NYT/Laura PoitrasWilliam BinneyLast night Glenn Greenwald published a bombshell report revealing that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act to secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans.
Although the revelation doesn’t surprise privacy advocates, the fact that Greenwald obtained a top secret court order compelling Verizon to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems is the first concrete piece of evidence exposing dragnet domestic surveillance.
But, unfortunately for U.S. citizens who don’t want their government routinely spying on them, that’s just the beginning.
From The Guardian:
It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks.
Thanks to AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein and NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Thomas Drake, we know that the NSA has been perpetually amassing not only phone records but virtually all electronic records and communications.
As an AT&T engineer, Klein discovered that a special NSA network actively “vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T,” emphasising that “much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.”
Jame Bamford of Wired subsequently reported that the NSA had hired secretive contractors with extensive ties to Israeli intelligence to establish 10 to 20 wiretapping rooms at key telecommunication points throughout the country.
Binney — one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history — worked for the defence Department’s foreign signals intelligence agency for 32 years before resigning in late 2001 because he “could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.”
He’s detailed how, ever since 9/11, the NSA has run a top-secret surveillance program that amasses electronic data — phone calls, emails, banking and travel records, social media, entire government databases — and analyses the information “to be able to monitor what people are doing” and who they are doing it with.
Binney would know — he built the original software (i.e. ThinThread) that identified, in real time, networks of connections between individuals based on their electronic communications.
“I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time,” Binney told documentarian Laura Poitras.”This is something the KGB, the Stasi or the Gestapo would have loved to have had.”
Drake, a former NSA senior executive charged under the espionage act after blowing the whistle, has repeatedly discussed how he also believes that the NSA was using Israeli-made NARUS hardware to “seize and save all personal electronic communications.”
So although Greenwald notes that the “unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual,” his report simply confirms what’s happening for more than a decade.
And according to a classified ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — oversees requests for surveillance warrants — that found the NSA to have violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution “on at least one occasion.”