NSA Whistleblower Speaks Live: "The Government Is Lying To You"

Tyler Durden's picture

Just a month ago we raised more than a proverbial eyebrow when we noted the creation of the NSA's Utah Data Center (codename Stellar Wind) and William Binney's formidable statement that "we are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state". Democracy Now has the former National Security Agency technical director whistleblower's first TV interview in which he discusses the NSA's massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian state." Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national TV about NSA surveillance. Starting with his pre-9-11 identification of the world-wide-web as a voluminous problem since the NSA was 'falling behind the rate-of-change', his success in creating a system (codenamed Thin-Thread) for 'grabbing' all the data and the critical 'lawful' anonymization of that data (according to mandate at the time) which as soon as 9-11 occurred went out of the window as all domestic and foreign communications was now stored (starting with AT&T's forking over their data). This direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country was why Binney decided he could not stay (leaving one month after 9-11) along with the violation of almost every privacy and intelligence act as near-bottomless databases store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.

There was a time when Americans still cared about matters such as personal privacy. Luckily, they now have iGadgets to keep them distracted as they hand over their last pieces of individuality to the Tzar of conformity.


Part 1 - Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance

William Binney's shocking facts start at around 15:00...



Part 2 - Detained in the U.S.: Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held, Questioned Some 40 Times at U.S. Airports

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States. Poitras said the interrogations began after she began working on her documentary, "My Country, My Country," about post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, "The Oath," was about Yemen and Guantánamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden. She estimates she has been detained approximately 40 times and has had her laptop, cell phone and personal belongings repeatedly searched.




Part 3 - "We Don’t Live in a Free Country": Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance

We speak with Jacob Appelbaum, a computer researcher who has faced a stream of interrogations and electronic surveillance since he volunteered with the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. He describes being detained more than a dozen times at the airport and interrogated by federal agents who asked about his political views and confiscated his cell phone and laptop. When asked why he cannot talk about what happened after he was questioned, Appelbaum says, "Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it." A federal judge ordered Twitter to hand over information about Appelbaum’s account. Meanwhile, he continues to work on the Tor Project, an anonymity network that ensures every person has the right to browse the internet without restriction and the right to speak freely.




Part 4 - Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying–U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails

National Security Agency whistleblower

William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. Citizens.



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TradingJoe's picture

What populus? The totally uneducated, brain damaged, American idol retarded one?! The redneck dickheads? The "intellectual" suburb asholes?!?! Git serious Bubba!!! Once hunger and extrem poverty strike that will be THE DAY, until then it's dancing with the "stars"!!!

blunderdog's picture

You mean "populace," oh knowledgeable one?

(The jokes just write themselves.)

ManOfBliss's picture


ZZzzz... red herring.

blunderdog's picture

Yeah, that was my goal.  To dismantle the subtle fury of his "argument."

See how clever we all are?

I hate tan people.

The Alarmist's picture

He could mean Populi, but mistakenly used the singular ... Latin is hard!

Dr. Sandi's picture

The idiots will probably quietly starve to death in front of their big screens. "Where the HELL is that Domino's guy. We called him last Tuesday!!!"

The tiny scab that is "the rest of us" will be using the knowledge, resources and contacts we're acquiring right now to keep our butts out of the nasty fire of the great unraveling. Or at least, that's the operational mode here at the compound.


CoolBeans's picture

Was in a somwhat large city during a recent trip.  Stopped in to Walmart to grab some ammo (hear that NSA? AMMO, AMMO, AMMO) as its cheaper there - so if we're in town and its in stock we're there.

Ever look around a Walmart for several minutes? I suppose this is true for many stores...but it is scary...positively scary - the future of the population of the USSA is not looking too good.  These vacant-eyed, sheeple-people can actually vote...

CoolBeans's picture

I recently moved south and when the SHTF, I'd rather have most of the good southern folks I've met on my side than a bunch o' banksters, etc. 

kragsquest's picture

If they can't use the information effectively to catch thieves, then I seriously wonder if all their information gathering is worth anything.




Coin dealers have been robbed at an alarming rate and the government has been useless with all their high-tech information gathering:



CH1's picture

You think they're interested in regular thieves!!??? Seriously?

Thieves are no threat at all to them. Theft just makes people clamor for more government.

The perps they care about are those few humans who still know how to think independently.

They want you to know that they know everything about you - it makes you self-censor and stop making problems for them.

lakecity55's picture

20-30K/week?  In one small geographic area?

That is a serious problem.

It could represent an attack by a nation-state.

I'm not going there.

Axenolith's picture

Dude, it's not a problem, it's "Alternative Liquidity"... Sheesh... :-)

lakecity55's picture

I upped you for that one!

FJ's picture

Stop using pathetic nicknames. It's futile.

Have you squirreled your gold away? Pointless!

Yen Cross's picture

I was thinking the same thing?

krispkritter's picture

I was thinking WTF? but I guess I'll just go outside and paint some squirrels gold...

Yen Cross's picture

 That was funny! Looks like the KOOKs are awake. Junking everything that posts, on their way to SNAP office! keep it snarky! +1

Sabibaby's picture

This data center won't help much when the lights go out.

WillyGroper's picture

Theirs or ours? They have backups to backup power supplies.

logically possible's picture

This data center will require so much power it will be the cause for the lights going out.

dwdollar's picture

Traitors posing as heroes... sums up most of the bureaucracy especially these secret agencies.

Yen Cross's picture

 I sense a " Guest Post" via Tyler on  Z/H in your future.? I see a man with a story to tell! +1

blu's picture

I feel like some of this going-around is "fighting the last war".

I work with networks. I work with secure applications running on networks. We are rapidly approaching a point where network traffic of interest is either encrypted when in the public cloud, or is running over private networks, or is running in virtual networks. All of these border on being invisible IMO. Virtual networks perhaps a bit less so, since some hosting services can probably be arm-twisted into tapping their own vNets. For example, I'm coding up a new web-based service right now that will encrypt data moved between machines when on a virtual network. I guess that makes me a terrorist. Yay me.

Email is a particularly odious network application. Nobody should be using email for anything important, personal or corporate. Period.

I don't have much faith in the public switched network (old fashion phone) nor the digital carrier networks (cell phone) and as with email no business of importance should take place over either. NSA branched the phone systems hardcore a few years ago. Everyone knows about it.

Facebook. Yahoo. Google -- danger Will Robinson. Use these resources with the understanding that 100% of what you enter or click on goes to the NSA with your fingerprints all over it. They probably ignore it, but they get it anyway and they might not ignore it some day. I suspect they are still doing aggregate analysis (trends) because the computational throw just isn't there yet to store and analyze in real time something like a couple petabytes of continuous real-time data. Though the day may come. Give it a few years maybe, if their budgets don't get the ax. Though even then, the answer is real-time two-way encryption. Nothing they can do with that. Nothing.

Zerohedge. Well what can I say. I would guess the site is scraped from end to end probably five times a day and the contents run through a text analyzer. Yeah it's funny to think about, what they must be getting from that exercise.

I don't think we are this close to a turn-key totalitarian state. In part because I'm not sure what that means, actually. And in part because I don't see there being one key to turn. More likely, we are close to a day when someone with a dictatorial bent (think, J Edgar Hoover-ish type) will be able to learn enough about key individuals just from a Google search and some branched emails to haul them off to Gitmo on a whim. But that would likewise assume Amerika had already crossed the police state Rubicon without a big fight from right, left and center.

Sure, you'll say we've already lost that battle. Not really. When there are uniformed jackboots with badges hanging on the corners looking for people to harass for pocket change, then yeah. But I think we'll see that coming at us (I hope so) and put a stop to it.

Shameless self-promotion: I'm writing a story about this very outcome, actually. Nearly done, maybe this weekend. It's fiction, it's a little fantastic, but it's along the right lines. And it's about Fascism and the lure of gold. Fun stuff. The bad guy gets his head handed to him of course, but it doesn't alter the trajectory of events; war looms over the horizon. But I like having my characters kick ass probably because I'm not able to do that myself. It's therapeutic if you follow me. Coming to a ZH comment thread near you.

CH1's picture

in the public cloud, or is running over private networks, or is running in virtual networks. All of these border on being invisible IMO.

I don't really want to talk tech, but there is an important difference between reading content and knowing the context: who talks to whom, and precisely when and how often.

Context is almost as important as content, and often of equal value.

headless blogger's picture

This is a good point. I think they want to know the connections between people, and watch for people organizing.

The biggest threat to the Power Elites is serious and genuine organizing by the masses. This is why we will continue to see the race-baiting and such, which are Elite tools to keep the masses bickering between one another. Look how they co-opted the Tea party and now doing the same with OWS.

blu's picture

This is certainly true, and it is good point to bring up. It's called a network graph and has nothing to do with digital networks. It's the chart of all the connections between nodes in a communicating cloud.

But as a practical matter, it's hard to glean much from points of origin alone. A network packet is made of an address header and a content frame. Think of it like snail mail, where the envelop outside has only the address, and the contents are separate inside. Encryption can hide the contents but not the address of origin nor the destination, so yes a snoop could notice who is sending messages to whom even if the contents remain secure. However a lot of network traffic thee days is originating behind stateful firewalls with NAT (network address translation), and some is associated with ephemeral IP addresses like DSL, and some more is coming in via mobile platforms grabbing IP addresses on the fly from a cloud-based WiFi network. It's becoming increasingly difficult (more so with each passing day) to look at a packet on the wire and know for sure which human originated it. If the contents are encrypted, that is. If they can open your packets and read about your private life and all your plans then all bets are off.

Tor can be used to further obfuscate the graph by looping packets over countless layers of misdirection.

Everyone needs to understand the importance of these concepts. In the end it may not matter, all this might blow over and we'll laugh about it over beers. Or it might matter a great deal. It is better to know what your options are. It is better to prepare and then not to have needed to.


nmewn's picture

Poison the water supply...

"Think of it like snail mail, where the envelop outside has only the address, and the contents are separate inside."

I just got a new roll of postage stamps ;-) 

Dr. Engali's picture

They are already doing that. It's called fluoridation.

nmewn's picture

Dirty bomb...

As you can see I'm "post marking" all my comments to the NSA ;-)

True dat...fluoride is not meant to be ingested...as in drinking water.

But the sheeple remain convinced everything is done in their best interests as they wave and cheer at the motorcade wizzing by their traffic jam.

(Deep sigh)


Yen Cross's picture

 You are back! That's the Z/H nmewn I remember from a year ago. 

  Never get (P)olitically/(C)orrect dumbed down!

   I've watched you take the best of them on.  That ( DEEP SIGH) was well deserved!

Yen Cross's picture

 You are one of the 5! Do your lips ever stop FLAPPING? Do you have any gainful employment?

  Jesus Christ, I'm tired of your endless BULLSHIT every day! Give it a rest, (ya Limey or what ever) POS!

Dr. Engali's picture

I'm glad I made it into your top five, you don't even rate to me. Who are you? Anybody of significance to me ? I think not. Just another anonymous face who attacks people for no reason behind the safety pseudo name.

skepticCarl's picture

"I would guess the site is scraped from end to end probably five times a day and the contents run through a text analyzer."......blu

Maybe this site was set up the NSA to concentrate the anti-establishment types.  I think it worked.

blu's picture

Unlikely but possible. Never underestimate the enemy as they say. But you know what none of us here count at all. We're just points on a graph of public temperament .

Sometimes it's good to be nobody important.

Maos Dog's picture


I don't know about all this, the "Stellar wind" thing sounds so absurdly easy to defeat I can't believe that the government is blowing so much money on it. Do they even have a third-rate computer science guy there telling them the workarounds?

If everyone encrypted all of their communications, all of the computing power in the universe could not tackle the problem, even with their new code-breaking machines. Internet traffic can also be encrypted in realtime. Also a new flavor of fidonet / uunet peer to peer networking over wi-fi can run in theory without ever touching a backbone, at least (for now) in urban / suburban areas. This means an illegal zerohedge server in mid-town can reach the entire new york megaopolis without touching a backbone.

This is just off of the top of my head without even thinking too much about defeating it. Don't even get me started on the "fun" you can have with toys like emp guns and such, which exist now, and can be used to take out, for example, grids of cameras in a public place just to mess with the Fascists.


blu's picture

People get freaked out about internet security because 1) they feel like they have to use it to survive, and 2) they don't understand how easy simple security really is.

A word to everyone, file this away for future reference: TOR

Stands for a  project called The Onion Router. Routing network traffic via scores or even hundreds of anonymous hosts, in the process creating onion-like layers of misdirection. Think of it as a virtual network running on the internet itself.

Tor runs on virtually all OSs including smart phones (though you might have to root your phone, not advised).

Point being, the gears are already in place to create misdirection networks, and encryption is already baked into the cake at many critical points. So long as TPTB don't start nuking Tor packets and blocking SSL ports, we'll manage.

And even if they do, we'll still manage.

CH1's picture

TOR has LOTS of problems. You have to stay current with malicious nodes, configure ALL programs to use it, etc, etc.

TOP is not something that just everyone can use.

Everyone wants an easy fix to this. There is none.

blu's picture

True enough. But technical problems can be overcome with another layer of technology, sometimes. Look at the world wide web and SSL (and even SSL-VPN) as an example of what can be pulled together from elementary priniciples.

It's important that these projects exist in advance. Their imperfections can be overcome quickly in a pinch, especially if they become mainstream rather than marginal services. At some point we may really need them, warts and all, and then people like myself with security, code and design experience will show up and set it straight.

Everyone keep these concepts in mind. There is digital armour imperfect as it is. With it you might be able to go forward, a little ways. Without it you may not go anywhere.

Clay Hill's picture


Lately I have been giving more thought to online security, and would like the thoughts of you or others here.

Occasionally I buy used laptops... wherever. I have a guy with the savvy to clean'em, and reload a browser, and basic security. Total cost, one to two hundred bucks. Now here's the question.

As long as I :

(a) use an e-mail account (multiple) created on publicly used equipment, say an internet cafe, or public library up to 100 miles away from home,

(b) never use the device in a location traceable to me, like home or work.

(c) maintain strict discipline in regards to pulling the battery from the device when not in use.

(d) treat the device as a throw-away item, never to be used or found in connection with a "safe" location. (potentially only to be used while mobile).

Would this scheme be able to provide one with discreet communications for a limited time ? Think battle field comms.

Arkadaba's picture

OMG - plant or laughting out loud! 

Clay Hill's picture

meh... a trip to Gauntanamo seems to be passing from the realm of mere possibility into likelihood with alarming rapidity.

CH1's picture

True enough. But technical problems can be overcome with another layer of technology, sometimes...

Please don't think that I am against TOR - I am not.

My point was that it is not the simple, free fix that so many people want.

The problems CAN be solved, but not fast, free and easy.

You can either spend time getting educated and using - always - things like PGP and TOR, or you can PAY a quality outfit like Cryptohippie to do it for you.

But... no one is going to give us all a free fix.

Sorry if I was unclear.

AldousHuxley's picture

technology can mitigate issues but never completely solve problems in the end.

You want private conversation? Go have lunch with that person and pay cash.

That's how wall streeters do insider tips trading. they don't call, email, txt, tweet. Just good ole conversation.


facebook and google are multi billiondollar corporations because they fooled people into giving up their privacy for free!

Reptil's picture

yes there is (an easy fix). like mentioned in the "USPS" post comments, and now in the featured video: it's SNAIL MAIL, good old fashioned letters. opening them on the scale now done with electronic communications, inspecting content, scanning it, to put in a database, without the recipient knowing, and without raising too much attention (doing this would need manpower) would be a logistical nightmare.

also.. for any organisation or souverign state, it's possible to assemble an intranet physically disconnected from anyone else. I guess that's where it's headed? Or maybe security is "obsolete"? I don't know.

online information freedom can work, if the government is on the same technical level as the citizens. i have no insight in what the balance is in this regard.

that NSA guy in the video is really fukking brave. I guess that's what's needed: many brave people.

Reptil's picture

I get your point; why revert to a slower form of communication, when we use fast, efficiënt electronic networks?
I'm saying there should remain a backup system, like the regular post, snail mail, and in order to keep that efficiënt, more ppl. should use it.
The USA is now a police surveilance state, email and mobile communication has been compromised.

John Wilmot's picture

If everyone encrypted all of their communications, all of the computing power in the universe could not tackle the problem

I don't really know anything about computer science, but I've read that with enough computing power, you can overwhelm any encryption with brute force: i.e. just trying all the combinations until it works. Yes, there are lots of combinations, but that's why it takes lots of computing power - like the kind that fills a multi-billion dollar facility in Utah perhaps?

And I think we non-insiders should also keep in mind that whatever we think is cutting edge is almost certainly obsolete. We live in the past, if you catch my meaning.