NSA ‘totalitarian,’ ex-staffer tells German parliament


A former NSA technical chief has told Germany’s parliament that the US agency has become a “totalitarian” mass collector of data. German public broadcasters say the NSA targets individuals who use encryption services.

Former NSA technical head William Binney described the US National Security Agency in Berlin on Thursday as an entity that had abandoned every rule-of-law principle and breached the democratic freedoms of citizens.
Binney was the first American insider to testify to the German Bundestag’s newly formed NSA inquiry committee, which is pursuing three questions, including whether German intelligence services had worked with the NSA.

Testifying, Binney accused the NSA of having a “totalitarian mentality” and wanting “total information control” over citizens in breach of the US constitution. It was an approach that until now the public had only seen among dictators, he added.

Mass collection was “senseless” and did not help in counterterrorism, and actually hindered the agency’s capabilities, Binney said.

The NSA represented the “greatest threat” to American society since the US Civil War of the 19th century, Binney added.

Binney left the NSA as its technical chief in 2001 shortly it began mass scanning in the wake of 9/11 hijack attacks by al Qaeda terrorists on New York and Washington.

Ultimate form of control, says Drake

Another former NSA staffer, Thomas Drake, who left the NSA after trying to use official complaint channels, told the inquiry that almost all data that transited Germany was accessed by the NSA and Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service — or the NSA alone.

The US government was exercising the ultimate form of control, Drake said, adding that the German BND’s silence on the issue was “terrible.”

“The public has a right to know what the NSA does,” he said, according to a quote from the hearing delivered by the German DPA news agency in German.

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