According to NSA whistleblower William Binney, everyone in the U.S. is under constant surveillance by the NSA. Everybody’s e-mails are being stored so that they can be used against anyone the NSA deems to be a “terrorist.” Binney left the intelligence agency in 2001 after 32 years of service for this very reason when it became clear to him that what he and his colleagues were doing was unconstitutional. In an interview with RT, he disclosed the more egregious measures the NSA took while he was an employee:
“The violations of the Constitution and any number of laws that existed at the time. That was the part that I could not be associated with. That’s why I left. They were building social networks on who is communicating and with whom inside this country. So that the entire social network of everybody, of every US citizen was being compiled over time. So, they are taking from one company alone roughly 320 million records a day. That’s probably accumulated probably close to 20 trillion over the years. The original program that we put together to handle this was to be able to identify terrorists anywhere in the world and alert anyone that they were in jeopardy. We would have been able to do that by encrypting everybody’s communications except those who were targets. So, in essence you would protect their identities and the information about them until you could develop probable cause, and once you showed your probable cause [and secured a warrant], then you could do a decrypt and target them. And we could do that and isolate those people all alone. It wasn’t a problem at all. There was no difficulty in that.”
Now, Binney maintains that the NSA doesn’t even use filters in order to prioritize. Literally, everyone is under surveillance, and every electronic message is stored.
Since the data have become insurmountable, they’ve embarked on a massive data storage center near Bluffdale, Utah. This $2 billion facility will have the capacity to store yottabytes of data (1 yottabyte is 1 quadrillion gigabytes). Wired pointed out for comparison that if this data center were to be full to capacity, it would have on the order of 500 quintillion pages of text (that’s a 5 with 20 zero’s).
After all this, the NSA and other surveillance agencies still maintain that it’s all about catching the terrorists. But it’s activities like this that brought down Generals Petraeus and Allen. Adultery is bad for sure, but is it terrorism? Binney argued that they must have done something behind the scenes that we don’t know about to cause the FBI to pull their e-mail files in order to expose them. And since most politicians these days are involved with some kind of secret scandal, it’s not hard to find the necessary information to bring them down.
This also shows that no one is excluded from these surveillance measures. Military officials, members of congress as well as American citizens, etc. are all having their e-mails stored.
So if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, right? According to Binney, it all depends on who is defining right and wrong.
“[T]he central government defines what is right and wrong and whether or not they target you. So, it’s not up to the individuals. Even if they think they aren’t doing something wrong, if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target.”