NSA Whistleblower reveals scary details of government's spying ability

Last night, news broke that the federal government has been tapping into the servers of nine major internet companies allowing them to access phone records, e-mail, web chats, photographs and documents. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are all reported to be a part of this program, code-named PRISM. TheBlaze has been covering the troubling surveillance state and reporting the information released by whistleblowers, and today Glenn welcomed crypto-mathematician and 36 year NSA employee William Binney to speak on the issue.

Transcript below:

GLENN: The whistleblowers we have talked to had guns pointed at their heads by our FBI for trying to tell you the truth. Thank goodness people are starting to listen. William Binney is one of them. He is ‑‑ you were with the NSA for 40 years. What was your title at the NSA?

BINNEY: Well, I rose up to be the Technical Director of the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Group which was about 6,000 analysts which, you know, that was basically the intelligence reporting of NSA.

GLENN: Okay. So tell me what, how bad ‑‑ tell the American people who might be listening for the very first time ‑‑ because this is no longer theory now; this is out there ‑‑ tell us exactly the truth and what the White House and the members of congress don't want you to know.

[...]

BINNEY:  I see that the whole program started early in ‑‑ or late, late or mid to late October 2001, and it started by pulling in just a toll record or the phone records from various telephone companies of U.S. citizens making phone calls anywhere in the world or in the United States. So that total accumulation I estimated about 3 billion U.S.‑to‑U.S. phone calls every day. So that was being indexed. So that was building your communities of interest out of that so that who you talk to daily or ‑‑ and how you interact with them was being recorded and could be timelined so you could look at a timeline and see how people interact with others. This included the senators, House Representatives, everybody.

So then in 2003 with Mark Klein's disclosure of the NARIS devices on the fiberoptic lines of the ‑‑ inside the United States of America, that started to say, well, they are spreading around inside this country to somewhere between 10 and 20 sites the capacity to collect e‑mails and any other activity on the Internet and store it, okay? So that gave them that information. This is the intelligence community doing it. You know, you hear all the requests for the FBI to get the information, but that's only because the FBI needs it to get to go into court. And you can't use NSA‑collected data for court because it's not acquired by a warrant. But if the FBI has to request a warrant to get it, then they can take it into court to ‑‑

GLENN: Okay. So why did the president have to go and say, "I want William Rosen's stuff"? Because he intended on prosecuting? Or James Rosen?

BINNEY: I think it's ‑‑ excuse me, Glenn. But I think it's to intimidate reporters for the main part, but also there probably is somebody they're interested in prosecuting that's been, you know, talking to Jim Rosen or to the AP. There's more in there. Maybe they were interested in the stories that the AP was trying to develop. So by getting that kind of data, they could take it into court and show the relationships that would imply, you know, who was leaking information or who was ‑‑ or they couldn't ‑‑ they could assert that as an allegation for an indictment.

PAT: We're talking to NSA whistleblower William Binney. William, what do you say to people who claim, "Well, I don't ‑‑ I don't care if they're collecting information on me. I'm not doing anything wrong anyway. What are they going to do with it?" What do you say to those people who just don't understand what this is all about?

BINNEY: Well, you can only try to point out examples of things that go on that could very well be a part of this. Like, for example, all of the IRS targeting of the TEA Party. I've said early on several years ago that if you wanted to know who was involved in the TEA Party, this kind of activity would lay out their entire structure and the whole ‑‑ everybody who's involved in it, no matter where they are inside the country. And that information then could be passed to the IRS to target people.

PAT: What do you think ‑‑ what do you think the administration is doing with this information now? Are they doing anything nefarious with it? Are ‑‑ I mean, will they turn this against us?

BINNEY: I think they are already doing that.

PAT: Yeah.

BINNEY: But ‑‑ to a certain degree. But certainly that's been my major, my major concern is that that's how ‑‑ that's how totalitarian states begin. Once you have that kind of information about the population, you can now control your population. This has been historically true down through the ages of how these totalitarian states work. I mean, the KGB did it when Russia, the Gestapo did it in Germany and 00

PAT: Yeah, look how much further we can go than the KGB did with the technology available.

GLENN: This is way beyond. There wouldn't be a Jew alive on the planet today if they had this information.

BINNEY: They could never have dreamed of having this kind of capability.

GLENN: Okay. So tell me that ‑‑ because I've heard conflicting reports on this and I would like to get your opinion because I believe I know what is capable. They are saying that, two things: One, oh, no, they're just connecting the dots. They are not ‑‑ they don't have access to any conversations or anything." Then on the other side of that I've heard they can take every keystroke. So in other words, you start writing an e‑mail and you can delete, delete, delete, delete, and they'll have what you wrote and all of the deletes if they care to open those packages. True or false?

BINNEY: That's true. I mean, their statement about we don't have content is an outright lie. I mean, that's been going on ‑‑

PAT: Wow.

BINNEY: ‑‑ the NARIS devices from 2003 give them that data. Even the telcoms. If you looked at that report on Prism, they were requesting information like e‑mails, you know, videos, all kinds. That's all content.

GLENN: So Bill, they have ‑‑ I know this. We started getting on this because we had Michael Chertoff and John Ashcroft on on days when Bush was still in office and neither of them would go online. Neither of them would have a phone or and they just laughed at me. And they were like, if you knew what we could do, you wouldn't have it either. And we started talking about it at that point.

BINNEY: Yeah.

GLENN: And so it won't really stop because how do you dismantle something like this? First of all, for all of those members of the media that were talking about these things via conspiracy theory, what the hell did they build the Utah information vault for? How do you dismantle something like this?

I listened to Lindsey Graham give his testimony and I thought to myself, "Gee, Lindsey, what is it they have on you?"

BINNEY: Yeah.

GLENN: What is it they have on you because this doesn't make any ‑‑ what you're saying is totalitarian in its end.

BINNEY: I agree, Glenn. I mean, it's really disturbing what he's saying. I mean, I couldn't understand why he couldn't stand up for the Constitution.

PAT: Yeah.

GLENN: So how do you end it? So how do you end it? Does it end?

BINNEY: I mean, it's going to take radical action by the people just to vote these idiots out of office.

GLENN: But they ‑‑ again, I go back to what George Bush said to me, you know, "my hands are ‑‑ my hands are tied pretty much, I have no real decisions." Who is going to shut down? It's really not about the elected officials. You know, one thing I thought of was I don't believe for a second John Roberts, because I've read the ‑‑ I've read the ruling. He was on the other side and didn't even have enough chance ‑‑ time to really even rout out all of the things that he was writing. He was on the other side, and he comes in for the ruling and he's blurry eyed and looked like he's been crying all night. I mean, honestly what gives me any kind of confidence that that man wasn't called up by somebody and says, "John, John, John. I don't think you're going to vote that way because of X, Y or Z." I mean ‑‑

PAT: If they are doing this to congress, they are certainly doing it to Supreme Court justices. I mean, that's a possibility, right?

GLENN: Right.

BINNEY: Well, they're all in it. I mean, it's not ‑‑ all their data's being collected. So that's certainly possible.

GLENN: Okay. Bill, I sure appreciate all of the heat that you have taken for so long, and you have been ‑‑ you have been vindicated through this story and I unfortunately ‑‑

BINNEY: Yes, unfortunately.

GLENN: ‑‑ unfortunately know that that is not something that you celebrate.

BINNEY: Yeah.

GLENN: But I thank you, and thank you for all of the help that you have given the country. And I'd like to have you on again maybe next week to talk about encouraging other whistleblowers, in anything that we can do, anything we can do as people to help encourage those who know, who might have a guilty conscience and just have been like, "I don't know what to do" and they feel trapped. How can we help them? So ‑‑

BINNEY: Yeah. Well, certainly there still are people like that because these exposures are coming out.

GLENN: Yeah. And it's amazing, they are coming out even at the time when the administration is doing their damnedest to intimidate and scare them.

BINNEY: Yeah, that's right.

GLENN: It gives me a little bit of hope.

BINNEY: Yeah.

GLENN: Thank you very much, Bill.

BINNEY: Okay, thanks.

GLENN: Appreciate it. One of the chief guys from the NSA, William Binney, and we will talk to him again.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?