In an exclusive interview, I recently had the privilege of speaking to an American hero, William Binney, NSA whistle-blower.
We discussed how NSA mass data collection makes us LESS safe; how the intentions behind it are not misguided but positively nefarious; how the lies that have been told about it are snowballing, and how Rand Paul‘s presidential candidacy may uniquely represent an opportunity for change.
Listen to the interview below or read the full, astonishing transcript that follows.
ROBIN KOERNER: Welcome to a very important edition of Blue Republican Radio with Robin Koerner. This is all a more appropriate edition considering we have just had the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. We are going to be talking today to a man who, to me, is a hero. I imagine he is a hero to many of my listeners. We’ve all heard of Edward Snowden; maybe not so many of us have heard of Bill Binney – we should have – but Bill Binney is the NSA whistle-blower of 2002, whom I will be speaking to today, and who performed a great service to our nation when he saw that the NSA was implementing a bastardized version of the technology that he created to protect the security and liberty of Americans – and he saw that that bastardized version was to be used en masse to violate the liberties and privacy of Americans.
Bill Binney, welcome to the show. Thank you so much; this is a privilege. Have I fairly characterized the trigger of your leaving the NSA of which you were a veteran for between 30 and 40 years?
BILL BINNEY: Yes, you pretty much captured it. I mean, when they started spying basically on everybody, first in the United States and then around the world on the entire planet, I mean, that’s something that violated everybody’s privacy and that’s something I couldn’t be associated with, so … I had to get out of there as fast as I could when that happened.
ROBIN: Now, your most senior title – if I can put it that way – at the NSA, and correct me if I am wrong, was Director of World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Did I get that right?
BILL: Yes, that’s right. Yeah. About 6000 analysts doing all the reporting and analysis around the world.
ROBIN: And so that’s why when I say that it was really your technology, it was technology that you personally, directly managed the development of that is now being deployed – I would say – against United States’ citizens, would that be fair? As I say, a bastardized version with the protections removed.
BILL: Yes, that’s right.
ROBIN: Now, I know, Bill, that you have been asked in countless interviews (many of which can be found online and many of which are excellent) about the details, the factual details, of the violations; what it was that you saw; what you blew the whistle on; what’s happened to you since and I can urge all my listeners to go and check out those interviews and get those facts. It’s shocking and it’s important. As I say, this is important information that is out there in the public domain, thanks entirely in many instances to you. So I don’t want to cover the ground that I know you must’ve covered time and time again – with all these news stations. I am going to try and ask you something a little different. Maybe I’ll fail, maybe I’ll succeed, but I’d like to start off with this simple question because I am guessing you must have thought about this a lot. Why is it that agents…that the security agents on the one hand and our politicians on the other – so consistently want to violate our rights? What do they believe they’re doing? Are they badly informed good guys or are they just bad guys?
BILL: I don’t think it’s quite black and white like that, but if you stop and think about what they’re doing now: it’s like hiding what the government is doing. It’s like trying to keep what the federal government is doing secret from the people when, in fact, our founding principles were that people were supposed to know what the government’s doing not the reverse, and we’ve got exactly the opposite situation now.
BILL: What it really boils down to, if you look down through history, this is nothing new. This is since Caesar Augustus. This kind of activity has gone on with central governments around the world with dictatorships and so on. Its whole objective is population control and also control of political enemies, who are people who are doing things that you don’t want to happen. So it’s a way of controlling the environment inside your country and also way of manipulating people. So, I mean, if you have information on everybody on the planet that means you might have material to blackmail them or influence them, one way or the other, to make a decision that you want them to make.
ROBIN: Do you actually think that kind of reasoning was going on in the heads of, let’s say, George W. Bush or Obama? Are they actually consciously thinking that?
BILL: Well, I think it started with Dick Cheney, yes.
BILL: Yeah, I think it was because that’s exactly… I mean, Dick Cheney learned under Richard Nixon, and that was Richard Nixon’s policy and what Richard Nixon was doing with the programs, MINARETTE at NSA, COINTELPRO at FBI and CHAOS at CIA, is exactly what the three agencies are doing now under Bush and Obama. They’re doing exactly the same thing except orders of magnitude, more, more, more and in fact if you read the impeachment proceedings, or the articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon, you could apply them directly to what’s going on today.
ROBIN: Absolutely. Now, at least though on the surface, the likes of Cheney were telling us that he was doing it for our own good, obviously… Are you going so far as to say that you think that we are compromising liberty for security? We don’t agree with that, we don’t believe that is necessary, but is that even a cover? Was Cheney politically motivated for his own political ends rather than for a misguided notion of securing his country? Are you going that far?
BILL: I would. I mean, that’s the standard procedure that these dictatorships and despots down through history have always done. They’ve disguised everything in terms of “I’m protecting you, and I’m doing this in your interest” and when in fact they’re not, so, I mean, the Nazis used this. You know, down through history, lots of people have used this kind of attack.
ROBIN: So do you think…?
BILL: This is nothing new really.
ROBIN: Oh no, it’s absolutely not new. That’s clear. As you say, we see it throughout history. I was watching a clip of Obama on his podium a while ago saying different folks can make different decisions, and can argue about where we draw the line and how much we could compromise for liberty, for security. That’s very different from thinking that this guy is trying to collect something that he has a nefarious intention to use against political enemies. I mean, is it…? It just seems astonishing that there are so many evil people in one place, if indeed that’s true.
BILL: Well, I mean, look what the IRS did with the Tea Party or the Occupy group, what they did with them with the FBI and so on. All these organizations have direct access to this data in NSA databases. The IRS has direct access through the SOD and the DEA to get into the database of the NSA, showing the entire social network of everybody in the country, in fact, everybody in the world. Now, they’re supposed to be looking at it to find tax fraud or tax evasion or, you know, money laundering, things like that…but that’s not what they’re doing. They’re doing many other things with it… And the FBI is also doing things with it like they have direct access too, and none of this is being monitored or overseen by the Congress or the courts or anybody. This is all done… You don’t hear anybody talking about what FBI is doing with the NSA collected data. That’s because they’re doing it in secret. I mean, they’re also using it to convict people of crimes, and that’s what they’re doing – they’re looking at it for criminal activity.
BILL: But I also say that… It’s my personal opinion that they used this data to get rid of Elliot Spitzer when he was going after the bankers on Wall Street for defrauding people in the 2008 financial crisis. And so the probable cause to go after him was “he’s after the bankers, we have to stop him;” that’s the probable cause, so the FBI went into the NSA databases (emails, phone calls, you know, financial transactions – all of that) and found something to embarrass him and get rid of him.
ROBIN: Now, who…?
BILL: And that protected their bankers.
ROBIN: So what would be in it for the people who authorized that? Are you saying that they’re being paid off to abuse this information in this way? Is there financial gain?
BILL: Let’s put it this way: when Mueller of the FBI and Alexander of the NSA retired, they formed a cyber-security consulting group, and they were asking, if you remember, a million dollars a month for their consulting fees. After there was such a reaction to that kind of thing, they reduced it down to $600,000/month for their consulting fee. Well, I think I read somewhere in Washington Post – I believe – that their first customers were the bankers on Wall Street.
ROBIN: I see..
BILL: It does set a very bad image doing that. You see that gives the appearance of things. If you’re in government, that’s one of the one things you have to do is to always avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
ROBIN: Yes indeed. Now, that would be for personal financial gain. In what ways, if any that you know about, has this massive body of information about all Americans that the NSA has collected, how has that been deployed for political purposes? I mean, do you know of any examples? I mean, it’s a big claim we’re making here.
BILL: Yeah, well, I mean, the direct use of it is the IRS gets the Tea Party.
ROBIN: And so who would have authorized that?
BILL: Well, the connection, at least from what’s come out so far from the investigation in Congress, is that woman in the IRS (I can’t remember her name) had communications back to the White House.
BILL: Don’t know who in the White House but somebody.
ROBIN: Wow. We’re going into break. We’re going into the break. Bill, we’ll come back and discuss this after.
ROBIN: This is Robin Koerner with Blue Republican Radio talking to an American hero, William Binney. William, we’ve talked a little bit about the political and personal gain that seems to drive, perhaps, the collection and abuse of data by the NSA. What about you…? I mean, you are a veteran of the agency. You were a very senior employee of America’s secret service. What motivates the folks who turn up to work every day, who aren’t maybe in the White House or in the IRS with decision-making power? They’re doing their jobs. They’ve got to know that they are engaged en masse in a violation of the basic principles of our nation. Are they just “jobsworths”? Do they just think the ideas of the Constitution are quaint and just not something to be bothered with – that they just don’t apply? Is there a certain personality type, is there a cultural issue that is enabling this, by inertia, to continue?
BILL: Actually, they’ve done some studies over the years in NSA the type of employees they have … If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personal character traits.
BILL: And the testing that goes into that.
BILL: I believe it came out at one point when they ran the test across the entire agency, they had 85% of the people in NSA working there were characterized as ISTJ. That means introverted, sensing, technical and judgmental.
ROBIN: Yes. Thinking and judgmental.
BILL: Yeah, these are the kind of people who focus on a job right in front of them. They like to isolate themselves, they’re not interactive with others that much, and so these are the kind of people that are easily threatened, which is what’s going on. Internally in NSA, they’re threatening them. In fact, the government’s threatening them, you know, across the board; that’s why Obama’s prosecuting so many people for whistle-blowing.
BILL: Because he wants to keep a secret government, keep everything secret and no transparency whatsoever, so to speak. You only become transparent when you’re exposed by a whistle-blower and that’s what he doesn’t like, so you have to stop that and so that’s what he’s doing. Internally in NSA, they’re also threatening by saying (this is a Stasi tactic) ‘see something, say something’ of your coworkers, and you’re also responsible now to report your coworkers to internal security for any potential…another potential Snowden is what they’re after. But by doing that, they they’re making it totally… they’re totally destroying the work environment internally.
BILL: I mean, how can you work with somebody who’s going to be watching you for everything you’re doing, and if you do something that they don’t like, they report you for it. So, I mean, it’s like the Stasi all over again.
ROBIN: Does this give you any – I know this is going to sound like a strange question, Bill – but does that fact give you any cause for optimism? In the sense that this is not a tenable situation in the long run. It doesn’t seem like it can go on indefinitely. Something has to break. Or is that just a naïve thought?
BILL: No, no, no. I think it is fundamentally destroying the work environment, and … you know, we’re paying over a hundred billion dollars a year to the intelligence community inside this country alone. Just ask yourselves, how many times have they warned us in advance of any of these attacks that we’ve been having. The answer is they haven’t, right?
ROBIN: But, but would we know? I remember Clinton, when he left office, saying that the secret services between them stopped some large number of attacks during his presidency. (I can’t remember what the number was.) And he actually did put a number out and it was quite significant. So would folks within the NSA, the CIA, the FBI – I mean, the people who are using these data – would they agree with you or would they just say that Bill’s factually wrong; that we’ve stopped 15 attacks in the last 3 years because, you know, of this information? Would they say that?
BILL: I mean, if you recall Senator Leahy’s investigation into that. Originally, they started claiming there were 54 attacks they stopped, and when the judiciary committee looked into it a little further, they found out, well, the number dropped down to 30-something and then 13-something, and then down to 1.
BILL: And the 1 they gave was the guy from in the West Coast or somewhere over there in the West Coast who sent $8500 to Al-Shabaab. Well, look at it this way: when you transfer that money, one end is in Africa, so it is not a domestic issue. So zero attacks domestically have ever been prevented. That is the whole point of it. When they came under real scrutiny, they claim any number of things, but as long as you don’t put them under the sunlight and examine what they’re saying, they’re lying to you. I mean, they have a track record of lying to you. Clearly, look what Clapper said, look what Alexander said in front of Congress. I mean, they lied to Congress, don’t you think they lie to us?
BILL: Then Congress lies to themselves; that’s what’s going on. That’s why the Amash-Conyers group coalition – that wasn’t even a committee – of Democrats and Republicans got together to try to unfund the NSA activity a year ago. And the reason they did that was because they finally realized that they were being lied to by the committees and by the agencies and by the administration.
ROBIN: So, do we have to…?
BILL: Well, I mean, the whole point was all of this activity was done in secret with a secret court behind closed doors and they were trying to keep an uninformed public and an uninformed Congress, so they could manipulate them and pull their strings and say “do this and do that and if you don’t,” you know, “thousands of people are gonna die and this….” And that’s the threat they generally throw out.
ROBIN: So what do you think is the end of all of this? I mean, are there any systemic or systematic ways that We The People or maybe good politicians – if there are such things – can undo this? Or do we actually have to wait for it to eat itself because some of our political class are using this abusively derived information against others in the political class, and they tear themselves apart such that, like you say, eventually the higher-ups even get hurt by this. Is that what happens or is there something that we can do to accelerate the end of this nefarious setup?
BILL: Yeah, well, I think there is. It requires that people stand up. I mean, most people think they are powerless, but they’re not, they have all the power. I mean, they have the power of the vote that fires everybody, and they also have the power of the purse of not giving money to them and also you can influence corporations by saying if you contribute to them, I’m not going to buy your products anymore. Or you can call up your candidates or people running for office and say: ‘if you don’t do this, I’m not going to contribute to you, in fact, I’m going to work against you and contribute to the other side and try to find somebody who’d actually try to terminate this activity.’ The only one so far in Congress that seems really willing to stop it all is Rand Paul.
BILL: The rest of them seem to be going along with it, and they’re being duped too because they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just misinformed or ill-informed about what going on. They don’t really realize that you don’t have to sacrifice any privacy to get security.
ROBIN: And that’s the point that you’ve been making. Soon after you blew the whistle, I know you went to quite some lengths to get people with decision-making power and even the judiciary to understand this fact: that it’s just a myth that we need to trade our liberty/privacy to get our security, right?
BILL: That’s right. The difference is that the path they’ve taken is, like Alexander said, ‘we’re gonna to collect it all.’ Well, that path means it’s an ever-increasing amount of data that you have to collect year after year. That means you’ve committed yourself and Congress and the people of the United States to committing more and more money every year to keep up with that ever-increasing amount of data. And so, you have to invest more, the budget grows, you know, you get a bigger budget. And as that grows also, you have to find places to store it so you now have to build more storage facilities like on Fort Meade they’re planning a 2.8 million sq. ft. facility coming up here. We know this because they submitted an environmental impact statement talking about it. So we know they’re putting this huge facility that is 3 times the size of Bluffdale.
ROBIN: That’s the facility in Utah, right? The data storage facility in Utah?
BILL: Yes, the Bluffdale, UT, facility. Yeah, that’s a million sq. ft. facility – this one is 2.8, so that is close to 3 times the size and it’s going on in Fort Meade. Well, you figure it’s going to take 5 or maybe a little more than 5 years to build that and $4bn or $5bn so that’s more to the budget. So once you do that, then you have to capture all the data, needs more communications are transported into the storage and then you have to have more contractors to manage the data and to manipulate it for the analysts, and you need more analysts and so on. So you see this is how you build a big empire, but in the process you sacrifice the ability to do the mission.
BILL: When you lose the professional focus and discipline of finding the targets and finding the bad guys…
ROBIN: Bill, we’re going into the break, so we’ll carry on when we come back…
ROBIN: This is Robin Koerner with Blue Republican Radio, talking to William Binney, NSA whistle-blower back in 2002, and he’s been working hard since to get the word out about just how horrendously the government through its secret agencies are violating the rights of Americans. And Bill, I’m sorry. At the end of the last segment, the bumper music there cut you off, and you were in the process of making a critical point about how the more we take in, the worse becomes our ability to actually use the information that we do take in for the benefit of our security.
BILL: Yes. See the point is: the more data you take in, the more you have to look at or sort through or have programs going through to find information. And they don’t have automated analysis programs, so what they do is they do sort routines or selection routines that will pull data out and will give it to much like a Google search, and then they will return that to the analyst to look at, to try to figure things out. Well, I mean, when you take in the entire world and all the contents and metadata of everybody on the planet, you end up with massive amounts of data like a standard Google query, except probably worse than that because they’ve got more data than Google does. See, they have all the transactional data, which Google doesn’t have, so… Google only has a limited amount. In the Google returns, you can get 100,000 to 1 million or 2 returns, and if you get that every day, your analysts could never get through it, so they never really find necessarily what is important to look at.
BILL: And another way to look at it is: if you require your analysts to look at everybody in the planet, which is about 4 billion people using electronic devices. Then, assume if you had all these countries —the “Five Eyes,” and the other 8 countries that are participating with the NSA in this kind of data (acquisition and analysis) – then perhaps you could assemble 20,000 analysts among all of them. Once you have that, then you have to divide the 20,000 into 4 billion that means each analyst, if you could uniquely divide it up, would have to monitor 200,000 people. That’s like a, you know, fairly good-sized city.
BILL: So it’s kind of hard to imagine how any analyst could possibly do that, so by taking this approach instead of using a disciplined, professional attack, they have made their analysts totally dysfunctional and they can’t succeed. Case in point: the shooting in Texas. Two days before those two gunmen tried to get in to kill people and that cartoon contest down in Texas, a member of Anonymous tipped off the local police that this attack was going to happen two days in advance of it. Now that’s what our intelligence community is supposed to do, but our intelligence community said absolutely nothing. Why? Because they’re looking at massive amounts of people. They don’t have the focused look that Anonymous did.
BILL: If they took that approach, they would succeed virtually every time. I don’t know how they could miss it.
ROBIN: Now, does this tie into what you were saying earlier then, Bill? I mean, you would think that the NSA, out of some form of self-interest, would want to improve their methods so that they could be more successful. Is the reason that they don’t do that – they would rather use this catchall that is failing – because the catchall-that’s-failing method isactually better for the political blackmail, etc., etc., and the self-interest of the higher parties that you mentioned earlier? Is it that they actually don’t really care about the success of their methods in terms of American security, but they have a different agenda altogether? Is that why they stick with it?
BILL: Yes, yes. That’s exactly what, from what I’ve seen, is what they’ve done.
BILL: They traded the security of the people of the United States and the free world and our allies around the world for money… The whole idea is that to do a focused, disciplined approach doesn’t cost anywhere near the amount of money, nor would you need any of the storage. They wouldn’t have to build that facility; they wouldn’t have had to build that facility in Bluffdale. There is a money interest to get a bigger budget and a bigger operation so that you can manage more. That’s what their focus is, and they basically assume that if they collect it all, eventually down the road somebody’ll figure out how to get through it and work out things that are smart. And they’ll have algorithms go through it and figure it out for us. So eventually they’re planning somewhere down the road, but in the meantime we’re all vulnerable and much more vulnerable than we’ve ever been.
ROBIN: That makes a lot of sense, Bill. Would you say, again based on your experience with the internal culture of American secret services and of the people that you worked with, that the culture morally corrupts folks? I imagine a lot of people go in to, as I think you did, this work because they’re patriots: they care about their fellow Americans; they care about their country, their people; and they want to do the best they can – they want to apply their skills for the good of their nation. Now, they get in to that culture and they see that the driving intentions aren’t what they thought they were. That there are other interests being pursued. Do many folks get corrupted within the organization?
BILL: Yes. As a matter of fact, I refer to that process as the “cloning process.”
BILL: Once you get into management, say it’s a GS-15 starting, maybe 14 – but 15 you really get into. Then at super grades, you’re really being cloned into corporate thinking. I refer to it as “corporate über alles.” It’s like when they had so many programs running that we call “legacy programs,” things that existed. Then, they need get any new ideas to be dependent on the things that they’ve got running already, so they could keep those things funded.
ROBIN: Right. Okay.
BILL: That’s the whole thinking, the whole process of how you build your empire and require more and more money to sustain it.
BILL: That’s really what they’ve been doing, and instead of taking new, fresh approaches, they’ve resorted to trying to sustain everything they’ve got and that they developed over time – even some of the analog systems. It’s just a, you know, a whole way of thinking from a corporate perspective…
ROBIN: That’s fascinating.
BILL: … that doesn’t necessarily have any influence on mission outcomes. In fact, it’s contrary to it. In fact, when I joined the agency, the values of the agency were mission first, then your people, then your organization, and then yourself. And when I left, they were exactly the reverse.
ROBIN: Hmm…okay. That makes sense.
BILL: The mission is last in line for values.
ROBIN: Yeah. Okay, I understand. Interestingly, earlier in the interview –you mentioned Rand Paul, and I want to just ask you a little bit about that because I know for a lot of folks who identify with the liberty movement, there’s a certain hopelessness about the electoral process. They believe that any application of people-power to the electoral process is basically hopeless because that process is hopelessly corrupt. Now, is it fair to say that – given that you offered the name of Rand Paul – that you believe, that you apply effort to supporting candidates like him, to shining the light on candidates like him, and that you think it is worth turning out to support folks like Rand Paul – and that it is possible, at least in theory, that a Rand Paul presidency would not become corrupted in the same way that a George W. or a Barack Obama presidency did? Do you believe that?
BILL: Yes, I do because…actually I’m trying to help as much as I can. I mean, if he gets the right advisors and doesn’t fall for the bamboozling of the intelligence community, then, he would have it right, and I believe that he will not fall for that. At least, so far, he’s evidenced the fact that he wouldn’t. He’s made it pretty clear that all the existing laws that we had would function well as long as we abided by the constitution.
BILL: He’s advocating for more intrusive investigation of people who are suspect or in a zone of suspicion around bad guys.
BILL: That’s the disciplined, professional approach that really we need to succeed, and he’s got that focus and he said that on the floor of the Senate in his filibuster basically for 11 hours down there.
BILL: He said that, and that’s really pretty clear. I mean, that’s really the way they have to do it. That’s the way Anonymous did it; that’s why they succeeded.
BILL: Our intelligence community is consistently failing on that. I mean, the FBI is really good at entrapping people, but, you know, those aren’t the real threats. I mean the real threats that were coming – fundamentally, most of them succeeded. The ones that failed failed because their devices failed, you know, or some local policeman saw them and stopped them.
ROBIN: Yeah, that makes sense.
BILL: So that should be clear evidence that they’re doing something wrong. I mean, after all, if you’re running an organization that’s not succeeding, you’re doing something wrong. You’ve got to change. That’s really pretty simple.
ROBIN: Now, the beginning of that answer, Bill, just to make sure that I was clear. Did I hear you say that you were advising Rand Paul or talking to him about these matters?
BILL: Yeah, we’re passing advice to people who are working with him…
BILL: … so that we can try to contribute to him that way.
ROBIN: I see. That makes a lot of sense. And I should say — full disclosure — I’m the communications director for Ready for Rand PAC at www.readyforrand.com . So I’m actually delighted to hear that you, one of my heroes, is helping Rand. And, actually more importantly to me, I haven’t sat down across the table with Rand Paul and looked the man in the whites of his eyes, and I think it’s always important to do that. So I do feel a little better that you feel that he is a man of integrity and that you could even see him, in your mind’s eye in office, maintaining that integrity and his belief in the constitution. I certainly hope you’re right about that. Now, what about other political engagement? It amazes me and I’m British – as you can tell from my accent, Bill – but it kind of amazes me just how much we now know in the United States about the abuses of individual liberties and, yet, nobody seems to be marching in the street. Nobody is handcuffing themselves to the diggers in Utah building – this massive institution for violation of American rights. Are Americans apathetic? Are we antipathetic? Are we … should we be out in the streets, let’s say, exerting our Second Amendment rights at this point? What’s wrong with us, Bill. What’s wrong with us?
BILL: Okay, I think there are several things, and I said some of this in different meetings and talks and interviews.
BILL: We are, we are… We’ve been for the last about 240 years very accustomed to having a country, a government that does the right thing. We wear the white hats; they try to do the right thing by us, and they try at least to be, for the most part, honest with us. And so, we have built up this internal trust in our central government to do the right thing or to try to do the right thing. That’s because we haven’t had a dictator here since George III, I might add. And so what we ended up doing, as I keep saying over and over again, what we ended up doing was trading George III for George the W. And so from there on, it went worse.
ROBIN: And you know I’ve said often, Bill, that George III never signed an executive order in his life. And to find the last English king that signed an executive order, you actually have to go back an entire century before the George III and to get to James, who was actually kicked out for his one executive order. So, I think I’ve got to say: I think our President is more of a monarch, and maybe even in the terms we’re discussing a dictator, than ever George III was.
BILL: I’m basically referring to it now as an imperial presidency.
BILL: For that reason, I mean, because everything is so secret and they don’t want it out in the open and they can’t, you know… they say the right words in public: ‘yes, we wanna have a… it’s not time to have an open discussion about this,’ but they’re not open at all about it. I mean the biggest thing they’ve not talked about is that all of the contents of the communications (emails and phone calls) that they’re doing now. Recently in The Intercept, they published some articles about using automated translations to do some rough translations of voice calls. Well, that means they’re doing it on the orders of millions of calls every day. They’re doing rough translations just to get words out to see if there is some word that might hit their list that they might want to look at that conversation a little more closely. Then they’ll use people to do a full transcription.
BILL: This is basically what I think Adrienne Kinne and David Murphy-Fawkes were doing at Fort Gordon, GA. They were transcribers doing transcriptions of US communications with other US people without a warrant, and according to FISA, those were federal felonies. That was also true when Tom Tamm — Thomas Tamm who was a DOJ lawyer — who was charged to write up request for warrants to the FISA court. And he saw all these warrantless wiretaps and warrantless reading of emails coming through as justification for probable cause. They should have gone through the FISA court, and here they were using the data that they already collected to go through as justification for probable cause to get a warrant from the FISA court. So you know, this is the collection of content that’s been going on all along – even the latest 5IG report came out at the bottom of page 8, the top of page, it says in there where Addington told General Hayden of NSA that (this was in the first 45 days of the authorization of 4 October, 2001, of the President).. he was telling Hayden that the President’s authorization authorized him to collect content of US citizens as well as metadata.
BILL: So, I mean, this is the whole point that this has been going on all along and they keep claiming they’re not doing content and that’s just an outright lie.
ROBIN: Presumably, though, there’s also just a very simple motivation about this, which is nobody wants to be caught with their pants down, right? Nobody wants to have been caught in the lie, so we’re now in this kind of rut of having to build lies on lies on lies.
BILL: Right. And then everybody is involved so they all have to support it like McConnell in the Senate, all the leadership in the house and senate, the FISA Court, and the intelligence committees, and the Attorney General. They’re all a part of it, so they have to support it.
ROBIN: Now we’ve only got about a minute left in this segment, Bill, but do you think there is a change in zeitgeist now either among the People or the political class or both? Back towards individual rights? Rand Paul did do his filibuster. We got the USA Freedom Act –not ideal—but is it a step in the right direction? Or is it a whitewash? And again, we’ve only got about 45 seconds left, but what do you think about that?
BILL: It is basically a step in the right direction, but by no means anywhere near something that really, I mean… they’re only doing the surface stuff. They already have separate programs already acquiring most of that data any way. In the upstream acquisition of data, that’s where they’re tapping directly into the fiber lines and taking everything in bulk (content and metadata). For metadata, they probably get about 80% of it with the upstream program, and the Section 215 stuff was illegally acquired but it was the extra 20% that they were missing from the upstream, so it really doesn’t do that much. We need to do a lot more.
ROBIN: Thanks, Bill. We’re going into the final break. This is Robin Koerner with Bill Binney on Blue Republican Radio.
ROBIN: In the final segment, I just want to ask you, Bill – and thanks again for being here with me on Blue Republican Radio — is it worse in America than everywhere else or is everywhere else catching up? Is this an American anti-civil liberties disease or is it a global one?
BILL: Well, it started all here within the US and it focused on US citizens. Then it spread around the world for the US to do it, but also at the same time the Five Eyes group (Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the US) went together on this and then other countries were joining it. So that you see that they’re all adopting the same procedures of bulk acquisition of data and information and using it to share…and they’re sharing it back and forth. Just recently the Bundesamt found out that the B&D, the equivalent of the NSA and CIA over in Germany, was also sharing data with NSA, and collecting data on their own citizens. So it’s really a worldwide process that started here but is infecting entire governments, democracies around the world as well. And so it’s really destroying the entire fabric of democracy everywhere on the planet. I mean, Ronald Reagan used to say that “we’re a country with a government,” well, now we’re a government with a country and we’re making everybody else that way too.
ROBIN: My god. That seems to be such a depressing note to end on. I would just say… I mentioned at the beginning of this show that we’ve just marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. In history, some things keep repeating themselves, and my little contribution to this was to set up at www.magnacarta.us — and I invite any of the listeners to go to magnacarta.us. I have rewritten the Magna Carta for our time in which I’ve listed to a set of grievances and made a set of demands, of those who would rule us, to undo some of the extreme violations of the basic individual liberties that we’ve been fighting for 800 years but are now undergoing in this country, and – if you have been listening to Bill, are affecting citizens around the world. Also, if you care about these issues, please go to www.bluerepublican.org , stick your name in the box, and join the mailing list. Check out the archives: we have some fantastic guests; we discuss issues like this a lot. We had Coleen Rowley, the 2002 Time Magazine Person of the Year, discussing similar issues recently – check that out in the archives. Bill, thank you very much for being with me on Blue Republican Radio.
(With thanks to Hema Gorzinnski for transcribing.)