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Wednesday
Dec052012

NSA whistleblower: Spying on Americans “getting worse” under Obama

William Binney, a former National Security Agency expert on mathematics and code breaking, told international news channel RT that “everyone” in the United States is “under virtual surveillance.” Binney first gained attention as a whistleblower during the administration of President George W. Bush.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2011, the Bush administration undertook a number of national security measures. Among them, circumventing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by implementing the President’s Surveillance Program.

Binny said his colleagues told him the PSP collected U.S. electronic communications traffic “without any of the privacy protections” built into a planned but not implemented surveillance program known as “Thin Thread” whereby data would be encrypted until a warrant could be obtained.

Neoliberals, Libertarians and activists aligned with limits on federal powers in the U.S. Constitution were outraged. Northeastern newspapers like The New York Times assailed the practice and by 2007, the Bush Administration publicly committed to abiding by FISA, but criticism and challenges continued. Most media ran ongoing coverage; pundits debated the issue daily.

When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he made a public commitment to government transparency. Obama’s messaging comprised his dedication to upholding the U.S. Constitution. That, unfortunately, is a promise not kept. Obama is less transparent than Bush.

Asked by RT whether anything about the surveillance program has changed under Obama, Binney said:


“The change is it’s getting worse. They are doing more. He is supporting the building of the Bluffdale facility, which is over two billion dollars they are spending on storage room for data. That means that they are collecting a lot more now and need more storage for it. That facility by my calculations that I submitted to the court for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against NSA would hold on the order of 5 zettabytes of data.”

 

For example, Binney said the FBI has access to “the emails of virtually everybody in the country.” The data, he said, is being stored and even members of Congress are being surveilled. Binney warned that individuals could become targets, not just on the basis of security risks. The data is a powerful weapon when officials decide to use it in a political witch hunt.

Binney raised questions about surveillance of former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen. After the Benghazi scandal indicated the Obama administration had lapsed on security at the consulate, both Petraeus and Allen were ensnared in allegations involving women. Neither man knew his emails were tracked.

At one time, Petraeus had been thought to be considering a run for the White House. It’s tempting to wonder whether the Obama administration targeted these men for reasons other than national security, especially considering what Petraeus actually knew about the mishandling of Benghazi and the coverup that ensued.

Media have largely ignored Binney’s revelations since Obama took office, and most media have deliberately ignored the implications of his statement that the Obama administration is “worse” than the Bush administration regarding the invasion of privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation brought a suit against the National Security Agency for illegally spying on Americans. Government’s power is legally limited in that regard by the Fourth Amendment.

However, the Obama administration has routinely unilaterally overturned a number of amendments and statutes without consulting Congress or the courts, so the case is not likely to transform this president’s policies, even if courts direct him to do so.

Although domestic surveillance increased after 9/11, we should remind ourselves that an intelligence lapse did not lead to the attacks on America. Bureaucratic ineptitude under both President Bill Clinton and Bush 43 created opportunity for terrorists. There were numerous opportunities to avert the catastrophe. The government simply didn’t respond to those opportunities.

Binney’s disclosures to RT are a warning to Americans that should be heeded. Some administrations decide to target individuals purely for political reasons even when a crime has not been committed, such as the Petraeus affair.

Binney summed up the federal government’s infractions candidly. “They are violating the foundation of this entire country,” he said.

Anyone who values freedom would agree; only those ignorant of history would support what this administration is currently doing. Don’t expect U.S. media to warn you. There’s a Democrat in the White House.

Ask yourself even if you're comfortable with the U.S. government having access to every email you send or receive, how would you feel about a foreign government having access?

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Dec. 5, 2012)

~~The Electronic Frontier Foundation created the site Surveillance Self-Defense for those interested in keeping Uncle Sam’s nose out of their business when no crime has been committed.

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