[Ppnews] Institutionalized Spying on Americans

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 17 18:19:47 EST 2008


http://www.counterpunch.org/lendman01172008.html

January 17, 2008


Total Surveillance


Institutionalized Spying on Americans

By STEPHEN LENDMAN

This article reviews two police state tools (among many in use) in 
America. One is new, undiscussed and largely unknown to the public. 
The other was covered in a December article by this writer called 
Police State America. Here it's updated with new information.

The National Applications Office (NAO)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a new domestic 
spying operation in 2007 called the National Applications Office 
(NOA) and described it as "the executive agent to facilitate the use 
of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland 
security and law enforcement purposes within the United States." The 
office was to begin operating last fall to "build on the 
long-standing work of the Civil Applications Committee (CAC), which 
was created in 1974 to facilitate the use of the capabilities of the 
intelligence community for civil, non-defense uses in the United States."

With or without congressional authorization or oversight, the 
executive branch is in charge and will let NAO use state-of-the-art 
technology, including military satellite imagery, to spy on Americans 
without their knowledge. Implementation is delayed, however, after 
Committee on Homeland Security Chairman, Bennie Thompson, and other 
committee members raised questions of "very serious privacy and civil 
liberties concerns." In response, DHS agreed to delay operating 
(officially) until all matters are addressed and resolved.

Given its track record post-9/11, expect little more than pro forma 
posturing before Congress signs off on what Kate Martin, the director 
of the Center for National Security Studies, calls "Big Brother in 
the Sky" and a "police state" in the offing.

DHS supplies this background information on NAO. Post-9/11, the 
Director of National Intelligence appointed an Independent Study 
Group (ISG) in May, 2005 to "review the current operation and future 
role of the (1974) Civil Applications Committee and study the current 
state of Intelligence Community support to homeland security and law 
enforcement entities."

In September 2005, the Committee produced a "Blue Ribbon Study," now 
declassified. Its nine members were headed by and included three Booz 
Allen Hamilton officials because of the company's expertise in spying 
and intelligence gathering. Its other members have similar 
experience. They all have a vested interest in domestic spying 
because the business potential is huge for defense related industries 
and consultants.

ISG members included:

Keith Hall, Chairman
Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

Edward G. Anderson
LTG US Army (Ret)
Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton

Thomas W. Conroy
Vice President
National Security Programs
Northrop Grumman/TASC

Patrick M. Hughes
LTG US Army (Ret)
Vice President, Homeland Security
L-3 Communications

Kevin O'Connell
Director of Defense Group Incorporated (DGI)
Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis (CIRA)

CIRA is a think tank that calls itself "the premier open source and 
cultural intelligence exploitation cell for the US intelligence 
community." Its business is revolutionizing intelligence analysis.

Jeff Baxter
Independent Defense Consultant with DOD and industry
ties

Dr. Paul Gilman
Director
Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
US Department of Energy

Kemp Lear
Associate
Booz Allen Hamilton, and

Joseph D. Whitley, Esq
Alston & Bird LLP, Government Investigations and
Compliance Group, former Acting Associate Attorney
General in GHW Bush administration, and former General
Counsel for DHS under GW Bush

The ISG's report produced 11 significant findings and 27 
recommendations based on its conclusion that there's "an urgent need 
for action because opportunities to better protect the nation are 
being missed." It "concluded a new management and process model (is) 
needed to effectively employ IC (Intelligence Community) capabilities 
for domestic uses."

In March 2006, DHS unveiled the new agency to implement ISG's 
recommendations called the National Applications Office. In May, 
2007, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Michael McConnell, 
named DHS as its executive agent and functional manager. At least in 
principle according to DHS, Congress agreed with this approach and to 
provide funding for it, beginning in the fall of 2007.

The public knew nothing about this until a feature August 15, 2007 
Wall Street Journal story broke the news. It was headlined "US to 
Expand Use of Spy Satellites." It noted that for the first time the 
nation's top intelligence official (DNI's McConnell) "greatly 
expanded the range of federal and local (civilian law enforcement 
agencies that) can get access to" military spy satellite collected 
information. Until now, civilian use was restricted to agencies like 
NASA and the US Geological Survey, and only for scientific and 
environmental study.

The Journal explained that key objectives under new guidelines will be:

-- border security,

-- securing critical infrastructure and helping emergency responders 
after natural disasters,

-- working with criminal and civil federal, state, and local law 
enforcement agencies, and

-- unmentioned by the Journal, the ability to spy on anyone, 
anywhere, anytime domestically for any reason - an unprecedented act 
using state-of-the-art technology enabling real-time, high-resolution 
images and data from space.

NAO will also oversee classified information from the National 
Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency 
(NGA) and other US agencies involved in dealing with all aspects of 
national security, including "terrorism."

NSA was established in 1952, is super-secret, and for many years was 
never revealed to exist. Today, its capabilities are awesome and 
worrisome. It eavesdrops globally, mines a vast amount of data, and 
does it through a network of spy satellites, listening posts, and 
surveillance planes to monitor virtually all electronic 
communications from landline and cell phones, telegrams, emails, 
faxes, radio and television, data bases of all kinds and the internet.

NGA is new and began operating in 2003. It lets military and 
intelligence analysts monitor virtually anything or anyone from 
state-of-the-art spy satellites. Both NSA and NGA coordinate jointly 
with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that designs, builds 
and operates military spy satellites. It also analyzes military and 
CIA-collected aircraft and satellite reconnaissance information.

Combined with warrantless wiretapping, pervasive spying of all kinds, 
the abandonment of the law and checks and balances, intense secrecy, 
and an array of repressive post-9/11 legislation, Executive Orders 
and National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives, 
NAO is another national security police state tool any despot would 
love. It's now established and may be operating without congressional 
approval.

Using spy satellites domestically "is largely uncharted territory," 
as the Wall Street Journal noted. Even its architects admit there's 
no clarity on this, and the ISG's report stated "There is little if 
any policy, guidance or procedures regarding the collection, 
exploitation and dissemination of domestic MASINT (Measurement and 
Signatures Intelligence)."

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the main DOD spy agency. It 
manages MASINT that's ultra-secret and sophisticated. It uses 
state-of-the-art radar, lasers, infrared sensors, electromagnetic 
data and other technologies that can detect chemicals, 
electro-magnetic activity, whether a nuclear power plant produces 
plutonium, and the type vehicle from its exhaust. It can also see 
under bridges, through clouds, forest canopies and even concrete to 
create images and collect data. In addition, it can detect people, 
activity and weapons that satellites and photo-reconnaissance 
aircraft miss, so it's an invaluable spy tool but highly intrusive 
and up to now only for military and foreign intelligence work.

Further, military spy satellites are state-of-the-art and superior to 
civilian ones. They record in color as well as black and white, use 
different parts of the light spectrum to track human activities and 
ground movements and can detect chemical weapons traces and 
people-generated heat in buildings.

This much we know about them. Their full potential is top secret and 
available only to the military and intelligence community. The 
Journal quoted an alarmed Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director 
of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, that advocates 
for digital age privacy rights saying: "Not only is the surveillance 
they are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it's also 
invisible. And that's what makes this so dangerous."

Anyone for any reason may be watched at all times (through walls) 
with no way to know it, but a June 2001 (before 9/11) Supreme Court 
decision offers hope. In Kyllo v. United States, the Court ruled for 
petitioner 5 to 4 (with Scalia and Thomas in the majority). It voided 
a conviction based on police use of thermal imaging to detect heat in 
his triplex to determine if an illegal drug was being grown, in this 
case marijuana.

The Court held: "Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is 
not in general public use, to explore details of a private home that 
would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the 
surveillance is a Fourth Amendment 'search," and is presumptively 
unreasonable without a warrant....To withdraw protection of this 
minimum expectation would be to permit police technology to erode the 
privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment" protecting against 
"unreasonable searches and seizures."

In 1981, Ronald Reagan seemed to agree in Executive Order 12333 on 
United States Intelligence Activities. It bars the intelligence 
community from most forms of home eavesdropping while providing wide 
latitude to all government agencies to "provide the President and the 
National Security Council with the necessary information (needed to) 
conduct....foreign, defense and economic policy (and protect US) 
national interests from foreign security threats. (Collecting this 
information is to be done, however,) consistent with the Constitution 
and applicable law...."

That was then, and this is now. It's hard imagining congressional 
concern or DHS meaning that NAO will "prioritize the protection of 
privacy and civil liberties" and citing the Reagan Executive Order 
and the 1974 Privacy Act. That law mandates that no government agency 
"shall disclose any record (or) system of records by any means of 
communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to 
a written request, or with the prior written consent of, the 
individual to whom the record pertains." The Privacy act requires the 
US government to maintain an administrative and physical security 
system to prevent the unauthorized release of personal records.

Post-9/11, the Patriot Act ended that protection, so DHS is shameless 
saying NAO must comply with civil liberties and privacy laws and be 
subject to "oversight by the DHS Inspector General, Chief Privacy 
Officer, and the Officer for Civil Rights and Liberties" plus 
additional oversight. No longer post-9/11 when the national security 
state got repressive new tools to erode the constitution, ignore 
democratic principles, and give the President unrestricted powers in 
the name of national security. NAO is the latest one watching us as 
our "Big Brother in the Sky." Orwell would be proud.

Real ID Act Update - Another Intrusive Police State Tool

The Read ID Act of 2005 required states to meet federal ID standards 
by May, 2008. That's now changed because 29 states passed or 
introduced laws that refuse to comply. They call the Act costly to 
administer, a bureaucratic nightmare, and New Hampshire said it's 
"repugnant" and violates the state and US Constitutions.

The federal law mandates that every US citizen and legal resident 
have a national ID card that in most cases is a driver's license 
meeting federal standards. It requires it to contain an individual's 
personal information and makes one mandatory to open a bank account, 
board an airplane, be able to vote, get a job, enter a federal 
building, or conduct virtually all essential business requiring identification.

States balked, and that doomed the original version. On January 11, 
changes were unveiled when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
issued binding new rules. Under them, states have until 2011 to 
comply (instead of 2008), until 2014 to issue "tamper-proof licenses" 
to drivers born after 1964, and until 2017 for those born before this 
date. DHS said the original law would cost states $14 billion. The 
new regulations with an extended phase-in cuts the amount to around 
$3.9 billion or $8 per license.

These numbers may be bogus, however, the true costs may be far 
higher, and that's why the Information Technology Association of 
America (ITAA) is lobbying for Real ID's passage. Its members include 
high-tech card makers like Digimarc and Northrup Grumman and data 
brokers like Choicepoint and LexisNexis that profit by selling 
personal information to advertisers and the government.

Under new DHS rules, licenses must include a digital photo taken at 
the beginning of the application process and a filament or other 
security device to prevent counterfeiting. They must also have three 
layers of security that states can select from a DHS menu. In 
addition, states must begin checking license applicants' Social 
Security and immigration status over the next year.

As of now, a controversial radio frequency identification (RFID) 
technology microchip isn't required. It may come later, however, and 
here's the problem. It'll let cardholder movements and activities be 
tracked everywhere, at all times - in other words, a police state 
dream along with other pervasive spying tools.

Even worse would be mandating human RFID chip implants. It's not 
planned so far (but not ruled out), and three states (California, 
Wisconsin and North Dakota) preemptively banned the practice without 
recipients' consent.

Think it can't happen? Consider a January 13 article in the London 
Independent headlined "Prisoners 'to be chipped like dogs.' " The 
article states that civil rights groups and probation officers are 
furious that "hi-tech 'satellite'.... machine-readable (microchip) 
tagging (is) planned (for thousands of offenders) to create more 
space in jails." Unlike ankle bracelets now sometimes used, tiny RFID 
chips would be surgically implanted for monitoring the way they're 
currently used for dogs, cats, cattle and luggage. They're more 
reliable, it's believed, as current devices can be tampered with or removed.

Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers 
(ACPO), was quoted saying: "We have looked at....the practicalities 
and the ethics (and we concluded) its time has come." The UK 
currently has the largest prison population per capita in western 
Europe. It sounds like authorities plan to expand it using fewer 
cells. It also sounds like a scheme to tag everyone after testing 
them first on prisoners. And consider the possibilities. RFID 
technology is advancing, and one company plans deeper implants that 
can vibrate, emit electroshocks, broadcast a message to the 
implantee, and/or be a hidden microphone to transmit conversations. 
It's not science fiction, and what's planned for the UK will likely 
come to America. In fact, it's already here.

In 2004, the FDA approved a grain-of-rice sized, antenna-containing 
VeriChip for human implantation that allows vital information to be 
read when a person's body is scanned. The company states on its web 
site that it's "the world's first and only patented, FDA-cleared, 
human-implantable RFID microchip....with skin-sensing capabilities." 
Reportedly, about 2000 test subjects now have them, but it may signal 
mandatory implantation ahead. Consider for whom for starters - 
prisoners, military personnel and possibly anyone seeking employment. 
After them, maybe everyone in a brave new global surveillance world.

It gets worse. Katherine Albrecht authored a report called 
"Microchip-Cancer Report - Microchip-Induced Tumors in Laboratory 
Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 1990-2006." After 
reading it, Dr. Robert Benezra, Director Cancer Biology, Genetics 
Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said: "There's no way 
in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of 
those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members. 
Given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's 
definitely cause for concern."

Albrecht's report evaluated 11 previously published toxicology and 
pathology studies. In six of them, up to 10.2% of rats and mice 
developed malignant tumors (typically sarcomas) where microchips were 
implanted. Two others reported the same findings for dogs. These 
tumors spread fast and "often led to the death of the afflicted 
animals. In many cases, the tumors metastasized and spread to other 
parts of the animals. The implants were unequivocally identified as 
the cause of the cancers."

Report reviews, conclusions and recommendations were to immediately 
stop further human implantations, inform people with them of the 
dangers, offer a microchip removal procedure, and reverse all animal 
microchipping mandates.

Debate Ahead on New DHS ID Rules

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said new ID rules require states to 
verify each cardholder's personal information (including a person's 
legal status in the country) by matching it against federal Social 
Security and passport databases and/or comparable state ones.

States have time to adjust, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick 
Leahy wasted no time saying he'll recommend legislation to ban Real 
ID drivers' license provisions because "so many Americans oppose" 
them. They're intrusive, burdensome, and federal databases are full 
of false or out-of-date information that's hard to disprove, but 
unless it is Americans will be denied their legal right to a driver's license.

The ACLU also strongly opposes Real ID because it violates privacy, 
lets government agencies share data, and its "tortured remains" 
represent an "utterly unworkable" system that will "irreparably 
damage the fabric of American life." An ACLU January 11 press release 
further states that DHS "dumped the problems of the statute on future 
presidents like a rotting corpse left on (its) steps (and) whoever is 
president in 2018." Congress must "recognize the situation and take 
action." The Real ID Act and new DHS rules must be "repealed and 
replaced with a clean, simple, and vigorous new driver's license 
security law that does not create a national ID" or violate Americans' privacy.

Futuristic Hi-Tech Profiling

On January 14, Computerworld online revealed more cause for concern 
in an article called "Big Brother Really is Watching." It's about DHS 
"bankrolling futuristic profiling technology...." for its Project 
Hostile Intent. It, in turn, is part of a broader initiative called 
the Future Attribute Screening Technologies Mobile Module. It's to be 
a self-contained, automated screening system that's portable and easy 
to implement, and DHS hopes to test it at airports in 2010 and deploy 
it (if it works) by 2012 at airports, border checkpoints, other 
points of entry and other security-related areas.

Here's the problem. If developed (reliable or not), these devices 
will use video, audio, laser and infrared sensors to feed real-time 
data into a computer using "specially developed algorithms" to 
identify "suspicious people." It would work (in theory) by 
interpreting gestures, facial expressions and speech variations as 
well as measure body temperature, heart and respiration rate, blood 
pressure, skin moisture, and other physiological characteristics.

The idea would be detect deception and identify suspicious people for 
aggressive interrogation, searches and even arrest. But consider 
what's coming. If developed, the technology may be used anywhere by 
government or the private sector for airport or other checkpoint 
security, buildings, job interviews, employee screening, buying 
insurance or conducting any other type essential business.

Aside from Fourth Amendment issues, here's the problem according to 
Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at security consultant BT 
Counterpane: "It's a good idea fraught with difficulties....don't 
hold your breath" it will work, and a better idea is to focus on 
detecting suspicious objects. Schneier further compares the 
technology to lie detectors that rely on "fake technology" and only 
work in films. They're used because people want them although it's 
acknowledged, even when well-administered, their median accuracy 
percentage is 50% at best.

This technology is worse, it may never be reliable, but may be 
deployed anyway in the age of "terror." Something to consider next 
time we blink going through airport security, and ACLU Technology and 
Liberty Project director Barry Steinhardt states the concern: "We are 
not going to catch any terrorists (with it), but a lot of innocent 
people, especially racial and ethnic minorities, are going to be 
trapped in a web of suspicion." Even so, DHS spent billions on this 
and other screening tools post-9/11. Expect lots more ahead, and 
here's the bottom line:

As things now stand, Washington, post-9/11, suspended constitutional 
protections in the name of national security and suppressed our civil 
liberties for our own good. This article reviewed their newest tools 
and wonders what's next. This writer called it Police State America 
in December that won't change with a new White House occupant in 2009 
unless organized resistance stops it. Complacency is unthinkable, and 
unless we act, we'll deserve Aleksandr Herzen's curse of another era 
- to be the "disease," not the "doctors."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 
<mailto:lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net.>lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net.




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