National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney said on Friday that the US government is secretly gathering information “about virtually every US citizen in the country,” in “a very dangerous process” that violates Americans’ privacy.
Binney, who resigned from the NSA in 2001 over its sweeping domestic surveillance program, delivered a keynote address at the HOPE Number 9 hackers conference in New York.
“They’re pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country…and assembling that information,” Binney explained. “So government is accumulating that kind of information about every individual person and it’s a very dangerous process.”
In the decade after 9/11, in an environment of acute threat inflation, covert national security agencies like the NSA have been flooded with new funding and broadened powers. In the name of keeping Americans safe from foreign threats, basic liberties have been discarded.
Similarly, investigative journalist James Bamford wrote in Wired in March that “the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas.”
One anonymous official familiar with the NSA’s surveillance program told Bamford, “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
In an interview with Current TV in May, another NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, made similar claims of the capability and intent of the NSA’s surveillance activities. “The vast capability of the NSA was increasingly being turned inside the US,” he said, “to surveil networks, emails, phone calls, etc.”
“The United States of America was turned into the equivalent of a foreign nation for the purposes of dragnet electronic surveillance,” Drake added.
In the same interview, Binney said “the real problem I see is that the DoJ is covering up for all the crimes that this administration and the previous administration has been committing against every one in the public.”