Retired National Security Agency official William Binney, who challenged decisions to ignore the Fourth Amendment in the government’s massive — and wasteful — collection of electronic data, faced career and legal repercussions. Because of his courage, he is being honored by former intelligence officials.
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is pleased to announce that it has selected retired NSA Technical Director William “Bill” Binney to receive its 2015 award for integrity in intelligence. The public is invited to attend the award presentation scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22at the Berlin Moscow venue, Unter den Linden 52, 10117, Berlin, Germany.
After serving four years in the Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War, Binney joined the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1970. He worked there as a Russia specialist in the operations side of intelligence, starting as an analyst and ending as Technical Director of NSA’s World Geopolitical & Military Analysis organization.
He was also co-founder of the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center where he worked with Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, and others to solve the issues of velocity, variety, and volume of information in the Information Age. Having expertise in intelligence analysis, traffic analysis, systems analysis, knowledge management, and mathematics, Binney has been described as one of the best analysts, mathematicians and code breakers in the NSA’s history.
As a 36-year intelligence agency veteran, William Binney resigned from the NSA in 2001 and became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he had helped develop were being used to spy on Americans. Binney explained that he “could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.”
In September 2002, he, along with colleagues, Wiebe and Loomis, asked the U.S. Defense Department Inspector General 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, less intrusive and far less expensive system, ThinThread, which was shelved when Trailblazer was chosen instead. Trailblazer was declared a failure in 2005.
Later, Binney, Loomis and Wiebe, along with Diane Roark, a senior staffer with the House Permanent Select Subcommittee on Intelligence staffer, complained to Congress regarding the fact that NSA was illegally spying on U.S. citizens.
Binney became one of several people investigated as part of an inquiry into the 2005 (Pulitzer prize-winning) exposÃ© by New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau) on the agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.
Although Binney was told he was cleared of wrongdoing after three interviews with FBI agents beginning in March 2007, a dozen agents with guns drawn appeared at his house a few months later, one of whom entered his bathroom and pointed his weapon at Binney, who was coming out of the shower.
In that raid, the FBI confiscated a desktop computer, disks, and personal and business records. The following day, NSA revoked his security clearance, forcing him to close a business he ran with Loomis and Wiebe.
Despite a serious health condition which has left him a double amputee, Bill Binney is tireless, pledging to spend the remainder of his years speaking out and working to reform the gross governmental illegality and stupidity of intercepting trillions and trillions of communications “transactions” of innocent persons’ phone calls, emails and other forms of data.
“I should apologize to the American people,” Binney told Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. “It’s violated everyone’s rights. It can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world.”
Thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, documents detailing the top-secret surveillance program were published that corroborate what Binney had long said.
Binney was subsequently called as a witness in U.S. lawsuits challenging the legality of this massive surveillance and also testified to European bodies including the German Bundestag’s NSA Inquiry Commission, deploring the fact that “we have moved away from the collection of (relevant) data to the collection of (non-relevant) data of the 7 billion people on our planet.”
Binney fears the data is being used to “map” or build real-time profiles of innocent individuals. “So that now I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time,” Binney told documentarian Laura Poitras in “The Program.” Binney added that the purpose of the program is “to be able to monitor what people are doing” and with whom they are doing it.
More background information regarding the “Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence” that has been given annually since its inception over 12 years ago as a way to honor the intelligence work of CIA analyst Sam Adams during the Vietnam War is available at http://samadamsaward.ch/. The story of CIA analyst Sam Adams is detailed at http://samadamsaward.ch/history-of-the-sam-adams-award/.
It is hoped the award will serve to encourage more integrity in intelligence work — as well as more courage on the part of those in position to blow the whistle when that work violates the Constitution.