For the right, what’s old can be new again. Teases Matt Drudge tonight, Gertz: NSA whistleblower asks to testify; Vows to describe illegal intelligence operations… DEVELOPING…. No link yet.

I assume that Gertz is the Washington Times reporter. Any other guesses?

And I wonder if the whistleblower is former NSA intelligence agent Russell Tice, who already appeared Tuesday on Democracy Now! and has stated, before his Tuesday interview, that he would volunteer “to testify before Congress about illegal black ops programs at the NSA. Tice said, ‘The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state’.”

In the January 3rd interview titled, “National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a ‘Police State’,” Tice talked to Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.

RUSSELL TICE: … I’m involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it’s Congress’s responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don’t see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can’t explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the letter you have written to Congress, your request to testify?

RUSSELL TICE: Well, it’s just a simple request under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that something has gone wrong in the intelligence community. … Read all, including Tice’s description of how he came to be fired from the NSA in May 2005.

Tice, by the way, has joined FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ group, “the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.”

It’s not a surprise that the “developing…” story teased by Drudge has likely already been reported by Goodman. This past couple weeks — probably because the MSM would find it too distasteful, or explosive, to get into — only “independent” news sources have referred to Jack Abramoff’s diverting funds for “inner-city youths to militant Israeli colonists” for sniper training, “camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as ‘security’ equipment.” (See Juan Cole’s “Abramoff and al-Arian: Lobbyist’s “Charity” a Front for Terrorism.”)

Similarly this week, as if it were a new revelation, the conservative news services and bloggers have hyped a comment made in Germany last week by former CIA agent Michael Scheuer that President Bill Clinton began the “rendition” program. The Conservative Voice headlines its Jan. 2, 2006 story, “President Clinton Allowed Torture,” and adds:

The Washington Post had previously and erroneously reported that the practice of “renditioning” had begun under President Bush, when it was actually under Clinton.

Well, anyone who has read my February 2005 diary on the “secret history” of renditions, and a comparison of CIA v. FBI interrogation methods, the New Yorker‘s February 2005 seminal piece on rendition by Jane Mayer — or a remarkable Jan. 19, 2005 analysis by longtime UPI intelligence reporter Richard Sale .. continued below …
— would already know that the rendition program began under Clinton and with the assent of Richard Clarke, then in charge of counter-terrorism for the National Security Council. The differences between now and then?

Scheuer claimed [to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in February 2005] that “there was a legal process” undergirding these early renditions. Every suspect who was apprehended, he said, had been convicted in absentia.”

So, surely in an attempt to counter the deluge of negative press about Bushco and the rightwing money machine, what is old is new again — without reference to existing and reputable news accounts — but with the twist such as flippantly alleging that Clinton “allowed” torture. Actually, as Richard Sale pointed out in his January 21, 2005 piece, “Rendition: Pros and Cons,” due process was essential during the Clinton-era operations, as opposed to today’s extra-legal rendition snatch-and-transport operations:

Although current news accounts almost without exception picture rendition as negative, in fact it has a positive side: It is used by the CIA and FBI to gain custody of major suspects from countries that do not have an extradition treaty with the United States, thus enabling U.S. intelligence agencies to interrogate them and bring them to the United States for a fair trial and imprisonment if convicted, several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials said. [Richard Sale, quoted in my February 8, 2005 diary recommended at Daily Kos, “Outsourcing Torture: Secret History (FBI v. CIA).”]

Nowhere in Bush’s rendition operation is there any provision for a “fair trial” and imprisonment “if convicted.” While it’s clear that the Clinton rendition program sent suspects to countries such as Egypt, where torture was surely used, a bona fide arrest warrant was required, followed by a trial. And, under Bush, the rendition program has grown enormously and without any legal safeguards.

My point? It’s a constant battle to keep the right from deciding what’s new, ignoring existing reports that more accurately tell the story, and deciding how stories are portrayed.

Update [2006-1-5 1:43:26 by susanhu]: I just checked Drudge. He’s linked the story, which indeed comes from Bill Gertz in tomorrow’s Washington Times. And the whisteblower? Yup, it’s Russ Tice.

Gertz’s source? Letters that Russ Tice sent to the House and Senate intelligence committees “copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times.” Never mind that Amy Goodman had the letters too, and beat Gertz by two days, but isn’t acknowledged in the WaTimes story.

Further, BooMan quoted Goodman in his great “big picture” story here on January 3: “2006: The Year of Scandal.” And, a fast search of Google News yields even more stories going back to Dec. 10, 2005.

Goodman reported:

In his letter, Tice wrote, “It is with my oath as a US intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I wish to report to Congress acts that I believe are unlawful and unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state.” Democracy Now!, Jan 3, 2006

… which also means that we have to be vigilant — as I believe most everyone who hangs out at Daily Kos, BoomanTribune, and other active political blogs is — for what the MSM is avoiding and what stories they are “shapeshifting” to suit their own purposes.

Good luck, Russell Tice. You’ll be assailed and accused of everything under god’s green earth. DEVELOPING … DOT DOT DOT …

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