Former NSA Employee William Binney Discusses Massive Surveillance of US Email, Phone, and Text CommunicationsWritten by: Chris Print This Article
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Long-time former NSA (National Security Agency) employee William Binney was recently interviewed about the NSA’s massive electronic surveillance and collection of what he says is essentially all email sent and received in the US.
NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance
Binney reveals that the NSA has developed electronic eavesdropping systems such as the “Narus device” that can continuously capture and store all the email transmitted over a 10 gigabit per second Ethernet feed at line rate (full bandwidth). By deploying these devices inside of Internet Service Providers around the nation, sites such as such as the AT&T building in San Francisco, the NSA can capture very nearly every email sent or received in the US each day.
They store these emails for later use when the government finds it wants to investigate or attack a person, such as they recently did to General David Petreus and General John Allen who had become, by some reports, on the outs with the Obama Administration. This may have to do with how News Corp. reportedly encouraged Petreus to run for US President against Obama.
Although neither were accused of any crime, the government accessed their emails, including email drafts, and other electronic communications to snoop on them and the people with whom they were communicating.
There might be some justification to do this to them because they have Top Secret security clearances. Dishonest personal conduct, such as that of a sexual affair while married, is considered one of the “red flags” warranting investigating and even pulling a security clearance. However, most people do not have a security clearance and thus the wholesale capture of more or less the entire population’s email traffic is not reasonable even if they were engaging in the same scandalous behaviors as Petreus and Allen.
FBI Raid On Binney To Intimidate Whistleblowers
Binney has personal experience with government intimidation. In 2007, as he was speaking out against the US government’s illegal surveillance state, the government decided to retaliate against him. On July 26, 2007, the FBI raided his home with 10 to 12 agents with guns drawn as he was in the shower.
This raid was executed despite it being more than five years since Binney worked for the NSA. He believes it was timed to distract whistleblowers from participating in ongoing Congressional testimony regarding illegal government surveillance. He says they isolated him from his family and pressed him for information looking to incriminate others. One of the FBI’s goals was to get information to be used to accuse whistleblowers with “crimes” to silence them.
Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance
Binney accused the FBI agents of raiding his home on orders coming from outside the FBI, and he says their body language indicated he was right.
Binney Objected to Illegal Widespread Eavesdropping
Binney resigned from the NSA in 2001 to protest its illegal use of electronic surveillance that violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. He cites AT&T’s illegal violations of customer privacy by providing billing and calls records to the US government without warrants or court orders was a major reason for him leaving the agency.
He says that as bad as things were under Bush, Obama has intensified the illegal electronic surveillance. He has testified that based upon disclosed $2 billion spending by the NSA in its building of spying infrastructure in Bluffdale, Utah, they are installing in excess of 5000 exabytes of storage to store information on everybody in the United States as well as many foreign nationals. An exabyte is roughly one million terabytes, or 500,000 hard drives of 2TGB capacity. That would give them more than 10GB of storage for every person in the US. That’s enough to store many years of most people’s email, potentially saved for many years for use when they want to attack or scandalize you even if you have not broken any laws.
Binney also points out that the NSA logs most or all phone calls and text messages in the US. They use emails, texts, and phone records to build social networking models that track how and when US citizens communicate with each other.
This discussion is backed up by revelations from Wired Magazine’s James Bamford in March 2012:
In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.
Even if you are a law-abiding citizen and have done nothing that would justify a search warrant or subpoena, thanks to the massive Orwellian surveillance infrastructure of the NSA and other agencies, you no longer have any privacy if you dare to communicate using networked electronic devices. As the Petreus and Allen scandal shows, the US government can attack you using covertly and likely illegally obtained surveillance information if you discuss anything that might be embarrassing or can be spun as incriminating in your email, text messages, or phone calls.