In January 2006, Federal prosecutors preparing to defend a controversial Internet pornography law in court asked Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and America Online to hand over millions of their customers' search records. Microsoft, Yahoo, and America Online folded immediately, though pretending they weren't jeapordizing their clients' data. To Google's credit, it refused to buckle under.
On February 15th, Bush administration officials asked a federal judge in San Jose, California, to force Google to comply with a subpoena for the information, which would reveal the search terms from a broad swath of the search engine's visitors. Google said in a statement the next day that it would deny the request "vigorously."
The Bush administration is pretending that its request is part of its attempt to defend the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which is being challenged in a Philadelphia court by the American Civil Liberties Union. In truth, this is part of the Bush junta's continuing widespread domestic spying assault.
Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft admitted that they had complied with the Justice Department's request, but misrepresented the facts by pretending that no personally identifiable information was handed over. Federal prosecutors are demanding "the text of each search string entered" by users over a time period of between one week and two months, plus a listing of Web sites taken from the search engine's index. That is definitely personally identifiable information and destroys Internet users' privacy.
As could be expected, the cabal's Wall Street lackeys immediately attacked Google and its stock price fell precipitately. Also, it was disclosed that Google had recently caved to censorship demands from China's ruling Communist Party. A hundred percent positive "good guy" we don't seem to be able to find. Even so, Google is courageously holding out against this onslaught by the Bush junta as of this date (3/3/06) and is to be commended.
While we can commend Tice's courage in coming forward--even volunteerinig to testify before Congress--we must keep Tice's full story in mind. In May, 2005, the Cox News Service reported that Tice, then a high-level intelligence official, had been fired just days after he publicly urged Congress to pass stronger protections for whistle-blowers facing retaliation. Tice, who had won awards at the agency for intelligence work on Iraq, had his security clearance permanently revoked after reporting suspicions that a female co-worker at the Defense Intelligence Agency was a spy for China. He was ordered by the NSA to undergo a psychological evaluation after the report and a Defense Department psychologist concluded that he suffered from psychotic paranoia. Tice claimed he showed no signs of the disease.
In June 2003, Cox reported that NSA had suspended Tice's security clearance and ordered him to maintain and clean the agency's vehicles, shortly after he had told the NSA he was considering talking to his congressional representatives about waste and abuse at the agency. Tice was reportedly told he would face retaliation if he did so.
These personal facts about Tice, so far as we know now, do not in any way discredit his statements about the illegality of Bush's domestic spying. We can expect that any whistleblower is going to be villified by the Bush junta. While trying to give the semblance of objectivity, ABC reporter Brian Ross ended his interview by saying: "Tice lost his job last May after the NSA revoked his security clearances citing psychological concerns." The implication was clearly that Tice may just be a disgruntled ex-employee with an axe to grind, not a heroic "whistleblower."
On February 14, Tice testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Tice told the committee that he was concerned that undisclosed domestic spying programs were far more widespread than the recently exposed Bush/NSA warrantless wiretap program. One or more still classified "Special Access" surveillance program may be monitoring the communications of "millions of Americans". While Tice could not share classified details of the program(s), he believes that the Constitution and FISA laws are being violated.
Fortunately, the February 14 hearings also focused on protection for whistleblowers and a pattern of retaliation by the Bush Administration.
Of Interest: In a recent Christian Science Monitor Poll, 82.8% of the respondents agreed with this statement: "If a federal employee sees something illegal, that should come out" whereas only 17.2% agreed with this statement: "Some information is too sensitive to release - even to congressional committees"