"I think the president is absolutely right. His phone calls, everything he did electronically, was being monitored," Bill Binney, a 36-year veteran of the National Security Agency who resigned in protest from the organization in 2001, told Fox Business on Monday.
Everyone's conversations are being monitored and stored, Binney said.
Binney also told Sean Hannity's radio show earlier Monday, "I think the FISA court's basically totally irrelevant." The judges on the FISA court are "not even concerned, nor are they involved in any way with the Executive Order 12333 collection," Binney said during the radio interview. "That's all done outside of the courts. And outside of the Congress."
Binney also told Fox the laws that fall under the FISA court's jurisdiction are "simply out there for show" and "trying to show that the government is following the law, and being looked at and overseen by the Senate and House intelligence committees and the courts."
"That's not the main collection program for NSA," Binney said.
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What Binney did not delve into, however, was if Obama directed surveillance on Trump for political purposes during the campaign, a core accusation of Trump's. But Binney did say events such as publication of details of private calls between President Trump and the Australian prime minister, as well as with the Mexican president, are evidence the intelligence community is playing hardball with the White House.
"I think that's what happened here," Binney told Fox. "The evidence of the conversation of the president of the U.S., President Trump, and the [prime minister] of Australia and the president of Mexico. Releasing those conversations. Those are conversations that are picked up by the FAIRVIEW program, primarily, by NSA
At 6 a.m. on Saturday morning Mr. Trump opened a new round in this fight by claiming on Twitter that “President Obama was tapping my
phones in October, just prior to Election!” Many press outlets immediately denounced Mr. Trump’s tweet as baseless. James Clapper, who was Mr. Obama’s last director of national intelligence, seemed to agree: “For the part of the national-security apparatus that I oversaw,” Mr. Clapper told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday, “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.”
Mr. Trump’s accusation and Mr. Clapper’s categorical denial can’t both be right—or can they? Mr. Clapper may be staking his position on a legalistic definition of the phrase “mounted against the president.”
What if the NSA was monitoring the calls of close associates of Mr. Trump who were not part of the campaign—people who talked to him regularly? In mid-January both the BBC and McClatchy reported that on Oct. 15 a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court approved an investigation into Russian activities in the U.S. that focused on nameless Trump associates—three of them, according to the BBC. Also in mid-January, the New York Times reported on “a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of [Mr.] Trump.”
If we assume that the National Security Agency was indeed tasked, as a result of the Oct. 15 decision or in some other context, with monitoring the phone calls of three Trump associates, then it is easy to build a scenario whereby Mr. Trump’s accusation and Mr. Clapper’s denial are both true....
In any case, we already know more than enough to dismiss the claim that Mr. Trump’s complaints are “baseless.” The NSA’s collection of communications by Trump associates—whether conducted through a FISA investigation or simply as part of routine surveillance of foreign officials—has so far generated no evidence of an alliance between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. It has, however, generated a torrent of leaks fostering the impression of such an alliance.
President Obama took at least one direct step that could not help but deepen that impression. In the final days of his administration, he changed the regulations on the distribution of NSA transcripts, ensuring their wide dissemination across multiple agencies, while minimizing the effort to conceal the identity of American citizens accidentally caught up in the surveillance