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NSA Whistleblowers: They're Spying on 'the Entire Country'

Former NSA employees Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe and William Binney warn of widespread gov't surveillance

Common Dreams staff

The National Security Agency (NSA) has created a "pernicious, persistent and permanent" database since 9/11 and is spying on "the entire country" according to NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe and William Binney.

Drake, Wiebe and Binney made the comments speaking on Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV on Monday.

Drake said the widespread domestic spying was due to a “key decision made shortly after 9/11 which began to rapidly turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet blanket electronic surveillance,” putting touted efforts at national security above all else, including constitutional rights.

Referring to an NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah which will hold communications collected by the agency, Binney said, "That facility alone can probably hold somewhere close to a hundred years’ worth of the communications of the world.” Binney continues, “Once you accumulate that kind of data — they’re accumulating against everybody — [it's] resident in programs that can pull it together in timelines and things like that and let them see into your life.”

Binney said the NSA was developing automated algorithms that would allow the NSA to easily sort through everyone's data. "Everybody will be a part of this," he stated.

Asked by Spitzer if anyone at the NSA worried of 4th amendment implications and raised questions, Wiebe said, "No."

The three whistleblowers are providing evidence in a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against the NSA.

"For years, government lawyers have been arguing that our case is too secret for the courts to consider, despite the mounting confirmation of widespread mass illegal surveillance of ordinary people," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Now we have three former NSA officials confirming the basic facts. Neither the Constitution nor federal law allow the government to collect massive amounts of communications and data of innocent Americans and fish around in it in case it might find something interesting. This kind of power is too easily abused. We're extremely pleased that more whistleblowers have come forward to help end this massive spying program."

"The NSA warrantless surveillance programs have been the subject of widespread reporting and debate for more than six years now. They are just not a secret," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Yet the government keeps making the same 'state secrets' claims again and again. It's time for Americans to have their day in court and for a judge to rule on the legality of this massive surveillance."

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In April, William Binney gave his first television interview after resigning from the National Security Agency to Democracy Now!:

Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance


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