Sunday, December 18, 2005

Confessions of a Secret Squirrel

It's time for me to come out of the closet. I work in the intelligence community. Until recently, I took pride in my profession. No I am not spying on US citizens. This blog is something I write on my own time to vent my frustrations about the decline of my country under the Bush administration.

That's why the recent revelations about the President authorizing the NSA to spy on Americans without a warrant are so disturbing. There was a system set up to collect information on US persons. This system is so complicated that many in the Community will err on the side of caution and not collect on people who are believed to be US persons. A US person is a US citizen or permanent resident of the United States (a green card holder.) Some corporations are also defined as US persons, but I am not going into that here. (More information about the definition of a US Person)

Hence the problem with Able Danger. For the record, the September 11 hijackers were not US persons. But even the acting assistant secretary of defense for intelligence oversight has problems determining who is a US person. More information about how the September 11 hijackers were not US persons is here.

The actions of the Bush administration do not represent the intelligence community. However, the whistle blowers at NSA are stuck between an ethical rock and hard place.
The intelligence community is not covered by the Whistleblower's Protection Act. They could go to jail for disclosing classified information, they could go to jail for violating intelligence oversight laws.

Yet, the New York Times sat on this story for a year. The White House leaned on the Times to not publish the story for "national security" reasons. NATIONAL SECURITY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!!! RE-ELECTING GEORGE W. BUSH HAD EVERYTHING THING TO DO WITH IT. I do have some issues with the NY Times story.
Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States - including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners - is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.
Tourists and others visiting the United States on a visa are not considered US Persons.
Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said. Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.
Then, why did they blow the whistle to the NY Times? I'm taking that with copious amounts of salt since it was an anonymous Bush administration official who said that.

Not everyone in the intelligence community is a big fan of George W. Bush. Just ask Valerie Wilson.

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