NSA: Listening in on its own employees, journalists, and members of Congress.
NSA spied on its own employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist
and congressional contacts. WMR has learned that the National Security Agency
(NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations
and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies
-- including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress, and
oversight agencies and offices.
The journalist surveillance program, code named "Firstfruits," was
part of a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was maintained
at least until October 2004 and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss.
Firstfruits was authorized as part of a DCI "Countering Denial and Deception"
program responsible to an entity known as the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee
(FDDC). Since the intelligence community's reorganization, the DCI has been
replaced by the Director of National Intelligence headed by John Negroponte
and his deputy, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.
Firstfruits was a database that contained both the articles and the transcripts
of telephone and other communications of particular Washington journalists known
to report on sensitive U.S. intelligence activities, particularly those involving
NSA. According to NSA sources, the targeted journalists included author James
Bamford, the New York Times' James Risen, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb,
the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the Washington Times' Bill Gertz, UPI's John
C. K. Daly, and this editor [Wayne Madsen], who has written about NSA for The
Village Voice, CAQ, Intelligence Online, and the Electronic Privacy Information
In addition, beginning in 2001 but before the 9-11 attacks, NSA began to target
anyone in the U.S. intelligence community who was deemed a "disgruntled employee."
According to NSA sources, this surveillance was a violation of United States Signals
Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
of 1978. The surveillance of U.S. intelligence personnel by other intelligence
personnel in the United States and abroad was conducted without any warrants from
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The targeted U.S. intelligence agency
personnel included those who made contact with members of the media, including
the journalists targeted by Firstfruits, as well as members of Congress, Inspectors
General, and other oversight agencies. Those discovered to have spoken to journalists
and oversight personnel were subjected to sudden clearance revocation and termination
as "security risks."
In 2001, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rejected a number of FISA
wiretap applications from Michael Resnick, the FBI supervisor in charge of counter-terrorism
surveillance. The court said that some 75 warrant requests from the FBI were
erroneous and that the FBI, under Louis Freeh and Robert Mueller, had misled
the court and misused the FISA law on dozens of occasions. In a May 17, 2002
opinion, the presiding FISA Judge, Royce C. Lamberth (a Texan appointed by Ronald
Reagan), barred Resnick from ever appearing before the court again. The ruling,
released by Lamberth's successor, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelley, stated in extremely
strong terms, "In virtually every instance, the government's misstatements
and omissions in FISA applications and violations of the Court's orders involved
information sharing and unauthorized disseminations to criminal investigators
and prosecutors . . . How these misrepresentations occurred remains unexplained
to the court."
After the Justice Department appealed the FISC decision, the FISA Review court
met for the first time in its history. The three-member review court, composed
of Ralph Guy of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Edward Leavy of the 9th
Circuit, and Laurence Silberman [of the Robb-Silberman Commission on 911 "intelligence
failures"] of the D.C. Circuit, overturned the FISC decision on the Bush
administration's wiretap requests.
Based on recent disclosures that the Bush administration has been using the
NSA to conduct illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, it is now becoming apparent
what vexed the FISC to the point that it rejected, in an unprecedented manner,
numerous wiretap requests and sanctioned Resnick.