NSA Whistleblower Makes Explosive Disclosures
(Washington, DC) – On Monday, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower and Government Accountability Project (GAP) client William Binney continued publicly revealing massive domestic surveillance beginning under President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, and continuing rampantly under President Obama.
A senior crypto-mathematician, Binney served at NSA for over forty years, lastly as the Technical Director of the NSA World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting group, made up of thousands of NSA employees charged with analyzing massive volumes of electronic data gathered worldwide. Today, on the day of the annual Ridenhour Prizes that celebrate whistleblowers and truth-telling in the public interest, GAP is lauding Binney for courageously taking a stand and continuing to blow the whistle on NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance.
Binney’s explosive disclosures over the past few weeks include:
- The first public description of Stellar Wind, the NSA’s massive domestic spying program, which has the capacity to intercept trillions of domestic electronic communications of Americans, including e-mails, phone calls, and internet activities.
- Revealing NSA employee Ben Gunn as the organizer of Stellar Wind. A senior NSA analyst who worked with Binney, GAP client J. Kirk Wiebe, also blew the whistle on Gunn’s role, stating: “One day I notice out in the hallway, stacks and stacks of new servers in boxes just lined up . . . I walk in and I almost get thrown out by a guy that we knew named Ben Gunn.”
- That Stellar Wind gave the NSA warrantless access to telecommunications companies’ massive domestic and international billing records, amounting to an estimated “over a billion and a half calls a day.”
- That “…after 9/11, all the wraps came off for NSA, and they decided to – between the White House and NSA and CIA – they decided to eliminate the protections on U.S. citizens and collect on, domestically. So they started collecting from a commercial – the one commercial company that I know of that participated provided over 300 – probably, on the average, about 320 million records of communication of a U.S. citizen to a U.S. citizen inside this country.” (18:15 – 18:45)
- That since 9/11, the NSA has intercepted an estimated “between 15 and 20 trillion” electronic transactions.
- That the scope of Stellar Wind is much larger than what was previously publicly known “Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email.”
- That the patriotic-sounding “Terrorist Surveillance Program” was used as a cover for Stellar Wind: “But it was grouped with Stellar Wind and some other programs, so that they could give cover to it, talk about some programs, say they’re talking about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, but it was basically a group of programs, some of which they did not want to talk about.”
- An explanation of NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander’s congressional testimony denying domestic spying:
“Well, I think it’s – part of it is a term, how you use the term "intercept," as to whether or not what they’re saying is, "We aren’t actually looking at it, but we have it," you know, or whether or not they’re actually collecting it and storing it somewhere…
Well, he also said things like, "We don’t collect" – or, "We don’t collect against U.S. citizens unless we have a warrant." And then, at the same time, he said that we don’t – at the same interview, he said, "We don’t have the capability to collect inside this country." Well, those are kind of contradictory.
…I wouldn’t – you know, the point is how you split the words. I wouldn’t say "lying." It’s a kind of avoiding the issue.” (55:40 – 56:30)
In 2002, Binney blew the whistle on massive waste, fraud and mismanagement related to NSA billion-dollar boondoggle, the then-flagship program Trailblazer, through internal channels when he and fellow whistleblowers former NSA employees Wiebe, Edward Loomis, and former congressional staffer Diane Roark filed a complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG). Former senior NSA official Thomas Drake did not sign the complaint, because, still working at NSA, he feared retaliation. Instead, Drake served as the material witness. In retaliation, the FBI conducted coordinated armed raids of the complainants’ homes. Binney described the raid on Democracy Now!
“I was in the shower. I was taking a shower, so my son answered the door. And they of course pushed him out of the way at gunpoint and came running upstairs and found me in the shower, and came in and pointed the gun at me…" (27:10 – 27:30)
The Department of Justice (DOJ) criminally investigated all of complainants, including Binney. When DOJ actually indicted Drake, he became the fourth person in history to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information. The Obama administration has brought more Espionage Act prosecutions for alleged mishandling of government secrets than all past presidents combined. The DOJ abandoned its investigation of Binney, Wiebe, and Loomis, and DOJ’s case against Drake collapsed in spectacular fashion days before trial last summer. The government dropped all felony charges, and Drake pled guilty to a minor misdemeanor.
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, who represents Binney, Drake, and Wiebe, captured the scope of Binney's disclosures:
"Binney’s disclosures are the most comprehensive to date and substantially clarify the web of confusion around domestic surveillance that our government has worked so hard to weave.”
Radack continued: "Binney’s bravery in raising alarm about NSA’s ever-expanding domestic surveillance operations despite having been subjected to a retaliatory criminal investigation is rare, admirable, and significant. We owe it to Binney, Wiebe, Drake and all NSA whistleblowers to listen to their disclosures, take advantage of opportunities for change, and recognize that while the surveillance industrial complex might put paychecks in certain contractors’ bank accounts, no amount of money is worth our freedom. Congress, the courts, and the American public should heed Binney’s warning, and not let his courageous disclosures go unnoticed with no accountability for lawbreakers. It is not too late to force NSA to revert to its pre-9/11 mission of collecting only foreign intelligence."
Radack and Binney are available to speak with the press. Please contact GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202.457.0034 ext. 137, to schedule an interview with either.
The Ridenhour Prizes, being held later today, are widely regarded as the nation's highest honor that whistleblowers can receive. The Prizes recognize acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society. Tom Drake won the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling last year, and GAP client and Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower Eileen Foster will be honored with the same prize this year. More information can be found at http://www.ridenhour.org/
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137
Contact: Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 107
Contact: Kathleen McClellan, National Security & Human Rights Counsel
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 108
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.