knowledge, for some time.

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[Keith Olbermann] Can you be specific at all about the news organizations that you mentioned last night, as to how many, or which ones? Was it everybody who worked at a news organization, or just people who would be reporting on national security issues?

[Russell Tice] I have to be careful about answering that, because of sources and methods. So I'm probably, unfortunately, going to have to pass on that one.

[Keith Olbermann] Alright. Well, it's the only one of these questions that you have. So we'll give you that one. Russell Tice, former NSA Intelligence Analyst, once again, scaring the crap out of us, but thanks for doing so. It's better to be informed and scared, than uninformed and not know what's coming. Thank you sir.

[Russell Tice] Thank you.
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