Exposed: Massive New Spy Center Built to Track Your Emails and Phone Calls
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But, you know, ironically, the second book I had on NSA after that, Body of Secrets, they had a book signing for me at NSA. And I interviewed, you know, the director in his office and had tours of the agency and all that other—everything else. But then, when I discovered that NSA was doing all this illegal warrantless eavesdropping, I wrote the third book, which was The Shadow Factory, showing how NSA got involved in all this illegal activity after they had basically given it up for many years, ever since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was created in—around 1978. So, you know, I’ve had sort of a love-hate relationship with NSAover the years. But I—so, sometimes I’ll compliment them if they do something good, and other times I’ll criticize them, as I do in this article, for things that I don’t think they’re doing very good.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: James Bamford, can you say what your response is to the way in which the Obama administration has dealt with this issue, as against how the Bush administration did, what differences there are, if any?
JAMES BAMFORD: Well, I haven’t seen a lot of differences. President Obama, for example, when all the furor broke out over the warrantless eavesdropping during the Bush administration, came out and said that he was totally against that, he was going to vote against changing the law to allow that kind of thing and also to vote against giving immunity to the telecom companies. The telecom companies could have been charged with a crime for violating everybody’s privacy. But then, when he—when push came to shove and it came time to vote, he didn’t. He voted opposite to what he said, and he voted for the legislation, sort of creating this warrantless eavesdropping change to the law that he was—said he was previously against, which basically legalized what the Bush administration had been doing in their warrantless eavesdropping. And he also voted against—or he voted in favor of giving immunity to the telecom companies, which is again opposite of what he said previously.
And now he’s, you know, the president here last three years, while they’ve been building this enormous—or at least completing this enormous infrastructure, and they hadn’t even started this when he became president, the large data center in Bluffdale. So I don’t really see an awful lot of difference between the two in terms of what’s going on with NSA. If anything, it’s gotten much larger under Obama than it was under Bush.
AMY GOODMAN: James Bamford, we’re going to ask you to stay with us—he’s speaking to us from London, investigative reporter who wrote The Puzzle Palace,Shadow Factory, now a piece in Wired called "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)" — because we’re going to be joined by two whistleblowers. One of them, if he had stood trial, Thomas Drake, who worked at the NSA, possibly Jim Bamford would have testified at that trial. We’ll also be joined by Jesselyn Radack, who took on the Justice Department, particularly around the case of John Walker Lindh, who is still in prison.