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Whistleblower Levels Shocking Allegations at Bush's Spying Programs

It seems Bush's lust for spying went so far as to target reporters, and even the senator tasked with overseeing U.S. intelligence.

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Granted, not all the information was processed by human hands. Sheer volume would make that impossible. ("Americans tend to be a chatty group," said Tice.) And while Tice said he was not sure what had become of the information that was gathered, he did say that it was probably stored in a database, one that still exists today.

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Olbermann points out this is not the first time Tice has stuck his neck out to call out the criminal activity of the Bush administration. On Dec. 18, 2005, two days after the Times story was published, Tice sent a letter to both the Senate and House intelligence committees, in which he characterized the NSA spying as akin to violating a sacred oath:

"As a Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) officer, it is continually drilled into us that the very first law chiseled in the SIGINT equivalent of the 10 Commandments (USSID-18) is that 'Thou shall not spy on American persons without a court order from FISA.' This law is continually drilled into each NSA intelligence officer throughout his or her career. The very people that lead the National Security Agency have violated this holy edict of SIGINT. ...

"In addition to knowing this fundamental commandment of not violating the civil rights of Americans, intelligence officers are required to take an oath to protect the United States Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. It is with my oath as a U.S. intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I wish to report to Congress acts that I believe are 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."

In subsequent interviews, including one on Jan. 3, 2006, with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Tice repeatedly stressed the illegality of the program, while also maintaining that he could only say so much. "I don't want to walk out of here and end up in an FBI interrogation room," he told Goodman.

The backlash against Tice was harsh. He was assailed by right-wing pundits, who called him the real criminal. And others saw his coming forward as suspect -- after all, he had been officially fired, by his own account, not because of his investigation of the wiretapping, but due to an earlier controversy over his time at the Defense Intelligence Agency in which he made accusations about two FBI agents being possible spies. Thus, he was seen as holding a grudge.

("What would you say to those who say you are speaking out now simply because you are disgruntled?" asked Goodman, to which Tice replied: "Well, I guess that's a valid argument. You know, I was fired. But, you know, I've kind of held my tongue for a long time now, and basically, you know, I have known these things have been going on for a while … whether you think this is retaliation or not, I have something important to tell Congress, and I think they need to hear it.")

In the end, Tice's hopes that he could provide testimony for Congress ultimately amounted to very little.

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The night after Tice broke news on "Countdown," he appeared on the program again, this time followed by James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and the co-author (with Eric Litchblau) of the NSA spying story. But Risen was not there to discuss the spying program from an expert perspective. He was there as one of its possible targets.

Risen, who last year was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to try to get him to reveal his confidential sources for his book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, told Keith Olbermann that although he did not know which agency had him under surveillance, "what I know for a fact is that the Bush administration got my phone records … we know for a fact that they showed my phone records to other people in the federal grand jury, and we have asked the court to investigate that."