From Jake Tapper on CNN:
William Binney takes issue with “virtually everything” Obama said about the NSA programs in the PBS interview.
Binney worked at the NSA for almost 40 years. He retired in 2001 after his criticism of an NSA program. Over the years, he has disclosed surveillance programs used by the government.
Binney said all e-mails are already being collected, and stored, even if they are not being read.
“Director (Robert) Mueller of the FBI said in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 30, 2011, he said I’ve gotten together with the DOD where we’ve put together this technology database where I can go in, and I can, with one query, I can get all past and all future e-mails from a person,” said Binney. “That says he’s looking at U.S. citizen e-mail, past and future, as they come in.”
Former senior executive at the NSA Thomas Drake said the surveillance programs go beyond metadata.
Again, this isn’t a Democrat or a Republican thing. This is big government doing what big government loves to do: Collecting and warehousing any and everything it can get its digital fingers on.
There’s a similar problem in the Pentagon, with peacetime procurement. Everything costs too much. Everything is over-designed. Everything takes forever to get to the troops who actually use it. Then a war comes along and everything speeds up and costs go down. (Never enough, but better than in peacetime.)
The reason is, peacetime encourages ass-covering. That new jet might turn out to need a built-in Keurig brewer, and General Prissypants isn’t going to be the one caught eliminating some “vital” necessity from the new weapons system. So word goes down and plans are redrawn and resubmitted and the cost-plus billing gets refiled and re-approved and whatnot, all with various general and colonels and majors putting their own little seals of approval on every little step, and the contractors charging overtime.
This is what the NSA does with data. They might someday need the contents of your email from your wife with the cute puppy picture, on the off chance there’s a coded message in there about TPing the Washington Monument with ricin-infused toilet paper. It may never happen, but Bureaucrat Bob isn’t going to be the one stuck with that particular hot potato on the day the TP Jihadis strike.
Is evil really banal like that? You bet it is. Right until some smart politician figures out some smart way to use those warehouses of data to cement his power. The IRS scandal showed a small-scale version of how to do just that, simply by using the complexities and intricacies of our corrupt tax code. The real danger however lies in those mountains of data being collected each and every day by Bureaucrat Bob.
Because Fascist Frank is looking over his shoulder.