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William Binney: Cybersecurity and the New Cold War Are ‘Big Swindles’ (Video and Transcript)

Posted on Jan 10, 2017

  William Binney, left, and Robert Scheer.

Whistleblower William Binney sat down with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer to discuss the recent allegations against Russia. Binney, a former U.S. intelligence official, regularly discusses contemporary surveillance issues.

Binney and Scheer analyzed the claims that Russia hacked into U.S. political servers to manipulate the 2016 election, as well as the newly declassified intelligence report released last week.

Many have argued that the report doesn’t contain adequate sources. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said early Tuesday that the report “was based on a mix of human sources, collection of technical data and open-source information,” but that many of the sources would remain classified.

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“Senior intelligence and law enforcement officials testified on Tuesday for the first time since the release of the declassified report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” The New York Times reports. “They appeared before the Senate committee four days after the findings were described to Mr. Trump. The panel, convened by the Senate Intelligence Committee, included James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and of the military’s Cyber Command. John O. Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr. Comey also testified.”

“Clapper also said there is no evidence that the Russians altered or manipulated the emails and other information they stole during their hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign,” USA Today reports. “Comey said the Russians also tried to hack the Republican National Committee but succeeded only in gaining access to an older server that did not contain current data.”

For more live conversations, check out Truthdig’s Facebook page.

Full transcript:

Robert Scheer: Hi, it’s Robert Scheer, uh, the editor of Truthdig. And I’m here with a guy I respect enormously, Bill Binney who spent 36 years making the United States safer than it might’ve been. Uh, and he spent 30 of those years he was in the Air Force and- and uh, 30 of those years at NSA. Is that…do I have the years correct?

Bill Binney: Four in the Army and 30, 32 in NSA.

Robert Scheer: Oh, four in the army and 32 at NSA. And uh, many people who have commented on the NSA and on the controversies dealing with Bill’s role as a whistleblower. Who talked a lot about the amount of surveillance that our government does on ordinary people…

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer:—has described him as one of the most brilliant experts on coding…And the internet and so forth, within NSA. So, you lived your life in a organization that used to be referred to, the NSA, as no such initials. No such agency.

Bill Binney: Or never say anything.

Robert Scheer:Yeah. And a very good book called “A Puzzle Palace” was written about it.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm. Yup.

Robert Scheer: And it was a very mysterious. And what is this agency that everyone knows about now because of Edward Snowden. And so I want to describe—and I’ve written a book on the surveillance state. They know everything about you. And I described your activities, cause what you had been doing before 9/11 was working on a way o NSA, with all it’s electronic surveillance throughout the world, could figure out if there are people who want to do harm to the United States. And you developed a program called Thin Thread. And there’s a new movie out, coming out about that, done by Austrian.

Bill Binney: Fritz Moser, yeah.

Robert Scheer: Fritz Moser and the title is what? “An American”—

Bill Binney: “A Good American.”

Robert Scheer: A good American, that’s you.

Bill Binney: (laughs) Yeah.

Robert Scheer: So, you’re the good American. And it’s a really interesting movie. I watched it last night, over at the Young President’s Organization at the Paley Center in Los Angeles. They had a screening.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm—

Robert Scheer: And had a program there. It really shows how, how well connected you were running a really wonderful, innovative program. And had they followed that pro-program 9/11 would not, or probably would not have happened. And then they came in after 9/11, now to spend a lot of money. They developed an alternative program called Trail Blazer. Closed down Thin Thread and when you went to Congress and said, wait a minute they’re wasting money. They’re not doing their due diligence. They came after you. The government is actually never pressed any charges against you, but that did not stop the FBI and other agents from invading your house. So, why don’t we pick up that story. You were working at the NSA. You were a good, boy scout doing good work.

Bill Binney: Well, uh the whole idea was not to collect everything in the world and keep it and store it and mine it against everybody in the planet (chuckles) basically. But to find out who were the groups of people who were doing terrorist activity or kind of or other kinds of criminal activity, like dope-smuggling or weapon-smuggling. Those kinds of things that you could figure that out through the using metadata basically. And social networking kind of structures and the once you figure that out, you could use that as a way of pulling data relevant to those activities out of the flow of information. So, the whole idea was how can you look into that flow of data. Of you know, we set a tera—we set 20 terabytes of data per minute as our first initial.

Robert Scheer: So, just to make this real to people, this is information from all over the world.

Bill Binney: Yes, anything on the fiber network. Anywhere in the world.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And um, emails, phone information…

Bill Binney:File transfers. Everything.

Robert Scheer: So, you’re working at the NSA and you’re at the center and you’re trying to figure out: how do we use this information? We’re great at vacuuming it all up, but how do we make sense of it. Otherwise it’s just noise, right?

Bill Binney: Yeah, so I mean the point is, they’ve gotten to be really great at collecting data, as you said. So, their really great at that, but the problem is they can’t figure out what they’ve collected. Now, and they…

Robert Scheer: And by the way, we should mention, what was later revealed actually through Snowden and others, was that they were collecting this data through private organizations. Like AT&T, and Google and so forth.

Bill Binney: And prob—there were basically three ways they attacked the fiber network and collected—fiber that they collected on the fibers. One was through cooperation of the companies involved. That they would give them access and basically, like Mike Klein, explained they would put prisms in, the equivalent of a prism in the network and…It’s actually a Y connector or splinter that duplicates the line. And would sent two versions out. One would go to the NSA room for NSA data storage and everything.The rest would go along, the duplicate copy would then be distributed through the normal distribution process.

Robert Scheer: So, I should mention, Mark Klein is a guy, who was working as an engineer at AT&T in San Francisco. This was before Snowden.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: You know, six years, seven years..no, eight years before, I think.

Bill Binney: Yes.

Robert Scheer: And Mark Klein says, “Hey, what’s going on in a part of our building?” And it’s all secret. I’m not allowed to go there, and so forth. And he discovers they are actually doing this Y connector. And they’re basically making a copy of all of the data that’s going through…

Bill Binney: Everything. And it went into the NSA room, where they had the woodwork. At the time it was a Narus 6400 device. That could handle taking down everything on four fibers simultaneously. Everything. Not just little bits and pieces, but everything on the line.

Robert Scheer: Every phone conversation.

Bill Binney: Files. Any—anything any data transfer of any type.

Robert Scheer: Okay, and not just for San Francisco, but this was an important center…

Bill Binney: Yeah, it was a major peering site. Yeah, meaning where it connected with many different networks.

Robert Scheer: And then Klein took his story and went to somebody to do something about it. He first took it to a Los Angeles Times. They investigated, said Yeah, this is real. And then their editor refused to run it. And uh, it ended up finally at The New York Times.

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer: Brokester, where the same editor actually had gone to work at The New York Times, but they ended up breaking this story. And the Times people didn’t believe Klein, but after Snowden, we know that all of this data is gathered and so forth. So, okay. So, tell the story.

Bill Binney: So, that was the first way. Was to—was to work with the companies that tapped the lines. The other was to work with the intelligence agencies of other countries. Like GSHQ, or BND…

Robert Scheer: That’s the British—

Bill Binney: The British or the German version or other countries that were—

Robert Scheer: The five eyes.

Bill Binney: The five eyes, plus that—that was the English-speaking countries. The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the USO, that’s five eyes. But there was like seven or eight other countries that were participating too. And they would go to their intelligence agencies and say, help us get this data. They would work through them to do that. With their companies in that country.  And the final version, the final way of hacking it was the, well, if you can’t get cooperation from the telecommunications companies, from the governments then you unilaterally do it. That—that simply meant that if they could access the fiber anywhere,  anyhow, they could tap it themselves. So, that this was independent. This was like the muscular program which was the tap on Yahoo and—and Google. They were cooperating under the prism program to give them data they were requesting. But really they wanted everything they had. So, they tapped their lines between their data centers, unilaterally. (chuckles) Without the company knowing.

Robert Scheer: Even under the sea.

Bill Binney: Yeah. Even under the sea. Yeah. Anyway you could get to it. That’s all.

Robert Scheer: Fiber optic cables.

Bill Binney: So, but they, so they tapped between their data centers so they could, when they backed up the data passing back and forth making sure they had all the data. They, NSA then collected everything that those companies had.

Robert Scheer: Yeah. So, just so we’re clear now. So, go back to the 1990’s before 9/11 and you’re developing a program that says, okay we’re collecting all this data, but you can’t make any sense of it. You’re drowning in this haystack…

Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer:...or you’re smothered in this.

Bill Binney: Even before we had the capability to do what they’re doing today.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Your smothers. You tried to figure out how can we get useful information and you also were concerned about privacy.

Bill Binney: Yes. And also conforming to the law and the constitutional rights of—and respecting constitutional rights. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Right. And one of those constitutional rights is these agencies are not supposed to spy on America.

Bill Binney: Yes.

Robert Scheer: Right.

Bill Binney: There are, under the FISA law though, at the time, there was called—what they called the FASTA, or quick reaction capability. Which meant that if, for example a terrorist called into someone in the United States and they were presumed to be a US citizen at that point. You still had the, because of the fast pursuit approach—in the agreement, in the law you had 72 hours to look at that. And if, at the end of 72 hours you had to request a warrant. And justify it with probable cause or you dropped the collection.

Robert Scheer: Okay, so…

Bill Binney: So, there—there was a—you could do that for awhile. We in turn simply said, okay. What that meant to us was if anybody fell into that kind of approach, we would automatically start the collection. But, also we would encrypt all of their attributes so you couldn’t tell who it was. Even people inside NSA couldn’t do that.

Robert Scheer: So, you’d protect their privacy.

Bill Binney: Yeah. Right.

Robert Scheer: So this was in the program that you had that was a fairly inexpensive program.

Bill Binney: (chuckles) Yeah, it was cheap.

Robert Scheer: How much did it cost?

Bill Binney: Three million, about three million 200 thousand…

Robert Scheer: Which is junk change in any one of these security agencies.

Bill Binney: From scratch, the deployment.

Robert Scheer: You know the M-word, they don’t even take seriously. Like pennies to the rest of us, you know. It’s got to be getting up to the tens of billions…

Bill Binney: As much as ten, nine digits at least. You’re not getting that.

Robert Scheer: So, you’re working on this program and there’s a very good, and this very good documentary made about your role in it, by Austrian television, “The Good American,” which will be coming out in February, I gather.

Bill Binney: Yeah, third of February.

Robert Scheer: Yeah, third of February. And people can watch it in theaters. I watched it last night. And it was compelling because it just showed how difficult it is. Yes, it’s easy to vacuum up all this data, but then what do you do with it.

Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer: And we know that in every single case, that the government has produced, where they say collecting data was helpful to trapping someone or learning about someone who was going to commit terrorism. We learned that’s a lie.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: The fact is we knew what they were going to do or had a suspicion because of old-fashioned police work. And in almost every instance we failed to follow up on it. Whether, it was the hijacker in San Diego and the 9/11 hijacker, who was living at the home of an FBI informant.

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer: Or with the Boston Marathon bombers, who were known to police, and so forth. That this great vast collection of data did not contribute to a single one of them. Is that correct?

Bill Binney: Yeah that’s right. In fact, I point also to the—to the Garland, Texas case. Where that—this is where they’re having a cartoon contest down there in Garland, Texas and two people came in to try to shoot people in the contest. But the police were there, and they stopped them. So, no one got [hurt], so none of the innocent people, the two terrorist got—got killed. The fact is that two days before that, a member of Anonymous tipped off the Garland police that this was going to happen. How did they get that? They were focused on looking at social network on the people that were involved and talking about doing criminal things. They watched them. And when they said they were going to do that, they alerted the Garland police two days in advance of the attack that, that was coming. Now, they did that by focusing. That’s exactly what the Thin Thread Program did. And instead of collecting everything. And our intelligence agencies, for which we spend over a hundred billion dollars a year on, said absolutely nothing. So, it tells you the difference between a cheap focused approach, which is a disciplined professional job, when you’re policing. The difference between what that can do and what this dysfunctional process of collecting everything on the planet has failed to do.

Robert Scheer: So, what you’re, the movie about you shows is that they basically sold out the American people at NSA. Because they lined up with a massive private full-profit organizations.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm.That’s right.

Robert Scheer: By the way, one of those companies that works with the NSA was the company that Snowden had worked for.

Bill Binney: Booz Allen.

Robert Scheer: Booz Allen.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Also another company that’s building cloud storage and everything for these security agencies is Amazon. And that also happens [to be] the owner of Amazon happens to own the Washington Post…

Bill Binney: (Chuckles)

Robert Scheer: But he has a much more profitable business going with the CIA and—and others. But what’s interesting about all this is your efficient little program within NSA, when people went back and looked at it after 9/11, they said if we’d listened and observed your program and had it in place 9/11 wouldn’t have happened.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And instead they spent this enormous amount of money on a big program with the private companies. One of, Some of the executives of the private companies went and worked at NSA or when they left at NSA they went and worked for these private…

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Private companies. And that, what did Trail Blazer, the alternative program cost?

Bill Binney: Uh, well, my estimate, when I left it was about four billion.

Robert Scheer: Billion not million?

Bill Binney: Not—not million.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: And then Thomas Drake said it was at least double that.

Robert Scheer: And Tom Drake is another hero of this piece.

Bill Binney: Yeah. So.

Robert Scheer: He was the guy within the NSA who was assigned after 9/11 to look at, what do we have here that has worked, or we could use—

Bill Binney: Yeah. Yes.

Robert Scheer: Because we’re panicked now. There are bad guys out there. They want to hurt us. What do we have? Tom Drake then investigates and finds your program works. He finds their big program doesn’t work. He tries to tell Congress about this because that’s—that’s his obligation, right?

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: If he finds corruption, what are the magic words?

Bill Binney: Corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.

Robert Scheer: Corruption…

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Fraud, waste and abuse. And you’re working for the government, you’re supposed to reveal that.

Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer: Right. There, they can call you a whistleblower. They can say anything, but if you know that, and your department internally is not paying attention to it, you have an obligation to do that.

Bill Binney: It’s—it’s in the regulations that the employees are supposed to do that. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Right. And so, are—are you, about five of you get involved in trying to tell somebody about what’s going on. You wasted a lot of money over there on a program that never worked. We have this program that would have, that was working and could have been applied before 9/11 that you killed. Because it didn’t bring in enough money.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And everything. And then you’re punished for telling the truth because in the case of Tom Drake, who was sent in to investigate this, he says these guys are right.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm—

Robert Scheer: Why did we go off this other route? He ends up being, facing—you were never charged with anything?

Bill Binney: Yeah, but he was. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: He was facing a lot of charges and he’s now working at, he beat, you know the charges couldn’t stick because they weren’t real.

Bill Binney: They were falsified.

Robert Scheer: Falsified.

Bill Binney: Fabricated charges. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: So, this guy, another great American hero, Tom Drake. He’s now working in an Apple store. Not to put down working in an Apple store, but here’s a guy who’s been cut off from his pension, cut off from his income, right?

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And for what? For telling the truth about the corruption within the NSA.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And now here’s James Clapper, whose been a major figure in all this, going before congress telling us, we should get into a whole ‘nother Cold War with Russia and everything. These whistle blowers are dangerous. Julian Assange is a menace. He’s the guy that lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about what they were doing.

Bill Binney: Yeah, but it’s not just him. I mean it was—General Alexander was asked, you know, in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe it was. It’s on the web. You can look it up, but—he was asked whether or not the NSA was collecting data on millions or you know, on US citizens in general. And he said no, we’re not. I mean he also said—publicly that the NSA didn’t have the people at NSA, he said. Very clearly was like—was like lawyer terms. The people at NSA do not have profiles on everyone in the United States. That’s, strictly speaking, that’s correct. The software does and the computers have that profile. So, all they’d have to do is call up the profile that they want on anyone in the United States. So…

Robert Scheer: So, what he was (chuckles) fudging on here is, he said the people at the agency don’t have those profiles, but the machines…

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm—

Robert Scheer:... that they operate have those profiles.

Bill Binney: Yes, that’s right.

Robert Scheer: And they can pull them up.

Bill Binney: That’s right.

Robert Scheer: And so, until, I want you to because you were inside this system. And you were actually a whistle blower before Snowden.

Bill Binney: Yes.

Robert Scheer: Right?

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And this whole group of you, you said wait a minute you’re wasting money and after 9/11 let’s you know, really get at it. And they didn’t want to listen so, you went to Congress.

Bill Binney: Yes.

Robert Scheer: And to people who had classification and so forth. And we should make the point here, the government has not been able to charge you with anything.

Bill Binney: No, because I went through the proper channels.

Robert Scheer: Yeah. And then here comes, Snowden comes along. Yeah, but they still went after you.

Bill Binney: Yeah, they did. Yeah. And that’s why he did what he did.

Robert Scheer: And Snowden has said that after looking at your case, he knew there were no proper channels.

Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer: And he said they went after Bennie and the others, and Drake. He said they’re gonna come after me. And then he said another thing. He said I have to put out a lot of data or they’re going to deny it.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm—

Robert Scheer: Right? And that’s what he did. So, that’s why this whole issue becomes before Snowden after Snowden. Before Snowden it’s software engineer Ezra Klein.

Bill Binney: Mm-hmm—

Robert Scheer: Going in there to AT&T and said, Oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about and so forth. Other people, like yourself, would say things, oh, no, no. No, maybe that’s just a little bit of the picture. Snowden opens the door.

Bill Binney: He gives the documentation.

Robert Scheer: Yeah. This is what’s going on.

Bill Binney: Irrefutable—

Robert Scheer: Irrefutable. And about what we’re doing. Such irony, we’re all now complaining about you know, Russia “might have done.” We’re doing this to every government in the world…

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer:... and have been doing it for a very long time. Right?

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer: In every election in the world.

Bill Binney: Yes. (laughs) As a matter—well, because even before that as you and I well know. Back to Iran the Iranian case. We changed the Iranian government in 1954 was it?And we did other governments around the world. I mean, ever recently they gave money to try to depose Netanyahu in Israel. So, you know, we’ve been doing this for a long time. And in many—

Robert Scheer: So—

Bill Binney:—countries of the world.

Robert Scheer: So, let me ask you—

Sarah Wesley [off-camera]: I’m a big fan. I think they’re just absolutely astonishing and you know, the very thing, one of the very things lost by many—

Bill Binney: Oops ... Are we all right now? Okay.

Robert Scheer: That was big brother speaking.

Bill Binney: Yeah, the big brother. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: So, let me ask you because you know everybody wants security. They want you know, you devoted your life to make—you’re not some—you’re a Republican actually, right?

Bill Binney: Uh—yeah, for about 50 years, but I didn’t always vote that way—

Robert Scheer: I don’t want to out you…

Bill Binney: So, I’m not a pure Republican.

Robert Scheer: Yeah, but you’re not some campus radical.

Bill Binney: No.

Robert Scheer: You’re not some lefty. You’re not somebody like me, you know. Like you know, always looking you know, what are they doing wrong. You’re a guy who was inside the system making it work.

Bill Binney: Trying to make the right things happen.

Robert Scheer:Yeah. And trying to do it in an efficient, a cost affective way that followed the fourth amendment of the constitution. Protected privacy and so forth. So, instead of winning the presidential medal of honor or something, the freedom award—they come after you.

Bill Binney: I won a raid by the FBI. Yeah. Yeah. They came and raided the house.

Robert Scheer: And you should describe that, because I—I still can’t get over that chilling account. Now, your wife also worked for the government, didn’t she?

Bill Binney: Yes, she did. She was still working with them at the time.

Robert Scheer: Yeah. And she was in the NSA?

Bill Binney: No, -she had just retired. I met her at NSA, yes.

Robert Scheer: Okay, so you (laughs) Here we have a wonderful marriage, lovely relationship in the NSA and your wife was working there. And you’re both contributing to the security, and I’m not making light of it. This is hard, grueling work. You broke codes. You know, you really were following this stuff. You—

Bill Binney: It was real intense work. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: In the documentary it shows, I mean, this is really nitty-gritty, tough work. And that’s what you’re doing. So, they’re trying to make the world safer for everybody, you know. And—and you and your wife are working there, she answers the door…

Bill Binney: No, my son did. My son answered the door and there were about 12 FBI agents outside. They had their guns out. And they pushed him out of the way at gun point. And then they come up, came up stairs. My wife’s getting dressed. They pointed guns at her. And then they came into the bathroom, where I was getting out of the shower and pointed guns at me.

Robert Scheer: And you’ve had medical problems, so you were already on crutches?

Bill Binney: No, I wasn’t at that time.

Robert Scheer: Oh, okay.

Bill Binney: No, that came a little later.

Robert Scheer: All right.

Bill Binney: But no, then they separated us and started interrogating us. So…

Robert Scheer: This is your government. That you had been working for. You’ve had all these security clearances, right?

Bill Binney: Many of them. Yeah. I mean people don’t even—yeah. It’s everything.

Robert Scheer: Yeah. So, you—this is the ultimate, loyal, wonderful, American family and they’re pointing a gun at you.

Bill Binney: Yup.

Robert Scheer: Because you’re trying to say, there’s a right way to do this. We were doing it.

Bill Binney: Well, what they were doing was committing treason against the founding principles of this nation, the Constitution. That’s what they were doing. And they’re still doing it.

Robert Scheer: In what way?

Bill Binney: They’re taking in, violating the Fourth Amendment by taking content and metadata, phone calls, and emails, and everything the US citizens do inside this country with other US citizens. And they’re using [it] against people to put them in jail. First to arrest them and then they do a parallel construction substitute data. Manufacture the data and then use that in the court of law and substitute. So they’re perjuring themselves. So, they’re fundamentally destroying the entire integrity of the judicial process in the United States.

Robert Scheer: Because they don’t have court orders for doing—

Bill Binney: Well, they didn’t have warrants for it.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And it’s interesting because people don’t know about the Fourth Amendment. There was James Otis, a famous individual of the American revolution. He had been working for the Brits and solicited General in Boston of some sort. And they wanted him to authorize these writs of assistance, so the British agents of the crown could go into people’s homes and so forth. And he said he wouldn’t do it because it violated English Common Law. And even going back to the Magna Carta. That even the humblest peasant in England, in their hut, should be sacred and the agents of the king in England could—should not be allowed to come in and rummage about, without a specific court order or writ of why they’re going. Why they’re looking. So, you’re presumed innocent. So, if they have a specific reason they have to state it. So, he points this out and—he won’t take the position of the crown. He goes against the crown and takes the position of merchants in Boston. Who say, no, we will not let you in to go through our books and everything and check everything about it because we are responding to the English crown and you’re violating that, here in the colonies. And John Adams figures, you know, John Adams the president, was a younger person was in that court that day. And he said with that case the first spark of the American Revolution was struck.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: It was over this principle of the Fourth Amendment. The reason being if you don’t have privacy, if the government could observe you at every moment, you will not be a free human being. A free human being has to be alone to converse, to think, to read, to figure things out, and so what. And so, John Adams said this was the basic founding principle of the American constitution. The Fourth Amendment. Okay. That you must have a specific reason for investigating.

Bill Binney: Right. Right.

Robert Scheer: And be accountable to a court and so forth. All of this gets to be violated. James Clapper lied about whether it’s violated. The government doesn’t tell us. And a handful of whistleblowers, of all the people who knew about it, only a handful stepped forward and say, wait a minute some bad stuff is going on. Right?

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And they get punished. And in your case you didn’t get punished. You were terrorized. This is terrorizing. You know, agents of the government come into your house with guns drawn. And freak out your son, your wife and you. And you and your wife have both worked for the government. What’s going on?

Bill Binney: I had a good idea because this was the second day. The morning of the second day after Edward Gonzalez, the Attorney General Gonzalez’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Terrorist Surveillance Program of the president. In which he only told them about the—

Robert Scheer: What year was that?

Bill Binney: That was 2007.  24th of July, I believe. He was giving his testimony. The morning of the 26th they raided us. So, but he was giving his testimony about the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Which is a manufactured label that, under which they group many programs, under NSA and CIA together. And they called it that Terrorist Program, but he only talked about the warrant-less wire tapping part of it. The rest of it, the fact that they were collecting every bit of data they could on every US citizen, as well as everybody else on the planet. He never talked about. He also didn’t talk about the torture programs or the assassination programs or anything. So, they were afraid of course since we had a record of going to congressional committees and talking to them, and telling them the truth. They were afraid that we would do that. And so—in order to do that, to keep us from doing that—they sent the FBI at us. And then after that, they had the Department of Justice attempt to indict us three separate times. To keep us off balance and continue to stay quiet. They did that by fabricating evidence to try to charge us. And in each case, of course, we had evidence to the contrary. And so they dropped those. The final one we had evidence of malicious prosecution and threatened them with it. And they left us alone from then on.

Robert Scheer: So, you still have your pension at least?

Bill Binney: Yeah, I do.

Robert Scheer: And your wife?

Bill Binney: Yes.

Robert Scheer: So, you don’t have to go work at Apple. Again—
.
Bill Binney: Yeah, but they did try. They did try to take it away.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: So, let me finally ask when, now in the midst of a really, quite a bit of hysteria with Trump’s election. There are a lot of people around who normally would be very concerned about witch hunts and assault on civil liberties and all this. You’re working for some foreign government and your loyalty is suspect. As this is happening, the Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. You know and they’re—and I just wonder, how do you respond to seeing James Clapper, who lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about whether there was this massive collection of data, is now right front in center saying, you know, the Russians represent an existential threat to America. Anybody who you know, takes a different view is threatening our security. And we’re back kind of McCarthy-ite Cold War thing here. And you were inside the NSA. What do they really know about—okay. First of all, what I don’t understand, the information that we learned from Julian Assange is information I feel we had a right to have. You know, what did Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, government employee, what has she after leaving in 2013 say to Goldman Sachs for three quarters of a million dollars. I think that’s information we had a right to have. But leaving that aside, what is this about you know, the Russian hacking. The Russian—You were inside of the NSA.

Bill Binney: Well—well, they cannot by saying that, they call it uh—with high confidence. They—

Robert Scheer: It’s a 25 page report they’ve issued.

Bill Binney: But they say that with high confidence. Now that’s the first clue that they don’t have a shred of evidence that it’s true. Because if they claim some confidence level that means they don’t have the evidence. Unless, they present it. So, you can look at it and say well, is this beyond a reasonable understanding or point that would allow you to say, yeah they probably did it. But you know, the point was that I’ve been trying to make and did recently on television and so on is that NSA should have a record if it was a hack coming in across the network, NSA’s got a record of it. And if they transferred data out and then transferred that data electronically across the network to WikiLeaks. Then they should have a record of that also. Because they’ve got so many collection points. They’ve got tens of thousands of access points in the network that collect and sort data.

Robert Scheer: So, they should have documentation. This material went to Julian Assange somewhere from a Russian.

Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer: Instead they gave us these tour points or something that anybody can use.

Bill Binney: Well, but even that they’ve deployed hundreds in European Air. They’ve deployed hundreds of trace route programs. And that means that they can trace the route of every packet being sent across the network. Billions of them everyday. You know, so, the point is they should at least have a fragment of it. They might not show every packet that went WikiLeaks from the Russians, but they should have some of them.

Robert Scheer: Yeah.

Bill Binney: So, it’s not a question of—in other words if they’re going to say some—and the real issue is who passed the data to WikiLeaks? It’s not how many people tried to hack the DNC. Because every country in the world tries to hack anything that’s available in the US. China, Israel, everybody. And we hack everybody else too. So, hacking is done world wide by everybody. That’s not the issue. The issue is who passed the data to WikiLeaks. And so far no one has produced a shred of evidence to show any of the people who attempted to hack, which is probably most of the major countries in the world hack the DNC and any other. Hillary was a prime target. As a Secretary of Defense. She’s prime target.

Robert Scheer: State. Secretary of State.

Bill Binney: Sorry. Secretary of State. I’m sorry. When she was Secretary of State she was the, she was a prime target, automatically, for all governments around the world. So, you know they were trying to get to her. So it’s not a question of who’s hacking who because everybody is hacking everybody. The question is who passed the data [to] WikiLeaks. That’s the real issue.

Robert Scheer: Well, I personally don’t agree with that. I think the real issue is this data, data we had a right to see.

Bill Binney: And in terms of the Russians did—that’s the real issue. (chuckles)

Robert Scheer: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But then you know this other thing about shoot the messenger over the motives of the whistle blower. My own view is whether it’s you or Snowden or anybody else, I really don’t care about the motives of the whistleblower. I care about the information that is being revealed.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: And if that shows—what are those magic words? Waste—

Bill Binney: Corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.

Robert Scheer: Corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.That’s information the American public has a right to have.

Bill Binney:Right.

Robert Scheer: They’re using our money. They’re supposed to be protecting us and if they’re involved in waste, corruption, fraud and abuse.

Bill Binney: Fraud and abuse.

Robert Scheer: Then you know, we have a right to know that. Our media has a right to know. And a need to know about it. And that’s been lost in this whole business here.

Bill Binney: Yeah. Well, they always try to divert from the real issue. The central core issues. And the government is trying to do that. And it’s like—it’s like the Wizard of Oz. We’re not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. And that’s really the theme here. Always be diverted to something that’s not relevant.

Robert Scheer: And so, the bottom line here, finally is, if it happened you have to really wonder why they haven’t produced the evidence. And their argument would be, I’ve seen this in different places, well, we’ll compromise methods and sources. And you’ve been there with the methods and sources.

Bill Binney: Yeah, they’re already compromised. They’re already on the web. (chuckles) All you have to do is Google things like NSA and treasure map or NSA and any of the other muscular programs, the bull run program or the internal tapping programs. You’ll see a lot of them referenced there though. Fair View, Storm Brew, that gets involving all of the companies in the US, internal service providers for the internet. Plus the phone companies. All of them. 30 of them total at least according to the slides are participating with them. Sharing all this data and information with NSA. So, you know, the data’s already been out there. And it’s not a question of, I mean we’ve spent you know, tens of billions of dollars every year trying to pick this data up.

Robert Scheer: So, you’re saying using their phrase of high confidence. You’re saying with high confidence—

Bill Binney: Yes. (laughing)

Robert Scheer: As somebody who was inside the system ...

Bill Binney: I mean, I know they lie to each other internally too. So, it’s a matter—the whole system runs on lies.

Robert Scheer: What do you mean they lie to each other?

Bill Binney: Well, they lie to each other in terms of what, why they want something done. Or what they’re doing with certain money. Internally, they move money around program to program and they don’t tell each other. They just take it. You know, and this—they lie to Congress all the time. I mean they would have meetings before they would talk to Congress. Saying what’s our story of corporate position here? You know, so they would tell the corporate position. That’s why I say—

Robert Scheer: This is within the NSA.

Bill Binney: This is within the NSA. This is what I call—oversight is a joke. Because the only thing they get fed is the data that they agree to tell them. They don’t tell them the truth. So, they’re lying to everybody. That’s why they lied to Congress. They lied to the public. It’s a continuation of that foundation of lying.

Robert Scheer: Okay, but the deal kind of works because the average person in this country has been convinced, that however they do it; and whatever their methods. It kind of works because we haven’t had a second 9/11. We’re not blowing up every hour now.

Bill Binney: We’ve had a number of attacks now. And how well is that working world wide? It’s not. That’s the point.

Robert Scheer: It’s not working worldwide if we keep bagging the wrong people, like…My beef with Hillary is in Syria we ended up being in bed with Al-Qaeda and its agents.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: So the intelligence in terms of actually learning what’s going on in the world is quite flawed, very dangerous. But, the average person watching this is saying, well, but they must be doing their jobs. So, let me ask you point blank. Do you know of any single case—without getting you in trouble with the law again—do you know of any single case where this massive collection of data has stopped or caught a terrorist?

Bill Binney: No. No. (chuckles)

Robert Scheer: Not a single one?

Bill Binney: Not one. I mean the only one that they claimed, when the Leahy committee, the Judiciary Committee challengedAlexander at the time, General Alexander director of NSA. When they challenged him to prove the 50, he claimed 54 cases. Right? Terrorist attacks that were stopped by this bulk stuff, bulk collection. And so the Leahy Committee challenged him to say: prove it. And he ended up proving absolutely none of them. The only one that he could claim at the end was a fella who transferred 8,500 dollars to Al Shebob in Africa.

Robert Scheer: Which is a charitable front—

Bill Binney: A charitable front. Yeah. Which wasn’t this is not a terrorist attack, okay. So—
.
Robert Scheer: So, what you just said is one of the most damning things I’ve ever heard as a journalist. This whole thing we’re going to collect data on everybody in the world and we have a right to do it. No one else has a right to do it. You know, we get really upset if any other government in the world does it. But we collect everything on everyone here and everywhere else. And we’re going to do it because we were attacked at 9/11. And you’re telling me based - on your knowledge of this agency and everything about it. You have not discovered one case.

Bill Binney: No, I call it one of the biggest swindles that we’ve been duped by.

Robert Scheer: In US history?

Bill Binney: In US history. Yeah. The other swindle starting up is cybersecurity. That’s another one. (chuckles) Okay, cybersecurity, NSA already knows all of the weaknesses in or many of the weaknesses in firewalls, operating systems, networks, and switches and so on. And they are leveraging that to penetrate the world wide network. But they don’t tell anybody who needs to know that would fix it. Because if they fixed it the windows would close. They couldn’t look in. So they had terabytes of source code that was just compromised of this information. What that would do is give us a little bit of cybersecurity you see. But they don’t provide that knowledge to people who would fix it because if they do the windows close. They can’t look in.

Robert Scheer: So let me understand something. Let’s say they find that here we are at the University of Southern California. We have a lot of data collection and so forth. And let’s say they discover we actually have a back door in the system, or a way of people grabbing that data. Or the Bank of America.

Bill Binney: Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Bank of America. Let’s take it away from campus life. Uh—and can go in. They don’t tell Bank of America?

Bill Binney: No. No, because if they did they’d fix it. Then they’d notify the manufacturer. The manufacturer would fix it all the windows world wide would close. So, they don’t. I mean that’s the reason they keep them open.

Robert Scheer: So the NSA wants to go through this window. They don’t want it closed
.
Bill Binney: Right.

Robert Scheer: Even though crooks—

Bill Binney: Well, they have no monopoly on smart people. I mean other people in other governments and other groups of hackers and other individual hackers can look at this and find weaknesses too. And many of them the same ones they already know. So, by not fixing them you see, but this is the swindle. Here comes the swindle. The swindle is when you don’t fix it just because you want the window in that means everybody else in the world is vulnerable. So when they get attacked, you can use that attack to say we need more money for cyber security. But still not fix the problem. So this is the swindle. This is the next swindle. Now, we’re trying to start a third one with the new Cold War. Which is a few trillion extra dollars into the budget for another swindle.

Robert Scheer: A new Cold War given that the Ruskies have, you know, 45 hundred of these weapons, right? And we have another 45 hundred that you can destroy all life on the planet. This is not kidding around. Well, Bill Binney Thank you. Sarah, do you want to turn the camera on you? You’re our director.

Sarah Wesley: Oh, no. I’m all right.

Robert Scheer: All right. Sarah’s been our outreach to people. To folks on Facebook and if you have any—what do you usually say at this? If you have any—Why don’t you get in front of the camera and tell us.

Sarah Wesley: Okay.

Robert Scheer: I have to have my director here. This our leader we’re just—

Sarah Wesley: (laughs) Hi everyone. Okay, so basically I just want to tell you guys thank you for tuning in. As we’re usually on Facebook live this one is on a Tuesday instead of a Thursday, which we normally do. Thursday’s at one. But thank you guys for joining us and if you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, please do that at truthdig.com/subscribe and if you haven’t donated to us—because we are independently run, we’re not run by major corporations like a lot of these [media networks]—so, if you are in the spirit of giving you can give to truthdig.com/support and support us. Because we need your help.

Robert Scheer: And will you have a program on Thursday again?

Sarah Wesley: I don’t think we’re having one this Thursday. Yeah.

Robert Scheer: Oh, next week huh?

Sarah Wesley: Next week. Next week tune in Thursday at one [p.m. PST]. Okay? All right. I’m going to turn this off now.

Bill Binney: Okay. All right.

Sarah Wesley: All right. Thank you.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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