Congressional Republicans have demanded the public release of a four-page FISA memo they claim contains explosive information about surveillance directed at the 2016 presidential campaign of US President Donald Trump.
John Kiriakou on Sputnik Radio quoted several House Republicans who had read the four-page classified FISA memo that described government surveillance abuses. Some choice quotes from the representatives include: "I didn't want to believe that these things can happen in my country" and "Is this happening in America, or is this the KGB?"
Kiriakou and co-host Brian Becker of Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear spoke to William Binney, a famous whistleblower who spent 30 years with the National Security Agency (NSA) before leaving the agency over what he has described as its "totalitarian" approach to surveillance that was "better than anything that the KGB, the Stasi, or the Gestapo and SS ever had."
Kiriakou started by asking: if the surveillance abuses detailed in the memo are so severe, why had the media barely reported on them in the past? Is it even a real story?
"This is all very real, in spite of the fact that most people don't know about this because the mainstream media doesn't want to talk about it," Binney began. "But that's because they've been intimidated. If you recall [James] Rosen, the Associated Press and the threats of indictments and grand juries and things like that, that's why mainstream media is so afraid to even talk about this stuff."
Binney refers to the Justice Department's investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen, who had his phone and email tapped by the DOJ under suspicions of conducting foreign espionage. The investigation turned up no wrongdoing on Rosen's part and media outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post criticized the investigation as an attack on press freedom.
"I've provided any number of mainstream media sites with the data from Edward Snowden that shows how the US government is collecting all the data on US citizens — whether or not they use it is up to them. It depends on their motives, whether it's political, in the case of what they did with President Trump and his staff, or economical in the case of what they did with [disgraced New York Governor] Eliot Spitzer, to get rid of him because he was going after the bankers on Wall Street for defrauding people, or in the case of the Tea Party where they didn't want people to get active."
"This is how they use this collection of data on everybody in the country as well as around the world. They have it stored, so if you become an irritant in any way, or pose a threat to any position the government has, they have all this data to go in and investigate anything they want about you," Binney said.
"This is only the tip of the iceberg."
Binney expressed grim satisfaction that Congress was reacting to these abuses. "A bit too late, though," he remarked. "It's only been going on for 16 years. This is nothing new, they've known about it from Edward Snowden, they know about it from any number of whistleblowers they have just ignored it because they didn't want to deal with it. I just call this too late, too little. They put thousands of people in jail with this program, according to [California Democratic Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and they've not gone through due process."
"In the case of Amnesty International v. Clapper, the solicitor general lied to the Supreme Court about that issue to get it thrown out. When the Supreme Court found out about it, they never did anything. Obviously the NSA's got data, this gives them some leverage against the members of the Supreme Court. They have data on everybody, so if they want to leverage them, they can."
"I would also point out that all the laws that Congress has been passing regarding surveillance of US citizens are in violation of the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the Constitution," Binney said. "Therefore, they're not laws. The Constitution is the ultimate law, and if your laws don't conform to it, they're not laws."