Shocker: NSA Chief denies Total Information Awareness spying on Americans

"In secret listening rooms nationwide, NSA software examines every email, phone call, and tweet as they zip by," reported NSA expert James Bamford in a Wired article. "Everybody's a target; everybody with communication is a target," an unnamed NSA official told him. Then William Binney, yet another former NSA senior official, "held his thumb and forefinger close together: ‘We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state'."

Yet when Congressman Hank Johnson asked NSA chief General Keith Alexander if the NSA could hunt down every email bashing Dick Cheney for waterboarding, Alexander testified, "No." Alexander spoke in front of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The "NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States." 

That testimony doesn't jive with what was stated by Binney, a man who served as senior NSA crypto-mathematician. The NSA is "storing everything they gather," Binney told Bamford. "You can watch everybody all the time with data- mining."

Everything a person does becomes charted on a graph, "financial transactions or travel or anything," he says. Thus, as data like bookstore receipts, bank statements, and commuter toll records flow in, the NSA is able to paint a more and more detailed picture of someone's life.

Despite the fact that domestic spying on Americans is already an e-hoarding epidemic, the massive new NSA storage facility in Utah will solve the problem of how to manage 20 terabytes a minute of intercepted communications. We are talking about mindboggling amounts of data — "Yottabytes and exaflops, septillions and undecillions."

Even if the intercepted communication is AES encrypted and unbroken today, all that stored data will be cracked some day. Then it too can be data-mined. The super secret spook agency is full of code breakers. "Remember," former intelligence official Binney stated, "a lot of foreign government stuff we've never been able to break is 128 or less. Break all that and you'll find out a lot more of what you didn't know-stuff we've already stored-so there's an enormous amount of information still in there." Binney added the NSA is "on the verge of breaking a key encryption algorithm."

Yet like General Alexander's testimony, NSA's chief information officer Lonny Anderson previously claimed the NSA works within a "culture of compliance," operating within U.S. laws, and working to protect Americans' privacy and civil liberties. While discussing cloud computing and crypto centers, Anderson stated, "We want citizens to know we take civil liberties and privacy very seriously."

Bamford has inside sources and wrote, "The NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens.... The agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it's all being done in secret." 

Here's the questioning and testimony that occurred before Congress. You can decide what you believe, but the NSA doesn't have the best track record with shooting honesty from the hip. If you recall, the NSA didn't stand on a mountain and shout to the world, We are secretly wiretapping Americans without warrants! The EFF chose to believe Bamford when he said that somewhere between 9/11 and today, "the enemy morphed from a handful of terrorists to the American population at large, leaving us nowhere to run and no place to hide."

The testimony may be truthful, or the real answers may be cloaked under the shadowy shroud of "state secrets." Make ready your tinfoil hat, because total information awareness may be here now.

The NSA spying and denying saga continued a few months later: Denying domestic spying & dossiers on Americans: Does NSA Chief play word games?

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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