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Ex-DOJ lawyer was warrantless wiretapping whistleblower: report

[JURIST] Former US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] lawyer Thomas Tamm told Newsweek in an article published Sunday that he blew the whistle on the Bush administration's controversial warrantless domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] because "it didn't smell right" [Newsweek report]. Newsweek said that Tamm, whose home was raided last year by federal agents, said that he leaked information about the program to the New York Times 18 months before the Times broke the story [NYT report; JURIST report] about the program in 2005. Tamm, who left the DOJ in 2006, said, "I thought this [secret program] was something the other branches of the government — and the public — ought to know about. So they could decide: do they want this massive spying program to be taking place?" He called it "stunning" that officials higher up did not blow the whistle sooner.

Last month, a federal judge ordered the DOJ to release legal memoranda [JURIST report] relating to the warrantless domestic surveillance program. In December 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official backgrounder] denied [JURIST report] an ACLU motion [JURIST report] asking the court to "disclose recent legal opinions discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in secret wiretapping of Americans." In September, a class action suit was filed [JURIST report] against the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] seeking injunctive, declaratory, and equitable relief against the program. A previous class action suit [JURIST report] had been filed in 2006. In 2007, former head of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel [official website] Jack Landman Goldsmith [academic profile] testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] that he "could not find the legal support for" [JURIST report] portions of warrantless domestic surveillance program during his tenure with DOJ.

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