Whistleblower exposed NSA wiretapping because 'this is crazy'


David Edwards and Muriel Kane

The whistleblower who exposed the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program three years ago told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday that he was motivated by a sense that "this is crazy."

Former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm had remained anonymous until he spoke to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff for an article last week. His appearance with Maddow was his first television interview.

Appearing clearly unaccustomed to public speaking, Tamm emotionally explained, "My entire life, really, was based on trying to enforce the law ... and I believed that the law was being broken in the place where I was working."

Tamm noted that he was not the only one in his office at the Justice Department who was aware of the wiretapping program, but he was the only one who stopped and said, "Wait a second. We assume that what they are doing is illegal? I don't understand that. Why are we part of that?"

"I just stepped back and said, 'This is crazy,'" Tamm told Maddow. "This is not what the Department of Justice is all about. This is not what the Constitution is about."

Tamm would now like to see serious consideration of prosecutions for these crimes. "It offends me that we feel we're not strong enough as a country, that our laws are not strong enough, that our Congress is not strong enough, that our courts are not strong enough to protect us," he stated. "And I personally -- I'm a prosecutor ... I think it should be looked at very seriously."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.

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