18:27 GMT +315 November 2019
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    ‘Next Level’ Surveillance: NSA Spy Centers in Japan Exposed

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    Government whistleblower Edward Snowden recently revealed that the US has greatly expanded its global surveillance network by operating three National Security Agency offices out of Japan.

    Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear sat down with NSA whistleblower Bill Binney to talk about the implications this development has on the privacy of people both inside and outside the US.

    ​According to Snowden, the centers were constructed using Japanese funds to the tune of half a billion dollars, and Binney said that Tokyo likely received technical support, equipment and training in exchange for their investment.

    The NSA has noted the growing importance of its partnership with Japan, saying that Washington is prepared to take its relationship with Tokyo “"o the next level as an intelligence partner," according to agency documents. 

    This could appear strange, given Washington and Tokyo’s tumultuous history, but Binney said the development is part of a naturally occurring change in the US’ relations with other countries.

    "It’s a natural evolution of things; like in Germany, they’ve evolved over decades to become closer partners with the United States, the NATO alliance for Germany, the East Asia treaties for Japan and so on. It’s just a natural process for countries over time they get closer and closer and cooperate more and more," he explained.

    Loud and Clear host Brian Becker noted that there was "full scale surveillance" of activist groups at the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, as the events were considered national security threats. Becker asked Binney if he thought this was unusual.

    Binney replied, "No I think that’s pretty standard.  If you’re not picked up by the bulk acquisition under the Patriot Act you were picked up by the Upstream programs that monitor communications in the United States, so I don’t think there’s anything new, it’s just a continuation of their violation of the constitution." 

    The host added that although this mass surveillance took place under then-President George W. Bush, it was a bipartisan effort, as much of it was directed under a secret order by former President Bill Clinton in 1998.

    "They can pretty much do what they want to do, which is what they’ve been doing, they call it ‘incidental collection,’ but really what it is is bulk acquisition of everything on the fiber networks inside the United States and everything that isn’t a terrorist or a dope smuggler or a known criminal is ‘incidental,’ which is everything," he said. "So that simply means any time they want to look at, they’ve got all the data on them anytime they want."

    Becker asked whether Binney conceived of such extensive spying on US citizens when he began his tenure with the NSA decades ago.

    Binney said that, to the contrary, he and his colleagues received annual trainings instructing them to only collect data on a citizen if they had a warrant or if the person was in direct contact with a criminal element, dropping it if nothing materialized in 72 hours.

    "I really never expected that we would violate the constitution the way we did," he replied. "But after 9/11 that occurred, it was just absolutely strange that they would adopt that, given all the training that had been drilling into us over the decades."

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    Tags:
    Surveillance, mass surveillance, National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, Japan, United States
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