I really don’t know where to begin here, so I won’t. Very simply, if you have any doubts that people in the United States maintain ANY rights to privacy, whatsoever, those doubts will be dispelled by James Bamford’s mind-blowing cover story, published online just over 24 hours ago, and appearing in the latest edition of Wired Magazine, “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).”
It is "the" story of the sheer size, scope and technology behind the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) newest project: “Stellar Wind.” What this article virtually and comprehensively uncovers to the public, for the first time, is “…the enormity of [our country’s] ongoing domestic spying program.”
Here’s the teaser on the magazine cover…
Deep in the Utah desert, the National Security Agency is building the country’s biggest spy center. It’s the final piece of a secret surveillance network that will intercept and store your phone calls, emails, Google Searches…I can honestly say that this is one of those pieces of journalism that, just based upon the facts presented within it, has profoundly changed my perception of the world around us.
Frankly, it scares the crap out of me.
I cannot wait to read fellow kossack Jesselyn Radack’s take on this mind-numbing news. (For those reading this who aren’t aware of her work, she’s the director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project.) When it comes to “the whistleblowing beat” at DKos and in the real world, she has it covered. We are very fortunate to have her as a contributor to this community! (Click on the link above in this paragraph for links to her most recent posts.)
And, speaking of those whom we are very fortunate to have as contributors to this community, also checkout one of our newest Kossack’s, Thomas Drake’s, first couple of posts, also from this past week, “UPDATE: I was First Whistleblower Prosecuted Under the Espionage Act in Recent Government Rampage," and “Release of Stevens Report - Why is Welch Still Practicing Law at the Department of Injustice?”
Getting back to this weekend’s must-read, the stunning analysis and commentary of whistleblower William Binney -- whom the author describes as a “senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s [NSA’a] worldwide eavesdropping network” -- is covered extensively by Bamford.
…Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email…(Both Drake and Raddack, much moreso, discuss Binney in their DKos posts, as well. IMHO, all three are true American patriots!)
Here’s an excerpt—read the whole thing, the link’s just below--from this incredible Wired story…
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)# # #
By James Bamford
March 15, 2012 7:24 pm
…The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn’t revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.
For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.
He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”
…Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.
Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light…