December 20, 2010
The Washington Post today reports on the vast growing domestic spying apparatus that the federal government is using, in conjunction with the Pentagon, to target millions of law-abiding American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
In a lengthy report entitled “Monitoring America”, the Post details how a vast centralized snooping machine is being constructed and employed by local, state and federal agencies as well as military investigators, to collect, store and analyze swathes of personal information.
Everything contained within the Post’s article has already been reported and covered in depth by this website and others in the alternative media that have consistently warned of the threat of the exponential rise of the big brother spy system over the past decade.
The report details Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano’s recent “See something, say something” campaign, which encompasses the federal government hooking up with Wal-Mart, Amtrak, major sports leagues, hotel chains and metro riders to encourage citizens to file “suspicious activity reports” if they see any activity they think could be criminal or terroristic.
The government defines a suspicious activity as “observed behavior reasonably indicative of pre-operational planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity” related to terrorism.
As we reported recently, critics of the program have been literally dubbed insane by it’s coordinators, despite legitimate concerns over asking citizens to effectively spy on each other for the government.
The Washington Post report notes that such suspicious activity reports are just one piece of information being collected at the local and state levels and fed into a vast “Guardian” database via fusion centers, which ultimately connect to the FBI, the DHS and even the Department of Defense.
According to the report, the spook network includes 4,058 federal, state and local organizations.
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cell phone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports.
Dozens of the fusion centers were created after 9/11 to identify potential threats and “improve the way information is shared”. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies.
The centers have received billions in funding from the Department of Homeland Security and also work in conjunction with the military arm of the DHS, NORTHCOM.
They also have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans’ locations, employment history, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Some of these data-brokers, such as one in Maryland called Entersect, claim to hold records about 98 percent of Americans.
The Washington Post report also details how equipment developed for use against insurgents and fighters in combat situations such as Afghanistan is now being employed by police and law enforcement agencies to collect information on the American people.
From military-grade infrared cameras, to hand-held, wireless fingerprint scanners, to facial recognition surveillance cameras, to license plate readers, to Predator drones along the borders – all are being used to snap pictures and video and record swathes of information. This will all then be fed into a giant database, cross referenced with every other piece of information collected, analyzed and stored.
This year for the first time, the FBI, the DHS and the Defense Department are able to search each other’s fingerprint databases, said Myra Gray, head of the Defense Department’s Biometrics Identity Management Agency, speaking to an industry group recently. “Hopefully in the not-too-distant future,” she said, “our relationship with these federal agencies – along with state and local agencies – will be completely symbiotic.”
The justification is, as always, the war on terror, but the targets of the information gathering are everyday Americans.
As the Washington Post report also notes, Homeland Security and its state and local partners have routinely targeted peaceful and lawful groups and individuals as part of its surveillance reporting.
As we have seen from the MIAC report, DHS spying on tea Party and second amendment activists in Pennsylvania and a host of other examples in recent years, the federal government has little interest in Muslim extremists and has instead targeted Americans knowledgeable of their rights and critical of big government as the primary domestic terror threat. The feds have defined “terrorist propaganda” as any material critical of the state. The Department of Defense characterizes peaceful protest as “low level terrorism” in its own report.
Over the years we have seen countless instances of unaccountable government and military programs that have been in operation for decades, all centered around covertly spying and gathering information on American citizens.
We have extensively documented such programs from COINTELPRO through to Operation CHAOS, the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity and the recent NSA warrantless wiretapping.
Large corporations such as Google, AT&T, Facebook and Yahoo to name but a few are also intimately involved in the overarching program. Those corporations have specific government arms that are supplying the software, hardware and tech support to US intelligence agencies in the process of creating a vast closed source database for global spy networks to share information.
We are now witnessing the coordination and mass consolidation of scores of these operations into one all encompassing panopticon program.
After 9/11 the work of 16 different intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the giant National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on international communications, as well as the Energy Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration was centralized under the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Why such rampant centralization? Why is the military now so intent on fusing itself with the federal government via Homeland security and through the FBI and why are the targets of their operations always American citizens?
We are constantly bombarded with the notion that the biggest threat we face is from those who reject and abhor western values, yet the government and military continue to relentlessly focus their anti-terror activity directly upon freedom loving American people, while telling them they would be completely insane to voice any concern.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and regular contributor to Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.