A former Justice Department lawyer is facing legal ethics charges for exposing the President George W. Bush-era surveillance tactics—a leak that earned The New York Times a Pulitzer and opened the debate about warrantless surveillance that continues today.
The lawyer, Thomas Tamm, now a Maryland state public defender, is accused of breaching Washington ethics rules for going to The New York Times instead of his superiors about his concerns about what was described as “the program.”
Tamm was a member of the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review and, among other things, was charged with requesting electronic surveillance warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board of Professional Responsibility said Tamm became aware in 2004 that certain applications to the FISA Court for national security surveillance authority “were given special treatment.”
“The applications could be signed only by the attorney General and were made only to the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The existence of these applications and this process was secret. Respondent became aware that there was some surveillance applications that were given special treatment,” according to the charging document.
Here is the lede to the 2005 story from The New York Times, which won a Pulitzer the following year for its national security reporting: