Bush FBI sent 18 armored agents to search my house, wiretap whistleblower says
(RAW STORY) The Bush Administration’s FBI sent 18 agents in body armor to the home of a man who revealed details of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, according to a little-noticed account of the whistleblower published Thursday.
Thomas Tamm, a former Justice Department lawyer in the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, revealed details of the wiretapping program to the New York Times in 2004. In 2007, FBI agents raided his Potomac, Maryland home.
Tamm wasn’t there. His college-aged son, wife and young daughter were — but their father had never told them of his leak to the Times.
“They asked me questions like ‘Are there any secret rooms or compartments in the house’?” Terry Tamm, his son, told Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff last December. “Or did we have a safe? They asked us if any New York Times reporters had been to the house. We had no idea why any of this was happening.”
Tamm spoke Thursday at the final panel of the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference. He said the agents who raided his home were well-armed.
“They were all wearing body armor, they were all well armed,” he told the audience,according to Wired. “They asked my kids if we had any secret rooms in the house … or whether I had any weapons. They were in my house for over seven hours.”
“I’m sure before that time my phone was listened to,” Tamm added. My wife “will never feel the same in my house … She really felt that her security had been victimized.”
Tamm also expressed frustration that the Times took more than a year to publish a story on the program (Bush administration officials convinced the paper to withhold the story, which they’d known about since before the 2004 election).
“Their editors would not publish the story,” Tamm remarked. “They waited until December 2005 to publish it. So for a year, I’m sitting here going, I know I’ve revealed what they say is secret information. I wonder what will happen to me?”
After the 2007 raid, Justice Department prosecutors tried to convince Tamm to plead guilty to revealing classified information. He refused. To date, he’s had a criminal indictment hanging over his head — but authorities have yet to charge him with a crime.
He could be charged with disclosure of information harmful to “the national defense” or “communications intelligence” — both of which might involve sentences of up to ten years in prison.
Now that President Obama has taken office, however, Tamm seems more likely to elude jail. Prosecutors told the Bush lawyer-cum-whistleblower last year that they’d delay a decision on whether to charge him until this year. It’s unknown whether the Justice Department will continue to pursue a criminal charge.