In another astounding revelation about the extent of United States’ global surveillance operations, the Washington Post recently published a piece about a Swiss company that was actually owned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and West Germany’s intelligence agency. Crypto AG provided encryption services to over a hundred governments worldwide for decades without their knowledge that the CIA had access to the encryption tools and could therefore read high-level internal governmental correspondence from countries such as France, Egypt and many others.
On this week’s edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer speaks with William Binney, a leading intelligence expert who worked at the National Security Agency for 30 years, about this shocking information that is only being made public roughly two years after the program ended in 2018. In the exchange, Scheer highlights why the revelation is not only incredibly worrying in terms of the power it allowed the U.S. to yield for decades, but because of the historical implications it has.
“What it means, as I understand it, is that people high up in the U.S. government, right up through the president, would have known of every assassination attempt, every terrorist attempt, every torture, everything done in any of these other societies--as I say, be it Saudi Arabia, be it Egypt, be it Venezuela, be it Guatemala,” says an outraged Scheer.
“We had knowledge of what they were doing, what they were plotting,” he goes on, “aren't we complicit in actually learning about what they're doing---that they're going to kill somebody or torture them---and not intervening, or deciding to ignore it?”
“I certainly would agree with that, what you're saying there,” responds the intelligence expert. “They hold some responsibility for not taking action to stop events, yeah.”
When Scheer asks Binney to explain what’s at the foundation of the Crypto AG operation, the former NSA agent’s reply bluntly gets to the heart of the matter.
“It's a standard operation to try to get other people to buy the crypto systems that you've built,” Binney says, “because that means you fundamentally own them.”
This form of “ownership” is one NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to the global public with his leaks about the extent of American surveillance on its own people, as well as on our ally leaders, such as Angela Merkel. To Binney, whose long career in U.S. intelligence provides him with unique insight into American surveillance operations, the story points to a larger issue with the way the U.S. views itself.
“[This idea America has about itself] comes from cowboy movies,” says Binney. “We were the guys that wore the white hats. We're always right, and everybody else is wrong, and we're doing right and they're doing wrong.”
Listen to the full discussion between Binney and Scheer, as they touch upon issues of privacy, diplomacy, American innocence and the valiant efforts of Snowden to unveil America’s massive surveillance apparatus to the world.