News Release

NSA Leak Probe: Shooting the Messenger?


Edmonds is director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. She said today: “Without whistleblowers the public would never know of the many abuses of constitutional rights by the government. … But will they be listened to by those who are charged with accountability?”

Weaver, senior advisor to the group, added: “Ordinarily one would expect the Congress to be the guardian of our freedom by living up to its storied role as a check and balance to the president and the executive branch. But for four years, members of our Congress on supposed oversight committees were aware of illegal spying on American citizens.”

Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI’s Washington Field Office. During her work there, she reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was fired in March 2002. Since that time, court proceedings on her issues have been blocked by the assertion of “State Secret Privilege” by the attorney general. The Congress of the United States has been gagged and prevented from discussion of her case through retroactive re-classification by the Department of Justice.

Weaver is associate director of faculty for the Institute for Policy and Economic Development in the Center for Law and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he specializes in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy. Weaver worked in U.S. Army signals intelligence for eight years.
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Tice is a former National Security Agency intelligence analyst and action officer. He has sent two letters to the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Tice is working with the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, which states that he “intends to report to Congress probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while he was an intelligence officer with the National Security Agency and with the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
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Turley is a professor of Constitutional law at George Washington University; he has handled various high-profile national security cases including the current case of Dr. Ali Al-Timimi, who may have been subject to this NSA operation. (Turley served as an intern at the National Security Agency and was sent to the FISA secret court in that capacity.) Turley said today: “It is completely and facially unethical for [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales to head this investigation. [According to news reports, in March 2004, acting Attorney General James Comey refused to sign on to the program’s continued use. Comey was serving in place of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft while Ashcroft was hospitalized. Comey’s refusal prompted senior presidential aides Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales to visit Ashcroft in his hospital room to grant the approval.] Comey’s role is fascinating since he has been repeatedly accused of being cavalier about civil liberties. The refusal of some officials to cooperate with this operation reflects unease over the alleged criminal element of the president’s order.”

Added Turley: “Any pursuit of the leaker in this case would be shooting the messenger. Federal officials are prohibited from engaging in crimes and federal employees with knowledge of such crimes have an obligation to disclose them; one can argue whether the New York Times was the best venue for this disclosure, but historically, some of the most important disclosures of federal misconduct have been made through the media. … The bigger question remains that the president is openly stating that he ordered domestic spying by the NSA without a court order. It is illegal and unconstitutional for him to do so; it makes a mockery of federal law if it is subject to the whim of the president.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167