January 25, 2006

Did Hayden Discredit Tice?

A lot of folks have been dwelling on General Michael V. Hayden's address to the National Press Club on Monday, chasing what I believe to be a red herring, and some chasing that elusive fish with great vigor.

To me, this was a far more interesting exchange:

QUESTION: Yes, Wayne Madsen, syndicated columnist. General, how do you explain the fact that there were several rare spectacles of whistleblowers coming forward at NSA, especially after 9/11, something that hasn't really happened in the past, who have complained about violations of FISA and United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, which implements the law at the agency?

GEN. HAYDEN: I talked to the NSA staff on Friday. The NSA inspector general reports to me, as of last Friday, from the inception of this program through last Friday night, not a single employee of the National Security Agency has addressed a concern about this program to the NSA IG. I should also add that no member of the NSA workforce who has been asked to be included in this program has responded to that request with anything except enthusiasm. I don't know what you're talking about.

This response from Hayden seems to confirm two things.

1. By not reporting any concerns to the NSA inspector general, any of the NSA whistleblowers claimed by New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau committed felonies. This is nothing new to most. But as Hayden's response indicates that those most directly knowledgeable about this covert program believe deeply in its success, these claims of multiple streams of insider information inside a highly compartmentalized program seem quite suspect.

One might question just how many sources Risen and Lichtblau actually had, and whether or not these sources had direct access to this program as they claim.

2. Hayden's phrasing ("has been" being current tense) also leads me to believe that all people directly acquainted with this particular program are still involved with the program.

The one named NSA whistleblower, Russell Tice, is not currently part of the NSA, after being dismissed for psychological concerns and security violations.

Taken together, it would seem that the head of the NSA is strongly suggesting, though indirectly, that Russell Tice was never part of this program. That would indeed cast strong doubts about the credibilty of his already suspect claims, as he is a discharged, disgruntled employee.

Bill Burkett, anyone?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 25, 2006 01:30 AM | TrackBack

Good parsing. It has always seemed doubtful that any real NSA insiders would leak to the press. The penalties are quite severe and the NSA seems to only hire real team players.

Posted by: Toby928 at January 25, 2006 10:16 AM

Isn't this post missing something? Like the fact that the presnit admitted to doing it?

Posted by: Fred at January 25, 2006 04:26 PM

Bush authorized the NSA program, and that has never been in doubt. What is your question?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 25, 2006 04:30 PM

I was really heartened yesterday when President Bush visited the National Security Agency. Although I retired in 1994, two gentlemen who used to work for and with me were in attendance. The short guy with the gray hair is now an executive there.

I called him last night to let him know that he needs to lose a bit of weight. :-) :-)

Posted by: Retired Spy at January 26, 2006 01:33 PM

What should seem pretty obvious to those folks actually reading between the lines is that Russell Tice probably did not know enough to really be harmful to the NSA program execution authorized by President Bush. Please be mindful of the words I chose to use there, "proram execution."

The U.S. Intelligence Community has been doing this sort of stuff since the days of conventional HF radio communications. In the 1970's we were able to use satellites for collection of foreign signals in general, emanating from anywhere in the world.

Since those early days of satellite intercept capability, technology has gone crazy in advancement that most of the general public cannot even imagine. Just think back for a moment to the 1970's. We did not have personal computers; we did not have VHS recorders, much less DVD or CD R and CD RW.

Look at the bandwidth capabilities of your Dish Network or Direct TV satellites. Can you imagine how much better receivers are today too?

Folks today are still in a pre 9/11 attitude, and they are still thinking about something as antiquated as FISA and the physical wiretaps and the old NSA Echelon program used during the Clinton Administration.

The boneheaded pundits out there have no idea whatsoever what current Intelligence surveillance technology is capable of doing, and none of it bypasses FISA. All they can think about is "domestic spying."

There is much more that most people will never know. And that is the good news. So let Kerry and Kennedy and the rest of those fools stick their privates in the hot soup. They will all get burned, and the Democrats will be taken to the woodshed once again.

Posted by: Retired Spy at January 26, 2006 08:05 PM