"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gag Me 

These are bleak days for whistleblowers:
Russ Tice, an intelligence analyst for the heavily secret National Security Agency, has announced that he was fired from his job earlier this week after he stood up to protest the way the agency harassed him. Tice was one of several intelligence agents who had joined former FBI translator Sibel Edmond’s new group, the National Security Whistleblowers. He appeared at an April 28 press conference on Capitol Hill to describe how the NSA treats employees it doesn’t like, specifically ones who dare to be critical.

Tice’s security clearance was taken away and he was ordered out as of May 16. In the intelligence community, having your security clearance lifted is like being sent to Siberia.

"Until the [intelligence community] can no longer use security clearances as weapons of retaliation without any fear of any form of oversight, there will be no incentive for them to stop this outrageous practice," he said at last week’s press conference.

His problems started when he asked the agency to look into the activities of an employee he thought might be engaged in espionage. Instead, the NSA called him in for an emergency psychological evaluation, one of the usual procedures in blackballing an employee. He was duly determined to be crazy and put on administrative leave. Tice was later assigned to unload furniture from trucks at a warehouse, where he hurt his back. He also served an eight-month tour of duty in the NSA motor pool, where the analyst worked at maintaining the agency’s fleet of vehicles, gassing them up, cleaning them and checking the fluids, and driving NSA big shots around town.

Tice had done intelligence work for nearly 20 years with the Air Force, with Navy intelligence, and with the Defense Intelligence Agency, before landing at the NSA. He has conducted intelligence missions related to Kosovo, Afghanistan, the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, and the Iraq war. Most recently he was nominated for an award for outstanding service because of his work on Iraq. It has since been withdrawn, along with the security clearance.

Every day, we get just a little closer to revoking Godwin's Law.

 

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