Even Powerful Senator Can’t Get U.S. Intelligence Agencies to Tell Him Whether They’re Spying On Him … Or Whether Spying Could Be Used to Blackmail Him

Agencies Have Gone Rogue … With No Oversight

A powerful Senator – a member of the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, the Subcommittee on Defense of the Appropriations Committee, and Formerly on the Select Committee On Intelligence (Lindsey Graham) – asked the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

  • If the government was spying on him when he was speaking with foreigners
  • Whether his identity had been “unmasked”
  • And whether this information could be used for blackmail by politicians who don’t like him

The counsel for the intelligence agency refused to respond:

What should we make of that?

Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower of all time – Bill Binney* – what he thought.

Binney responded:

They won’t tell him because his communications with foreigners and domestically [background] are being collected and probably targeted. That’s why they don’t ever want to tell senators or representatives or the president or federal judges etc. their communications are collected and scanned.

Further, they won’t tell them how many US citizens are in their databases … again because it’s about 280 million by my estimates.

All of these acts are crimes against the constitution and laws of the US which should put them in jail. (see attached)

These letters are a direct violation of the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978. But, who cares, the intelligence community runs the US government anyway.

The two letters Binney sent to us are attached at the end of this post. The first letter – to NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – says that he can’t talk to anyone in Congress about what’s really going on.

The second letter – to Senators Wyden and Udall, both on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – says that the NSA can’t reveal how many Americans it has spied on because that would “likely impede NSA’s mission” and “would itself violate the privacy of US persons.”

Binney continued:

[The NSA’s letter to Russ Tice] shows the arrogance of the intelligence community that they can, in writing, say that the congress is not cleared to know about intelligence programs.

By law, they are required to keep the Congress informed of all their programs – for Covert programs that requirement is to the Gang of 8.

The Washington Times explained in 2006:

Renee Seymour, director of NSA special access programs stated in a Jan. 9 letter to Russ Tice that he should not testify about secret electronic intelligence programs because members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees do not have the proper security clearances for the secret intelligence.

(And see this.)

Binney previously pointed out how absurd this is:

Russ Tice … was prepared to testify to Congress to this, too, and so NSA sent him a letter saying, we agree that you have a right to go to Congress to testify, but we have to advise you that the intelligence committees that you want to testify to are not cleared for the programs you want to speak about. Now, that fundamentally is an open admission … by NSA that they are violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they’re running so they can have effective oversight, which they’ve never had anyway.

In case you think this is a one-off, remember that the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in 2007:

Do you think that because I’m Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they [the intelligence agencies] give it to me? They control it. All of it. ALL of it. ALL THE TIME. I only get – and my committee only gets – what they WANT to give me.

Remember that the NSA was created in secret … and Congress wasn’t even notified.

During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on two prominent politicians: Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker.  Church was the chairman of the committee investigating wrongdoing by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

To this day, Congress members get more information about NSA spying from reading the newspaper than they get in classified NSA briefings.

Congressman Justin Amash said that the NSA would only divulge information in classified briefings if Congress guessed at the right questions:

Amash said that intelligence officials are often evasive during classified briefings and reveal little new information unless directly pressed.

“You don’t have any idea what kind of things are going on,” Amash said. “So you have to start just spitting off random questions. Does the government have a moon base? Does the government have a talking bear? Does the government have a cyborg army? If you don’t know what kind of things the government might have, you just have to guess and it becomes a totally ridiculous game of twenty questions.

A senior staffer for the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – one of the biggest apologists for NSA spying- confirms Amash’s statement:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in August that the committee has less information about, and conducts less oversight of, intelligence-gathering that relies solely on presidential authority. She said she planned to ask for more briefings on those programs.

“In general, the committee is far less aware of operations conducted under 12333,” said a senior committee staff member, referring to Executive Order 12333, which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies. “I believe the NSA would answer questions if we asked them, and if we knew to ask them, but it would not routinely report these things, and in general they would not fall within the focus of the committee.”

And the courts don’t have any oversight over the intelligence agencies either:

  • When these judges raised concerns about NSA spying, the Justice Department completely ignored them
  • The secret spying court recently noted that there is an institutional “lack of candor” at the NSA, and that the agency’s illegal spying constitutes a “very serious” constitutional issue

In other words, the intelligence agencies are rogue.


But what about Senator Graham’s question about whether someone who didn’t like him could blackmail him with information gained through spying?

Intelligence agency insiders says that blackmail is a huge part of why the intelligence agencies are really spying on us. And see this.

Postscript:  Here are the letters Binney sent to us:

*Binney is the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”).

Binney is the real McCoy. As we noted in 2013, Binney has been interviewed by virtually all of the mainstream media, including CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, PBS and many others.

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  • Zartan

    Anyone who trusts the US government is a Fool.

    First, NSA is never going to approach you and say, ” Oh, excuse me, Sir/Mam your online meanderings are HERE, HERE and HERE! No … They will simply go to a third party vendor, leak the information, and you will never know what hit you. The possibilities are endless, from being denied clearences ( JOBS) to outright persecution!

    Wake up and Smell the Coffee, America!

    Constitution forbids US government spying on Citizens for a Reason. Do not try and over think the matter, America, because “thinking” is not your forte! Oh, and it is because Of YOU, America, that people like myself “who know better,” have to suffer for your ignorance, so expect me to be Furious!

    I knew about the “spying programs” back pre-99, so, dear GOD, what is taking the rest of you SO LONG?

    • ClubToTheHead

      Please do not disturb.

      Dreamers are dreaming the American Dream.

      • Zartan

        The Ignorant will pay the price for their ignorance in Spades! Soon, there will be War and it will cost everyone, Dearly. The American Dream Died 50-years ago, if it ever existed at all, and I am beyond Fury with the people … I am Furious with the GOD who Created such Perversion!

    • Silverado

      Ah…too many I-Phones??

      • Zartan

        Too many fools.

      • Zartan

        Too many fools.

  • andrew1212

    No surprise for me–considering the CIA and FBI asked NSA to spy on Sen. Frank Church back in the 1970’s…this info only coming out in 2014.

    To clarify: Sen. Frank Church was spied upon by FBI/CIA/NSA while attempting to provide oversight of the intelligence agencies (by law, Congress has this oversight duty).


  • jadan

    Whenever I hear some politician talking about our “democracy”, I sink a little deeper into political despair. Our electoral system is manipulated, but not by the Russians. And when some idiot Republican is elected against all odds, he is a target of blackmail should he fail to obey orders. Political blackmail has been in play for years now. Congress has no backbone. For this reason a lunatic like Trump can pose as the strong leader and people will believe him. Sad. My question to you George, is why don’t you take on the voting system? Congress could work, but not when the voting apparatus is fraudulent, and no journalist will touch the issue….

    • Washington’s Blog
      • jadan

        Around election time, fraud gets mentioned, but the fraud quickly becomes fact and pubic attention is directed onward..Security of the state is built on election results. Nobody wants to rock the boat. Seems only Trump is still talking about fraud, which is hugely ironic since that’s what put him in office. Jill Stein didn’t get too far in her courageous attempt to audit the results. The election is over and the media run away from the issue because they are owned by the deep pockets that buy election results. I don’t expect G. Washington to change the world single handedly but if we’re going to look at the “deep state”, AKA the intelligence agencies’ surveillance based political control, we need to look at old fashioned election fraud at the same time because the only defense we have against the national security state is honest vote counts. We don’t have that. We don’t have democracy. Even if we hog tie the NSA, we still won’t have democracy.

  • artguerrilla

    here is a general principle of life on planet earth :
    ALL secret institutions WILL become corrupted; ALL WILL be corrupted…
    I don’t care if it is the local PTA, library steering committee, boy scouts, PETA, chamber of commerce, boards of directors, etc; or dept of defense, congress, the sea eye ehh, enn ess ehh, or any of the other alphabet spooks; ALL secret institutions WILL become corrupted, PER.I.OD…
    if there is no EFFECTIVE transparency, oversight, and outside control/influence, then that institution WILL become corrupted; simply a matter of how long it takes the sociopaths, opportunists, and greedtards to maneuver the institution to their liking… inevitable when there is no outside scrutiny and ‘checks and balances’ to recognize and reign in inappropriate-to-illegal actions…

  • Silverado

    Tell you what….why don’t we just arrest and jail the top leadership of the NSA and these rogue intelligence agencies declaring them to be enemies of America and start over with Trump’s people now in charge?? It couldn’t possibly be any worse especially for those concerned about freedom and liberty. This is one problem that we CAN arrest our way out of beginning with these creatures from Fort Meade and the boys & girls from Washington DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood. No guts, no glory. It’s time.

    • Zartan

      How do you intend to do that, because they will arrest ( or KILL) YOU?

      Now, if you get enough people together ( 100,000 -1-Million) You take down NYSE and “Short the Exchanges” to ZERO, then, You put forth your demand ( or else, they lose everything) and they will give you the HEADS of the Traitors on a Silver Platter!

      • Eileen

        It will take more than a million people shorting to bring the markets down. Just Goldman-Sachs alone has a daily loss limit of billions before they stop trading. They, along with the Federal Reserve can take losses longer than those millions can stay solvent.

        • Zartan

          Rubbish. You forget the Quad-Trillion in bad, Unstable Derivatives, Investments and just Plain Criminality involved. Once the Chaos startes … GAME OVER. Have you ever seen Tens-of-Trillions leave the market in ONE HOUR?
          Put 1-million protesters on the NYSE and the Media will do the Rest. The Fed is “powerless” to do anything about Political Unrest and the Markets will DIVE into the ABYSS. FED or NO FED.

          Think, before you post.

          The US government will be downgraded for Political Instibility, than let it try and pay its debt.

          The Millions ( people) are already insolvent! Credit is not Gain. They have nothing to lose. Matter of Fact, none of you Have “anything,” except debt, so, statistically, none of you have anything to lose.

          Now, if you are afraid, they make a Pill for that so see your doctor.

          Like being a Slave … Well, I have a Job for You?

        • Zartan

          Perhaps, you do not understand how the term “short” is being used?

    • This conversation will give you insight. Dec 18, 2015 Donald Trump Is The Establishment Candidate

      While his rise in the polls is attributed to his challenging the establishment and the political status quo, let’s look at the many ways Donald Trump, when it comes to his political positions, represents that very same status quo. From the Fed, to war, to civil liberties, the “anti-establishment”? Trump takes no positions not already endorsed by the establishment.


  • ICFubar

    The spooks will let the Senator know what the want from him when they want it. In the meantime he can just cool his heels and contemplate what ‘dirty pictures’ or what not they have on him

  • January 10, 2014 *500* Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent *It’s Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys*

    No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they’re doing it.


    Jun 7, 2013 William Binney – The Government is Profiling You