Monday, June 29, 2009

NY Times Sat on NSA Surveillance Story for a Year Before Publishing it/Whistle-Blower Harassed

Excerpt: NSA Whistleblower Meets Anthrax ‘Person of Interest,’ by Kevin Poulsen, Wired, June 4, 2009:

... Speaking on the final panel at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference here, ex-DOJ attorney Thomas Tamm discussed the dread he felt after telling the Times about the NSA’s covert spying program in late 2004. A lawyer in the department’s sensitive Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, Tamm went to the press, instead of his superiors, because the attorney general and Tamm’s boss were party to the program.

But after talking about the spying with a Times reporter, a long period of uncertainty began. “Their editors would not publish the story,” he said. “They waited until December 2005 to publish it. So for a year, I’m sitting here going, I know I’ve revealed what they say is secret information. I wonder what will happen to me?”

When the Times finally ran the story, setting off a firestorm in Congress and the national press, and spawning dozens of lawsuits against telecoms and the government, the FBI began trying to track down the leak. In 2007, Tamm came home to find 18 agents in his house. “They were all wearing body armor, they were all well armed,” he recalled. “They asked my kids if we had any secret rooms in the house … or whether I had any weapons. They were in my house for over seven hours.”

“I’m sure before that time my phone was listened to,” he added. His wife, who didn’t know he’d turned whistleblower, has been forever changed. “She will never feel the same in my house … She really felt that her security had been victimized.” ...

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