Plumbing the Depths of NSA’s Spying

Lars Schall

William Binney, who spent 36 years in the National Security Agency rising to become the NSA’s technical director for intelligence, has emerged as one of the most knowledgeable critics of excesses in the NSA’s spying programs, some of which he says managed to both violate the U.S. Constitution and prove inefficient in tracking terrorists.

Binney has been described as one of the best analysts in NSA’s history combining expertise in intelligence analysis, traffic analysis, systems analysis, knowledge management and mathematics (including set theory, number theory and probability). He resigned in October 2001 and has since criticized the NSA’s massive monitoring programs. After leaving the NSA, he co-founded Entity Mapping, LLC, a private intelligence agency, together with fellow NSA whistleblower J. Kirk Wiebe.

William Binney: I was there for about six hours testifying with a half hour break in the middle. So it was quite intense. There were so many questions. Some of them I didn’t have answers for because I didn’t have knowledge about it, and I tried to make those clear and tried to give them information about things I knew personally. I didn’t want to extrapolate beyond that.

Initially, they were asking questions about my background which was, I guess, setting the stage for the follow on questions, but in the long run they were interested in the relationships with the BND and the NSA. I think part of the break in the middle had to do with something that happened there and that a BND person was implicated in spying on the commission when it was investigating the relationship, and they were also passing that information to NSA, at least that was alleged at that time, I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Anyway, it was quite lengthy and very thorough, and my whole point was to try to get across to them that what NSA and the intelligence community in the Five Eyes, at least, and probably in some of the other countries (I don’t know exactly which ones and I’ve made this clear, but I think they’re not doing it alone) is the idea of collecting massive amounts of data is just like the STASI — except this time I kind of tried to get across to them that it’s like the STASI on super steroids.

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