Twelve years ago, William Binney resigned from his post as a technical director at the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program. “The reason I left the NSA was because they started spying on everybody in the country,” he said in August. In light of revelations from the scandal surrounding General David Petraeus that the FBI was reading the emails of Petraeus, General David Allen and several other suspected players, Binney is reiterating that the FBI is collecting everybody’s emails, and can use the information collected against anybody it wants. In an interview with RT, Binney says:
[T]he FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the e-mails of virtually everybody in the country. … All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. … So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.
To those who say they have nothing to hide, Binney cautions, “The problem is if they think they are not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does … if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target.”
NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander has said the agency “absolutely” does not keep files on Americans – an assertion Binney called “word games.
The Petreaus investigation comes amid increasing evidence that privacy protection is becoming little more than a pipe dream, with the New York Police Department amassing call logs, an increasing number of cities scanning license plates, and wireless carriers responding to more than a million law enforcement requests for subscriber information that includes location data.
To address some of this concern, Congress is now mulling changes to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to limit warrantless access to cloud data. The amendments passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee would require a warrant for access to electronic communications that are more than 180 days old (newer emails already require a warrant). But accessing cloud data is seemingly a separate endeavor from searching emails and other data that the government may already have access to via an in-house database of the type described by Binney. Binney was reportedly one of the primary sources for a Wired Magazine exposé on NSA’s construction of a massive center to “intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications” in Bluffdale, Utah.