It’s hard to fathom many of the shocking claims from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of vast government surveillance — such as the notion that the agency constantly intercepts millions of phone calls and emails with the help of telecommunication companies.
But when put into a broader context, with the inclusion of testimony from other leakers from the NSA, however, those claims sound much more believable.
William Binney, a 32-year NSA veteran, detailed a top-secret surveillance program called “Stellar Wind” in an Aug. 2012 video shot by Laura Poitras for The New York Times.
“I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time,” Binney said in the interview.
In a new interview with Binney on Jun. 7, the former codebreaker — one of the best in NSA history — directly disputes Intelligence chief James Clapper, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee the NSA does not collect any type of data on millions of Americans.
WB: They’re eating crow right now. Those are lies. Those are just outright lies. Obviously they are, with that court order. They’re scooping up the metadata of everything, and the PRISM program is a scoop up of actual content. Emails, video, photographs, all of that—that’s content. So they’re collecting all of it, and it’s a big vacuum. So you know, those are just outright lies.
LI: Do you think there is a pattern of deceit within the intelligence community? Are these lies representative of more lies being fed to the public?
WB: Oh yes. I call it techno-babble. They’re outright lying to the public and are trying to hide it. That’s why everything’s a secret interpretation or secret decision. You know, and now they’re all eating crow in public. The point is that they never had to do it from the beginning. There were ways and means that I had showed them how to do it while protecting U.S. citizens. You could do that, and find all the bad guys in the world and not have to violate the constitutional rights of everybody.
But some would ask how — in the post 9/11 age — is the intelligence community supposed to track and target terrorists, who often use digital communications tools located inside the U.S. Binney detailed this as well, in a Jul. 2, 2012 sworn declaration:
There are more than two dozen such sites on the U.S. coasts where fibre-optic cables come ashore. If the NSA had taken that route, it would have been able to limit its interception of electronic communications to international/international and international/domestic communications and exclude domestic/domestic communications. Instead the NSA chose to put its intercept equipment at key junction points (for example Folsom Street) and probably throughout the nation, thereby giving itself access to purely domestic communications.
The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure far exceeds the capacity necessary for the storage of discreet, targeted communications or even for the storage of the routing information from all electronic communications. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure is consistent, as a mathematical matter, with seizing both the routing information and the contents of all electronic communications.
So when the government says that it’s not collecting information on millions of innocent Americans, check in with whistleblowers like Binney.
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