Bush-Era Whistleblower Russ Tice Claims the NSA Spied on Obama--and a Lot of Other Powerful People

Although The Guardian made the shocking revelation earlier this month that the NSA has been collecting meta data on millions of Americans, it may come as an even bigger surprise who was among those millions. Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst, alleged in an interview with Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs podcast (launched by former FBI staffer and National Security Whistleblowers Coalition founder Sibel Edmond) that the agency has been spying on some of the most powerful people in the U.S. government.

Approximately 48 minutes into the interview, Tice claimed that among the people his office surveilled was Barack Obama:

"Here's the big one ... this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois... You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now."

The whistleblower, who claims to have specialized in surveillance through satellite technology, said, “I literally had my hands on the paperwork for these kinds of things,” and, “I was involved in the technology that was going after this stuff.”

Tice was employed at various times by the Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was employed by the National Security Agency until 2005, when he exposed unwarranted wiretapping committed by the Bush administration.

In the interview, which took place on Wednesday, Tice described the NSA as “ a rogue agency that has J. Edgar Hoover capabilities at a monstrous scale on steroids.” Regarding official statements that have been made in recent weeks that the NSA only collects meta data and does not use its authority to target individuals, Tice said, “There is abuse out there... they've gone after journalists and news agencies.” He speculated that his own on telephone conversation with the program could be recorded "word for word."

Throughout the interview Tice also asserted that the NSA “went after high ranking military officers, they went after members of Congress, both the Senate and the House, especially the intelligence committees, armed services committees, and judicial,” as well as lawyers, anti-war groups, and American businesses and banks that operate internationally.

Tice praised Edward Snowden's exposure of PRISM. He said, Snowden “brought forward information the American people need to know.”  

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  • kinnath||

    PRISM is a blackmail machine.

  • Killazontherun||

    FBI Guy: Congratulations, Mr. President elect on your victory. Looking forward to working with you, but there is just this one thing. You know all those nice things you said on the campaign trail about civil liberties. That was cute and all, but you know what else is really cute. A skinny black man in a reindeer outfit in the middle of a Christmas themed furry hump.'
    Obama: Put that picture away, I get the message. Besides I didn't mean any of that shit I said in the first place.
    FBI Guy: Didn't think you did.

  • ||

    Somewhere out there J. Edgar Hoover is wearing some nylons and laughing.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure, they're all scumbags. Right. So let's prosecute Obama and Bush as co-defendants.

  • ||

    If only the NSA were fucking with all the politicians. Yet somehow I doubt that severely.

  • ||

    As long as they tow the lion I am sure they are safe. It never hurts to have something on them just in case....

  • ||

    I think pols interact much the way pro wrestlers do. They pretend to go at each others throats for the public, but behind the scenes they are all buying each other beers. Unlike wrestlers, they are sociopaths, so that part is probably just an act as well.

  • ||

    At least pro wrestlers are entertaining.

    "Man, I thought Ultimate Robot Fighting was real, like pro wrestling, but it turns out it's fixed, like boxing."

  • Pro Libertate||

    During the Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka administration, vetoes were issued by President Snuka climbing on to the corner of the ring and leaping on the bill in question.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Piper administration, of course, is mostly remembered for us all being forced to put on those sunglasses. And the kilts.

  • ||

    Not this year.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You're lucky he's out of office, or he'd beat the crap out of you like he did back then.

  • RightNut||

    Not this year

    I LOLed.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Oh, you mean the years when there was a national shortage of gum.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, exactly.

  • Killazontherun||

    Some like McCain are really bad about maintaining the illusion. 'Oh, I'm suppose to drop when they hit me over the head with the styrofoam prop chair. I thought it was suppose to turn me into a hulk.'

  • Tonio||

    There's a difference between collecting information and actively interfering. It wouldn't surprise me if the NSA likes to have something on everyone in power, just in case they need it. Yes, I'm going there with the permanent secret government thing.

  • DaveAnthony||

    That's exactly what Hoover did...

  • Paul.||

    The guys who run the intelligence bureaus are always more powerful than the prime minister.

  • LynchPin1477||

    While it wouldn't surprise me in the least if this was true, big claims require big evidence.

  • LynchPin1477||

    But if it is true, I'm sure the refrain will be "See how evil Bush was? Good thing we have Obama now!" As if abuse of power cares about party affiliation.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    The other thing, who in '04 thought Obama would be president? So he's either full of shit, or they were spying on nearly everyone.

  • ||

    Well, the man was associating with known murderous terrorists. They were just the acceptable leftist kind that now inhabit academia.

  • Hugh Akston||

    whoever's face that guy is wearing, it doesn't fit very well.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    He's tear-assing around Washington in a brand-new Russ suit.

  • np||

    Tice was employed at various times by the Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    What's the difference between the DIA and the NSA?

  • Aresen||

    Different bureaucrats, different street address, same contempt for the Fourth Amendment.

  • John||

    DIA is under the Pentagon. NSA works directly for the President.

  • RightNut||

    The claim that the NSA was spying on Barack Obama seems very unlikely. For one thing, if they were spying on BO then they obviously never did anything with the information. Their is still a lot of gaps about BO's past, and if he was being spied on I would think we would know more, not less. If Bush had private information on Democratic candidates, I would think he would have used it to try and prevent the 06 or 08 Republican election losses.

    The timing of these revelations also seems suspect to me. If Tice had this info for the last 8+ years, why let us know only now? This makes me think Tice is jealous of the attention Snowden is getting, and wants to get some media attention.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I doubt it's true, too. Some of these whistleblowers have their own political axes to grind.

    That said, let's not forget that Bush's administration shat on the Constitution plenty, too.

  • Tony||

    Yeah let's not. Wtf? Were you in a coma in those years?

  • Paul.||

    Shrike, Tony's gonna be pissed when he found out you haxxed his account.

  • ||

    You're assuming the NSA was doing the spying at Bush's behest. The NSA may have been collecting blackmail material for their own use.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'd say it's plausible, but I agree that it's odd that a whistleblower would take this long to throw that tidbit in, which would be huge, of course.

  • Aresen||

    Sometimes people take a long time to come to terms with their conscience.

  • RightNut||

    Tice seems to have come to terms around 05.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    That, and while I'd like to see some actual proof (not holding my breath), Snowden's leaks do make his story a bit more plausible.

    Imagine if he'd have come forward with this information even a few years ago. He wouldn't be taken seriously in the least bit.

  • RightNut||

    If he had come forward before 09 he would have been taken seriously by the media and a good portion of Democrats. He's had a rather long time to put this info forward, at least several good chances would have presented themselves before now.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm fully prepared to believe almost anything when it comes to abuse of power and corruption, as there appear to be no limits to such things in DC. In fact, I probably shouldn't even opine on what evil might or might not be plausible, because it's all totally beyond my comprehension.

  • Loki||

    Their is still a lot of gaps about BO's past, and if he was being spied on I would think we would know more, not less.

    Think blackmail. If the NSA had the goods on Obama it would be much more useful to them to blackmail him into staying out of their way. It could explain why Obama suddenly seemed to stop worrying about civil liberties* and learned to love the surveillance state.

    *Assuming he ever genuinely gave a shit about civil liberites in the first place. Which is an aweful big assumption.

  • Loki||

    If Bush had private information on Democratic candidates, I would think he would have used it to try and prevent the 06 or 08 Republican election losses.

    What Tice seems to be saying though is that the NSA is a rogue agency. If that's the case then it's possible that they didn't hand any information over to Bush or his people because they were planning on keeping it themselves. Again, think blackmail.

  • RightNut||

    Its possible of course that someone or some group of people in the NSA are rogue and are using their info to covertly control the government, but that seems highly unlikely and leads pretty directly to Alex Jones type conspiracy theory-crafting.

    Think about it: If the NSA does have info on everyone, why would they have let someone like Tice see it, why would they let him live after his initial disclosure? Either the NSA has something on everyone and is all powerful, or it isn't.

  • John||

    The NSA can't just whack people. They have no real world assets. They just listen to stuff. And maybe they got sloppy. And further, they have the DOJ and the threat of jail and the national security laws to back them up and to keep people from talking.

  • RightNut||

    Then the conclusion must be the NSA is not all powerful and is not controlling the government via blackmail. Therefore it is highly unlikely(not impossible) that Tice is telling the truth.

  • John||

    I doubt they control the whole government. But what about something in the middle. They have few internal controls and employees often abuse the technology and spy on people?

  • RightNut||

    They have few internal controls and employees often abuse the technology and spy on people?

    To what end? Its possible, but then you would expect the technology to spy on candidates to be abused and used for personal gain or at least amusement. For example, an embarrassing photo of congressman X dancing naked passed around the office. Once again, its possible, but I would think that someone in the vast bureaucracy would either leak that they were spying on congress, or would try and use the information for personal gain.

  • Rasilio||

    and if they just didn't find anything actionable?

    Them spying on Obama in 04 is not surprising, here you have an obscure african american community organizer rising rapidly to Senator while attending an anti american black church and being best buddies with a known terrorist in Bill Ayers who has a foreign born father and spent a good chunk of his childhood overseas.

    It is quite likely they were spying on him at the time because there were legitimate concerns within the agency that he might be up to no good.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Just give us the budget and you'll be fine.

  • John||

    I don't think a President of either party would use the NSA to spy in such a crude way on their political enemies. If they were ever caught, it would be the end of them and perhaps their entire political party. I can't believe any President would take that kind of risk. And what would he do with the information? He couldn't leak without somehow covering where it came from. He couldn't blackmail the other politician with it since the fact that he used the NSA would give the other guy something even better to blackmail him with.

    Now, would the NSA spy on up and coming politicians? I could see that. I could totally see them being a rogue agency. It has happened before with FBI under Hoover. Why couldn't it happen again?

  • Gray Ghost||

    I don't think a President of either party would use the NSA to spy in such a crude way on their political enemies. If they were ever caught, it would be the end of them and perhaps their entire political party.

    You could have inserted IRS for NSA in the same sentence five years ago and been just as right. Now look at us.

    I don't know if the Obama Administration used the very extensive capabilities of the NSA to spy on their political enemies, but I can't rule it out of hand after hearing they used the IRS to do much the same thing. Besides, crude is all they do.

    It's disgusting. A special prosecutor should have been appointed yesterday, and this time, people need to go to jail. Not just board a plane back to San Clemente. Or it will get worse, and my comparisons to the Gulag Archipelago will get more and more correct.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    What "gaps in his past"?

    Are you listening to AM redneck radio?

  • John||

    Just his entire academic record, how he managed to get into Columbia things like that. It is likely that he lied and falsely claimed to be a Kenyan national to get into Columbia and that explains why he has never released his academic records.

  • Tony||

    None of this bullshit helps your cause.

    If you even have one.

  • RightNut||

    Was wondering when you would show up to ask that. His college grades, his actions "community organizing" in Chicago, including full disclosure of his involvement with Tony Rezko. His teaching record in Chicago, his association with Bill Ayers and what if any involvement Ayers had with Obama's first book.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Harvard Magna cum laude, lawyer in Chicago, Rezko sold him a house, he was acquainted with Bill Ayers who had nothing to do with his book.

    Damn, you're gullible if you believe the CT "questions" that imply anything else.

  • RightNut||

    Harvard Magna cum laude,

    Obama went to three different institutions.

    lawyer in Chicago

    Doing what exactly?

    Rezko sold him a house,

    Obama, as you point out, a LAWYER, bought a house from a guy known to be disreputable and involved in ILLEGAL dealings, and that was it?

    e was acquainted with Bill Ayers who had nothing to do with his book.

    Ayers has joked/admitted on several occasions that he wrote Dreams of my Father. I believe(would have to check) that a biography of Obama also mentioned that Ayers had involvement with Obama's first book. Ayers also hosted Obama when he announced he was running for office, as well as serving with him on a board.

    Seems like a bit more than an acquaintance to me.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    So he might have been a C student as undergrad Rezko is on par with Trump in terms of reputation.

    Ayers would be a hero in anti-gov circles for his anti-war actions if he had an R by his name.

  • RightNut||

    So he might have been a C student as undergrad Rezko is on par with Trump in terms of reputation.

    I highly doubt that, but even if that was the case why would Obama get involved with him?

    Ayers would be a hero in anti-gov circles for his anti-war actions if he had an R by his name.

    If that is true why wouldn't Obama just say that? If Ayers is just an odd acquaintance why go through all the trouble to distance Obama from him?

  • RightNut||

    Also the only radio I listen to is NPR.

    Really

  • PapayaSF||

    Rezko sold him a house

    No, Obama bought a house and Rezko bought an adjacent vacant lot on the same day, then sold Obama a 10-foor strip of land under questionable circumstances.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "For one thing, if they were spying on BO then they obviously never did anything with the information."

    How do you know? If there was blackmail, and Obama kept his end of the bargain (presumably by abandoning what civil liberties concerns he had about the NSA), you wouldn't know shit.

  • RightNut||

    Oh Please, yes Barack Obama, champion of civil liberties, suddenly took a turn as soon as he was elected to office because he was blackmailed by the illuminati NSA.

    Or maybe Obama's a lying sack of shit politician, just like every other politician who has ever run for office. Which do you think is more likely?

  • Harvard||

    So then, NSA can tell us exactly where the shitstain who is Obama was born, and what sovereignty endorsed his passport, and can tell us if he ever really did sit in a classroom at Harvard, and the identy of his tutors at the madrassa, and....where is my FOIA form.

  • Paul.||

    Oh thank god we finally steered this ship back to Bush.

  • Hash Brown||

    For a while there, I was worried.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Tice praised Edward Snowden's exposure of PRISM. He said, Snowden “brought forward information the American people need to know.”

    SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

    What's that? That's not what you meant?

    Too bad.

  • Another David||

    Man, now I'm laughing too hard to be outraged.

    Wait, gimme a minute, I....nope, still hilarious.

  • GILMORE||

    Tice claimed that among the people his office surveilled was Barack Obama

    Well, there *was* a 51% chance he was maybe a foreigner.

    Also, you know, it isn't really *intentional*. Total accident there.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What Tice seems to be saying though is that the NSA is a rogue agency.

    Since we are rapidly devolving into a rogue state, it's only fitting.

    All hail our omniscient overlords!

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Investigating the notorious Choom Gang.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Good thing the NSA refuses to pass on information, or the DEA would have busted his ass.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Paging General Petraeus.
    General Petraeus, call for you at the White Phone.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, if the blackmail theory is true, was Petraeus threatened and refused to play ball?

  • John||

    The whole thing is very odd. Just how did they just happen to find that email account?

  • Gray Ghost||

    What if Justice Roberts decided to not refuse? Isn't it funny that we can't immediately dismiss that idea as the ravings of someone who'd be better off handing out LaRouche pamphlets?

    The "I just want to be liked" theory is more realistic, but damn, the O-care decision was one hell of a 180 degree turn.

  • ChrisO||

    I suspect the truth of all this is at once more banal and much more horrifying than what we know publicly.

    Information is the coin of the realm in Washington DC, and there is simply no way the holder of such a vast amount of sensitive information could ever be trusted.

    I guess the terrorists really did win.

  • Acosmist||

    Looking forward to that document dump on Obama, then. Grades would be a cool start.

  • Bernieyeball||

    So I have been listed in the local land line phone company directory, name, address and phone number since 1968. Still am. I guess the listing is still provided by the phone company Directory Assistance service since I do not pay the extra monthly charge for an Unlisted Number.
    What degree of "expectation of privacy" should I hope for?

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