Back on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown,” for the second night with Russell Tice, former National Security Agency analyst:
Not a whole lot new and it seems Tice is bound legally from naming names. Olbermann asks about specific journalists and specific publications, which Tice apologetically dodges.
Olbermann then chats with James Risen, New York Times investigative reporter, about the implications of government wiretapping. Risen, author of State of War (about the CIA), notes the “chilling effect” of government monitoring not just on reporters but on their sources. But the real issue here is that any program of routine monitoring, if tolerated, can produce data that can be twisted, manipulated or outright doctored to incriminate journalists the government finds inconvenient or unacceptable. It simply isn’t true that if you haven’t done anything illegal or wrong, you’re home safe.
Tice’s and Risen’s revelations raise many questions, but I can’t figure out why this isn’t a bigger story in MSM (the blogosphere is another story; Jonathan Golub has a post at Slog. Also Rachel Maddow to her credit is picking up on Olbermann’s report with Shadow Factory author James Bamford, who says PBS is doing a special on February 3). Have we forgotten completely the lessons of the McCarthy era? Isn’t government monitoring targeting journalists a direct flout of the First Amendment?
One hope is that Tice’s revelations will encourage others to step forward, helping President Obama to end the program (to help make amends for his FISA vote) and stop government hounding of news sources on the illegal wiretapping.