President Obama is scheduled to address the nation about NSA surveillance on Friday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. (Shortly after Obama’s remarks, NSA veterans Bill Binney, Russ Tice and Kirk Wiebe will speak at a news conference at 12:30 at the National Press Club [see post and audio of news conference.])
Binney and Wiebe — as well as Thomas Drake — are among the authors of a USA Today op-ed published today titled “We Need Real Protection from the NSA,” which states: “On Friday, President Obama is expected to issue new guidelines that purport to rein in these [NSA] abuses, but leaked details leave little reason for hope that his proposals will go far enough. What America needs is a U-turn before we lose our freedom and our country. …
“The many areas requiring rollback illustrate just how far things have gone. Real change would start with a confession to the voters by the NSA and the intelligence committees:
” * They should release the true extent of their data collection before the Snowden reporters do. Tell us how many Americans are in your files. Reveal the other categories of government agency and private business records that you have amassed.
” * Identify any other agencies that copy NSA databases and/or collect their own.
” * Reveal the secret ‘black’ budget that funds this intrusion into every nook and cranny of our lives. …”
Binney, Drake and Wiebe also co-wrote the recent intelligence memo “NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong,” which states: “It is not difficult to connect NSA’s collect-everything approach with one principal finding of the Review Group you appointed to look into NSA programs; namely, that exactly zero terrorist plots have been prevented by NSA’s bulk trawling for telephone call records. One Review Group member, your former Chicago law professor colleague, Geoffrey Stone, has confessed to being ‘absolutely’ surprised at the group’s finding of zero. Clearly, the statements of top NSA officials left Stone wholly unprepared for the truth.
“Reacting to the Review Group’s report, a member of Congress involved in intelligence issues told a reporter, ‘That was the ballgame … It flies in the face of everything they have tossed at us.’”
“While this finding of the Review Group is a further blow to Keith ’54-terrorist-plots-thwarted’ Alexander’s credibility, it is no surprise to us. More important, it goes to the heart of whether NSA’s bulk collection is more hindrance than help in preventing terrorist attacks.” The memo goes on to highlight the program THINTHREAD, that some of the authors worked on, and describe as a targeted program that was much more low-cost than the massive surveillance programs the NSA has been executing.
BILL BINNEY, williambinney0802 at comcast.net
Available for a limited number of interviews, Binney was with the NSA for decades and resigned shortly after 9/11. He was technical director of World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group and was co-founder of the SIGINT [Signals intelligence] Automation Research Center. See recent interview with The Real News.
J. KIRK WIEBE, jkwiebe at comcast.net, @KirkWiebe
Wiebe is former senior analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center. He also recently wrote in “NSA’s Preference for Metadata” that “the distinction between listening in on conversations and ‘just’ collecting phone numbers called and the duration of the conversations is a red herring. The truth is that persistent, bulk collection of metadata in support of analysis is — not can be — more revealing over time than content…” See background on Binney and Wiebe.
The memo was released in conjunction with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. A member of that group is also available for interviews:
COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at earthlink.net, @ColeenRowley
Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures and was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. She wrote a piece for CNN: “Massive Spying on Americans is Outrageous.”
She also wrote the piece “Feinstein’s Phony Excuse for NSA Spying,” which debunks Sen. Feinstein’s claims regarding mass surveillance being needed to prevent another 9/11.
Also on Thursday, Chelsea Manning — the source for many of WikiLeaks revelations, including the “Collateral Murder” video — was named winner of the 2014 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award. See comments by Rowley and Drake.