Vindication for William Binney
I don't know how closely people are following the ongoing NSA revelations at this point but it seems, not very. We seem to have devolved into a meta discussion of what constitutes journalism (a necessary discussion) and armchair psychoanalysis of the players in the story.
But the fact is that the Guardian is releasing new information every day, much of it really fascinating. This one, discussed over at Business Insider, must be especially satisfying for an earlier "crazy" whistleblower named William Binney:
William Binney — one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in National Security Agency (NSA) history — worked for America's premier covert intelligence gathering organization for 32 years before resigning in late 2001 because he "could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution."
Apparently nobody in the here and now cares much about all that. But I would guess that Binney does. He's been shouting into the void for over a decade and everyone dismissed him as delusional.
Binney claims that the NSA took one of the programs he built, known as ThinThread, and started using the program and members of his team to spy on virtually every U.S. citizen under the code-name Stellar Wind.
Thanks to NSA whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden, documents detailing the top-secret surveillance program have now been published for the first time.
And they corroborate what Binney has said for years.
From Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian:
The collection of email metadata on Americans began in late 2001, under a top-secret NSA program started shortly after 9/11, according to the documents. Known as Stellar Wind, the program initially did not rely on the authority of any court – and initially restricted the NSA from analyzing records of emails between communicants wholly inside the US.
However, the NSA subsequently gained authority to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States," according to a secret Justice Department memo from 2007 that was obtained by the Guardian.
And having it on the record will at least allow for historians of the future to be able to piece together where our great experiment in self-governance and liberty went wrong. It won't help us much but maybe some society in the future will be able to avoid the pitfalls of blindly trusting the powerful to guard their rights for them.
Update: More slides revealed today in the Washington Post.
Unfortunately, nothing new on Glenn Greenwald's student loan history so nobody cares.