January 1, 2013
At the 29th Chaos Communication Congress held last week in Hamburg, Germany, whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake and William Binney talked about what happened to them when they told the truth about the US Government and how they became Enemies of the State.
Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice who came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the FBI committed an ethics violation in their interrogation and of John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban” captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan). Her experience is chronicled in her memoir, TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the “American Taliban”.
Thomas Andrews Drake is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran. He has experience with computer software, linguistics, management and leadership. He is also a whistleblower. In 2010 the government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
William Binney is a mathematician who worked for the NSA for almost forty years, where he was involved in the development of a revolutionary information processing system called ThinThread that they believe could have detected and prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But NSA officials ignored ThinThread in favor of Trailblazer – a much more expensive program that not only ended in total failure, but cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Worried about the nation’s ability to protect itself, he blew the whistle on the clear mismanagement surrounding the Trailblazer fiasco, using appropriate channels to share their concerns with Congress and the Department of Defense Inspector General. Despite their efforts, no one was held accountable at NSA for one of the worst intelligence failures in history. Little did he know at the time, Binney and his co-worker, J. Kirk Wiebe would face harsh retaliation from NSA for their efforts to make the truth known.
After the failure of U.S. intelligence to prevent the events of 9/11, the NSA wrongfully applied a component of the ThinThread system to illegally spy on the private communications of U.S. citizens. Unable to stay at the NSA any longer in good conscience, Binney and Wiebe retired in October 2001. After retiring, Binney and Wiebe continued to blow the whistle from outside the agency. GAP provided Binney and Wiebe with legal advice on whistleblowing matters and assisted them with media and public advocacy.
Since that time, Binney and Wiebe have made several key disclosures crucial to the ongoing public debate about America’s national security state, such as the first public description of NSA’s massive domestic spying program, Stellar Wind, which intercepts domestic communications without protections for US citizens. Binney revealed that NSA has been given access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted between 15 and 20 trillion communications. Binney further disclosed that Stellar Wind was grouped under the patriotic-sounding “Terrorist Surveillance Program” in order to give cover to its constitutionally-questionable nature.
December 27, 2012
Enemies of the State: What Happens When Telling the Truth about Secret US Government Power Becomes a Crime?
Panel presented at 29C3 (29th Chaos Communication Congress), 27 December 2012.
Speakers are Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, and William Binney.
(Q&A afterward is not included in this video).