Ex-NSA Analysts: Agency Collecting All Electronic Communications

BY Larisa Epatko  August 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM EDT


PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff talks to two former National Security Agency analysts about what made them reveal information about the NSA’s surveillance programs.

William Binney and Russell Tice were working for the National Security Agency as analysts when they learned about its wiretapping program — the controversial post-9/11 program in which the NSA collected phone and Internet activity without getting warrants first for the purpose of hunting down terrorists.

They disagreed with the agency’s tactics and the program’s scope.

The NSA has a facility in Bluffdale, Utah, with “massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed on the fiber optic network of the world,” said Binney. The agency wouldn’t need such a large storage capacity if it were for metadata only, he said.

Tice told PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff that he’s concerned about how the currently stored information will be used in the future. “What about the next administration and the next one after that? … Remember this information is going to be archived indefinitely.”

You can watch their full interview above.

But according to Joel Brenner, who was the NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006, the agency “hasn’t done anything, as I understand it and from all I know, that goes one inch beyond what it’s been authorized to do by a court.”

Watch Brenner’s interview below:

Brenner said the agency is collecting telephone metadata, but not emails or geographic locations. Congress has authorized the agency to collect the information and all three branches of government oversee it, he added.

“The idea that NSA is compiling dossiers on people the way J. Edgar Hoover did, or the way the East German police did, as some people suggest, that’s just not true,” he said.

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