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  • Sworn Declaration of Whistleblower William Binney on NSA Domestic Surveillance Capabilities

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-04 20:30:23
    The following sworn declaration of William Binney, a former employee of the NSA and specialist in traffic analysis, was filed July 2, 2012 in support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s case against the National Security Agency (Jewel v. NSA) regarding their illegal domestic surveillance programs which, according to Binney “are consistent, as a mathematical matter, with seizing both the routing information and the contents of all electronic communications” inside the U.S. Thanks to Jacob Appelbaum for originally drawing attention to the declaration.


    I, William Binney, declare:

    1. I am a former employee of the National Security Agency (“NSA”), the signals intelligence agency within the Department of Defense. Unless otherwise indicated, I have personal knowledge of each and every fact set forth below and can competently testify thereto.

    2. A true and correct copy of my resume is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

    3. In the late 1990′s, the increasing use of the Internet for communications presented the NSA with a special kind of problem: The NSA could not collect and smartly select from the large volume of data traversing the Internet the nuggets of needed information about “Entities of Interest” or “Communities of Interest,” while protecting the privacy of U.S. persons. Human analysts had to manually identify the groups and entities associated with activities that the NSA sought to monitor. That process was so laborious that it significantly hampered the NSA’s ability to do large scale data analysis.

    4. One of my roles at the NSA was to find a means of automating the work of human analysts. I supervised and participated in the development of a program called “Thin Thread” within the NSA. Thin Thread was designed to identify networks of connections between individuals from their electronic communications over the Internet in an automated fashion in real time. The concept was for devices running Thin Thread to monitor international communications traffic passing over the Internet. Where one side of an international communication was domestic, the NSA had to comply with the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”). With Thin Thread, the data would be encrypted (and the privacy of U.S. citizens protected) until such time as a warrant could be obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Comi.

    5. The advent of the September 11 attacks brought a complete change in the approach 18 of the NSA toward doing its job. FISA ceased to be an operative concern, and the individual liberties preserved in the U.S. Constitution were no longer a consideration. It was at that time that the NSA began to implement the group of intelligence activities now known as the President’s Surveillance Program (“PSP”). While I was not personally read into the PSP, various members of my Thin Thread team were given the task of implementing various aspects of the PSP. They confided in me and told me that the PSP involved the collection of domestic electronic communications traffic without any of the privacy protections built into Thin Thread.

    6. I resigned from the NSA in late 2001. I could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.

    7. The NSA chose not to implement Thin Thread. To the best of my knowledge, the NSA does not have a means of analyzing Internet data for the purpose of identifying Entities or Communities of Interest in real time. The NSA has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. The NSA also has the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers. The wholesale collection of data allows the NSA to identify and analyze Entities or Communities of interest later in a static database. Based on my proximity to the PSP and my years of experience at the NSA, I can draw informed conclusions from the available facts. Those facts indicate that the NSA is doing both.

    8. The NSA could have installed its intercept equipment at the nation’s fiber-optic cable landing stations. See Greg’s Cable Map, cablemap.info. There are more than two dozen such sites on the U.S. coasts where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If the NSA had taken that route, it would have been able to limit its interception of electronic communications to international/international and international/domestic communications and exclude domestic/domestic communications. Instead the NSA chose to put its intercept equipment at key junction points (for example Folsom Street) and probably throughout the nation, thereby giving itself access to purely domestic communications. The conclusion of J. Scott Marcus in his declaration that the “collection of infrastructure … has all the capability necessary to conduct large scale covert gathering of IP-based communications information, not only for communications to overseas locations, but .for purely domestic communications as well,” is correct.

    9. I estimate that the NSA installed no fewer than ten and possibly in excess of twenty intercept centers within the United States. I am familiar with the contents of Mark Klein’s declaration. The AT&T center on Folsom Street in San Francisco is one of the NSA intercept centers. Mr. Klein indicated that the NSA’s equipment intercepted Internet traffic on AT&T’s peering network. It makes sense for the NSA to intercept traffic on AT &T’s peering network. The idea would be to avoid having to install interception equipment on each of the thousands of parallel data lines that eventually lead into and out of peering networks. By focusing on peering networks, the NSA intercepts data at the choke point in the system through which all data must pass in order to move from one party’s network to another’s. This is particularly important because a block data is often broken up into many smaller packets for transmission. These packets may traverse different routes before reaching the destination computer which gathers them and reassembles the original block.

    10. One of the most notable pieces of equipment identified in Mr. Klein’s declaration is the NARUS Semantic Traffic Analyzer. According to the NARUS website, each NARUS device collects telecommunications data at the rate of ten gigabits per second and organizes the data into coherent streams based on the protocol associated with a specific type of collected data. A protocol is an agreed-upon way for data to be broken down into packets for transmission over the Internet, for the packets to be routed over the Internet to a designated destination and for the packets to be re-assembled at its destination. Protocols exist at each layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) 7-layer telecommunications model and are used for a wide variety of data, not just electronic communications. That means that NARUS can reconstruct all information transmitted through the peering network and forward all of the electronic communications to a database for analysis. The NARUS device can also select predetermined data from that path and forward the data to organizations having interest in the data. As I indicated above, the predetermined data would involve target addresses, locations, countries, and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases.

    11. A further notable development has been the NSA’s public announcement in October 2009 that it was building a massive, $1.2 billion digital storage facility in Ft. Williams, Utah. According to some reports, the Utah facility will eventually have a data storage capacity measured in yottabytes (1024 bytes). Even if the Utah facility were to have no more than the amount of data storage that is presently commercially available, then one would expect the data storage to be in the range of multiples often exebytes (1018 bytes). See www.cleversafe.com. (According to Cleversafe, its ten exebyte storage solution fills no more than two hundred square feet). In April 2011, the NSA also announced that it would build a new supercomputing center at its Ft. Meade, Maryland headquarters.

    12. The amount of data that each NARUS device can process per second is large (10 gigabits is 10 billion bits). To illustrate the sheer size of the data storage capacity ofthe Utah facility, one could assume the installation of twenty-five NARUS devices in the U.S. and that all of 2 the NARUS-processed data is sent via fiber-optic cable to Utah. That means that the NARUS processing rate of 10 billion bits per second means that one machine can produce approximately 4 x 1016 bytes per year. That in turn means that it would take twenty-five devices one year to fill an exebyte or ten years to fill ten exebytes.

    13. The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure far exceeds the capacity necessary for the storage of discreet, targeted communications or even for the storage of the routing information from all electronic communications. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure is consistent, as a mathematical matter, with seizing both the routing information and the contents of all electronic communications.

    Download PDF

    http://publicintelligence.net/binney-nsa-declaration/
  • The NSA Domestic Spying Program: The program Binney created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on his own country

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-24 19:42:22
    'It took me a few days to work up the nerve to phone William Binney. As someone already a “target” of the United States government, I found it difficult not to worry about the chain of unintended consequences I might unleash by calling Mr. Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower. He picked up. I nervously explained I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to speak to him. To my surprise he replied: “I’m tired of my government harassing me and violating the Constitution. Yes, I’ll talk to you.”

    Two weeks later, driving past the headquarters of the N.S.A. in Maryland, outside Washington, Mr. Binney described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004.

    “The decision must have been made in September 2001,” Mr. Binney told me and the cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. “That’s when the equipment started coming in.” In this Op-Doc, Mr. Binney explains how the program he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on this country. He resigned over this in 2001 and began speaking out publicly in the last year. He is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying.

    To those who understand state surveillance as an abstraction, I will try to describe a little about how it has affected me. The United States apparently placed me on a “watch-list” in 2006 after I completed a film about the Iraq war. I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.”’ As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.

    The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, are trying to revise the amendments to insure greater privacy protections. They have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.

    Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for an Academy Award and whose work was exhibited in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. She is working on a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America. This Op-Doc is adapted from a work in progress to be released in 2013.'

    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html
  • White House Refuses To Obey Judge's Order To Halt Indefinite Detention Law

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-15 17:09:14
  • US Attorneys Refuse to Assure Judge That They Are Not Already Detaining Citizens Under NDAA

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-12 11:46:03
    'The US government seems determined to have the power to do away with due process and Americans’ right to a trial.

    I am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the President the power to hold any US citizen anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or trial. In May, following a March hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers essentially asserted even more extreme powers – the power to entirely disregard the Judge and the law. Indeed, on Monday, August 6, Obama’s lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that as of this writing has been scarcely reported.

    In the March hearing, the US lawyers had confirmed that yes, the NDAA does give the President the power to lock up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government attorneys have stated on record that even war correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the NDAA. Judge Katherine Forrest had ruled for a temporary injunction against an unconstitutional provision in this law – after government attorneys refused to provide assurances to the court that plaintiffs and others would not be indefinitely detained for engaging in first amendment activities. Twice the government has refused to define what it means to be an “associated force”, and it claimed the right to refrain from offering any clear definition of this term, or clear boundaries of power under this law. This past week’s hearing was even more terrifying: incredibly, in this hearing, Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s provision – one that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial -- has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world -- AFTER Judge Forrest’s injunction. In other words, they were saying to a US judge that they could not or would not state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had lain down before them.

    To this, Judge Forrest responded that if the provision has indeed been applied, the United States government itself will be in contempt of court. Government attorneys also, in this hearing, again presented no evidence to support their position -- and brought forth no witnesses.

    I have mixed feelings about suing my government, and in particular, my president, over the National Defense Authorization Act. I voted for Obama. I even had an Obama dance; and I could not stop crying for joy and pride the night he was elected. I defended him for over two years.

    But no longer. The US public often ignores his actual failings, and more importantly, entirely ignores how, when it comes to the “war on terror”, the US government as a whole has been deceitful, reckless, even murderous. We lost nearly 3000 people on 9/11. Then we allowed the Bush administration to lie and force us into war with a country that had nothing to do with that terrible day: we killed between several hundred thousand and one million Iraqi citizens, caused vast harm to our own soldiers and gutted this nation’s treasury for a war that never should have happened. Given these crimes, it is no wonder that Bush, Obama, and the US Congress appear now to be far more interested in enacting misguided, “boogieman in every corner” “war on terror” policies that distract citizens from investigating the truth about what we’ve done, and what we’ve become, since 9/11.

    I, like many in this fight, am now afraid of my government. We have good reason to be. Due to the NDAA, Chris Hedges, Kai Wargalla, the other plaintiffs and I are squarely in the crosshairs of a “war on terror” that has been an excuse to undermine liberties, trample the US Constitution, destroy mechanisms of accountability and transparency, and cause irreparable harm to millions. Several of my co-plaintiffs know well the harassment and harm that they incur from having dared openly to defy the US government’s narrative: court testimony included government subpoenas of private bank records of Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Wargalla’s account of having been listed as a ‘terrorist group”, and Hedges’ concern that he would be included as a “belligerent” in the NDAA’s definition of the term – because he interviews members of outlawed groups as a reporter – a concern that the US attorneys refused on the record to allay. Other advocates have had email accounts consistently hacked, and often find their electronic communications corrupted in transmission – some emails vanish altogether – a now-increasing form of pressure that supporters of state surveillance and intervention in the internet often fail to consider.

    I’ve been surprised to find that most people, when I mention that I am suing my president, Leon Panetta, and six members of Congress (four Democrats and four Republicans), thank me – even before I explain what I’m suing them over! And when I do explain the fact that I and my seven co-plaintiffs are suing over a law that suspends due process, threatens first amendment rights and takes away the basic right of every citizen on this planet to not be indefinitely detained without charge or trial, their exuberance shifts, and a deeper gratitude shines through their newly somber demeanors. But this fight has taken a personal toll on many of us, including myself. This winter, as I led the campaign to amend this lawsuit and was working over 80 hours per week to get everything ready, I suddenly ended up in the emergency room, and have subsequently endured six months of a debilitating neurological illness. Thus, I have relied on an international team of volunteers, whose courage and energy has led them successfully to garner support for a lawsuit that is an attempt to restore our most fundamental of liberties.

    My government seems to have lost the ability to tell – and, perhaps, even to know -- the truth about the Constitution any more. I and many others have not. We are fighting for due process and for the First Amendment; for a country we still believe in; and for a government that is still legally bound to its Constitution.

    If that makes us their “enemies”, then so be it. As long as they cannot call us “belligerents”, lock us up and throw away the key – a power that, incredibly, this past week US government lawyers still asserted is their right to claim . Against such abuses, we will keep fighting.

    I am no radical; I am simply a moderate Democrat, suing my out-of-control government. For the sake of people everywhere, I sincerely hope we win.

    For more details go to: http://stopNDAA.org'

    http://dailycloudt.com/voice/358/us-attorneys-refuse-to-assure-judge-that-they-are-not-already-detaining-citizens-under-ndaa
  • Is the National Defense Authorization Act Unconstitutional?

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-12 11:46:37
    'The question being argued in federal court in Lower Manhattan yesterday boiled down to this: Is a law authorizing the indefinite military detention of American citizens with only the barest recourse to civil courts constitutional?
    The lawsuit against the Obama administration was filed in January by seven journalists and activists, including Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, and Daniel Ellsberg. The suit challenges sections of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorize the armed forces to detain

    "A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces."
    The act would allow citizens to be detained in overseas military facilities like Guantanamo "until the end of hostilities."

    The problem, the plaintiffs argue, is that this language is so vague as to possibly cover all kinds of activity protected by the First Amendment. What is "substantial support?" What are "associated forces?"

    For Hedges, a journalist who has spent much of his career meeting and talking with groups and individuals considered terrorists by the U.S. government, the language was chilling.

    In his complaint, Hedges argued that the law violated First Amendment protections of speech and association, constitutional guarantees for citizens' access to a civil court system, and Fifth-Amendment due process guarantees.

    Judge Katherine Forrest agreed. In a 68-page May ruling, Forrest granted a preliminary injunction blocking the challenged provisions of the act.

    "There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment," Forrest wrote in granting the temporary injunction. "There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention."

    But the temporary injunction of the law was just the first round in the case. Hedges and his fellow plaintiffs were asking the court for a permanent injunction. In a four-hour hearing yesterday, lawyers for the plaintiffs and for the government reargued their cases before Judge Forrest, who interrupted frequently with her own questions and opinions.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance repeated his argument that the law signed by Obama on New Year's Eve doesn't actually do anything new, but rather reiterates powers already conferred by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress shortly after 9/11.

    That argument didn't persuade Forrest, and she told him so. But it also posed further complications for the administration's case. If the challenged NDAA provisions really didn't change anything, why was the government ready to go to the mat to defend them? Perhaps more troubling, Torrance admitted that the government doesn't specify whether detainees are held under the NDAA provisions or under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Consequently, the government was continuing to detain people covered by the challenged provisions in spite of the court's injunction.

    Carl Mayer, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said later that he and his colleagues were considering bringing contempt of court charges over what he called an apparent disregard for the court injunction.

    Torrance judge Forrest that for her court to overturn congressional legislation on national security matters would be to overstep the role of the judiciary, but Forrest wasn't so sure. She cited a passage by Alexander Hamilton inFederalist Papers Number 78, "which I'm quite enamored with:"

    "Where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental."
    Another of the administration's arguments is that the government hasn't so far used the law to detain journalists like Hedges, so fear that it might is unreasonable.

    David Remes, one of the plaintiff's lawyers, said that wasn't the point. "The danger posed by the sword of Damocles is not that it falls, but that it can fall," he said.

    Forrest also appeared unconvinced, noting that a national election could soon install a new administration with a new set of intentions and interpretations. She quoted Chief Justice John Roberts's ruling in a 2010 case: "The First Amendment protects against the government," Roberts wrote. "It does not leave us at the mercy of noblesse oblige. We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the government promised to use it reasonably."

    Torrance said the law still allows room for judicial oversight, because people detained under the act can file habeas corpus petitions.

    "How long does a petition take?" Forrest asked.

    Torrance said he didn't have the numbers in front of him.

    "Several years, right?" Forrest prompted.

    Torrance allowed that might be true, but noted that in most habeas petitions in the post-9/11 era, courts have found the detention legitimate.

    Forrest closed the hearing with a promise that she had not yet made her mind up, Hedges and his lawyers said her earlier ruling on the temporary injunction and her close questioning of Torrance gave them cause for optimism.

    Perhaps sensing which way the wind is blowing with Judge Forrest, the Obama administration has already filed an appeal in higher court.'

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/08/ndaa_suit_argue.php