NSA whistleblower William Binney (shown) has made the startling claim that the NSA is recording the audio of at least 80 percent of Americans' telephone calls. The NSA acknowledged in 2013, after repeated and explicit denials, that it was recording telephone metadata, but it still denies it is keeping the audio of any American's phone calls.
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US,” Binney told the London Guardian July 10. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
William Binney can perhaps be called the “legal Edward Snowden,” as the 32-year veteran of the NSA did not take NSA documents or reveal classified information in his whistleblowing. And while some have criticized NSA whistleblower Snowden for not following established legal channels, Binney's character remains unimpeached. Binney has particular credibility because he was the author of the software used to conduct the domestic surveillance, which he had created to spy on foreign governments and terrorist threats. Binney explained in a 2012 documentary short film that:
After 9/11 they took one of the programs I had done — the back end of it — and started to use it to spy on everybody in this country. That was a program they created called STELLAR WIND. That was separate and compartmented from the regular activity that was ongoing because it was doing domestic spying.
It was because his software had been turned on American citizens that Binney took his protests public and resigned from the NSA on October 31, 2001. “The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control,” Binney told The Guardian July 10, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”
Binney has never been charged with a crime, but that didn't stop the powers-that-be in Washington from trying to intimidate him. The FBI led a 2007 “dynamic entry” raid at Binney's house, and pointed drawn guns at him as he emerged from his shower. But Binney simply asked to get dressed and told the FBI agents that he had violated no laws. He added that he had evidence of serious crimes. When asked by the FBI agents what those crimes were, Binney, according to his testimony in a 2012 documentary, said: “George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tenet and Hayden conspired to subvert the Constitution, the constitutional process and any number of laws. And here is how they did it.”
Binney continued in that interview: “And I explained STELLAR WIND on my back porch to all the FBI agents who weren't cleared. So I created a problem for them because they had a bunch of people now who weren't cleared for a very highly classified program — only because it was domestic spying, by the way — was the reason it was highly classified. They wanted to highly classify the extreme, impeachable crimes that they were committing.”
Binney later told the Internet video program Democracy Now! that things have not gotten any better under the Obama administration. “I think the surveillance has increased. In fact, I would suggest that they have assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.” Binney noted that this is only phone calls and e-mails. It doesn't include other Internet traffic and financial transactions. Binney stated at a DefCon technology seminar, “Unfortunately, the software ... once it takes in data, it will build profiles on everybody in that data.”
“The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone,” Binney told The Guardian, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.” Binney sums up the NSA's attempt to get all information on Americans stored in their databases: “The point is that the data that is being assembled is about everybody. And from that data then they can target anyone they want.”
Photo of William Benney: AP Images