The Man who helped create the NSA spying program
William Binney is a former highly placed intelligence official turned whistleblower with the United States National Security Agency (NSA), resigning on October 31, 2001 after over 30 years with the agency. In September 2002, he, along with J. Kirke Wiebe and Edward Loomis, asked the U.S. Defense Department to investigate the NSA for allegedly wasting “millions and millions of dollars” on Trailblazer, a system intended to analyze data carried on communications networks such as the Internet. Binney had been one of the inventors of an alternative system, ThinThread, which was shelved when Trailblazer was chosen instead. Binney has also been publicly critical of the NSA for spying on U.S. citizens, saying of its expanded surveillance after the September 11th, 2001 attacks that “it’s better than anything that the KGB, the Stasi, or the Gestapo and SS ever had” as well as noting Trailblazer’s ineffectiveness and unjustified high cost compared to the more effective yet far less intrusive and less expensive ThinThread. He was furious that the NSA hadn’t uncovered the 9/11 plot and stated that intercepts it had collected but not analyzed likely would have garnered timely attention with his leaner more focused system. After he left the NSA in 2001, Binney was one of several people investigated as part of an inquiry into the 2005 New York Times exposé on the agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. Binney was cleared of wrongdoing after three interviews with FBI agents beginning in March 2007, but one morning in July 2007, a dozen agents armed with rifles appeared at his house, with one of them entering the bathroom where Binney was toweling off after a shower, pointing a gun at him. In that raid, the FBI confiscated a desktop computer, disks and personal and business records. The NSA revoked his security clearance, forcing him to close a business he ran with former colleagues, which cost him a reported $300,000 annual income. In 2012, Binney and his co-plaintiffs went to federal court to get the items back. Binney spent more than $7,000 on legal fees. During interviews on Democracy Now! in April and May 2012 with elaboration in July 2012 at 2600’s hacker conference HOPE and a couple weeks later at DEF CON, Binney reported that he estimates that the NSA (particularly through the Stellar Wind project) had intercepted 20 trillion communications “transactions” of Americans (such as phone calls, emails, and other forms of data but not including financial data). This includes most of the emails of US citizens. Binney discloses in sworn affidavit for Jewel v. NSA that the agency was “purposefully violating the Constitution”.