Although people around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the United States’ global geography of surveillance, covert action, and other secret programs, much of this landscape is invisible in our everyday lives.
The drone war, for example, seems to happen “somewhere else” while surveillance programs take place among the (largely) invisible infrastructures and digital protocols of the internet and other communications networks. Moreover, the state agencies responsible for secret programs strive to make them as invisible as possible. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen discusses his work attempting to “see” the various aspects of the secret state. In examples ranging from tracking spy satellites to foraging through the bureaucratic refuse of CIA front companies, Paglen will discuss methods used to identify and exploit structural contradictions in classified programs which render them visible, and comment on the aesthetics and politics of attempting to “see” secrecy.
A 36-year veteran of America’s Intelligence Community, William Binney resigned from his position as Director for Global Communications Intelligence (COMINT) at the National Security Agency (NSA) and blew the whistle, after discovering that his efforts to protect the privacy and security of Americans were being undermined by those above him in the chain of command.
The NSA data-monitoring program which Binney and his team had developed — codenamed ThinThread — was being aimed not at foreign targets as intended, but at Americans (codenamed as Stellar Wind), was destroying privacy here and around the world. Binney voices his call to action for the billions of individuals whose rights are currently being violated.
William Binney speaks out in this feature-length interview with Tragedy and Hope’s Richard Grove, focused on the topic of the ever-growing Surveillance State in America.
Good video from Bruce Schneier. A few choice excerpts follow:
Follow that guy last month. The death of ephemeral conversation. Systems that never forget (9:40) …a public-private-surveillance partnership (9:58) … We have built systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Surveillance is the business model of the internet (10:13)
This is truely the golden age of surveillance. Because everything we do is surveillable (11:37)
Metadata equals surveillance (12:09). Okay, there’s sort of an easy thought experiment: imagine you’d hire a private detective to eavesdrop on somebody. That detective will put a bug in his car, his home, his office; and you’d get a report of the conversations he had. If you ask that same detective to put someone under surveillance you’d get a different report: where he went, who he spoke to, what he read, what he purchased, what he looked at – right, that’s all metadata. Fundamentally metadata equals surveillance data. (12:40)
We have built an insecure internet for everyone. We basically enabled the Panopticon, and all the losses of freedom and liberty and individuality that come with that. (16:47)
From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
Also, be sure to read and bookmark this indispensable “Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying“ over at EFF as well.