William Edward Binney is a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) turned whistleblower who resigned on October 31, 2001, after more than 30 years with the agency. He joined John B. Wells to discuss living his life as a whistleblower, the NSA scandal and related topics.
"The NSA was chartered to do foreign intelligence only, not domestic intelligence," he said. Prior to the Bush Administration, if the NSA happened to randomly intercept a U.S. citizen's communications, the database was purged of the collection and records erased, Binney revealed. After 9/11 and per a "secret interpretation" of the Patriot Act, the NSA decided it could build a register of every phone in the country, he explained, noting that they now keep records on who every U.S. Citizen calls, how often and for how long. A person has the right to free association with others only as long as the NSA knows about it, he admonished.
According to Binney, there is substantial danger that data collected from phone and internet communications as well as financial records will be used to target particular Americans, a scenario recently played out when the IRS was caught harassing tea party members, he pointed out. Because the threat is real and the spy organization's reach well beyond its original charter, Binney said he has signed an affidavit for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit challenging the NSA's constitutional authority to collect this kind of information.
Another peril to U.S. citizens are FISA Courts (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) which can order the transfer of domestic intelligence data but have no way of validating the intelligence being given to them, he continued. Binney called for the defunding of FISA Courts since they, like the NSA, are in violation of their original charter. He lamented that so few citizens stand up against government organizations that disregard the Constitution as well as the erosion of liberty, creativity and innovation. Binney also spoke about the Edward Snowden case, the epidemic of corruption and fraud within government programs, and how his life was turned upside down after filing a legal complaint against the NSA.