It troubles me believe that Americans (as represented by the NRA) are so naive or so stupid, that they fail to see that the problem is the ownership of guns, and especially those in the hands of mentally unstable young males.
The NRA response is typical of the introspective, red neck attitudes of those it seeks to represent.
Just where are the hundreds of thousands of schools in the US going to find enough intelligent, suitably qualified armed security guards to patrol and protect their schools?
More guns is not the solution! No guns is.
America; take a look a gun crime levels in countries where gun ownership is limited or restricted. Need I say more?
REPEAL THE 2ND AMENDMENT as it is longer valid, and I’m sure the founding fathers did not have the killing of American children in mind when it was drafted! Further inaction in gun control will only serve to belittle America in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The death of 20 innocent children and 6 adults in an elementary school in Connecticut, again demonstrates the absurdity of access to, and possession of firearms, especially high powered military style assault rifles by citizens of the US.
How many more innocent kindergarten and primary (elementary) school children will have to die unneceassrily before America re-examines the “right to bear arms”. Ask any US citizen about gun ownership, and they will remind you that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the 2nd amendment to their constitution. One needs to remember that this document was enacted in 1787, when the United States was emerging from the War of Independance with the British. The United States was very much a different place then than it is today, often lawless and fontier like. There was no army at the time, therefore “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It could therefore be argued that now a large, well trained and technically superior army is in place in the US, the 2nd Amendment is no longer valid. Gun control in the US is often a piecemeal affair which often means minimal or no control. I suspect the ‘founding fathers’ didn’t have the needless killing of children in mind when the Constitution was written.
America, I suspect, is in a no-win situation. Americans remain deeply mistrusting of their government, public administrators, their neighbours and minorities (both racial and religious). It never ceases to amaze me how they think that the solution to that fear and paranoia is the ownership of guns, when the real solution is the removal of those guns (and thus the associated crime) from their society. However should gun ownership be “outlawed” tomorrow, the chance of actually disarming America would be nigh on impossible, because of the sheer number of guns in public hands, and the reluctance to hand them in.
American paranoia knows no bounds.
In the meantime, 20 families will mourn the tragic loss of a young life, senselessly cut down by a gun toting “crazy”. I am saddened by this tragic occurrence, the loss of a child’s life is something that should not, and need not occur.
But what saddens me, nay, angers me further; is a realisation of the fact that nothing will change. Platitudes will be made to the grieving parents by politicians, administrators, psycologists and the like, but in the end the root cause (gun ownership), will be ignored.
To the parents of those children so tragically killed, I offer my deepest and sincerest condolences.
There’s nothing more I can add, as Andrew has so eloquently put his thoughts. As a fellow emergency service officer, I believe that one has their duty to do, and a real expectation that you will go home at the end of your shift. Rest In Peace.
The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney.
Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called ‘Naris.’This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.
RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama, one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?
William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.
RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…
WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.
RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?
RT: Then what about Google, you know, releasing this biannual transparency report and saying that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high and for all of those requesting the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time. But they are still saying that they are making the request, it’s not like it’s all being funneled into that storage. What do you say to that?
WB: I would assume that it’s just simply another source for the same data they are already collecting. My line is in declarations in a court about the 18-T facility in San Francisco, that documented the NSA room inside that AST&T facility, where they had Naris devices to collect data off the fiber optic lines inside the United States. So, that’s kind of a powerful device, that would collect everything it was being sent. It could collect on the order over of 100 billion 1,000-character emails a day. One device.
RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it?
WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.
RT: Were you on the target list?
WB: Oh, sure! I believe I’ve been on it for quite a few years. So I keep telling them everything I think of them in my email. So that when they want to read it they’ll understand what I think of them.
RT: Do you think we all should leave messages for the NSA mail box?
RT: You blew the whistle on the agency when George W. Bush was the president. With President Obama in office, in your opinion, has anything changed at the agency, in the surveillance program? In what direction is this administration moving?
WB: The change is it’s getting worse. They are doing more. He is supporting the building of the Bluffdale facility, which is over two billion dollars they are spending on storage room for data. That means that they are collecting a lot more now and need more storage for it. That facility by my calculations that I submitted to the court for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against NSA would hold on the order of 5 zettabytes of data. Just that current storage capacity is being advertised on the web that you can buy. And that’s not talking about what they have in the near future.
RT: What are they going to do with all of that? Ok, they are storing something. Why should anybody be concerned?
WB: If you ever get on the enemies list, like Petraeus did or… for whatever reason, than you can be drained into that surveillance.
RT: Do you think they would… General Petraeus, who was idolized by the same administration? Or General Allen?
WB: There are certainly some questions, that have to be asked, like why would they target it to begin with? What law were they breaking?
RT: In case of General Petraeus one would argue that there could have been security breaches. Something like that. But with General Allen – I don’t quite understand, because when they were looking into his private emails to this woman.
WB: That’s the whole point. I am not sure what the internal politics is… That’s part of the program. This government doesn’t want things in the public. It’s not a transparent government. Whatever the reason or the motivation was, I don’t really know, but I certainly think that there was something going on in the background that made them target those fellows. Otherwise why would they be doing it? There is no crime there.
RT: It seems that the public is divided between those, who think that the government surveillance program violates their civil liberties, and those who say, ‘I’ve nothing to hide. So, why should I care?’ What do you say to those who think that it shouldnt concern them.
WB: The problem is if they think they are not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does, the central government defines what is right and wrong and whether or not they target you. So, it’s not up to the individuals. Even if they think they aren’t doing something wrong, if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target.
RT: Tell me about the most outrageous thing that you came across during your work at the NSA.
WB: The violations of the constitution and any number of laws that existed at the time. That was the part that I could not be associated with. That’s why I left. They were building social networks on who is communicating and with whom inside this country. So that the entire social network of everybody, of every US citizen was being compiled overtime. So, they are taking from one company alone roughly 320 million records a day. That’s probably accumulated probably close to 20 trillion over the years.The original program that we put together to handle this to be able to identify terrorists anywhere in the world and alert anyone that they were in jeopardy. We would have been able to do that by encrypting everybody’s communications except those who were targets. So, in essence you would protect their identities and the information about them until you could develop probable cause, and once you showed your probable cause, then you could do a decrypt and target them. And we could do that and isolate those people all alone. It wasn’t a problem at all. There was no difficulty in that.
RT: It sounds very difficult and very complicated. Easier to take everything in and…
WB: No. It’s easier to use the graphing techniques, if you will, for the relationships for the world to filter out data, so that you don’t have to handle all that data. And it doesn’t burden you with a lot more information to look at, than you really need to solve the problem.
RT: Do you think that the agency doesn’t have the filters now?
RT: You have received the Callaway award for civic courage. Congratulations! On the website and in the press release it says: “It is awarded to those, who stand out for constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.” Under the code of spy ethics – I don’t know if there is such a thing – your former colleagues, they probably look upon you as a traitor. How do you look back at them?
WB: That’s pretty easy. They are violating the foundation of this entire country. Why this entire government was formed? It’s founded with the Constitution and the rights were given to the people in the country under that Constitution. They are in violation of that. And under executive order 13526, section 1.7 – you can not classify information to just cover up a crime, which this is, and that was signed by President Obama. Also President Bush signed it earlier as an executive order, a very similar one. If any of this comes into Supreme Court and they rule it unconstitutional, then the entire house of cards of the government falls.
RT: What are the chances of that? What are the odds?
WB: The government is doing the best they can to try to keep it out of court. And, of course, we are trying to do the best we can to get into court. So, we decided it deserves a ruling from the Supreme Court. Ultimately, the court is supposed to protect the Constitution. All these people in the government take an oath to defend the Constitution. And they are not living up to the oath of office.
I guess my concern in addition to the above is if the FBI is collecting and storing the emails of US citizens, then it is a mere progression to suspect (strongly) that FBI is also storing the emails of those from without who correspond with those US citizens.
Nobody the world is safe from the paranoia of the United States.
I have noticed over the last number of years the narrowing similarity between the former Soviet Union (and the KGB) and the United Sates in terms of the “surveillance state”.