Bush Administration Wiretap Whistleblower Won't Face Charge

The controversial case against Thomas Tamm ends with a whimper

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The Justice Department ended its probe of Thomas Tamm, the government lawyer who leaked the Bush administration's secret warrantless wiretapping program in 2005. "If the guy who came forward and said, 'I admit it. I gave the information to The New York Times,' is not going to be indicted, then no one is," a former federal prosecutor told Politico's Josh Gerstein. Some speculate that the investigation was dropped because so many believed it to be illegal--including people inside the justice department itself.

"One theory as to why DOJ career folks didn't punish NSA TSP whistleblowers: they (DOJ folks) were outraged by the program itself," National Journal's Marc Ambinder tweets. He adds, "In a way, this is Justice's version of jury nullification." Back when he was a senator, Barack Obama said the wiretapping of American citizens was illegal and that there should be "no more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient." Obama hasn't reiterated that statement since taking office, however. Neither has Attorney General Eric Holder, who said in 2008 that the program was "in direct defiance of federal law." Gerstein says the investigation's end is "a low-profile and ambiguous conclusion to an episode that dominated the headlines in the second half of the Bush administration."

Wonkette's Ken Layne illustrates as much by pointing out that all those "Your iPhone Is Stalking on You" stories last week were actually very old news. Layne recalls his dire warnings from this 2007 post, a classic in Bush-fueled technophobia:

How does this expensive “miracle gadget” do so much domestic spying on you? Well, to use the iPhone you must sign up with AT&T, the telecom that has been tirelessly working with the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, which has installed massive data-mining and recording machinery on AT&T Internet hubs in every major American city.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.