WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) — A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans’ Constitutional rights.
Russell D. Tice told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations he has concerns about a “special access” electronic surveillance program that he characterized as far more wide-ranging than the warrentless wiretapping recently exposed by the New York Times but he is forbidden from discussing the program with Congress.
Tice said he believes it violates the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizures but has no way of sharing the information without breaking classification laws. He is not even allowed to tell the congressional intelligence committees – members or their staff – because they lack high enough clearance.
Neither could he brief the inspector general of the NSA because that office is not cleared to hear the information, he said.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said they believe a few members of the Armed Services Committee are cleared for the information, but they said believe their committee and the intelligence committees have jurisdiction to hear the allegations.
“Congressman Kucinich wants Congressman Shays to hold a hearing (on the program),” said Doug Gordon, Kucinich’s spokesman. “Obviously it would have to take place in some kind of a closed hearing. But Congress has a role to play in oversight. The (Bush) administration does not get to decide what Congress can and can not hear.”
Tice was testifying because he was a National Security Agency intelligence officer who was stripped of his security clearance after he reported his suspicions that a former colleague at the Defense Intelligence Agency was a spy. The matter was dismissed by the DIA, but Tice pressed it later and was subsequently ordered to take a psychological examination, during which he was declared paranoid. He is now unemployed.
Tice was one of the New York Times sources for its wiretapping story, but he told the committee the information he provided was not secret and could have been provided by an private sector electronic communications professional.
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