One of the architects of the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping technology told a radio host today the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, has “direct access” to the NSA’s domestic spying data and was likely using it to target the tea party.
NSA whistleblower William Binney was being interviewed on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s 970 AM The Answer when he disclosed the startling revelation.
“For example,” Binney said in response to a question on how the NSA can use data and metadata to identify potential threats, “if you started to communicate with people involved in the tea party … and [the NSA] saw you were talking to somebody who was involved in setting up 501(c)3s, then they could alert the IRS to target you if you came in with a request.”
“Do you think the NSA actually did that?” Klein asked his guest. “Do you think the IRS partnered with the NSA potentially, to target the tea party?”
“I already know they have access to it,” Binney responded. “One of the answers that came from some of the testimony in Congress by people who are being asked those questions kind of implied that that’s exactly what they were doing.”
A 30-year veteran of the intelligence community before retiring from the NSA in 2001, Binney co-founded a unit on automating NSA signals intelligence and served as technical leader for NSA intelligence before his retirement. Binney is credited with helping to modernize the NSA’s worldwide eavesdropping network.
Binney’s implications would link two of the Obama administration’s biggest scandals into one: revelations that the NSA has been partnering with Internet and communications companies to collect massive amounts of undisclosed, private information on American citizens without a warrant and allegations the IRS was intentionally and for political reasons delaying non-profit status for tea-party-affiliated organizations.
Binney further elaborated on how the IRS can gain access and use the NSA data.
“First of all, the IRS has membership on the special operations division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and that was specifically set up to look into the NSA data to find criminal activity,” Binney said. “See, that’s the major point: It’s not NSA that’s using the data; it’s law enforcement. … They share the results with state and local law enforcement to arrest people, and they also use it in court to convict people.”
Since NSA domestic spying information isn’t admissible in court, however, as Binney explained, law enforcement agencies merely use the NSA data as a tip-off to then re-collect the same, convicting information through legally admissible methods.
Binney labeled the practice “contrary to the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires probable cause for search warrants, as well as a violation of First Amendment free speech rights and Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
Nonetheless, Binney said, “The IRS has direct access to all that data. It goes not only into the content data, but also into the metadata that shows all the relationships being built – so if you want to know who was in the tea party, they have access to all of that.”
Listen to Klein’s interview with Binney below: