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Massive Domestic Spying Revealed = Exactly What My NSA Whistleblower Clients Warned About

Jesselyn Radack, June 06, 2013

Glenn Greenwald has an amazing scoop: a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Order that reveals widespread, domestic surveillance under the Obama administration. To say Greenwald's piece is a must-read for anyone who cares about privacy is an understatement:

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

Amid the understandable media firestorm, few mainstream media outlets have picked up on the fact that the Order is exactly what my clients, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Bill Binney, have been warning the American people about for years. Can you hear them now? (pun intended).

Whistleblowers Binney and Drake (and their colleagues J. Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis and former congressional staffer Diane Roark) have paid handsomely for their disclosures. All were subjected to years-long federal criminal investigations, had their careers derailed and Drake was the first person indicted in the Obama administration's record-breaking spate of Espionage Act prosecutions.

Greenwald's scoop is more proof (as if being vindicated by the Department of Defense Inspector General was not enough) that Binney and Drakes' disclosures are on the mark.

Here's what Jane Mayer reported on Binney and Drake two years ago:

Drake didn’t know the precise details, but he sensed that domestic spying “was now being done on a vast level.” He was dismayed to hear from N.S.A. colleagues that “arrangements” were being made with telecom and credit-card companies. He added, “The mantra was ‘Get the data!’ ” The transformation of the N.S.A., he says, was so radical that “it wasn’t just that the brakes came off after 9/11—we were in a whole different vehicle.”

. . .

Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah . . .  After 9/11, he says, “General Hayden reassured everyone that the N.S.A. didn’t put out dragnets, and that was true. It had no need—it was getting every fish in the sea.”

Jim Bamford expanded on it in Wired:

According to Binney, one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.

Verizon was also part of the program, Binney says, and that greatly expanded the volume of calls subject to the agency’s domestic eavesdropping. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he says. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” (Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T said their companies would not comment on matters of national security.)

Here's Binney discussing NSA domestic surveillance in Laura Poitras' brilliant Op-Doc published in the New York Times:

If you missed them blowing all these whistles, Binney and Drake will be on Democracy Now! this morning at 8:00 am EDT discussing the latest proof of what they've been telling us all along.

One more note on the "authority" under which the government claims it can engage in bulk collection of innocent Americans' "business records." Don't be comforted by the fact that there was a "warrant" because #1, it was secret and #2 it wasn't based on probable cause or any suspicion whatsoever of wrongdoing. It was based on a tortured secret interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.


This article originally appeared in the Daily Kos.

Jesselyn Radack is National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.