OpenTheGovernment.org Welcomes Decision to Drop Prosecution of Illegal Wiretapping Whistleblower

OpenTheGovernment.org applauds the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice (DOJ) long overdue decision to drop the investigation of Thomas Tamm. In a meeting with President Obama on April 4, 2011, members of the OpenTheGovernment.org Steering Committee raised concerns about the prosecution of national security whistleblowers like Mr. Tamm, a former DOJ lawyer who revealed the existence of the US government’s illegal wiretapping program.

According to Patrice McDermott, Director of the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition, “We are pleased that the President and the Attorney General have dropped the investigation into the person who, at great personal expense, exposed this breach of civil liberties and attempted to protect the rights of all Americans.”

In 2004, Mr. Tamm told the New York Times about the existence of a wiretapping program in which the U.S. government, without warrants, intercepted calls and emails into and out of the U.S.  Beginning in 2003, Tamm was assigned to the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. When Tamm started asking questions about the legality of the warrantless wiretaps, his supervisors told him to drop the subject.  Angered by the idea of lawlessness at the Justice Department, Mr. Tamm first tried to raise the issue with a former colleague working for the Senate Judiciary Committee.  When that failed, he phoned the New York Times. Mr. Tamm, according to his attorney, only leaked the existence of the illegal program and never released any kinds of methods or means concerning the wiretap program.

During his presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama condemned the warrantless-wiretapping program. So did Eric Holder, Obama’s choice to become attorney general. In a tough speech in June 2008, Holder said that the Bush Administration had acted "in direct defiance of federal law" by authorizing the NSA program.

“Brave men like Thomas Tamm who speak up when they see the government abusing its authority strengthen our democracy,” said Dr. McDermott. “During the 2008 campaign, President Obama and his Attorney General made it clear they agreed with that conviction, and we are pleased to see them now standing up for it.”
 

Press Contact: Amy Bennett or Patrice McDermott, OpenTheGovernment.org, 202-332-6736

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