Classified code name of illegal NSA surveillance program revealed.
Thanks to former Justice Department attorney Thomas Tamm, who worked for the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), the identification of George W. Bush's illegal National Security Agency's (NSA) wiretap program aimed at U.S. citizens has now been made public. The classified code name of the program in STELLAR WIND.
Documents concerning the program, which were only made available to a small group of administration officials, including Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, NSA Director Michael Hayden, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez -- who was later cited by the Justice Department's Inspector General for taking the documents home in violation of regulations, were marked TOP SECRET - EYES ONLY - STELLAR WIND.
Bush's use of NSA to target U.S. persons by going around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was deemed illegal by Justice Department officials and Acting Attorney General James Comey refused to approve the wiretaps. That decision resulted in the now-famous episode on March 10, 2004 in Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. Ashcroft, who had undergone surgery, was confronted by then-White House Counsel Gonzalez and Chief of Staff Andrew Card who demanded that he re-authorize STELLAR WIND. Ashcroft deferred to Comey, who had rushed from the Justice Department to the hospital, to intercept Gonzalez and Card.
Tamm, a veteran Justice Department prosecutor and the son of a career FBI agent who worked for FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, has been identified as the source for the December 2005 New York Times article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau that first revealed the illegal NSA wiretap program. In August 2007, FBI agents stormed into Tamm's Potomac, Maryland home and seized his home computer, his childrens' two laptop computers, and personal files.
On July 26, 2006, former NSA employee Russ Tice was subpoenaed to "testify and answer questions concerning possible violations of federal criminal law." The FBI and Justice were investigating leaks concerning the illegal NSA program. Tice responded to the subpoena, "This latest action by the government is designed only for one purpose: to ensure that people who witness criminal action being committed by the government are intimidated into remaining silent. To this date I have pursued all the appropriate channels to report unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted [by the government] while I served as an intelligence officer with the NSA and DIA. It was with my oath as a US intelligence officer to protect and preserve the U.S. Constitution weighing heavy on my mind that I reported acts that I know to be unlawful and unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state."
Professor William Weaver, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition's Senior Advisor, stated: "Russ Tice is the only publicly identified NSA employee connected to the New York Timesin its December 2005 story publicizing warrantless Bush-ordered surveillance.
The FBI and Justice were apparently on a wild-goose chase in subpoenaing Tice. Tice's appearance before a grand jury on August 2, 2006, in Alexandria, Virginia was abruptly canceled by the Bush administration.
Tamm and Tice were not the only government employees who knew that NSA's wiretap program was illegal.....
Joseph Nacchio, the ex-CEO of Qwest Communications, said the NSA tried to pressure him to comply with certain classified NSA surveillance activities prior to the September 11 attacks. Nacchio said an NSA request for Qwest to participate in illegal surveillance activities was made at a meeting on February 27, 2001. However, after Nacchio said he considered the NSA requests illegal, his firm lost out on several lucrative contracts and he was punished by the politically-motivated Bush Justice Department by being indicted for insider stock trading.
Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of United States District Court in Detroit later ruled STELLAR WIND illegal, which makes Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, Card, and Hayden criminally-liable for violating the law. If President-elect Barack Obama sees fit to retain Hayden as CIA director after he has been identified as a party to multiple criminal acts, that makes Obama criminally-liable, as well, as an aider and abettor of criminal conduct and, therefore, subject to impeachment.