A Good American

The Bigger Picture
Director: Friedrich Moser | Countries of production: Austria | Year: 2015 | Length: 100 min
Language: English with English subtitles | Age: 15+ years

Screened as part of TOAFF16

Before Snowden, there was Bill Binney: the remarkable story of a former high-ranking NSA analyst turned whistleblower.

In the late 1990s, NSA analyst Alfred Binney – a gifted mathematician and genius codebreaker – helped devise a powerful data gathering and analysis programme, with built-in privacy protections. ThinThread was a cheap, fast and effective tool to sift through metadata. The problem? It was too cheap. Weeks before 9/11, ThinThread was shut down in favour of a more expensive, privacy-invasive programme that allowed the NSA to boost its budget but proved one of the costliest, largest failures in the agency’s history.

This gripping, cinematic documentary serves as an impassioned warning against the revolving door between government and the intelligence industry – a cosy relationship that threatens individuals’ right to privacy as well as national security, and whose implications for democracy are far too insidious to allow for any complacency.

“Powerful film – a prequel to SNOWDEN.”
Oliver Stone

“With the ferociously intelligent and committed Binney at its centre, the film is a fascinating, sometimes jaw-dropping account of gifted individuals thwarted by self-serving superiors, with tragic results.”

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