A former National Security Agency analyst and a Bush-era whistleblower has revealed that the government’s warrantless wiretappings extended to many high-ranking officials, including then-Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004.
Russ Tice, speaking on The Boiling Frogs Show, said Wednesday that the NSA had ordered surveillance of a wide range of military officials, lawmakers and diplomats including Obama, The Huffington Post reports.
"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," the former intelligence analyst said. "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."
In 2005, Tice unmasked himself as the source of a New York Times’ report on the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping of telephone communications in and outside the U.S.
The leak forced former president George W. Bush to acknowledge the existence of wiretappings without court orders. While Bush claimed the program was used on a small scale, Tice said that was not true and that the NSA targeted millions of Americans.
Months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to secretly tap into Americans’ phone calls inside and outside the United States without a court warrant.
As details of the NSA’s surveillance program have recently come to the surface through classified documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Tice rejects the official response that the NSA has no desire for listening to people’s phone conversations without a warrant.
Tice believes the agency has now reached a point where it has the ability to "to collect all digital communications word for word."
President Obama has defended the NSA’s spying program, describing it as transparent and legal, even though the agency was authorized to run the surveillance activities in secret.
Obama reassured the Americans that “the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails."
The NSA is America’s largest and most secretive intelligence agency with listening posts around the world to eavesdrop on foreign governments and diplomats.