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NSA whistleblowers Russell Tice and Bill Binney return to explain why NSA boss Keith Alexander doesn't know how many secret files were copied by Ed Snowden; we also discuss recently declassified FISA court rulings and argue that the FISA court should be abolished.In a recent interview with State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren, your humble host stated that, by now, the NSA should know just how much and what kinds of information Ed Snowden was able to access and deliver to reporters. Van Buren corrected me, suggesting that NSA did not have strong internal tracking and that Snowden was likely a very good hacker.
Tice emailed after hearing about my chat with van Buren, and confirmed the first part and noted that Bill Binney is the expert on NSA systems. So they both joined in this important conversation.
Binney and Tice explain that there was an internal struggle at NSA in the 1990's about tracking and auditing actions on computer networks, and that NSA decided not to build in systems that could be used to monitor costs, efficiency and unauthorized access. They explain that most systems and programs can't be audited, and that Snowden exploited this vulnerability.
Noting the Supreme Court's rejection of EPIC's appeal of a FISA court ruling, and the newly declassified FISA rulings going back to 2002, we talk about the pattern of complaints by different judges that NSA was widely flouting the directions of the FISA court and deceiving the court on a regular basis. Binney analyses the case number of the Verizon phone records order leaked by Snowden, and deduces that there are 80 companies under the same type of order. He also makes an important point about the coordinated, ongoing perjury by intelligence leaders.
Tice points out that he was personally involved in wiretapping chief judges of the FISA court from 2002 to 2005, and asks if the judges are compromised or intimidated by NSA; Binney flatly says the FISA judges should be fired, and Tice adds that they should be tried along with intel chiefs Clapper and Alexander. We discuss the timid reforms--including the Feinstein bill that poses as reform--proposed in Congress, and all agree that the FISA court should be shut down. PBC advocates for returning NSA's mission to its original purpose of foreign spying, and Binney and Tice have slightly different views on that.
Tice and Binney have each appeared on this podcast previously, so please do a search with their names if you haven't heard them.