NSA whistleblower: The Federal Government has your emails

| April 20, 2012 | 3 Replies

Former NSA employee, and now whistleblower, Willian Binney believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush.

He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion “transactions” — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States.

Binny indicates that the federal government is not being honest to the extent that it suggests that it does not possess massive amounts of emails and phone calls made to and from Americans (min 55), in addition to records of our bank transactions and internet searches. And as I posted a few days ago, the federal government is not satisfied. It wants more of your private data, and more legal cover for spying on ordinary law-abiding Americans.

The participants to this surreal (though completely credible) discussion include Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now, and their guests:

William Binney, served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.”

Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher who has volunteered with WikiLeaks. He is a developer and advocate for the Tor Project, a network enabling its users to communicate anonymously on the internet.

Laura Poitras, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer. She is working on the third part of a trilogy of films about America post-9/11. The first film was My Country, My Country,” and the second was The Oath.

The above video is but one part of an extraordinary discussion on Democracy Now. Consider, also, the story of Laura Poitras:

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States. Poitras said the interrogations began after she began working on her documentary, “My Country, My Country,” about post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, “The Oath,” was about Yemen and Guantánamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden. She estimates she has been detained approximately 40 times and has had her laptop, cell phone and personal belongings repeatedly searched.

And the story of Jacob Appelbaum:

a computer researcher who has faced a stream of interrogations and electronic surveillance since he volunteered with the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. He describes being detained more than a dozen times at the airport and interrogated by federal agents who asked about his political views and confiscated his cell phone and laptop. When asked why he cannot talk about what happened after he was questioned, Appelbaum says, “Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it.” A federal judge ordered Twitter to hand over information about Appelbaum’s account. Meanwhile, he continues to work on the Tor Project, an anonymity network that ensures every person has the right to browse the internet without restriction and the right to speak freely.

The same show also featured William Binney:

In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.

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Category: Orwellian, Privacy, Spying, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald also finds that the information provided in this set of Democracy Now interviews is “chilling.”

    “Whether a country is actually free is determined not by how well-rewarded its convention-affirming media elites are and how ignored its passive citizens are but by how it treats its dissidents, those posing authentic challenges to what the government does. The stories of the three Democracy Now guests — and so many others — provide that answer loudly and clearly.”

    Perhaps even more chilling is that it is hard to find anyone who gives a damn, even self-proclaimed “liberals.” Greenwald ends his excellent analysis with this:

    What Appelbaum is referring to is the fact that the Patriot Act has decreed then when the U.S. Government demands information about an individual — all without a search warrant — the party who receives the demand is criminally prohibited from discussing that demand. That’s why Appelbaum can be targeted with such intimidating, constant and chilling invasions without any allegation of wrongdoing: because the powers of the Surveillance State are exercised almost entirely in the dark. That’s what makes it so significant that two Democratic Senators have been warning for two years now that these powers are being exercised far beyond what the statute permits, far beyond what the public can even imagine, and that the Obama DOJ is lying about it.

    The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition. The way to avoid its grip is simply to acquiesce to the nation’s most powerful factions, to obediently remain within the permitted boundaries of political discourse and activism. Accepting that bargain enables one to maintain the delusion of freedom — “he who does not move does not notice his chains,” observed Rosa Luxemburg — but the true measure of political liberty is whether one is free to make a different choice.

    http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    More Secrets on Growing State Surveillance: Exclusive Part 2 with NSA Whistleblower, Targeted Hacker.

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    Nope, the NSA has been getting our emails as they travel through a national internet hub in Bridgeton, Missouri since shortly after 9/11. Can you say Poindexter, DARPA and “data mining?”

    http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/12/07/a-deep-blue-paranoid-moment-dbpm/

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