NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney wins Sam Adams Award

By EDRi · January 28, 2015

Former technical director of the NSA turned whistleblower William “Bill” Binney, received the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence on 22 January in a ceremony organised in Berlin, Germany. Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a movement of former colleagues of a CIA intelligence analyst Sam Adams. SAAII grants its annual award to a member of the intelligence community or related professions who has taken a strong stand integrity and ethics, no matter the consequences.

Binney is an intelligence agency veteran who made a career of over three decades in the NSA. In 2001 he resigned and became a whistleblower, after having discovered that programmes he had developed were being used for mass surveillance of American citizens and that the NSA was “purposefully violating the Constitution”. Since then he has spoken publicly about the problem, arguing that intelligence services should focus on targeting terrorist and criminal organisations, not on spying their own citizens. Binney has also served as a witness in a number of lawsuits challenging the legality of mass surveillance and shared his experience with surveillance systems.

During a speech in the awards ceremony, Binney referred to the Current director of National Intelligence General James Clapper’s order forbidding any current or former employees of the NSA from talking about any of the material released by Snowden, stating that

“these people are cowards. They are afraid of the truth.”

He criticised the NSA’s practices, comparing them to the Soviet time surveillance measures: “That’s what the Stasi did, the KGB did it – every totalitarian state down through history did that.”

“Without Bill Binney, there would be no Edward Snowden,”

said Edward Snowden, who congratulated Binney via a video call from Moscow. Snowden won the Sam Adams Award in 2013. Also the winner of the Sam Adams Award in 2011, former NSA senior executive Thomas Drake, joined the event, and spoke about the “horror of mass surveillance” and how the US government decided to “unchain itself from the rule of law”. “I never imagined the model of the Stasi, which was to know everything, would turn into the collect-it-all digital dragnet,” he said.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

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