Whistleblowers File $100 Million Suit against NSA, FBI

Claim They Faced Retaliation for Reporting Waste

L-R: J. Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake, William Binney Photo credit: J. Kirk Wiebe / Twitter, Slowking / Wikimedia, Rama / Wikimedia

In a $100 million lawsuit that has garnered virtually no public attention, five National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblowers are accusing the federal government of illegally retaliating against them for alerting the NSA and Congress to a waste of taxpayer funds that benefitted a well-connected contractor.

The lawsuit tells the story of the infancy of the NSA’s efforts to surveil the Internet. Back then, there were two programs for the spying agency to choose from — and the first was called ThinThread. It had been developed internally, was comparatively inexpensive, had been tested and proven to be effective, and included safeguards preventing the spying on Americans without a court warrant. The other was called Trailblazer. It did not include such safeguards, had not yet been shown to be effective, and cost 1,000 times more than ThinThread. Instead of being developed internally, it was to be outsourced to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a politically connected contractor.

The NSA chose Trailblazer.

In response, four NSA employees who had worked on ThinThread, as well as a congressional staffer, alerted Congress and the Office of the Inspector General of the NSA that the agency was wasting taxpayer funds. That is when their troubles began, according to the lawsuit.

It alleges that the defendants, which include the NSA, FBI, and the Department of Justice, as well as individuals associated with them, “knowingly and intentionally fabricated” a claim that the plaintiffs leaked classified information to New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen.

“[The defendants] used this fabricated claim for retaliation, illegal searches and seizures, physical invasion of their residences and places of business, temporary false imprisonment, the confiscation of their property, cancellation of security clearances leading to the loss of their jobs and employment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment and intimidation,” the lawsuit alleges.

It also states that the defendants should have known that the plaintiffs were not the leaks because the NSA “was tracking all domestic telephone calls for the supposed purpose of protecting national security.”

The plaintiffs are former NSA employees Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, and former congressional staffer Diane Roark. They seek “punitive damages in excess of $100 million because of Defendants [sic] callous and reckless indifference and malicious acts …” as well as well as an additional $15 million for lost wages and to cover costs.

Larry Klayman, the prominent conservative public interest attorney and founder of Judicial Watch, filed the suit on August 20th. However, it is expected to be amended this week, and it is possible that additional publicity for the case will be sought then.

Klayman has separately sued the government over the bulk collection of the phone records of Americans. That lawsuit suffered a setback last week when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sent it back to a lower court. The three judges ruled that Klayman could not prove that his own records had been collected and that his standing to file such a suit was therefore in doubt.

Reached for a brief comment, Klayman told WhoWhatWhy that the ruling was “bullshit.”

Related front page panorama photo credit: Background adapted from (www.elbpresse.de / wikimedia)

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28 responses to “Whistleblowers File $100 Million Suit against NSA, FBI”

  1. brent says:

    We live in a nation that continues to abuse its power over its citizens. Bush and Cheney should have been arrested for causing 9/11 and then for War Crimes in the invasion of Iraq. These men are responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. What happened after Bush’s appointment to the Presidency by 5 Justices of the Supreme Court brings shame to our Democracy and our Constitution. We no longer live in a free state. We have become worker slaves to Corporate America.

  2. Jeffrey Yablon says:

    I need a federal lawyer to assist me to file a law suit against the NSA for its use of “CoinStar” real-time audio video over gamma/cellular networking from satellites to harrass a targeted individual. I will testify before a judge as to what was done to me and I have passed a poly and held a TS SCI Security Clearance in the past. Contact me at Jeffrey_Yablon@hotmail.com

  3. Robbie Mesler says:

    When you are trying to live and survive these cointelpro attacks you’ll find these articles of little value. You’ll also find (depending on how entrenched they are in your life) that many of them are now taking up offices as attorneys, are working as police officers, etc. I’m referring to the FBI of course.

    An army will move in around you, disrupt and destroy your life. Judges are coerced and persuaded to rule in favor of the Federal Mafia, and do so in order to not become one of their statistics.

    I’ve been investigating the FBI for 30+ years, and I have yet to find ANYTHING good to report on. It is truly horrific what they participate in and the methods they use to deny justice, accountability and a normal life for countless Americans.

    This book reads like a horror story in which the supposed culprit did something wrong and is still being tortured “literally to death” 30 years later. Absolute power corrupts.

  4. Unrepentant Atheist says:

    I wonder if Alexander and Clapper can be charged once they are found liable.

    Probably not seeing how having a political position nowadays seems bullet proof for being charged.

    …but one can hope.

  5. . . says:

    9-11 was arson & insurance fraud.

  6. I always thought it was the right of all citizens to speak out when they saw ‘illegal’ and ‘suspicious’ actions being carried out by any of the branches of the government. I’m pretty sure that’s a Constitutional right. The US Government has gotten so corrupt that I really believe 90% of what they do, right up to the President is in someway illegal. Great country when the courts and judges and the whole legal system has ‘special sets of laws’ for the rich politicians. Washington needs a BIG CLEANUP! It stinks to high heaven! The maggot odor is getting worldwide.

    • Mista Green says:

      The right to redress government wrongs is indeed part of the US Bill of Rights, which is part of the US Constitution, which every one in the US secret police swore an oath to uphold and protect.

  7. Richard Dickson says:

    These former NSA senior civilians are patriots and should be regarded as such by the US military and federal government, along with whistleblowers Richard Dickson, George Sarris, Edward Snowden, and Bradley/Chelsea Manning.

  8. Dr. Ronald Cutburth says:

    Flip the letters around SAIC = CIA-S I am currently writing a paper with the opinion that the SAIC was founded deliberately in 1969 to become a corporate CIA as in CIA-Systems and operations. The historical facts are many when examining SAIC-CIA-S from its beginning. Dr. Ronald Cutburth, engineering scientist, intelligence expert.

  9. John Vorel says:

    The USA has really become the Soviet States of America. My father was from Czechoslovakia. I visited family in 1980 as a young man. I saw how my family who was pro Democratic were being persecuted by the Communist. They had a house taken away that was in the family for hundreds of years. My father was denied the equivalent of a Masters Degree he worked for 5 years at Charles University (“The Harvard” of Central Europe) because he expressed his belief to a committee that he believed in Liberty and not Communism…. My family (2nd cousins and 2nd uncles) who were mostly educated were forced to take unhealthy jobs in a dirty factory… My father raised us (six children) with a keen appreciation for Democracy and weariness of corruption of government that leads to tyranny. Doing my best (in a small way) to be the checks and balance that the media is failing miserably to be- with some rants on FB about how bad things are here…… But your situation almost seems hopeless. Because they can even listen to your defense before you put your information in a courtroom and have a counter rebuttal to neutralize what defense you may have planned. When tyranny is at this magnitude it does seem like you are damned if you do. Since there never has been tyranny at this level before in world history- as it is now with them being able to listen in to your home and phone or your lawyers office… how do you prepare for your defense without incrimination? Seems like you are up the river without a paddle. Good luck and pray a heck of a lot!

    • Arky Barky says:

      i really want to underline what you are saying here. upon furthur reflection i want to change that to Is Worse Than the USSR because of this countries much enhanced “abilities” : a military budget now larger than THE NEXT 15 WORLD POWERS, a worldwide electronic spying network of near Orwellian status , a crapitolist oligarchy whose agenda has proven to be larger and more destructive than the former ussr’s ever was and lets not forget our enhanced interrogation techniques which would surely be the envy of any gulag.

      thanks for sharing your experiences.in case anyone doesnt realize it,most of your thoughts and actions as described are considered potentially “terrorist” in nature by the amerikan kgb aka the fbi. oh i left out the nazi influence on our policies via the cia which actually rescued and recycled many of the worst war crimminals for their use. plus i believe we have surpassed every fascist regime/empire etc in history with the number of innocent people killed and wounded by the mostly cia driven foriegn (at least to most every american) policy.

    • John Vorel::// It makes me laugh inside, for an instant, when ignorant people say that Bernie Sanders is a ‘Socialist’ and will never get to be president, and their never going to vote for anyone like him. I just say to these people, “Look what you’re living in now. Take your pick; Fascist State, Oligarchy, Tyranny. You got all three going at once and you worried about about a Socialist Democrat”. They say I’m just crazy. Well if that’s what they feel then I feel sorry for America, because if Bernie Sanders is not the next President then America, will turn into the most evil country in the world. She already has a good start. What a shame. Let’s have a big hand for all the journalists, and investigative reporters, (the ones who are still alive)! And then a big FU for the real real jerk balls that are called the ‘Main Stream Media’. Good job puppets.

  10. zlop says:

    “Claim They Faced Retaliation for Reporting Waste”
    Seems like a spurious clam — First have to prove, what in government has value?

  11. Z54 says:

    I would be willing to empty all of our federal prisons of all inmates except for murderers and bankers just so we could fit all of our criminal politicians, military, religious and business criminals behind bars for a very long time!

  12. Linda King says:

    I think the targeted subjects, whom have.been aware of these programs, over 30 years now, they found the facts on their own, no one seems interested to hear our stories, the endless clues in a small home town, was indeed only thought it was our corrupt sheriff deputies with a slew of criminal henchmen, violating the constitution, to gain trust fund left from family, in a now closed home town bank, the abusive tactics and the complete reasoning, I started to write to newspapers explaining what was to be surely recorded, since that was found by a police scanner and the voices coming over it describing their plot the words with the planting of their hidden something, that a Jim had placed earlier, and they where gone come in and find it, and pfobley gonna use my property, for seizure.The years brought the newsworthy found collusions, out in the open, but I saw these wrong doings from my own innocent naive, searches and constantly try to get justice, even before I ever touched a computer, blindly thought facts and truth would make this nightly terror stop, if only I keep talking out loud and watching cspan, the data could help, that was being monitored until I heard over scanner how they changed time, and edified some new realization. the amazement to hear this was going on all over the USA, the reality to this day,no one can put their selves in all that happened to our small family, after these oportunist found that savings folks had begun since last depression, was a incentive to obtain, as well as old investments they changed to their liking, ,To find all I did, was a miracle and never quite discussing it out loud,hoping a honest overseer would save us, after truth could prove how downright illegal these many players where to gain our demise for a gain. I can’t count on mail, phone internet, even to reach anyone whom cares to get the to the bottom, of what moldy old real money can make these rouge professionals do to obtain, what wasn’t there’s to steal, and create false documents, to exploit the elderly, handicapped, and minors, for their future safety nets.sorry if I wrote for pleas of help, but nobody ever came.Illinois

  13. VoxFox says:

    This further demonstrates that the USA does NOT have a justice system – only a legal system to flow large payments to lawyers and judges.

  14. Happyfeeling says:

    Americans should throw their support behind these men who are true hero’s. We tend to think it is not me so we forget about it, however, someday it can be anyone of us fighting these agencies.

    • jenn says:

      I agree; however, I find it quite repugnant that Larry Kkklayman is the acting attorney.

    • sisterlauren says:

      Is that because he is corrupt, or inept?

    • sisterlauren says:

      It has been me. I too have been being spied on, but my strategy for dealing with it was to blog about the experience so that the public would realize it was happening. I have been doing that for 12 years. My BIL put illegal spyware in my computer in 2004. I saw him do it.

  15. JayGoldenBeach says:

    “…defendants should have known that the plaintiffs were not the leaks
    because the NSA “was tracking all domestic telephone calls for the
    supposed purpose of protecting national security.”

    Maybe they were too busy listening to the phone calls of judges and lawmakers to gather info to protect the agency from lawsuits and budget reductions?

    • sisterlauren says:

      They were too busy keeping the lid on 9/11. A criminal cover up that big takes a huge about of resources.

  16. Westcoastdeplorable says:

    These 3 are patriots and should be regarded as such by our government, along with Snowden, Manning, and Assange! Thanks for the coverage.

    • Linda King says:

      Yes they are honest dedicated professionals, even coming from a victim of these hidden programs, I have always thought if after all that I uncovered, that oversight and transparency, would bring the truth to make the exploitations stop, since violations where clear constitutional issues, that after all has been said and done, isn’t what that monitoring is for, its all about criminal pursuits to search for what one is worth and how to obtain, it in any form of creative angle, and its hard, the more the pawn learns, the more the information contained in ones life is manipulated.Just wish I knew this was some large scale Scarry enterprise, never would have tried so hard to preserve our property, long story, but its not ever been about me, its a game with no rules, or justice .I feel so sad that their lives these upholders of laws, that they where trying to do the righteous legally acceptable actions to bring to light how the many circumstances in some of our histories, had more then brutal force, against a woman, but the way everyone let the ball drop, about financial exploits, when it was seen in our data, the morgage frauds, the selling off of mutual funds, that hadn’t reached maturity, the false documents that changed after a death in the owners, will or trust for family, not a shell bank, with which finally feds and off changed name and same people all involved still set there, to late to prevent risky behavior, that I sure tried, those facts to this day, doesn’t have concern that I had no voice being the only child, and lived next door to folks all my life.No future for a 62 year old, because laws don’t apply to these new professionals, since its not about right and wrongs, bottom line, its about gaining profit any way possible, and no one can know they may be next,since warning them is so forbidden, who knew, that was why I spent last 15 years researching how to regain my dignity,and it was such a treacherous act, to open my insights to the higher up government that didn’t allow this to be out of hand, the cspan teachers all seem to fight and question the panels, prayed I would have ability to add my two cents to help them, to ask that question just so, I had made such a mistake, nobody cares.

  17. Chuck (Smithfix) Smith says:

    “The three judges ruled that Klayman could not prove that his own records
    had been collected and that his standing to file such a suit was
    therefore in doubt.” Standing is one of our corrupt Judiciaries favorite dodges.