Binney, now retired, resigned from the NSA in 2001. A year later he and two of his former colleagues asked Congress and the Department of Defense for an investigation of the agency for wasting money and violating privacy rights with a massive data collection program called "Trailblazer," the successor to an earlier program dubbed "Stellar Wind." Binney believes that's the reason why the FBI five years later staged an armed raid of his home.
"Stellar Wind was the basic reason I left the NSA in 2001," Binney said in a recent interview with Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine. "That's when they started to take the program that I created to do social network reconstruction of anybody in the world, and direct it against everybody in the United States. That means they were basically putting a PEN register on every phone number in the United States. They call it trace-and-tap, where they put this device on your line and I can monitor who you call, how long you call them."
The Internet made it possible for the agency to expand the volume of data it collected and stored. "Trailblazer was the NSA's attempt to catch up with the digital age. The problem is, Trailblazer didn't do anything. As far as I know, it didn't produce anything for roughly a little over $4 billion," said Binney, describing the program with a "needle in the haystack" analogy. "If you're looking for that needle, it doesn't help at all to make the haystack orders of magnitude bigger. It only makes the problem orders of magnitude harder to find it. And that's why they're fundamentally failing. They're causing themselves to become dysfunctional."
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