Before Edward Snowden, There Was William Binney: An NSA Whistleblower Tells All

Evidence that going through the proper channels "doesn't work."


A technical expert employed by the NSA tries to get the word out that the agency is broadly violating the constitutional rights of Americans. Sound familiar? The year was 2002, not 2013, and the whistleblower was a man named William Binney. So how come you've never heard of him?

Click above to watch Nick Gillespie's extended tell-all interview with Binney.

This video was original released on January 10, 2014. Here's the original writeup:

"Where I see it going is toward a totalitarian state," says William Binney. "You've got the NSA doing all this collecting of material on all of its citizens—that's what the SS, the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, and the NKVD did."

Binney is talking about the collection of various forms of personal data on American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA), where he worked for 30 years before quitting in 2001 from his high-placed post as technical leader for intelligence. A registered Republican for most of his life, Binney volunteered for military service during the Vietnam War, which led to his being hired by the NSA in the early '70s.

In 2002—long before the revelations of Edward Snowden rocked the world—Binney and several former colleagues went to Congress and the Department of Defense, asking that the NSA be investigated. Not only was the super-secretive agency wasting taxpayer dollars on ineffective programs, they argued, it was broadly violating constitutional guarantees to privacy and due process.

The government didn't just turn a blind eye to the agency's activities; it later accused the whistleblowers of leaking state secrets. A federal investigation of Binney—including an FBI search and seizure of his home and office computers that destroyed his consulting business—exonerated him on all charges.

"We are a clear example that [going through] the proper channels doesn't work," says Binney, who approves of Edward Snowden's strategy of going straight to the media. At the same time, Binney criticizes Snowden's leaking of documents not directly related to the NSA's surveillance of American citizens and violation of constitutional rights. Binney believes that the NSA is vital to national security but has been become unmoored due to technological advances that vastly extend its capabilities and leadership that has no use for limits on government power. "They took that program designed [to prevent terrorist attacks] and used it to spy on American citizens and everyone else in the world," flatly declares Binney (33:30).

Binney sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to discuss "Trailblazer", a data-collection program which was used on American citizens (1:00), why he thinks the NSA had the capability to stop the 9/11 attacks (7:00), his experience being raided by the FBI in 2007 (12:50), and why former President Gerald Ford, usually regarded as a hapless time-server, is one of his personal villians (41:25).

Approx. 50 minutes.

Produced by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Todd Krainin and Winkler. 

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  1. Sounds like a pretty cool dude to me. WOw.

  2. Sounds like a pretty cool dude to me. WOw.

  3. Anyone suggesting that Edward Snowder should have expressed his concerns “through proper channels” should be encouraged strongly to find out about Binney.

    1. Anyone suggesting that Edward Snowder should have expressed his concerns “through proper channels” should be encouraged strongly to find out about Binney shut the fuck up.


      There are conversational markers that allow one to know that those who uttered them can and should be ignored. Saying that Snowden should have “used the proper channels” is one of them.

      There used to be a time when I thought that trying to convince others of the rightness of liberty, but I don’t believe that anymore. I just want to be left the fuck alone or allow the way that I live my life be an example for others. I’m tired of being called a racist and told how much I hate poor people by those whose preferred policies dictate that people who haven’t harmed anyone, mostly minorities and the poor, be thrown in prison. If you’re a statist, you can go fuck yourself. I have no time for your drivel.

      1. If you’re a statist, you can go fuck yourself. I have no time for your drivel.

        It is a fact of existence that it is easier to plunder than it is to produce.

        It is easier to take than it is to trade.

        It is easier to persuade with deception than it is to persuade with the truth.

        Force and fraud are easy.

        Statists have no time for liberty, because liberty requires that government punish force and fraud, rather than engage in it on behalf of the lazy.

        Though good luck getting them to admit this truth, even to themselves.

        1. Though good luck getting them to admit this truth, even to themselves.

          Which is exactly why I no longer bother.

          1. I don’t engage Tony for Tony’s benefit. I do it to keep my responses to liberal fallacies sharp, to pass the time at a useless job, and for the benefit of people who may not have seen such arguments completely and utterly destroyed by reason and logic.

            1. I never meant to imply that it isn’t a worthy mission, just that I’m not the soldier for it.

              1. Fair enough.

  4. he thinks the NSA had the capability to stop the 9/11 attacks

    Why would they stop something that would increase their power?
    That would be like me complaining “But there’s no reason for me to be in Steve Job’s will!”

  5. Someone found a new reason for drones.

    However, some think hunters should have Big Brother constantly watching our every move, and who else but PETA should take hunter harassment to a whole new level?

    Enter PETA’s new Air Angel drone, a remote-controlled, quadricopter drone being marketed to the general public as “the new hobby for animal protectionists.”

    That’s right, for just $324.99, “hobbyists” can bring home their very own drone?stickers included?that can send video and photos straight to the user’s phone, allowing them to track hunters from on high.

    “PETA’s drones will help protect wildlife by letting hunters know that someone may be watching?and recording?them, so they should think twice before illegally killing or maiming any living being,” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said in a news release. “Wildlife watchers outnumber wildlife killers five to one?and if even a fraction of these kind people use hobby drones, they’ll make a huge difference by exposing hunters’ dirty secrets.”

    The release continues: “PETA aims to collect video footage of any illegal activity, including drinking while in the possession of a firearm; using spotlights, feed lures, and other forbidden hunting tricks; and maiming animals and failing to pursue them.”

    If I’m out hunting, and I spot a drone, that fucking drone is being blown to bits.

    1. The old double barrel would be perfect for this. What better way to take out a drone than two barrels of double ought!

  6. “Son, see that in the sky?”..”Yes.”..POW!..”Not anymore.”.

    1. “Son, see that in the sky?”..”Yes.”..POW!..”Not anymore.”.

      Lousy punctuation aside, this is exactly right.

    2. If I’m out hunting deer (for instance), and I see a drone, I’m not longer hunting deer, but drone.

      1. Yeah, I’m thinking that after word gets out about this, it won’t last long. Paying $300 a pop to “protect” animals for an hour before your drone gets shot down will get old quick.

  7. Front-page news in lefty newspaper: People move away from high taxes!
    “State leaders closely watch migrating millionaires”

    And the number is undoubtedly higher than what is getting attention:
    “Financial and tax advisers say they have wealthy clients who have fled the state, ostensibly for tax reasons, but the clients don’t want to be identified because they fear the kind of reaction Mickelson got or an audit from the Franchise Tax Board.”…..php#page-2

    1. People move away from high taxes!

      Who could possibly imagine a world in which people would want to keep the money they earn? That they aren’t happily giving their money to the government (that surely knows how to better spend said capital) is proof enough that they need to be monitored and censured, maybe even sent to re-education camp.

    2. “Front-page news in lefty newspaper: People move away from high taxes!”

      This is obviously a lie and is just Republicthug propropanda.

      Our President just recently told us that most wealthy Americans would, nay…want to, pay higher taxes.

      He actually said it so you know it’s true.

  8. Good interview, although I wonder if Binney was especially talkative or something. Nick seemed to cut him off a number of times.

  9. At the same time, Binney criticizes Snowden’s leaking of documents not directly related to the NSA’s surveillance of American citizens and violation of constitutional rights.

    Something bothers me here. Some people expect Snowden to exercise no judgment–some think that he should have leaked nothing, others think he should have leaked everything. Other people, like Binney, expect Snowden to exercise perfect judgment–well, obviously he should have leaked X and Y, but not Z.

    Neither of these positions is reasonable. He has to exercise his own judgment, which means he’s going to leak things you don’t approve of. And he can’t argue with you about the decision to leak unless he leaks it (at least to you) in the first place. How can you complain to someone “you never should have told me this!”? Well, how was he supposed to know before he told you? He might guess your reaction most of the time, but not every time.

    1. A big problem is that people think they’re right, which they incorrectly think also means anyone disagreeing with them must be wrong! see

      Binney largely thinks Snowden is right, yet still says he should have done exactly what Binney thinks is right. But since Snowden is a unique individual with his own unique context, he like all of us – including Binney – has his own unique idea of what is right.

      Snowden is a MAJOR HERO in my book, and yet I don’t expect to agree with absolutely every single one of his decisions. I don’t see that anyone will…

  10. It’s like a NY Times parody of itself. Woman discovers class envy.

    Lots of silliness there:

    A child of leftist parentage, she had spent her early years in the Grand Street co-ops, the Lower East Side housing complex developed by trade unions in the middle of the last century. She went to college in Austin, Tex., and worked variously as a waitress, a roofer, a bartender, a substitute teacher, a phone sex operator, a saleswoman. Her values were hippie-ish rather than careerist or materialistic.

    Mothers began to come in and ask for the sort of products that Ms. Paperno didn’t carry because they offended her sensibilities. They asked for something called the Belly Bandit, for instance, a postpartum slimming belt that Ms. Paperno regarded as decidedly anti-feminist, and stroller blankets from 7 A.M. Enfant, which she found too expensive. She stocked these things reluctantly.

    Her business is struggling for some unfathomable reason and that made her angry at rich people.

    1. The comments were surprisingly rational until I discovered this steaming pile of derp:

      “It is not the job of politics to solve the problem of this kind of split perspective” (on social and income inequality)? Well, I think most of us would unanimously agree when applied to the context of an individuals personal opinion, emotion, or observation, since politics should refrain from indoctrination and concentrate on education. However, considering the context used in your article, one must highly disagree with that claim when looking at what politics are indeed responsible for.
      Is it not politics job to attempt to put an end to rape? As income inequality is in fact on the rise, we can only look to a city that is more off balance; Ciudad Juarez, where young women are raped and murdered in numbers that cannot be comprehended, due to income inequality, as the city chooses to hire women over men at lower wages.
      Is it not politics job to attempt to put an end to murder and crime? Is it not social and income inequality that is responsible for Americans to put their lives on the line, to deal drugs or join a crime syndicate, out of desperation turned determination, to advance themselves? A choice that has moved the U.S out of industrialized society murder statistics, with a murder rate on par with 3rd world societies….

      1. …What about depression? Suicide? The mental health of the working majority who desires more, as well as the ashamed, isolated few of the wealthy minority?
        Inequality is the root of most social ills, and combatting these ills is indeed the job of politics

      2. wealth inequality = rape and murder

        Steaming pile indeed.

    1. But the French laugh off such trivial matters!
      Are we sure it’s not because another Mickey Ds opened in Paris?

  11. my best friend’s mother makes $82 hourly on the internet. She has been fired for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $14496 just working on the internet for a few hours. find out this here

  12. my best friend’s mother makes $82 hourly on the internet. She has been fired for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $14496 just working on the internet for a few hours. find out this here

  13. What stuck with me the most from this interview was his discussion about the motive behind these colossal programs. I guess it shouldn’t come as surprise, but it just sticks with me that government or “organized” social functions are naturally inclined to grow way beyond doing the defined job and bloat into a life-sucking bureaucracy that kills liberty and economies.
    It seems so hopeless to try to turn this cluster-fuck around. We are fucked as an economy and a free society. There are historical examples everywhere yet so many people in our society are either oblivious or actually deluded enough by Unicorn Dreams to demand effective social institutions.
    People say things like “the government could never control our lives because we’re Americans.” They don’t roll in like something in a Hollywood movie. The system transforms people into the agents of power-sucking dictators by giving them trinkets and pretty words. By making them desperate and then providing the delusion of relief.
    Hate to be such a downer but every aspect of government is wasteful and by the time it’s just so obvious it will be way to late to fix.

  14. WOwSounds like a pretty cool dude to me

  15. my neighbor’s aunt makes 68 dollars/hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for nine months but last month her pay check was 15377 dollars just working on the laptop for a few hours. read the full info here


  16. Along with Binney, there was Wayne Madsen, also an NSA whistle-blower who has often been discredited for merely blowing the whistle on the Alex Jones Show:

    Wayne Madsen should be in the history books along with Snowden and Binney, PERIOD.

  17. Obama is part of a long agenda of crime that stems out of the Chicago mob and slouches toward Bethlehem in the fashion Karen Hudes of the World Bank, another whistle blower, alludes to. There is plenty of evidence, but to begin with, try this, Mike Zullo’s research of someone’s scanned birth certificate. Why does it matter that he is part of the mob? Only you can answer that, but Saul Bellow’s murder after writing More Die of Heartbreak in ’97, where Gus Alex promised him it would happen indicates agenda to me. Good luck finding Rule of Law without Hudes. What about Diana West, too?

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