NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — The government knows who you’re calling.
Every day. Every call.
Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.
“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one,” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”
Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.
British newspaper The Guardian late Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.
Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on 3 billion calls per day.
“These are routine orders,” said Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower. “What’s new is we’re seeing an actual order, and people are surprised by it.”
“We’ve been saying this for years from the wilderness,” Drake told Democracy Now. “But it’s like, hey, everybody went to sleep while the government is collecting all these records.”
Drake started working for the NSA in 2001 and blew the whistle on what he saw as a wasteful and invasive program at the agency. He was later prosecuted for keeping classified information. Most of the charges were dropped before trial, and he was sentenced to one year of probation and community service.