The U.S. government has been collecting data on nearly every U.S. citizen and assembling webs of their relationships, National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney told the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference last week.
Binney worked for the Defense 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,” according to a statement he made in court records.
On April 20 he gave his first interview after resigning to Democracy Now!, asserting that the FBI raided his home after he blew the whistle on the NSA’s extensive spying on Americans.
On July 2 Binney, along with two other former NSA employees, agreed to provide evidence in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit that alleges the U.S. government operates an illegal mass surveillance program (i.e. Jewel vs. NSA).
His sworn declaration of facts that he’s willing to testify to are both telling and scary:
• In the ’90s Binney supervised the development of a NSA program called “Thin Thread” that was designed to identify international networks of connections between people from their internet communications. Since one side of the communications was domestic, the program encrypted the data so as to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens until a warrant could be obtained.
• After 9/11 all safeguards went out the window as “the individual liberties preserved in the U.S. Constitution were no longer a consideration.” Members of his Thin Thread team began implementing a program called the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP), which collected domestic electronic communications traffic without any privacy protections.
• The NSA began seizing and storing most electronic communications passing through 10 to 20 wiretapping rooms in key telecommunication points throughout the country where all data must pass in order to move from one party’s network to another’s, allowing the government toidentify and analyze any individual or group through a searchable database.
• Binney cites the $1.2 billion Utah data center currently being built and the new supercomputing center at the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, pointing out that the immense size and computing power of these facilities far exceeds the capacity necessary for storing targeted communications but is “consistent, as a mathematical matter, with seizing both the routing information and the contents of all electronic communications.”
In a nutshell Binney states – with considerable authority – that the NSA has been conducting comprehensive surveillance on U.S. citizens for more than a decade.