The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.
Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called ‘Naris.’
This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.
RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama, one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?
William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.
RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…
WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.
RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?
RT: Then what about Google, you know, releasing this biannual transparency report and saying that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high and for all of those requesting the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time. But they are still saying that they are making the request, it’s not like it’s all being funneled into that storage. What do you say to that?
WB: I would assume that it’s just simply another source for the same data they are already collecting. My line is in declarations in a court about the 18-T facility in San Francisco, that documented the NSA room inside that AST&T facility, where they had Naris devices to collect data off the fiber optic lines inside the United States. So, that’s kind of a powerful device, that would collect everything it was being sent. It could collect on the order over of 100 billion 1,000-character emails a day. One device.
RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it?
WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.
RT: Were you on the target list?
WB: Oh, sure! I believe I’ve been on it for quite a few years. So I keep telling them everything I think of them in my email. So that when they want to read it they’ll understand what I think of them.
RT: Do you think we all should leave messages for the NSA mail box?
RT: You blew the whistle on the agency when George W. Bush was the president. With President Obama in office, in your opinion, has anything changed at the agency, in the surveillance program? In what direction is this administration moving?
WB: The change is it’s getting worse. They are doing more. He is supporting the building of the Bluffdale facility, which is over two billion dollars they are spending on storage room for data. That means that they are collecting a lot more now and need more storage for it. That facility by my calculations that I submitted to the court for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against NSA would hold on the order of 5 zettabytes of data. Just that current storage capacity is being advertised on the web that you can buy. And that’s not talking about what they have in the near future.