NSA whistleblower William Binney was interviewed by internet journalist Geoff Shively at the HOPE Number 9 hackers conference in New York on Friday.
Binney, who resigned from the NSA in 2001 over its domestic surveillance program, had just delivered a keynote speech in which he revealed what Shively called “evidence which we have not seen until this point.”
“They’re pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country … and assembling that information,” Binney explained. “So government is accumulating that kind of information about every individual person and it’s a very dangerous process.” He estimated that something like 1.6 billion logs have been processed since 2001.
Shively and livestreamer Tim Pool, who was filming the interview, concluded by noting that videos of Binney’s keynote address will be available shortly.
This is an 11 percent increase from the $1.2 billion budget in 2010 for security classification systems of 41 executive branch agencies, including the Department of Defense. The figure does not include the budgets of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency or other spy agencies within the US government.
In its first ever transparency report, Twitter reported Monday that the United States leads the pack when it comes to government demands for user data, having filed 679 requests in the first half of the year.
In Twitter’s Transparency Report, it said it has complied with 75 percent of user-data disclosure demands by producing “some or all information” requested by U.S. authorities. Globally, the average was 63 percent.
Data previous to 2012 was not available. Twitter said it notifies its users of government demands “unless prohibited by law.”
The closest country behind the United States was Japan, which lodged 98 requests with a 20 percent Twitter compliance rate. The United Kingdom and Canada came in with 11 requests, with an 18 percent compliance rate. All of the other countries in the 23-nation Twitter report registered with less than 10 government demands.
“We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011,” Twitter said on its blog.
The disclosure follows Google’s lead — nearly two years ago, when the search giant turned heads by publishing a treasure trove of data surrounding government demands for user data, in addition to information on the number of takedown notices connected to copyright infringement.
“Wednesday marks Independence Day here in the United States. Beyond the fireworks and barbecue, July 4th serves as an important reminder of the need to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves,” Twitter said.
The Twitter report came the same day a New York state judge ordered the San Francisco-based microblogging site to divulge the tweets and account information allegedly connected to an Occupy protester.
Twitter did not say whether, at least in the United States, the authorities presented probable-cause warrants for user data. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr.’s ruling Monday did not require local prosecutors to have probable cause to get the tweets and accompanying account information of an Occupy protester.
“We are fighting a war in the FATA (NW Pakistan), we are fighting a war against terrorism,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday, referring to the tribal areas of Pakistan that the U.S. has spent three years bombing heavily. Was that so hard to admit?
For years, it has been. Neither the Bush nor Obama administration has been forthright about the starkest fact of the recent war on terrorism: most of it takes place in western Pakistan. As CIA director and now Pentagon chief, Panetta has been one of the key architects of the accelerated drone-and-commando war the U.S. wages there in what amounts to an open secret. In 2009, the critical year in that acceleration, Danger Room boss Noah Shachtman started pressing the Obama administration for disclosure about a war the U.S. waged in all but name.
It’s hard to imagine the reverberations Panetta’s comment will have amongst Pakistanis: polls indicate most don’t realize there’s a drone war going on at all. Americans are understandably preoccupied with domestic economic anxiety. The U.S. government, in other words, might have obscured its shadow war for nothing.