BLOCKBUSTER!! Part 1 on The NSA 4 with Whistleblower Bill Binney and Journalist Tim Shorrock

by Peter B. Collins on April 18, 2013

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William Binney, who spent 35 years at National Security Agency and quit over illegal domestic surveillance, and journalist Tim Shorrock of The Nation reveal corruption, cronyism and coverups at NSA, along with major violations of our fourth amendment rights.  Tim Shorrock is the author of  Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence and Outsourcing, and wrote one of the best articles to date on whistleblowers and the retaliation they face: Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers in The Nation‘s 4/15/13 issue.

Bill Binney spent 35 years at NSA, and rose to the level of a general in the military–he is the highest-ranking NSA whistleblower so far.  He was co-developer of the surveillance software called Thinthread, which only cost about $3.4 million and was intentionally designed to prevent monitoring of “US persons” without a warrant.  NSA Director Michael Hayden preferred a competing concept called Trailblazer that intentionally enabled monitoring without warrants, ended up costing $6-8 billion, and was never deployed.

Part 2 will present a detailed interview with Thomas Drake.

Shorrock covers the profiteering by an array of well-connected defense contractors, led by SAIC; the privatization of national security tasks that ballooned after 9/11; the revolving door history of top officials like Bill Black, who worked for SAIC right before he became #2 at NSA; and the role of director Michael Hayden in the promotion of Trailblazer and evading responsibility for its failure.

Binney explains that he left NSA after infighting over surveillance after 9/11, and because he did not want to be involved in widespread violations of the constitution.  He notes that Hayden had not even seen a demo of Thin Thread, and explains some of the technical aspects of both systems and how inexperienced the outside contractors were in the process of spycraft.  He talks about inspector general reports that confirm the complaints of the whistleblowers, some of which were declassified in 2011.  And he sounds a clear warning about the massive, permanent collection of electronic communications.

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