NSA Whistleblowers Binney and Drake Brief Berlingske Tidende about Danish Defense Intelligence-NSA Scandal
COPENHAGEN, Sept. 27, 2020 (EIRNS)— A long article based on interviews with William Binney and Thomas Drake about the NSA-Danish Defense Intelligence scandal, was published in the daily Berlingske Tidende’s internet edition today by journalists Henrik Jensen, Jens Anton Bjørnager, Steffen McGhie and Jens Beck Nielsen. William Binney first commented on the Danish case on Aug. 29 on a LaRouchePAC live video interview. The most important points in today’s interview are:
• They confirm that there was an agreement between the Danish Defense Intelligence (FE) and the NSA, to tap a data cable hub in Copenhagen. (The scandal in Denmark is especially based on whether data from a significant amount of Danes was included in the data transferred to the NSA.) The article states that “the Americans gained access to a goldmine of data. In collaboration with the NSA, FE tapped a special fiber-optic cable in Copenhagen, which, among other things, made it possible to monitor Russian and Chinese telecommunications traffic.”
Thomas Drake says:
“There are a number of hubs for the global Internet around the world, and a few of these are of particular interest to the NSA and other signal intelligence services. And one of the primary hubs is in Denmark. If you compare the Internet with the world’s air traffic, it would be equivalent to London’s major airport, Heathrow, being in the middle of Copenhagen.... We are talking about a huge, huge hub that is extremely attractive. Huge amounts of data directly from Eastern Europe flow through—in terms of intelligence, it is one of the most important hubs of all.
• The business model of the NSA was “to collect everything about everyone—allegedly for the sake of security—with the help of allied countries’ services.” Binney testified before the German Bundestag, on the German role in “RAMPART-A, which Edward Snowden revealed, and of which Denmark was also a part.”
Drake said that the NSA
“approach is: Why not just collect it all? They have become addicted to surveillance—it is never ‘enough data’ for them. You can’t wean yourself off knowing everything. It’s the Stasi again. The NSA wants to know everything about everyone at all times. But why have privacy laws if you do not intend to follow them? ... So it’s OK because you do it in the service of the good cause!? If that’s OK then why should it be so secret?! That’s because the NSA does not want people to know how much data they collect about them.”
They describe Binney and Drake’s intelligence backgrounds and whistleblower actions in protest against mass surveillance, and the writers add that Drake said that “it served no intelligence purpose because the amount was so large that it was virtually impossible to review data.”
• The character of the agreements with other countries:
Binney says that “the NSA enters into an agreement with an intelligence service in an allied country to tap data from Internet cables. All data sent from the partner country to the U.S.A. are saved. The NSA today has a huge data warehouse in Utah, according to William Binney with a capacity of ‘at least 5 zettabytes’—imagine a hard drive large enough to hold information about years of Internet traffic from around the world.
“The partner country gets access to data through an American IT system—according to Binney the so-called Xkeyscore, of which the documents from Edward Snowden revealed the existence.... Xkeyscore allows the partner country to search for information in the data blocks that the country itself has collected and which are now stored in the U.S., as well as—depending on the specific agreement with the NSA and other partner countries—data blocks collected by the U.S. and possibly other countries.... The U.S. as a data processor has access to it all.”
• “And why should the Americans want to collect and store so much data about, for example, the Danes? Binney says, ‘The thing is, it gives them power over everyone. If anyone ever gets in their way, they can retrospectively analyze everything they have ever done online, find something on them, and get rid of them. That’s what they’re trying to do to me.’... In other words, data collection is not just about considerations that are intelligence-based in the fight against terrorism and international crime, but about considerations of the NSA’s self-serving interests, if you ask William Binney.”
• The NSA probably gets all of the data, not just that selected by certain criteria: Drake says that “it is naive to think that the United States only receives selected data determined by selectors, he says. ‘They can claim that there are all sorts of filters. But it approaches the unbelievable to assume that the NSA will settle for that when they have access to everything.’
“The same goes for the so-called Memorandums of Understanding, which follow the NSA agreements and are a statement based on trust that the United States and the partner country will not spy on each other’s citizens. ‘It’s part of a cover story. It just does not matter in practice.... But such is not the reality in that world. That has not been the case since 9/11.’ ”
• The Western intelligence community, led by the NSA, has in recent decades evolved into “a transnational syndicate for mass surveillance” of the world’s citizens. Eventually, he [Drake] says, the services are more loyal to their partners in other countries’ services than to their own people or politicians.
“ ‘There’s a notorious proverb in the NSA that one hears over and over again: “Presidents come and go, but we’re still here.” For me to see this, is not just a threat to the world order. In my eyes, this threatens the sovereignty of all of us. We in the West are quick to point fingers at dictators elsewhere in the world. But what do we do ourselves? ... What kind of future do we want for our nation and our people? Either the right to privacy matters or it does not. If it matters, we need to protect it.... It’s your emails, phone calls, text messages and personal information that could potentially be shared with another country’s intelligence service. Without a ruling, without legal certainty.’ ”
• Denmark is doing the right thing: William Binney says, “ ‘It is clear to me that the American process of undermining democracy has been exported to Europe. I think you in Denmark with the current case have started to do the right thing,’ he says, referring to the fact that Minister of Defense Trine Bramsen and the government have sent home the top of the FE based on the criticism from the supervision. ‘The problem with humans is that when you give them power, they end up using it,’ says William Binney.”