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Wiretap Whistleblower, a Life in Limbo?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the life-in-the-crosshairs dept.

Government 521

Newsweek has an interesting report on Thomas M. Tamm, the individual who blew the whistle on the Federal Government's warrantless wiretaps. The piece takes a look at some of the circumstances leading up to the disclosure and what has happened since. "After the raid, Justice Department prosecutors encouraged Tamm to plead guilty to a felony for disclosing classified information — an offer he refused. More recently, Agent Lawless, a former prosecutor from Tennessee, has been methodically tracking down Tamm's friends and former colleagues. The agent and a partner have asked questions about Tamm's associates and political meetings he might have attended, apparently looking for clues about his motivations for going to the press, according to three of those interviewed."

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Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123355)

Very chilling. Do not take your freedom for granted. I'll share my personal story to show how quickly a thriving democracy can turn into an oppresive regime, here in the US.

Remember the times that led to the invsasion of Iraq? American flags on every highway overpass?

I just happened to be in the process of getting my green card, which means my future was at the mercy of a faceless US government bureaucrat. A rejection and I'd have to pack with my family (including two US born children) and find another place in the globe to settle.

I had published a couple of letters to the editors in the San Jose Mercury News, discussing politics. I was reading foreign media which were hinting that US intelligence on Iraq WMD was bogus. Guess what? I stood very quiet, very silent. Who knows who was listening and how far the goverment was willing to go to silence dissent. If it had been just me, I would have stood up and fought for my rights, but with my family in mind, I decided to cave.

Think about this for a second: the best place on earth, and still scared of what the government might do to me. Call me paranoid, but it felt like a very real threat. It's only in the last two years or so, with Obama rising, that the oppressive feeling has left.

--
http://fairsoftware.net/ [fairsoftware.net]

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123431)

and it's not unexpected. If you blow the whistle on illegal activities the perpetrators of the crime will harass you and your family to pay you back.

The feds are simply punishing him and his family for outing their illegal activities. nothing different than what the organized crime people will do... well except they kill everyone, the Feds are not at that level yet.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123581)

Important note: the "Feds" you mention are the Republicans who were tapping phone lines. Somebody has to say it.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123639)

Oh come off it. The NSA was doing it, they only got permission from a republican president. Obama even voted for the telecom immunity. The Republicans have problems, but lets not give them credit where they're not due.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

CFTM (513264) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123813)

But being an ideologue is so much fun!

Seriously, Obama had an opportunity to set himself apart when Telco immunity came to the floor but he joined with rank and file on this issue. Government, on both sides of the isle, has no desire to ever give power up.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124179)

So, according to you, Obama == democrats. Hmmm, that's like saying that ME == set of all sexy men in the world. It's a little far fetched.

And what branch of government is the NSA part of? And how many Democrats run that branch? Answers - executive, NONE.

The comment was *who* was tapping and wrecking the whistleblower's life - not who has been ineffective at stopping the Republican President from wiretapping.

So tell me again why simply saying that it's Republicans who are committing these crimes is ideological? Got news for you. Nixon was a Republican, and that is also a fact.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (4, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124281)

Oh come off it? Those of us outside your country have long enough memories to remember that Bush did not give PERMISSION to the NSA but ORDERED the NSA to perform these wiretaps [cnn.com] .

I sincerely hope that was ignorance not spin you were displaying there.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124385)

I sincerely hope that was ignorance not spin you were displaying there.

With the knowledge and implied consent of the leaders of both houses of Congress (including Democrats); with the stated legal approval of the head of the FISA Court of Appeals; with the legal justification written by the Clinton Justice Department.

I am not in favor of the practice. I'm against it. But I am not blind enough to say this was all Bush.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

michaelmuffin (1149499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123847)

it's both republicans and democrats. they're playing on the same team with the democrats running interference

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124307)

Which Democrat ordered the NSA to wiretap? Please inform us.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123997)

Yeah... because there were ***NO*** democrats ***WHAT SO EVER***. It was purely Republicans. The saints that run the Democrat party were fighting tooth and nail to stop this from happening.

That's why we elected The Messiah!!! Because His perfect party is the second coming and will usher in a thousand years of peace after the 7 years of satan (aka Bush)

Hint: if you don't sense the sarcasm, you should pull your head out of your ass. If you seriously think that the ass hats in the democrat party did anything to stop this, or will do anything different while in power? Where are the champion Democrats that fought against this? Where are the Dem leaders fighting to uphold the Consitution?
*waits*

*waits*

*waits*

*Crickets still chirping*

And why is that? Because it took an FBI agent with the balls to talk - NOT an elected official - Rebulican OR Democrat.

Fuck you and your party line stance. It's that strict adherence to "Dems are leftwing batnuts enviro tree huggers" and "Repubs are stupid religious freaks" party lines that are fuckin this country over. People care more about their party than the Country that the parties are supposed to be representing.

Fuck Bush. Fuck Obama. Fuck McCain. Fuck Congress. Fuck the Senate. They are all asshats who are passing shit like the Bailouts, driving this country so far into debt that I have no doubt we'll be asking Cuba for handouts in 10 years.

But you go ahead and blame the Republicans, while sucking on the Dem leader dicks like the party fights are going to solve anything.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123649)

nothing different than what the organized crime people will do... well except they kill everyone, the Feds are not at that level yet.

Which reminds me, when are they going to finish that Ministry of Love building?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123831)

Obviously we need to pass a law making it illegal for the Govt to "classify" its illegal activities. Then anyone who exposes such classified data would be doing a service that can be rewarded (how about that person taking over the job of the person who did the classifying?) while the bad guy goes to jail.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123985)

Indeed. We have to have more public oversight and judgement on what exactly are "matters of national security".

We also need stronger anonymous protection of whistleblowers and journalists who choose to let their sources remain anonymous so long as the whistleblower had reason to believe that the goverment(or corporation etc.) was involved in illegal activity.

Ideally, we should disband our intelligence services and rebuild them with much more oversight(as for the Department of "Homeland Security", we should tear it down and leave it that way). The FBI are pissing away astonishing amounts of money and resources for what is essentially a "takes a crook to catch a crook" racket which is stinking drunk from its own unchecked power. If they want to question the whistleblower with a lawyer present, fine...but they shouldn't be threatening his friends and family busting down doors while decked out in combat gear.

Thankfully, with Obama in charge things may or may not change for the better, but at least they won't get any worse. Shame on those of you who voted for the senile puppet McCain and his Brunette Barbie doll Sarah Palin.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

rev_g33k_101 (886348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124463)

Thankfully, with Obama in charge things may or may not change for the better, but at least they won't get any worse. Shame on those of you who voted for the senile puppet McCain and his Brunette Barbie doll Sarah Palin.

you had a awesome post up until this point. you had to throw that in there didn't you.

look Obama is a elected official, from Chicago!

If you think for one second that he is going to do anything different form Illinois business as usual you are seriously mistaken.

want to know what Illinois business as usual is, look at the news for the past week.

Now I am not saying McCain is any better, he is just another elected official.

They are 2 sides of the same coin, and that coin is the raping of the United States.

Just one is going to rape her to her face and one is going to rape her from behind.

I guess the question is; How do you want to be raped?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Interesting)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123801)

nothing different than what the organized crime people will do... well except they kill everyone, the Feds are not at that level yet.

In something reminiscent of The Prisoner [wikipedia.org] , the CIA threw a former LSD researcher out of a hotel window [cognitiveliberty.org] when he told his colleagues that he wanted to quit his job because of ethical issues dealing with his research. Although the CIA denied the claims (and the referenced URL doesn't get into details), there is evidence that contradicts the CIA's claim that he committed suicide by jumping out of the window. In fact the forensic evidence indicated that he was thrown out of the window (according to the American Justice account). "Frank Olson's body was exhumed in 1994, and cranial injuries indicated Olson had been knocked unconscious before exiting the window." (Ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKULTRA [wikipedia.org] ).

Though that is just one account that was made public and that the CIA denies (even though the government eventually awarded the family financial damages).

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

DanielG42 (906032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124387)

So he was defenstrated?!

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124435)

ruby ridge.
wako.
rainbow ranch.

that's just a couple that came off the top of my head.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123497)

Would another place on the globe be so bad? How about the place you were before you got your original green card? You published a couple letters. That's great. You discussed politics. Even better. You stood very quiet. Why? Who knows who was listening? Probably no one.

Pure paranoid conjecture. I can't believe someone modded this up.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123551)

I'll share my personal story to show how quickly a thriving democracy can turn into an oppresive regime, here in the US.

...

I had published a couple of letters to the editors in the San Jose Mercury News, discussing politics. I was reading foreign media which were hinting that US intelligence on Iraq WMD was bogus. Guess what? I stood very quiet, very silent. Who knows who was listening and how far the goverment was willing to go to silence dissent. If it had been just me, I would have stood up and fought for my rights, but with my family in mind, I decided to cave.

How does that story show anything other than your own paranoia?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

NastyNate (398542) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123889)

Just because he's paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after him.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Informative)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124189)

How does that story show anything other than bullshit.

With 2 US born children, He's got US citizenship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchor_baby [wikipedia.org]

--Toll_Free

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0, Flamebait)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123561)

I had published a couple of letters to the editors in the San Jose Mercury News, discussing politics. I was reading foreign media which were hinting that US intelligence on Iraq WMD was bogus. Guess what? I stood very quiet, very silent. Who knows who was listening and how far the goverment was willing to go to silence dissent. If it had been just me, I would have stood up and fought for my rights, but with my family in mind, I decided to cave.

Here, I thought you were about to tell us how your home was raided by black-suited agents and you were jailed in Gitmo as an "enemy combatant." So you really just chickened out, assuming that you would be persecuted? Perhaps you are not ready for freedom. Do you really think that an Obama presidency will help? He thinks it's okay to tell radio and TV stations what to air. If a station's editorials appear too biased against the left, his regime will invoke the "Fairness Doctrine".

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123755)

Do you really think that an Obama presidency will help? He thinks it's okay to tell radio and TV stations what to air. If a station's editorials appear too biased against the left, his regime will invoke the "Fairness Doctrine".

you think that's bad? read what he wants to do with online advertising: http://tinyurl.com/3b5r7y [tinyurl.com]

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123807)

You gotta love the freeper mentality: "You believe that the government in the continental US is as degenerate and unaccountable as our military in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? You're paranoid!"

Look at history: COINTELPRO, agents provocateurs, enemies lists, McCarthyism.

Six years ago a radio station had children stomping on and setting fire to Dixie Chicks albums because they were ashamed of the president, unwittingly reenacting one of the funniest scenes from Starship Troopers. Who knew how far it would go? Who knew how stupid and paranoid the government would become? If the citizenry was any indication, very. After 9/11, our country was on the short bus to crazytown.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (-1, Troll)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124177)

Look at history: COINTELPRO, agents provocateurs, enemies lists, McCarthyism.

And this has what to do with this guy?

Six years ago a radio station had children stomping on and setting fire to Dixie Chicks albums ... Who knew how stupid and paranoid the government would become?

Um. That had nothing to do with the government. You actually think the CIA orchestrated the burning of Dixie Chicks albums? You think they give a damn about the Dixie Chicks?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (4, Insightful)

Sleepy (4551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124441)

>Um. That had nothing to do with the government. You actually think the CIA orchestrated the burning of Dixie Chicks albums? You think they give a damn about the Dixie Chicks?

Wow. You deliberately and methodically misconstrue what he said in a way that's designed to discourage and wear down all intelligent discussion.
Congratulations.

Actually, your post is the BEST example so far of the mentality behind those burnings.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124199)

Was it the same radio station that helped a lady kill herself by offering a prize for drinking a bunch of water and not urinating?

I don't think that we, as a society, are doing a particularly wonderful job, but pointing out that people are allowed to act like morons isn't really a scathing rebuke.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124009)

Perhaps you are not ready for freedom.

Perhaps you are just an arrogant asshole that needs to get off of its high horse.

Seriously, maybe you don't realise, but the GP didn't have a legal entitlement to stay in the USA yet. IF he had been shipped off, for whatever reason... well, he could've fought it (in theory; in practice, it likely wouldn't have gotten him anywhere, it would've been expensive, and he might not even have gotten the visa to attend the trial etc. - don't underestimate the government's ability and willingness to throw stones in your way), but in the end, he wouldn't have been entitled to anything. If his application had been rejected - tough luck, sucks to be you, next please.

Not waking the sleeping dogs until you've actually made sure you're over the fence so they can't reach you anymore is a good idea, and your chastising the GP for not doing so just because YOU can do so from the safety of behind the fence where you've been all your life just shows that you Don't Get It(tm).

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123617)

It's only in the last two years or so, with Obama rising

Are you talking about the same Obama that put Joe the plumber under intense investigation, getting him fired, airing the fact that he has a late library book in the 5th grade. Is this the Obama that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about the 1st amendment?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123725)

The people and press spent resources to heavily investigate Joe's background.

Being in the spotlight has its consequences

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124085)

And Obama could have told them to knock it off. He never did. Obama was the one who pulled Joe out of the masses, and asked for a question. Just because he didn't like being asked if he was a socialist is no reason to destro the poor guy.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124413)

I agree it would be real bad if politicians started to ask voters what they wanted...
[/sarcasm]

Joe Joe Joe (2, Interesting)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124043)

You mean Joe the plumber who didn't pay his taxes so my own tax burden is larger? I don't care about his library record, but if you are going to whine about taxes on the public stage and didn't pay them, expect to be given the big 'naughty, naughty'.

People love to be angry about hypocrites.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (3, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124209)

Are you talking about the same Obama that put Joe the plumber under intense investigation

No more intense than everyone else who stood up in the spotlight. Doesn't the public have a right to know whether the claims people are making are true or not? And it was the press as much as Obama who went and investigated. I don't think we really want to discourage our free press from investigating claims that someone is trying to use to influence a presidential election, do we?

So, not everything they uncovered was nice. That's not their fault. If you want to stand up and complain about taxes, it helps if you've actually paid them. Joe the plumber learned that the hard way.

Is this the Obama that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about the 1st amendment?

Joe the plumber had the right to speak freely, he exercised that right, and nobody did anything to restrain him or to prevent him having plenty of media exposure where he was positively encouraged to go into great detail about his beliefs.

He got a massive audience for his speech, which is way more than the First Amendment guarantees.

So there were bad consequences? Too bad. The First Amendment says nothing, nothing at all, about the consequences of exercising your right. All it says is that Congress can't make any laws taking that right away.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123631)

An article everybody should read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment [guardian.co.uk]

I'm afraid it could be too late already.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1, Insightful)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123651)

Very chilling.

Dude commits a felony and they go after him for it and that is "chilling"? Howso?

I'll share my personal story to show how quickly a thriving democracy can turn into an oppresive regime, here in the US. ... I stood very quiet, very silent. Who knows who was listening and how far the goverment was willing to go to silence dissent.

Wow. So you think that your own baseless decision to be "very slient" is evidence of an "oppressive regime."

Think about this for a second: the best place on earth, and still scared of what the government might do to me. Call me paranoid

You're paranoid.

It's only in the last two years or so, with Obama rising, that the oppressive feeling has left.

You're also utterly delusional.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123739)

Dude commits a felony and they go after him for it and that is "chilling"? Howso?

It's chilling because you have to break the law in order to even report another (arguably greater) crime, and there is absolutely no consideration for the whistleblower during his own persecution.

Where on the scale of criminal law does broad scale warrantless wiretapping fall?
=Smidge=

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124255)

It's chilling because you have to break the law in order to even report another (arguably greater) crime

How could it be any other way?

and there is absolutely no consideration for the whistleblower during his own persecution.

Yes, there is. There's whole laws about using "whistleblowing" as a defense.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123835)

Excuse me Mr. Oh So Self Righteous Asshat!

It's only a felony if it is determined that what he was told not to reveal was legal. That's in the godam Uniform Code of Military Justice fer gawdsakes. I think it could also be construed from the constitution or at least the oath that he would have had to take when he was given the clearance. If he was not authorized to have that information then the person who allowed him access to it committed the felony. He believed he WAS defending the constitution!

I guess having a low /. membership number means only that you are an old asshole. And check there who is delusional!

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123905)

In your hypothetical case, when a person comes upon classified information that is improperly stored (like, right out in the open) they are supposed to store it properly immediately, or guard it themselves until it can be stored properly.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Informative)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123951)

It's only a felony if it is determined that what he was told not to reveal was legal.

False.

That's in the godam Uniform Code of Military Justice fer gawdsakes.

Since this has nothing to do with the military, and hence nothing to do with the UCMJ, I wonder why you think that's relevant. And even then you're still wrong: blowing the whistle on illegal activity is a defense in trial. It is not a defense against being prosecuted, or against charges being filed.

He believed he WAS defending the constitution!

And he can present evidence to that effect at trial. This is how the legal system works.

Now, I am not saying he should be prosecuted: that is up to the discretion of the U.S. Attorney and so on. If the government feels his "illegal activity" defense is strong enough, then they shouldn't bother filing charges. And further, there are other reasons to not bother filing charges.

But he committed a crime. Period. And purusing him for that is not "chilling," it's following the law.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (3, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124165)

The real issue here is hypocrisy. While the government wants to have immunity for itself and its conspirators for breaking the law; they insist on punishing a person who thought he was doing the right thing (and perhaps something patriotic) by exposing this illegal behavior.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0, Redundant)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124269)

The real issue here is hypocrisy.

No, it's not.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124355)

No, it's not

I will elaborate and rephrase that:
"For me the real issue here is hypocrisy."

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (5, Interesting)

fredrated (639554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123841)

It should not be possible to classify illegal government activity. This man took a chance to protect my freedom and yours, if you don't respect that then I have to ask: why do you hate America's freedoms?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0, Flamebait)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123949)

It should not be possible to classify illegal government activity.

Huh? I don't know what that sentence means. The obvious literal meaning doesn't seem to be what you mean.

This man took a chance to protect my freedom and yours

That's your opinion. I hope you are not so naive to believe this one-sided retelling of the facts. Remember Deep Throat: it turns out that Mark Felt had significant self-serving motivations.

But the point is that he committed a felony. To say it is "chilling" that he is being pursued for his crime is stupid.

why do you hate America's freedoms?

When did you stop beating your mother?

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124047)

He means that if an activity is illegal then it's classified status should be voided automatically.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0, Flamebait)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124309)

He means that if an activity is illegal then it's classified status should be voided automatically.

That's obviously silly. It's unpracticable. Imagine an activity where we have a covert op to find a nuclear weapon device, but someone in that op does something illegal. The whole op should be declassified? Well, you may argue, the op wasn't illegal, so it wouldn't apply. But these things are never completely cut-and-dried. And besides, this warrantless wiretapping system itself has never been found to be illegal.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (4, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124115)

It _is_ chilling. The man revealed a major set of constitutional violations, by the NSA, in collaboration with AT&T. There are various basic laws that _required_ him to report such felonies. And it is exactly such abuses that the freedom of the press was designed to encourage the revelation of.

The man deserves a Medal of Honor.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124321)

It _is_ chilling. The man revealed a major set of constitutional violations, by the NSA, in collaboration with AT&T. There are various basic laws that _required_ him to report such felonies. And it is exactly such abuses that the freedom of the press was designed to encourage the revelation of.

You forgot to say how it is chilling.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124305)

Dude commits a felony and they go after him for it and that is "chilling"? Howso?

Everything else aside, how is it not? Half of the purpose of having a legal system is to "chill" illegal activity.

baseless decision

On what grounds do you label his decision baseless? He may be "paranoid" and "delusional", but depending on what country he came from, he may actually have a solid reason to be that way.

However, I would have to go with "delusional" regarding Obama making it all better. After all, it's quite likely the exact same incompetent bureaucrats would have been in charge of mishandling his application before or after the election.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124471)

Everything else aside, how is it not?

I cannot easily answer a negative. I don't see how it is chilling. Your job is to say how it IS chilling. That's how we do this. :-)

Half of the purpose of having a legal system is to "chill" illegal activity.

That is a different sense in which he used the word "chilling."

On what grounds do you label his decision baseless?

That he provided no basis for it. He may have had it, but he didn't share it. But yes, as you say, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, obviously.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123909)

>It's only in the last two years or so, with Obama rising, that the oppressive feeling has left.

Explain this.

Seriously, the "Bush is bad, Obama is good!" chanting reminds me too much of animal farm.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124031)

Very chilling. Do not take your freedom for granted. [...] how quickly a thriving democracy can turn into an oppresive regime, here in the US.

OMG, yes, this is dreadful! Just think, all he did was to commit the federal crime of endangering national security by leaking classified information, and suddenly the government started harrassing him, like, totally without provocation! Help! Help! We're being oppressed!

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124139)

With 2 us born children, if you establish paternity, you would have been granted citizenship regardless.

Nice try, but I'm not buying the story.

US born children, you have "anchor babies".

Please tell me why you couldn't get citizenship with 2 so called, "anchor babies", but yet every Mexican with a US born child can't be deported?

--Toll_Free

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124299)

Agreed. I read this this morning and this story really draws you in. It's amazing to me that so many people could be feeling that the whole fiasco was wrong and do so little about it. This is why we need whistle blower protections.

I feel for the guy and his family, but he had to have known what would happen. Myself, if I was in his shoes I would of done the same thing. Warrantless wiretapping is just wrong. It's illegal and immoral.

Factor in his experience with how the death penalty was so liberally pushed with Bush in office and you feel almost sick. Nothing else that has happened has made me feel like the US was going totally into a facist police state as that section of the story. Truly chilling.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124315)

A rejection and I'd have to pack with my family (including two US born children) and find another place in the globe to settle.

Well, no. Assuming you were married to the mother of the children (who were American Citizens, by definition), then you're next of kin to a minor American, and pretty much guaranteed to get permission to stay in the USA.

Of course, if you weren't so married, then all bets are off, until and unless the mother died, at which time the conditions mentioned above would come into play again.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (2, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124361)

FTA: "Tamm concedes he was also motivated in part by his anger at other Bush-administration policies...He was hoping, he says, that Lichtblau and his partner Risen (with whom he also met) would figure out on their own what the program was really all about and break it before the 2004 election." There proper are ways to report illegal activity. Making a secret phone call to the NYT in hopes of swinging the presidential election is not one of them.

Re:Don't take freedom for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124389)

Who said US is the best place on earth?

SCI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123397)

Thomas M. Tamm was entrusted with some of the government's most important secrets. He had a Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, a level above Top Secret

Its my understanding that SCI is lateral to Top Secret, not above. Can anyone refute my claim or substantiate the authors?

Agent Lawless? (4, Funny)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123413)

Am I the only one to notice the irony of having a guy named Agent Lawless at the Justice Department?

Nope (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123515)

Am I the only one to notice the irony of having a guy named Agent Lawless at the Justice Department?

Think we all did :-)

Re:Agent Lawless? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123589)

What the hell is this Lawless dude's deal anyway? Checking out Tamm's motivations? Oh, I'm sure he must be a terrorist, right?

Fsck that. Tamm reported what he clearly felt was illegal activity being performed by the federal government. As far as I'm concerned, I don't want Lawless spending another red cent of my tax dollars going after Tamm. Tamm is a patriot as far as I'm concerned. We should all stand up and applaud his efforts in exposing this ugly, terrible government corruption. These acts are illegal, going against our highest laws, morals and ideals. The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves at this immense injustice.

If anyone is a criminal, it's Agent Lawless.

Re:Agent Lawless? (0, Troll)

girasquid (1234570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123975)

You like your emphasis, don't you?

Re:Agent Lawless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123933)

Did it ever dawn on you that it is not his name? When doing this kind of work, a number of ppl work under temp names.

Government for the people by the peopl (1)

utahraptor (703433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123415)

Sadly, corrupted politicians count as people to.

Newsweek (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123417)

Isn't Newsweek about on par with the National Enquirer? I don't mean to flame, but jeez, Newsweek?

The name seems familiar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123453)

Perhaps he is related to a brother and sister who also seem to be in trouble with the government.

"apparently looking for clues about his motivation (4, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123457)

here's a clue: he believed it was illegal

and clue #2 (4, Insightful)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124283)

Government officials of the American Republic swear an oath to the Constitution, NOT to the President or any other individual.

Motivations? (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123459)

Errr I'm taking a massive shot in the dark here but I'm guessing that the motivation would be

CONCERN ABOUT THE MASSIVE SUBVERSION OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND THE CONSTITUTION

I mean I know its a crazy mad sort of idea that someone might be motivated by decency and the desire for what is right rather than some political ideology. When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney talk about the principles of American freedom... well that is what this man has stood up to defend.

How sad that its the defender of freedom who is being shafted, while those who look to subvert the constitution are getting away scot free.

Re:Motivations? (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123791)

From reading the article, there is a question as to his motivations. Apparently he had been very uncomfortable with the administrations push for capital punishment, and so its supposed that he may have had a political axe to grind, and that this may have muddied his judgement on how to proceed.

Basically my interpretation is that if he hadn't had other motivations as well, he may have tried more to go through legal means to do something about the program before contacting the press. The fact that he was very frustrated that the Times didn't publish immediately (and thus break Bush's chance for re-election) could be interpreted as implying he had a personal vendetta against the administration rather than being solely motivated by stopping an unconstitutional program. Of course, I'll grant you that that frustration could be just as likely to come from a desire to see the program stopped. But trying to affect the results of an election rather than just putting a stop to a program that he couldn't get stopped any other way puts it in a different light.

Of course, I think the 'Protect and defend the Constitution of the United States' phrase in the oath probably had the most to do with it, but as with most things in life there are some uncomfortable shades of gray.

Re:Motivations? (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123913)

I would be annoyed if a newspaper was withholding information which helps to re-elect someone who had failed to uphold the constitution last time and had ordered criminal acts to take place. Presumably voters should have all available information before voting but perhaps that's just me.

Re:Motivations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124003)

Errr I'm taking a massive shot in the dark here but I'm guessing that the motivation would be

CONCERN ABOUT THE MASSIVE SUBVERSION OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND THE CONSTITUTION

I mean I know its a crazy mad sort of idea that someone might be motivated by decency and the desire for what is right rather than some political ideology.

Exactly, the only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing...

One Day (4, Interesting)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123479)

He will be recognized as a hero for defending the constitution, like those civil rights advocates who once violated state/local ordinances on segregation.

Unfortunately, today is not that day. But he is a true hero none the less.

Agent Lawless (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123481)

Agent Lawless, a former prosecutor from Tennessee...

Most ironic... name... ever...

I'm sure he never got ridiculed for that name from other students while studying for his law degree. (Yeah, I read the story earlier about sarcasm [slashdot.org] )

Re:Agent Lawless (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123761)

I hear that. I knew a guy who was in law school whose name was Case Collard. Great name for a lawyer/investigator.

Motives for going to the press? (4, Insightful)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123487)

How about basic patriotism?

Re:Motives for going to the press? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123619)

Isn't attacking, belittling or in any way shape or form finding fault with the administration unpatriotic in this day and age?

Isn't it portrayed as weakening America?

Re:Motives for going to the press? (1)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123669)

No no! Today's definition of "Patriotism" is letting the government give you the shaft and saying "Thank you." Well, at least if you believe those that say they support the president no matter what.

Re:Motives for going to the press? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123785)

Don't forget to wear your flag pin. Can't be a patriot without that pin.

Re:Motives for going to the press? (2, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124349)

How about basic patriotism?

Didn't you get the memo? Being patriotic today means wearing flag pins; hating those that aren't like you, particularity if the government tells you they are bad; not questioning anything the government does, vilifying those who would dare to question authority (how dare they!); and parroting anything that right-wing liberals like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh say. Any deviation from this means you are a terrorist, don't believe in god, and hate America.

Get with the program guy, and don't be late to the Two Minutes' Hate.

Agent Lawless? (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123507)

Why do all these controversies keep having names like something out of a Sheridan play?

Clues about motivations? (2, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123513)

blew the whistle on the Federal Government's warrantless wiretaps... [agent] looking for clues about his motivations for going to the press

Concern over illegality and the fact that his superiors didn't seem to care that it was? Isn't that the obvious answer? Are they expecting to find that he's a communist mole, sent to destroy us by exposing our blatant disregard for our own laws? I thought that's what whistleblowers were *supposed* to do. Who cares why?

Re:Clues about motivations? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124351)

Did you read the article? It isn't the obvious answer. If you only see half the story it's obvious, but he also had a political axe to grind. Did he leak the story because he didn't want the Justice department to break the law, or did he leak the story because he wanted to affect the presidential election.

Choice quotes from the article:

Tamm grew frustrated when the story did not immediately appear. He was hoping, he says, that Lichtblau and his partner Risen (with whom he also met) would figure out on their own what the program was really all about and break it before the 2004 election. He was, by this time, "pissed off" at the Bush administration, he says. He contributed $300 to the Democratic National Committee in September 2004, according to campaign finance records.

The source did not know precisely what was going onâ"he was, in fact, maddeningly vague

By mutual agreement, he resigned in late 2006. He was out of a job and squarely in the sights of the FBI. Nevertheless, he began blogging about the Justice Department for liberal Web sites.

If he genuinely did this because he wanted justice, then great... But it seems like he had only passing hints that something illegal might be going on... He didn't know any specifics.. So was he trying to "do the right thing"? Or was he using his security clearance for political reasons?

In Soviet America, +1, Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26123647)

Bushco limbos YOU !!!

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout [youtube.com]

In Wiretapped America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124191)

Whistle Blows You!

Haves & Have-Nots (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123693)

This is a classic case of a good deed being punished.

Here's a guy who had ethical problems with:
1. Rubber-stamping death penalty, as in, anyone who qualifies for it will be prosecuted as such.

2. Knew the American government was intentionally shipping it's enemies off to countries where torture is a part of law enforcement culture.

Does the right thing and leaves as a professional. "Thanks, but this stuff is not for me."

Ends up at another department where the notion of Laws are even **more** willfully disregarded and does the right thing by telling the press. No grandstanding. Just tips them off.

Now Federal law enforcement won't leave him and his friends alone.

Subverting the Rule of Law is now sanctioned at very lowest levels of government.

G r e a t.

Now that is irony (1)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123737)

Agent Lawless? Please tell me that's a cover name...

Re:Now that is irony (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124473)

You're right, it's for PR purposes. He adopted it when he got the part for Xenu, Barbarian Prosecutor.

Content minus crud (3, Informative)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26123767)

Print link [newsweek.com] .

And a damned interesting read, no matter your political stripe.

UnConstitutional (4, Insightful)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124065)

I think this statement says it all: "..If somebody were to say, who am I to do that? I would say, 'I had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution'..."

I think that counts for a lot. If the gov is doing something unconstitutional, then it's your duty to uphold that document first. As a gov official, you have an oath to that body of laws first and foremost. Loyalty to gove agencies or executives is secondary at best.

This lawless guy actually sounds more interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124145)

I am actually fascinated by this guy Lawless. How does the guy pay his bills exactly? Investigations aren't cheap. Does he have a job? With who?
He might just be a right wing fruitball but it could be more than that. If there are any film students out there he might make a good docco subject regardless of what ever his reasons turn out to be.

Time to Play (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124193)

Hello Agent Lawless. I'm bored and read /. all day. I have no girlfriend, no life, and just sit around and hack shit. You are my new toy.

Hero (3, Insightful)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124233)

With all the bad news I read about every day, it warms my heart to read about heroes. Even in terrible circumstances like this.

Thomas M. Tamm is a hero to the world and to the American public. He put the needs of the greater good above those of his own. He is fighting the fight that the vast majority of us are too scared to fight - a fight for his country, and a fight for freedom.

When the perpetrators of this current facism are vanquished, like they always are, we will look back and remember the good that rose to counter.

Bush and his cronies (2, Insightful)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124247)

Every second these people are allowed to live is another denial of any true justice.
These people should not be allowed to return to a life of luxury when so many people who actually worked for a living have lost everything they own.

I'd like to see these "men" marched out of the whitehouse forced to their knees and shot publicly. Anything less is a denial of justice.

I bet Obama pardons them all.
"Money stands for money, the devil for his own" -Billy Bragg

Realisticly every agent participating in this harassment needs to be fired and banned from holding a government job.

I've had quite enough of ineffective pussyfoot solutions.

Public beating. mob justice. (2, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26124333)

these are the correct treatments for the individuals who work for a government that has grown to see itself OVER and ABOVE its citizens, trying to intimidate them down, trying to subdue them.

disobedience. this is what such a government deserves.

this is what had happened in 1774.

Democrats: almost time to put up or shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26124455)

Your party is about to have both a congress majority and a president, at the same time. You can deal with this kind of stuff if you want to, and if you do, I'll stop holding Obama's FISA vote against him, and view it in the nicest it-was-a-regrettable-compromise light. You can pardon this guy on the first day of office. You can pass legislation that both protects whistleblowers like this, and also makes those who fail to blow the whistle, criminally liable.

Or we can have 4 more years of Bush-Obama.

What'll it be? Soon we'll know.

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