“So that now I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time. The danger here is that we fall into a totalitarian state. This is something the KGB, the Stasi or the Gestapo would have loved to have had.”
William Binney is a former 33 year N.S.A. employee who has exposed some details about the expansive, pervasive domestic spying program created after 9/11. He is a mathematician and code-breaker and he retired from the N.S.A. in late 2001 in protest. In the documentary above – he explains how the huge data mining program named Stellar Wind was created to track all electronic activities; it tracks everything you do online from bank transactions to who you talk to you on your Facebook account to what you purchase on Amazon and who you email to put together a complete online profile. The government profile creates a Timeline version profile of everything you do in your life; welcome to 1984.
Documentary maker Laura Poitras wrote about what’s at stake in the NY times HERE:
To those who understand state surveillance as an abstraction, I will try to describe a little about how it has affected me. The United States apparently placed me on a “watch-list” in 2006 after I completed a film about the Iraq war. I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.”’ As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.
The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, are trying to revise the amendments to insure greater privacy protections. They have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.
Ars Technica went in deep to explain Stellar Wind four years ago HERE:
The data-mining component of Stellar Wind was first revealed by USA Today in 2006, nearly five months after the initial Times story about warrantless wiretapping broke. The wiretapping described by the Times came to be known as the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”—a term that seems to have been invented after the fact to allow officials to testify before Congress on the aspects of Stellar Wind that had been exposed without admitting to any of the activities that hadn’t yet come to light.
While the TSP purportedly involved recording the actual contents of American targets’ international communications, the data mining program cast a far broader net, sweeping in by the millions “the telephone numbers of callers and recipients in the United States, and the time and duration of the calls” as well as “the subject lines of e-mails, the times they were sent, and the addresses of both senders and recipients.” This “metadata” dragnet purportedly sucked up the information equivalent of an Encyclopedia Britannica every four seconds.
Now – we’ve talked about this before HERE:
Democracy Now shares the story of a Whistleblower from the NSA HERE:
In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.
Elliot Spitzer speaks to NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake and William Binney about this on CurrenTV:
“In effect, the United States of America was turned into the equivalent of a foreign nation for the purpose of dragnet electronic surveillance, on a very wide scale.”
~NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake
In 2004 – after a whisteblower in the government named Thomas Tamm exposed the wireless wiretaps aka Stellar Wind to the NY Times … a whole host of Justice Department officials and the head of the F.B.I. threatened to resign over the program HERE:
Eighteen months after he first disclosed what he knew, the Times reported that President George W. Bush had secretly authorized the NSA to intercept phone calls and e-mails of individuals inside the United States without judicial warrants. The drama followed a quiet, separate rebellion within the highest ranks of the Justice Department concerning the same program. (James Comey, then the deputy attorney general, together with FBI head Robert Mueller and several other senior Justice officials, threatened to resign.) President Bush condemned the leak to the Times as a “shameful act.” Federal agents launched a criminal investigation to determine the identity of the culprit.
And as we’ve written HERE – even many of our elected officials do not know what is in the Patriot Act still:
The above video is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) questioning various intelligence directors in an intelligence committee hearing in 2011. Now – he and Senator Udall (D-OR) have written a letter to the Justice Department questioning why there is a secret legal interpretation by the Federal government relative to the legalities of the Patriot Act. It is inconceivable that their is a law on the b00ks that Americans are not even able to discern what legal and illegal is because it is classified. President Obama’s record on civil rights hasn’t exactly been exemplary; if anything – this is an area where President Obama has continued the exact same policies as the Bush administration. And it has been an abject failure of leadership relevant to civil rights.
And as we’ve written HERE – the Department of Homeland Security is building a file for bloggers:
Many Americans would find it disturbing to know that there is an active effort to collect information and “build files” on bloggers i.e. people who are typically engaged and involved in the political process.
At a hearing of the House Homeland Security’s subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Speier said that personal information of journalists is “irrelevant.”
Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), the panel’s chairman, said collecting information on bloggers and people who comment on news could have a “chilling effect” on speech and violate their privacy rights.
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