American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism.
RT: I’m sitting here with Mr. William Binney -- he’s a thirty-two year veteran of the NSA who helped design a top-secret program that he says broadly changed Americans’ personal data. And he actually helped crack those codes, and enter into this. He’s now a whistleblower. Mr. Binney, thank you so much for joining me. So first of all, let’s talk about the latest information that has come out from this NSA spying on Americans.
Bill Binney: Well, first of all, the FISA warrant that was issued to the FBI to get the data from Verizon…that’s been going on, according to the paper anyway, since 2007. And this is like being renewed every three months. So if you look at the top-right corner of that order, it’s 13-80 -- that means it’s the 80thorder since this year of 2013. So when you start to say, so what are the other 79 orders? You can figure other companies. And this is like the second order of 2013, for each company. So that maximum -- you would divide 80 by two, and the maximum number of companies that could be involved in this order would be 40. But I’m sure that there are other things, that they have other orders they are issuing than just this kind, for the service providers, or the telecoms.
RT: So let’s talk about the nine Internet companies that said that they are part of this PRISM program. Should Americans really be surprised at this?
BB: Well I’m not, that’s for sure. But I would point out that the NSA had deployed Naris devices in its court documents submitted by Mark Klein, documenting the NSA room in the San Francisco At&T building where they had Naris devices in a splitter that basically duplicated the fiber-optic lines and would send them down two paths. All the information went down two directions: one of them went down the Naris devices in the NSA room. And so those Naris devices could take everything off of that fiber-optic line. One Naris Insight device could do 10 GB per second,which meant it could reassemble a million and a quarter 1000-character e-mails per second. And that’s the kind of input they could get from one device. Now I’m sure they have multiple devices at multiple sights in the country as well as other places in the world, so that’s an awful lot of data to try to manage. So they need to do things like build Bluffdale to plan for the future so they have lots of storage for all this data.
RT: So how far down the rabbit-hole are we? Are we really just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of their spying with this PRISM program coming out in the Verizon records?
BB: Tim Clemente, who is an ex-FBI agent, came on CNN a week or two ago, and he said that any digital data wasn’t safe, and that the intelligence community and the FBI had ways of getting back to it. And he was specifically talking about the phone call between one of the [Tsarnaev] brothers and his wife. And if his wife didn’t tell the FBI what they talked about in that phone call, that they had ways of getting back to that and transcribing and getting the information. So that’s telling you what they’ve got recorded – then they extend it and have digital data. That means all kinds of email, all kinds of Twitter kind-of things, anything going across the fiber-optic lines, as well as the public switch telephone network.
RT: So we’re not talking billions of pieces of information here, we’re talking trillions.
BB: We’re talking trillions, yea. My estimate with phone calls and emails jointly would be on the order of 20 trillion for the last 12 years.
RT: How can we even manage such a thing? They’re saying, with this PRISM program for instance, we have one lawmaker after another supporting it, saying it helps thwart at least one terrorism attack. How would trillions of emails and trillions of bits of data help find one terrorist attack?
BB: My personal view is that the intelligence community is bamboozling Congress and the administration. They are telling them that they have to do this in order to find the bad guys in the networks, and that’s just absolutely false. You don’t have to do that. There are ways and means to do that, and I left that ability and capability with them, and they just threw it away. So instead they just opted to collect everything they could about everybody in this country, and one of the reasons that they would want to do that – the only one I could think of is they wanted to be able to leverage anybody in this country. For example, we can take the case of the IRS and the tea party, and the harassing they’re doing there. One of the people that’s being harassed was giving testimony in front of Congress. And they said, which I thought was quite revealing, was that they had a question from the IRS that asked, “what Is your relationship with this other person?” And they gave the name. Well how would they know that unless they knew the communications community of that person? So that means you’re getting back to this program where they’re pulling all the records of phone calls and emails and everything together and seeing who that person worked with. And on top of that it gave them the ability to pull together the entire tea party. So you would know everybody that’s involved in the tea party, peripherally or centrally.
RT: Now this new PRISM program says that the agents who are employing need to have a 51 percent confidence that it’s a foreign agent, a foreign person. Can you talk about that accuracy, how can we guarantee it, and is 51 percent even enough?
BB: Well that’s another joke [laughs]. These are all jokes. They expect people to believe this. There are two parts: one is the public switch, the PSTN – public switch telephone network, and the other is the Internet, or the World Wide Web. On the one side you have phone numbers. Now these phone numbers, whether they’re your landline phone or your mobile phone or your satellite phone, [they] all connect into this public switch telephone network, and those numbers are unique in the world. And you’re talking about switches that are routing these communications from one point in the other to another. And they have to know exactly where to send it. And so you know exactly where it went and exactly where it’s coming from. So there’s no question that we shouldn’t have fairly 99.9999 percent accuracy on identifying that – unless something happens and they have electronic blip and they lose part of the information.
And the other thing is, on the World Wide Web – here again they have attributes that are part of the world wide system that identifies those people that are uniquely in the world, like the IPV4, the IPV6. You know, addresses that are assigned by the IANA in the five regions of the world. And that clearly tells you, if you don’t have that, then every device – whether it’s a switch, a server or a computer – had a MAC number. That’s a machine access code that identifies you uniquely in the world. And the same would be true in using username and service provider combinations, like firstname.lastname@example.org, something like that. Those kind of attributes identify where you are and where you’re coming from.
RT: So let’s talk about the companies, the nine Internet companies that are involved in this. They say that they didn’t know that this was possibly happening under their watch. First of all, is it even possible that they didn’t know?
BB: Certainly it’s possible that some of the people in these companies didn’t know, but I find it hard to believe that that wasn’t already agreed to, that somewhere in the company the COO or the CEOs knew and agreed to this kind of access. Because it’s hard to believe that they could not notice that they’re being drained of information 0 that’s pretty difficult.
RT: And you have, on the other hand, lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We went out as a group with RT and we interviewed people on the streets. And one after the other, a person said that they are not only OK with this type of surveillance – but that they actually encourage it if it thwarts terrorism. So talk about this debate, this debate between civil liberties and national security – should it be either or, in this case?
BB: No, you can have both. The point is that you can filter out all the domestic communication that isn’t connected in any way with any terrorist – or even close to a terrorist, like two degrees of separation in the communications network or communities you’re building. You can reduce it to that, and if you’re not in that zone, then all your data is thrown away, and that would eliminate 99.99 percent of the US population and the world. But they don’t do that. So that’s where they’re getting back to the idea and bamboozling Congress and the administration to suggest they need to collect it all to figure it out. That’s simply false.
RT: So what can we really do to protect ourselves, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves here?
BB: Not really, there’s not really anything you can do, except to fire everybody in Congress and the administration and elect new people that will do a constitutionally acceptable job.