Posted 4 years ago on April 24, 2012, 8:36 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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More Secrets on Growing State Surveillance
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 12:26 By Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Report & Video
In part two of our national broadcast exclusive on the growing domestic surveillance state, we speak with National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney and two targeted Americans: Oscar-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras and hacker Jacob Appelbaum, who has volunteered for WikiLeaks and now works with Tor Project, a nonprofit organization that teaches about internet security. Binney left the NSA after the 9/11 attacks over his concerns about the agency's widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens. He describes how the FBI later raided his home and held him at gunpoint and notes there is still no effective way of monitoring how and what information the NSA is gathering on U.S. citizens and how that data is being used. Watch part one here.
Amy Goodman: We turn to part two of Democracy Now!'s national broadcast exclusive on the growing domestic surveillance state and the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to spy on dissident journalists, whistleblowers and activists.
We play more of our interview with National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney. He was a key source for James Bamford's recent exposé in Wired Magazine about the NSA, how the National Security Agency is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. Binney served in the NSA for close to 40 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA's World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned the agency's data-mining program has become so vast it could, quote, "create an Orwellian state." In 2007, the FBI raided Binney's house. An agent put a gun to his head. His appearance on Democracy Now! on Friday marked the first time Binney spoke on national television about surveillance by the National Security Agency. He revealed the agency collected vast amounts of data on communications between U.S. citizens.
Juan González and I also interviewed two people who have been frequent targets of government surveillance. Laura Poitras is the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher who has volunteered with WikiLeaks. Poitras is the director of documentary films, My Country, My Country, about Iraq, and The Oath, about Guantánamo and Yemen. Both Poitras and Appelbaum have been repeatedly detained and interrogated by federal agents when entering the United States. Their laptops, cameras, cell phones have been seized. Presumably, their data has been copied. The Justice Department has also targeted Appelbaum's online communications.
I started by asking Jacob Appelbaum about his work and how being targeted for surveillance has impacted him.
Jacob Appelbaum: I work for a nonprofit, and I work for—
Amy Goodman: Explain the nonprofit.
Jacob Appelbaum: The nonprofit is the Tor Project, TorProject.org. It's a nonprofit dedicated to creating an anonymity network and the software that powers it. It's free software for freedom, so that everybody has the right to read and to speak freely. No logins, no payment, nothing. It's run by volunteers. And I also work at the University of Washington, which technically is a government institution, as a staff research scientist in the Security and Privacy Research Lab.
And how has it changed my work? Well, like Laura, I don't have important conversations in the United States anymore. I don't have conversations in bed with my partner anymore. I don't trust any of my computers for anything at all. And in a sense, one thing that it has done is push me away from the work that I've done around the world trying to help pro-democracy activists starting an Arab Spring, for example, because I present a threat, in some cases, to those people. And I have a duty as a human being, essentially, to not create a threat for people. And so, in a sense, the state targeting me makes me less effective in the things they even, in some cases, fund the Tor Project to do, which is to help people to be anonymous online and to fight against censorship and surveillance.
Juan Gonzalez: I'd like to ask, William Binney, the impact of having devoted your entire working life to an agency—that is, to protecting the national security of the United States—to have that very agency then attempt to turn you into a criminal and to view you as a criminal, the emotional toll on you and your family of what's happened the last few years?
William Binney: Well, I guess, first of all, it was a very depressing thing to have happen, that they would turn their—the capabilities that I built for them to do foreign—detection of foreign threats, to have that turned on the people of the United States. That was an extremely depressing thing for me to see happen internally in NSA, that was chartered for foreign intelligence, not domestic intelligence.
And I guess that simply made it more important for me to try to do things to get the government, first of all, to correct its own criminal activity, and I did that by going to the House Intelligence Committees. I also attempted to see Chief Justice Rehnquist to try to address that issue to him, and I also visited the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office—after Obama came into office, by the way, to no avail. I mean, that was before the 2009 joint IG report on surveillance.
Amy Goodman: Which said?
William Binney: Basically it just said you need to have better and more active monitoring of these surveillance programs. It didn't say anything else. So that just simply did absolutely nothing, because the oversight that's given to the intelligence community is virtually nonexistent from Congress. I mean, all—they are totally dependent, because they have no way of really knowing what's happening inside the agencies that are involved. Unless they had people who would come forward and tell them—like me, for example—they would not know those things.