New Yorker Sheds New Light on NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping and Data Mining
New details about the NSA’s post–Sept. 11 domestic surveillance programs have emerged in a stunning New Yorker article about NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who faces trial next month for allegedly leaking information about waste and mismanagement at the agency.
The article provides new insight into the warrantless surveillance program exposed by The New York Times in December 2005, including how top officials at the intelligence agency viewed the program. Former NSA Director Michael Hayden, in 2002, reportedly urged a congressional staffer who was concerned about the legality of the program to keep quiet about it, telling her that she could “yell and scream” about the program once the inevitable leaks about it occurred.
Asked why the NSA didn’t employ privacy protections in its program, Hayden reportedly told the staffer, “We didn’t need them. We had the power,” and admitted the government was not getting warrants for the domestic surveillance.
The New Yorker also spoke with a former head of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, or SARC, who invented software codenamed ThinThread that is believed to have been adapted by the NSA for the warrantless surveillance. The program had privacy protections built into it, but the official says he believes the NSA rejiggered the program to remove those protections, so that it could collect data on everyone, including people in the United States.