Institutionalized Spying on Americans

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
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Also visit his blog site
at sjlendman.blogspot.com


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