Bill Binney resigned from the NSA in October 2001, after 30 years with the agency where he was viewed as one of their best analysts: he quit because he believed that Bush-appointed leaders in the Agency had chosen to respond to the challenge of electronic communications by building out illegal, indiscriminate mass-surveillance programs that left the country vulnerable to terrorists while diverting billions to private contractors with political connections.
After his resignation, Binney and his fellow whistleblowers faced retaliation from the NSA, as the agency prevented him from getting work as a private intelligence contractor and eventually staged a guns-drawn dawn raid on his home.
Binney has been a sharp, articulate, deeply knowledgeable critic of mass electronic surveillance ever since, refusing to be intimidated by the NSA despite the risks to himself.
In "A Good American," a new documentary that goes into widespread release today, director Freidrich Moser tells Binney's story from his early days as an intelligence analyst during the Vietnam War to his service as a codebreaker during the Cold War to his visionary program for conducting electronic surveillance with an emphasis on privacy and the rule of law. Binney and his fellow whistleblowers tell the story of how General Michael Hayden, then head of the NSA, sidelined their proposals in favor of a multibillion-dollar boondoggle called Trailblazer, which collapsed without ever shipping -- and how Hayden and his team refused to allow NSA analysts to work in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, literally locking them out of the building while they plotted ways to shift the blame for intelligence failures and use the attacks to build private, well-funded permanent civil service empires.
Oliver Stone called it a "prequel to Snowden," and that's true in more ways than one. Snowden cited the persecution of Binney as part of his rationale for taking his concerns to the press, rather than NSA channels.
Moser's documentary is riveting, enraging, and beautifully crafted, and it tells an important story. You can watch it today.
A Good American
Last night’s sold-out Walkaway tour event with Laurie Penny at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road was spectacular (and not just because they had some really good whisky behind the bar), and the action continues today with a conversation with Olivia Sudjic tonight at Pages of Hackney, where we’ll be discussing her novel Sympathy as well as […]
The following is an excerpt from my new book, The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir, now available from Lethe Press. The book chronicles the before-and-after of using Truvada PrEP, a recent breakthrough in HIV prevention that has prompted a new sexual revolution–except that most individuals have no idea it exists. Through sex positivity, explicit openness, and fun, I hope to make many more people aware that PrEP is an option for them in not just preventing HIV but having a better, braver sex life.
For years, Anita Sarkeesian and her crew at Feminist Frequency (previously) have been striking terror into the hearts of reactionary assholes by saying calm, smart, funny, sensible and insightful things about how video games reveal our social attitudes.
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]
Loot Crate is a subscription service that delivers a box of curated pop culture goods to your doorstep. To sample their geeky wares, you can order a single mystery box exclusively from the Boing Boing Store.Each month Loot Crate sends you 6-7 unique items and apparel, including collectibles, books, and t-shirts. Pulling inspiration from all […]
Yes, yes there is. The ultraportable Twisty Glass Mini boasts all of the simplicity of its forebear, while fitting just a little bit better in your pocket.The Mini is perfect for casual smokers, and anyone who doesn’t have the patience or fine motor skill for rolling papers. This piece keeps the convenient design of its older […]