The IRS may have utilized surveillance data collected by the National Security Agency to harass political opponents of the Obama administration, including the tea party, charged NSA whistleblower William Binney in a radio interview.
After working in the intelligence community for more than 30 years, Binney retired from the NSA in 2001. He co-founded a unit on automating NSA signals intelligence and served as technical leader for NSA intelligence in 2001. Binney is credited with helping to modernize the NSA’s worldwide eavesdropping network.
Asked on Aaron Klein’s WABC radio show Sunday whether he believes data collected on millions of Americans was used by the government against political enemies, Binney replied in the affirmative.
“That’s exactly the danger about letting the government have all this kind of information about its citizens,” the ex-NSA official stated.
“For example, one of the [tea party] people testifying to Congress that was being harassed by the IRS said that the IRS, one of the questions the IRS asked them was what relationship do you have with this other person, and they gave a name. The real question that needs to be asked is how does the IRS know about that relationship?”
Binney was referring to testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this month in which tea party activists said they were confronted with questionnaires about their donors and affiliations.
Continued Binney: “The point is if you take in all this metadata … you can figure out who is in the tea party and who is central to the tea party and then if somebody is applying for a tax-free or tax-exempt status, you can check against your list of the tea party and say you should or should not harass them based on that if they match. So, I mean, that’s the hazard of it.
“The real question is, the IRS needs to answer, is how do you know about that relationship? I mean, that’s the key question because that then will tell you about whether or not the government internally is using that, or someone in the government.”
Binney explained how government officials and outside contractors can access private data on citizens.
“See that’s the real problem. You not only have to trust the government to do the right thing. You got to trust all the people working in the government to do the right thing. And then all the contractors that they hired to manage the system, you have to trust them, too.”
Binney also responded to a claim from US intelligence agencies that they only checked the metadata of under 300 telephone accounts in 2012.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that they have on the order of, you know, 10,000 people looking at three hundred phone calls,” he stated.
Binney became a vocal critic of the NSA after his retirement. He has estimated the NSA has intercepted 20 trillion communications “transactions” of Americans, including emails, phone calls and financial data. He has claimed the NSA is “purposefully violating the Constitution.”
His home was raided in 2007 as part of a leak investigation in which he was eventually cleared. Binney had been accused of serving as a source for a 2005 New York Times article exposing the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping program. His NSA security clearances reportedly have been revoked.
Listen to Part I of the interview: