On Sunday, June 16, national newspaper USA Today published an interview with three former National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblowers: Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe. The testimony of each fully corroborates the details of the surveillance apparatus revealed recently by the latest defector from the Panopticon — Edward Snowden.
Not surprisingly, the shorter version of the tale told by the trio is: We told you so. The article reports:
For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.
One of the three, Thomas Drake, was interviewed by The New American last May. In that interview, Drake recalled how within hours after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government rapidly ramped up the unconstitutional surveillance of Americans on a wholesale level. Drake told The New American:
My first day on the job as an employee of the NSA was 9/11. At that time, many people were complaining that certain projects being conducted by the NSA were permitting the government to spy on Americans. I knew at that moment they had crossed the Rubicon, that a Pandora’s box had been opened. I also knew at that moment that if I remained silent, I would be complicit in the violation of the Constitution.
While working as a senior executive at the NSA, Drake disclosed to the Baltimore Sun that the NSA’s Trailblazer Project, a project intended to analyze data carried on in the United States and elsewhere through the Internet, cellphones, and e-mails, not only violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against unwarranted searches and seizures, but it was a “billion-dollar computer boondoggle.”
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Photo of Hong Kong man participating in live chat with Edward Snowden: AP Images