January 22, 2009 | By Tim Jones

Whistleblower Reveals New Abuses of Wiretapping Power

Last night, less than 48 hours after George Bush left office, whistleblower and former NSA analyst Russell Tice revealed new information about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program:

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Countdown begins the segment with an appropriate clip of Ex-President Bush's December 2005 talk on wiretapping, in which he claimed that the only communications being intercepted were those with "a clear link to terrorist networks."

Tice, in his role as an NSA analyst, quickly came to understand that this just wasn't true:

I don't know what our former president knew or didn't know. I'm 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 that doesn't -- it didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, you know, in the middle of the country, and you never made a communication -- foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.

Tice also reveals how NSA officials lied to Congress and others in order to avoid oversight:

TICE: One of the things that could be done was you could take something that was part of the Department of Defense, make it part of the intelligence community, and put a caveat to that, and make that 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.


TICE: But when the intelligence program comes calling, you say you can't look at that because it is a Department of Defense program.


TICE: So you basically have a little shell game that you are playing back and forth.

The interview is riveting and full of other revealations. Olbermann promises us a follow-up interview with Tice tonight. MSNBC.com has the video and FishbowlDC has the transcript.

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