Categories
abolish slavery attacks authoritarians creates crime cyber weapons democracy is mob rule domination FBI figure it out government is slavery government is terrorism Headline News Intelwars kakistocracy kleptocracy liars money no masters no slaves Police State power ruling class Surveillance terrorizes Theft United States voting is immoral wake up Warfare weaponized malware

The FBI’s Mafia-Style Justice: To Fight Crime, the FBI Sponsors 15 Crimes a Day

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute. 

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”— Friedrich Nietzsche

Almost every tyranny being perpetrated by the U.S. government against the citizenry—purportedly to keep us safe and the nation secure—has come about as a result of some threat manufactured in one way or another by our own government.

Think about it.

Cyberwarfare. Terrorism. Bio-chemical attacks. The nuclear arms race. Surveillance. The drug wars. Domestic extremism. The COVID-19 pandemic.

In almost every instance, the U.S. government (often spearheaded by the FBI) has in its typical Machiavellian fashion sown the seeds of terror domestically and internationally in order to expand its own totalitarian powers.

Who is the biggest black market buyer and stockpiler of cyberweapons (weaponized malware that can be used to hack into computer systems, spy on citizens, and destabilize vast computer networks)? The U.S. government.

Who is the largest weapons manufacturer and exporter in the world, such that they are literally arming the world? The U.S. government.

Which country has a history of secretly testing out dangerous weapons and technologies on its own citizens? The U.S. government.

Which country has conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases, and exposing them to airborne toxins? The U.S. government.

What country has a pattern and practice of entrapment that involves targeting vulnerable individuals, feeding them with the propaganda, know-how, and weapons intended to turn them into terrorists, and then arresting them as part of an elaborately orchestrated counterterrorism sting? The U.S. government.

Are you getting the picture yet?

The U.S. government isn’t protecting us from terrorism.

The U.S. government is creating terror. It is, in fact, the source of the terror.

Consider that this very same government has taken every bit of technology sold to us as being in our best interests—GPS devices, surveillance, nonlethal weapons, etc.—and used it against us, to track, control, and trap us.

So why is the government doing this? Money, power, and total domination.

We’re not dealing with a government that exists to serve its people, protect their liberties and ensure their happiness. Rather, these are the diabolical machinations of a make-works program carried out on an epic scale whose only purpose is to keep the powers-that-be permanently (and profitably) employed.

Case in point: the FBI.

The government’s henchmen have become the embodiment of how power, once acquired, can be so easily corrupted and abused. Indeed, far from being tough on crime, FBI agents are also among the nation’s most notorious lawbreakers.

Whether the FBI is planting undercover agents in churches, synagogues, and mosques; issuing fake emergency letters to gain access to Americans’ phone records; using intimidation tactics to silence Americans who are critical of the government, or persuading impressionable individuals to plot acts of terror and then entrapping them, the overall impression of the nation’s secret police force is that of a well-dressed thug, flexing its muscles and doing the boss’ dirty work.

For example, this is the agency that used an undercover agent/informant to seek out and groom an impressionable young man, cultivating his friendship, gaining his sympathy, stoking his outrage over the injustices perpetrated by the U.S. government, then enlisting his help to blow up the Herald Square subway station. Despite the fact that Shahawar Matin Siraj ultimately refused to plant a bomb at the train station, he was arrested for conspiring to do so at the urging of his FBI informant and used to bolster the government’s track record in foiling terrorist plots. Of course, no mention was made of the part the government played in fabricating the plot, recruiting a would-be bomber, and setting him up to take the fall.

This is the government’s answer to precrime: first, foster activism by stoking feelings of outrage and injustice by way of secret agents and informants; second, recruit activists to carry out a plot (secretly concocted by the government) to challenge what they see as government corruption; and finally, arrest those activists for conspiring against the government before they can actually commit a crime.

It’s a diabolical plot with far-reaching consequences for every segment of the population, no matter what one’s political leanings.

As Rozina Ali writes for The New York Times Magazine, “The government’s approach to counterterrorism erodes constitutional protections for everyone, by blurring the lines between speech and action and by broadening the scope of who is classified as a threat.”

This is not an agency that appears to understand, let alone respect, the limits of the Constitution.

Just recently, it was revealed that the FBI has been secretly carrying out an entrapment scheme in which it used a front company, ANOM, to sell purportedly hack-proof phones to organized crime syndicates and then used those phones to spy on them as they planned illegal drug shipments, plotted robberies and put out contracts for killings using those boobytrapped phones.

All told, the FBI intercepted 27 million messages over the course of 18 months.

What this means is that the FBI was also illegally spying on individuals using those encrypted phones who may not have been involved in any criminal activity whatsoever.

Even reading a newspaper article is now enough to get you flagged for surveillance by the FBI. The agency served a subpoena on USA Today/Gannett to provide the internet addresses and mobile phone information for everyone who read a news story online on a particular day and time about the deadly shooting of FBI agents.

This is the danger of allowing the government to carry out widespread surveillance, sting, and entrapment operations using dubious tactics that sidestep the rule of law: “we the people” become suspects and potential criminals, while government agents, empowered to fight crime using all means at their disposal, become indistinguishable from the corrupt forces they seek to vanquish.

To go after terrorists, they become terrorists. To go after drug smugglers, they become drug smugglers. To go after thieves, they become thieves.

For instance, when the FBI raided a California business that was suspected of letting drug dealers anonymously stash guns, drugs, and cash in its private vaults, agents seized the contents of all the safety deposit boxes and filed forfeiture motions to keep the contents, which include millions of dollars worth of valuables owned by individuals not accused of any crime whatsoever.

It’s hard to say whether we’re dealing with a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), a kakistocracy (a government-run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations, and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens), or if we’ve gone straight to an idiocracy.

This certainly isn’t a constitutional democracy, however.

Some days, it feels like the FBI is running its own crime syndicate complete with mob rule and mafia-style justice.

In addition to creating certain crimes in order to then “solve” them, the FBI also gives certain informants permission to break the law, “including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies,” in exchange for their cooperation on other fronts.

USA Today estimates that agents have authorized criminals to engage in as many as 15 crimes a day (5600 crimes a year). Some of these informants are getting paid astronomical sums: one particularly unsavory fellow, later arrested for attempting to run over a police officer, was actually paid $85,000 for his help laying the trap for an entrapment scheme.

In a stunning development reported by The Washington Post, a probe into misconduct by an FBI agent resulted in the release of at least a dozen convicted drug dealers from prison.

In addition to procedural misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, the FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people includes surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, intimidation tactics, and harassment.

For example, the Associated Press lodged a complaint with the Dept. of Justice after learning that FBI agents created a fake AP news story and emailed it, along with a clickable link, to a bomb threat suspect in order to implant tracking technology onto his computer and identify his location. Lambasting the agency, AP attorney Karen Kaiser railed, “The FBI may have intended this false story as a trap for only one person. However, the individual could easily have reposted this story to social networks, distributing to thousands of people, under our name, what was essentially a piece of government disinformation.”

Then again, to those familiar with COINTELPRO, an FBI program created to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and neutralize” groups and individuals the government considers politically objectionable, it should come as no surprise that the agency has mastered the art of government disinformation.

The FBI has been particularly criticized in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks for targeting vulnerable individuals and not only luring them into fake terror plots but actually equipping them with the organization, money, weapons, and motivation to carry out the plots—entrapment—and then jailing them for their so-called terrorist plotting. This is what the FBI characterizes as “forward-leaning—preventative—prosecutions.”

Another fallout from 9/11, National Security Letters, one of the many illicit powers authorized by the USA Patriot Act, allows the FBI to secretly demand that banks, phone companies, and other businesses provide them with customer information and not disclose the demands. An internal audit of the agency found that the FBI practice of issuing tens of thousands of NSLs every year for sensitive information such as phone and financial records, often in non-emergency cases, is riddled with widespread violations.

The FBI’s surveillance capabilities, on a par with the National Security Agency, boast a nasty collection of spy tools ranging from Stingray devices that can track the location of cell phones to Triggerfish devices which allow agents to eavesdrop on phone calls.

In one case, the FBI actually managed to remotely reprogram a “suspect’s” wireless internet card so that it would send “real-time cell-site location data to Verizon, which forwarded the data to the FBI.”

The FBI has also repeatedly sought to expand its invasive hacking powers to allow agents to hack into any computer, anywhere in the world.

Indeed, for years now, the U.S. government has been creating what one intelligence insider referred to as a cyber-army capable of offensive attacks. As Reuters reported back in 2013:

Even as the U.S. government confronts rival powers over widespread Internet espionage, it has become the biggest buyer in a burgeoning gray market where hackers and security firms sell tools for breaking into computers. The strategy is spurring concern in the technology industry and intelligence community that Washington is in effect encouraging hacking and failing to disclose to software companies and customers the vulnerabilities exploited by the purchased hacks. That’s because U.S. intelligence and military agencies aren’t buying the tools primarily to fend off attacks. Rather, they are using the tools to infiltrate computer networks overseas, leaving behind spy programs and cyber-weapons that can disrupt data or damage systems.

As part of this cyberweapons programs, government agencies such as the NSA have been stockpiling all kinds of nasty malware, viruses, and hacking tools that can “steal financial account passwords, turn an iPhone into a listening device, or, in the case of Stuxnet, sabotage a nuclear facility.”

In fact, the NSA was responsible for the threat posed by the “WannaCry” or “Wanna Decryptor” malware worm which—as a result of hackers accessing the government’s arsenal—hijacked more than 57,000 computers and crippled health care, communications infrastructure, logistics, and government entities in more than 70 countries.

Mind you, the government was repeatedly warned about the dangers of using criminal tactics to wage its own cyberwars. It was warned about the consequences of blowback should its cyberweapons get into the wrong hands.

The government chose to ignore the warnings.

That’s exactly how the 9/11 attacks unfolded.

First, the government helped to create the menace that was al-Qaida, and then, when bin Laden had left the nation reeling in shock (despite countless warnings that fell on tone-deaf ears), it demanded—and was given—immense new powers in the form of the USA Patriot Act in order to fight the very danger it had created.

This has become the shadow government’s modus operandi regardless of which party controls the White House: the government creates a menace—knowing full well the ramifications such a danger might pose to the public—then without ever owning up to the part it played in unleashing that particular menace on an unsuspecting populace, it demands additional powers in order to protect “we the people” from the threat.

Yet the powers-that-be don’t really want us to feel safe.

They want us cowering and afraid and willing to relinquish every last one of our freedoms in exchange for their phantom promises of security.

As a result, it’s the American people who pay the price for the government’s insatiable greed and quest for power.

We’re the ones to suffer the blowback.

Blowback is a term originating from within the American Intelligence community, denoting the unintended consequences, unwanted side-effects, or suffered repercussions of a covert operation that fall back on those responsible for the aforementioned operations.

As historian Chalmers Johnson explains, “blowback is another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows.”

Unfortunately, “we the people” are the ones who keep reaping what the government sows.

We’re the ones who suffer every time, directly and indirectly, from the blowback.

Suffice it to say that when and if a true history of the FBI is ever written, it will not only track the rise of the American police state but it will also chart the decline of freedom in America: how a nation that once abided by the rule of law and held the government accountable for its actions has steadily devolved into a police state where justice is one-sided, a corporate elite runs the show, representative government is a mockery, police are extensions of the military, surveillance is rampant, privacy is extinct, and the law is little more than a tool for the government to browbeat the people into compliance.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

We can persuade ourselves that life is still good, that America is still beautiful, and that “we the people” are still free. However, as science fiction writer Philip K. Dick warned, “Don’t believe what you see; it’s an enthralling—[and] destructive, evil snare. Under it is a totally different world, even placed differently along the linear axis.”

In other words, as I point out Battlefield America: The War on the American People, all is not as it seems.

The powers-that-be are not acting in our best interests.

“We the people” are not free.

The government is not our friend.

The post The FBI’s Mafia-Style Justice: To Fight Crime, the FBI Sponsors 15 Crimes a Day first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

Share
Categories
Intelwars privacy Risk Assessment Surveillance Trust VPN

VPNs and Trust

TorrentFreak surveyed nineteen VPN providers, asking them questions about their privacy practices: what data they keep, how they respond to court order, what country they are incorporated in, and so on.

Most interesting to me is the home countries of these companies. Express VPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. NordVPN is incorporated in Panama. There are VPNs from the Seychelles, Malaysia, and Bulgaria. There are VPNs from more traditional companies like the U.S., Switzerland, Canada, and Sweden. Presumably all of those companies follow the laws on their home country.

And it matters. I’ve been thinking about this since Trojan Shield was made public. This is the joint US/Australia-run encrypted messaging service that lured criminals to use it, and then spied on everything they did. Or, at least, Australian law enforcement spied on everyone. The FBI wasn’t able to because the US has better privacy laws.

We don’t talk about it a lot, but VPNs are entirely based on trust. As a consumer, you have no idea which company will best protect your privacy. You don’t know the data protection laws of the Seychelles or Panama. You don’t know which countries can put extra-legal pressure on companies operating within their jurisdiction. You don’t know who actually owns and runs the VPNs. You don’t even know which foreign companies the NSA has targeted for mass surveillance. All you can do is make your best guess, and hope you guessed well.

Share
Categories
DNA Intelwars Police Police State Surveillance

The War Over Genetic Privacy Is Just Beginning

“Guilt by association” has taken on new connotations in the technological age.

All of those fascinating, genealogical searches that allow you to trace your family tree by way of a DNA sample can now be used against you and those you love.

As of 2019, more than 26 million people had added their DNA to ancestry databases. It’s estimated those databases could top 100 million profiles within the year, thanks to the aggressive marketing of companies such as Ancestry and 23andMe.

It’s a tempting proposition: provide some mega-corporation with a spit sample or a cheek swab, and in return, you get to learn everything about who you are, where you came from, and who is part of your extended your family.

The possibilities are endless.

You could be the fourth cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Or the illegitimate grandchild of an oil tycoon. Or the sibling of a serial killer.

Without even realizing it, by submitting your DNA to an ancestry database, you’re giving the police access to the genetic makeup, relationships and health profiles of every relative—past, present and future—in your family, whether or not they ever agreed to be part of such a database.

After all, a DNA print reveals everything about “who we are, where we come from, and who we will be.”

It’s what police like to refer to a “modern fingerprint.”

Whereas fingerprint technology created a watershed moment for police in their ability to “crack” a case, DNA technology is now being hailed by law enforcement agencies as the magic bullet in crime solving.

Indeed, police have begun using ancestry databases to solve cold cases that have remained unsolved for decades.

For instance, in 2018, former police officer Joseph DeAngelo was flagged as the notorious “Golden State Killer” through the use of genetic genealogy, which allows police to match up an unknown suspect’s crime scene DNA with that of any family members in a genealogy database. Police were able to identify DeAngelo using the DNA of a distant cousin found in a public DNA database. Once police narrowed the suspect list to DeAngelo, they tracked him—snatched up a tissue he had tossed in a trash can—and used his DNA on the tissue to connect him to a rash of rapes and murders from the 1970s and ‘80s.

Although DeAngelo was the first public arrest made using forensic genealogy, police have identified more than 150 suspects since then. Most recently, police relied on genetic genealogy to nab the killer of a 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death nearly 50 years ago.

Who wouldn’t want to get psychopaths and serial rapists off the streets and safely behind bars, right? At least, that’s the argument being used by law enforcement to support their unrestricted access to these genealogy databases.

“In the interest of public safety, don’t you want to make it easy for people to be caught? Police really want to do their job. They’re not after you. They just want to make you safe,” insists Colleen Fitzpatrick, a co-founder of the DNA Doe Project, which identifies unknown bodies and helps find suspects in old crimes.

Except it’s not just psychopaths and serial rapists who get caught up in the investigative dragnet.

Anyone who comes up as a possible DNA match—including distant family members—suddenly becomes part of a circle of suspects that must be tracked, investigated and ruled out.

Although a number of states had forbidden police from using government databases to track family members of suspects, the genealogy websites provided a loophole that proved irresistible to law enforcement.

Hoping to close that loophole, a few states have started introducing legislation to restrict when and how police use these genealogical databases, with Maryland requiring that they can only be used for serious violent crimes such as murder and rape, only after they exhaust other investigatory methods, and only under the supervision of a judge.

Yet the debate over genetic privacy—and when one’s DNA becomes a public commodity outside the protection of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures—is really only beginning.

Certainly, it’s just a matter of time before the government gets hold of our DNA, either through mandatory programs carried out in connection with law enforcement and corporate America, by warrantlessly accessing our familial DNA shared with genealogical services such as Ancestry and 23andMe, or through the collection of our “shed” or “touch” DNA.

According to research published in the journal Science, more than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases, even if they have not submitted their own DNA. According to law professor Natalie Ram, one genealogy profile can lead to as many as 300 other people.

That’s just on the commercial side.

All 50 states now maintain their own DNA databases, although the protocols for collection differ from state to state. Increasingly, many of the data from local databanks are being uploaded to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the FBI’s massive DNA database, which has become a de facto way to identify and track the American people from birth to death.

Even hospitals have gotten in on the game by taking and storing newborn babies’ DNA, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It’s part of the government’s mandatory genetic screening of newborns. In many states, the DNA is stored indefinitely.

What this means for those being born today is inclusion in a government database that contains intimate information about who they are, their ancestry, and what awaits them in the future, including their inclinations to be followers, leaders or troublemakers.

Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—has embarked on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

Referred to as “magic boxes,” Rapid DNA machines—portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from fool-proof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours—allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.

Journalist Heather Murphy explains: “As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases.”

The ramifications of these DNA databases are far-reaching.

At a minimum, they will do away with any semblance of privacy or anonymity. The lucrative possibilities for hackers and commercial entities looking to profit off one’s biological record are endless.

Moreover, while much of the public debate, legislative efforts and legal challenges in recent years have focused on the protocols surrounding when police can legally collect a suspect’s DNA (with or without a search warrant and whether upon arrest or conviction), the question of how to handle “shed” or “touch” DNA has largely slipped through without much debate or opposition.

As scientist Leslie A. Pray notes:

We all shed DNA, leaving traces of our identity practically everywhere we go. Forensic scientists use DNA left behind on cigarette butts, phones, handles, keyboards, cups, and numerous other objects, not to mention the genetic content found in drops of bodily fluid, like blood and semen. In fact, the garbage you leave for curbside pickup is a potential gold mine of this sort of material. All of this shed or so-called abandoned DNA is free for the taking by local police investigators hoping to crack unsolvable cases. Or, if the future scenario depicted at the beginning of this article is any indication, shed DNA is also free for inclusion in a secret universal DNA databank.

What this means is that if you have the misfortune to leave your DNA traces anywhere a crime has been committed, you’ve already got a file somewhere in some state or federal database—albeit it may be a file without a name. As Heather Murphy warns in the New York Times: “The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived…  Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.

Even old samples taken from crime scenes and “cold” cases are being unearthed and mined for their DNA profiles.

Today, helped along by robotics and automation, DNA processing, analysis and reporting takes far less time and can bring forth all manner of information, right down to a person’s eye color and relatives. Incredibly, one company specializes in creating “mug shots” for police based on DNA samples from unknown “suspects” which are then compared to individuals with similar genetic profiles.

If you haven’t yet connected the dots, let me point the way.

Having already used surveillance technology to render the entire American populace potential suspects, DNA technology in the hands of government will complete our transition to a suspect society in which we are all merely waiting to be matched up with a crime.

No longer can we consider ourselves innocent until proven guilty.

Now we are all suspects in a DNA lineup until circumstances and science say otherwise.

Suspect Society, meet the American police state.

Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta between science, technology and a government that wants to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful.

By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say. By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write. By monitoring your movements with the use of license plate readers, surveillance cameras and other tracking devices, the government knows where you go.

By churning through all of the detritus of your life—what you read, where you go, what you say—the government can predict what you will do. By mapping the synapses in your brain, scientists—and in turn, the government—will soon know what you remember.

And by accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc.

Of course, none of these technologies are foolproof.

Nor are they immune from tampering, hacking or user bias.

Nevertheless, they have become a convenient tool in the hands of government agents to render null and void the Constitution’s requirements of privacy and its prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.

What this amounts to is a scenario in which we have little to no defense of against charges of wrongdoing, especially when “convicted” by technology, and even less protection against the government sweeping up our DNA in much the same way it sweeps up our phone calls, emails and text messages.

With the entire governmental system shifting into a pre-crime mode aimed at detecting and pursuing those who “might” commit a crime before they have an inkling, let alone an opportunity, to do so, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine a scenario in which government agents (FBI, local police, etc.) target potential criminals based on their genetic disposition to be a “troublemaker” or their relationship to past dissenters.

Equally disconcerting: if scientists can, using DNA, track salmon across hundreds of square miles of streams and rivers, how easy will it be for government agents to not only know everywhere we’ve been and how long we were at each place but collect our easily shed DNA and add it to the government’s already burgeoning database?

Not to be overlooked, DNA evidence is not infallible: it can be wrong, either through human error, tampering, or even outright fabrication, and it happens more often than we are told. The danger, warns scientist Dan Frumkin, is that crime scenes can be engineered with fabricated DNA.

Now if you happen to be the kind of person who trusts the government implicitly and refuses to believe it would ever do anything illegal or immoral, then the prospect of government officials—police, especially—using fake DNA samples to influence the outcome of a case might seem outlandish.

Yet as history shows, the probability of our government acting in a way that is not only illegal but immoral becomes less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”

With technology, the courts, the corporations and Congress conspiring to invade our privacy on a cellular level, suddenly the landscape becomes that much more dystopian.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the slippery slope toward a dystopian world in which there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

The post The War Over Genetic Privacy Is Just Beginning first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
behavior modification data collection democracy fake consent democracy is mob rule division government is slavery Headline News Intelwars left vs. right paradigm lie manufacture consent militarized police no masters no slaves NSA political parasites power ruling class snitched Social Engineering spying Surveillance SURVEILLANCE STATE the system traced tracked two tier society voting is immoral wake up

Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute. 

“It is just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anesthetized to the whole process. As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”—Marshall McLuhan, From Cliche To Archetype

We’re being spied on by a domestic army of government snitches, spies, and techno-warriors.

This government of Peeping Toms is watching everything we do, reading everything we write, listening to everything we say, and monitoring everything we spend.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and cataloged, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

This far-reaching surveillance has paved the way for an omnipresent, militarized fourth branch of government—the Surveillance State—that came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum.

Indeed, long before the National Security Agency (NSA) became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.

Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail for the past 20 years, is also spying on Americans’ texts, emails, and social media posts. Headed up by the Postal Service’s law enforcement division, the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) is reportedly using facial recognition technology, combined with fake online identities, to ferret out potential troublemakers with “inflammatory” posts. The agency claims the online surveillance, which falls outside its conventional job scope of processing and delivering paper mail, is necessary to help postal workers avoid “potentially volatile situations.”

Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave until we have no more data left to mine.

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software, and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smartwatches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smartphones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the government could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike. As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals.”

We are now the unwitting victims of an interconnected, tightly woven, technologically evolving web of real-time, warrantless, wall-to-wall mass surveillance that makes the spy programs spawned by the USA Patriot Act look like child’s play.

Fusion centers. See Something, Say Something. Red flag laws. Behavioral threat assessments. Terror watch lists. Facial recognition. Snitch tip lines. Biometric scanners. Pre-crime. DNA databases. Data mining. Precognitive technology. Contact tracing apps.

These are all part and parcel of the widening surveillance dragnet that the government has used and abused in order to extend its reach and its power.

The COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in acclimating us even further to being monitored, tracked, and reported for so-called deviant or undesirable behavior.

Consequently, we now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted.

This Kafkaesque nightmare has become America’s reality.

Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the government continues to operate its domestic spying programs largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like.

The question of how to deal with government agencies and programs that operate outside of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution forces us to contend with a deeply unsatisfactory and dubious political “solution” to a problem that operates beyond the reach of voters and politicians: how do you hold accountable a government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing?

Certainly, the history and growth of the NSA tracks with the government’s insatiable hunger for ever-great powers.

Since its official start in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency—nicknamed “No Such Agency”—has operated covertly, unaccountable to Congress all the while using taxpayer dollars to fund its secret operations. It was only when the agency ballooned to 90,000 employees in 1969, making it the largest intelligence agency in the world with a significant footprint outside Washington, DC, that it became more difficult to deny its existence.

In the aftermath of Watergate in 1975, the Senate held meetings under the Church Committee in order to determine exactly what sorts of illicit activities the American intelligence apparatus was engaged in under the direction of President Nixon, and how future violations of the law could be stopped. It was the first time the NSA was exposed to public scrutiny since its creation.

The investigation revealed a sophisticated operation whose surveillance programs paid little heed to such things as the Constitution. For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”

Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers “at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator “to impose total tyranny” upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not “want to see this country ever go across the bridge” of constitutional protection, congressional oversight, and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that “we,” implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, “must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The result was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated. The law requires that the NSA get clearance from the FISA Court, a secret surveillance court before it can carry out surveillance on American citizens. Fast forward to the present day, and the so-called solution to the problem of government entities engaging in unjustified and illegal surveillance—the FISA Court—has unwittingly become the enabler of such activities, rubberstamping almost every warrant request submitted to it.

The 9/11 attacks served as a watershed moment in our nation’s history, ushering in an era in which immoral and/or illegal government activities such as surveillance, torture, strip searches, SWAT team raids are sanctioned as part of the quest to keep us “safe.”

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. That wireless wiretap program was reportedly ended in 2007 after the New York Times reported on it, to mass indignation.

Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.

It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.

Even so, nothing really changed.

Since then, presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone, but none of them have done much to put an end to the government’s “techno tyranny.”

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability, and a representative democracy by an established culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Yet the surveillance sector is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under close watch and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for the CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

Most recently, the Biden Administration indicated it may be open to working with non-governmental firms in order to warrantlessly monitor citizens online.

This would be nothing new, however. Vast quantities of the government’s digital surveillance is already being outsourced to private companies, who are far less restrained in how they harvest and share our personal data.

In this way, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its militarized domestic surveillance efforts.

Cue the dawning of what The Nation refers to as “the rise of a new class in America: the cyberintelligence ruling class. These are the people—often referred to as ‘intelligence professionals’—who do the actual analytical and targeting work of the NSA and other agencies in America’s secret government. Over the last [20] years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit.”

The snitch culture has further empowered the Surveillance State.

As Ezra Marcus writes for the New York Times, “Throughout the past year, American society responded to political upheaval and biological peril by turning to an age-old tactic for keeping rule breakers in check: tattling.”

This new era of snitch surveillance is the lovechild of the government’s post-9/11 “See Something, Say Something” programs combined with the self-righteousness of a politically correct, technologically-wired age.

Marcus continues:

“Technology, and our abiding love of it, is crucial to our current moment of social surveillance. Snitching isn’t just a byproduct of nosiness or fear; it’s a technological feature built into the digital architecture of the pandemic era — specifically when it comes to software designed for remote work and Covid-tracing… Contact tracing apps … have started to be adapted for other uses, including criminal probes by the Singaporean government. If that seems distinctly worrying, it might be useful to remember that the world’s most powerful technology companies, whose products you are likely using to read this story, already use a business model of mass surveillance, collecting and selling user information to advertisers at an unfathomable scale. Our cellphones track us everywhere, and our locations are bought and sold by data brokers at incredible, intimate detail. Facial recognition software used by law enforcement trawls Instagram selfies. Facebook harvests the biometric data of its users. The whole ecosystem, more or less, runs on snitching.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, what we are dealing with today is not just a beast that has outgrown its chains but a beast that will not be restrained.

The post Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

Share
Categories
CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Police State Surveillance

Make Way for the Snitch State

We’re being spied on by a domestic army of government snitches, spies and techno-warriors.

This government of Peeping Toms is watching everything we do, reading everything we write, listening to everything we say, and monitoring everything we spend.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and catalogued, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

This far-reaching surveillance has paved the way for an omnipresent, militarized fourth branch of government—the Surveillance State—that came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum.

Indeed, long before the National Security Agency (NSA) became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.

Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail for the past 20 years, is also spying on Americans’ texts, emails and social media posts. Headed up by the Postal Service’s law enforcement division, the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) is reportedly using facial recognition technology, combined with fake online identities, to ferret out potential troublemakers with “inflammatory” posts. The agency claims the online surveillance, which falls outside its conventional job scope of processing and delivering paper mail, is necessary to help postal workers avoid “potentially volatile situations.”

Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine.

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the government could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike. As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals.”

We are now the unwitting victims of an interconnected, tightly woven, technologically evolving web of real-time, warrantless, wall-to-wall mass surveillance that makes the spy programs spawned by the USA Patriot Act look like child’s play.

Fusion centers. See Something, Say Something. Red flag laws. Behavioral threat assessments. Terror watch lists. Facial recognition. Snitch tip lines. Biometric scanners. Pre-crime. DNA databases. Data mining. Precognitive technology. Contact tracing apps.

These are all part and parcel of the widening surveillance dragnet that the government has used and abused in order to extend its reach and its power.

The COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in acclimating us even further to being monitored, tracked and reported for so-called deviant or undesirable behavior.

Consequently, we now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted.

This Kafkaesque nightmare has become America’s reality.

Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the government continues to operate its domestic spying programs largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like.

The question of how to deal with government agencies and programs that operate outside of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution forces us to contend with a deeply unsatisfactory and dubious political “solution” to a problem that operates beyond the reach of voters and politicians: how do you hold accountable a government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing?

Certainly, the history and growth of the NSA tracks with the government’s insatiable hunger for ever-great powers.

Since its official start in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency—nicknamed “No Such Agency”—has operated covertly, unaccountable to Congress all the while using taxpayer dollars to fund its secret operations. It was only when the agency ballooned to 90,000 employees in 1969, making it the largest intelligence agency in the world with a significant footprint outside Washington, DC, that it became more difficult to deny its existence.

In the aftermath of Watergate in 1975, the Senate held meetings under the Church Committee in order to determine exactly what sorts of illicit activities the American intelligence apparatus was engaged in under the direction of President Nixon, and how future violations of the law could be stopped. It was the first time the NSA was exposed to public scrutiny since its creation.

The investigation revealed a sophisticated operation whose surveillance programs paid little heed to such things as the Constitution. For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”

Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers “at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator “to impose total tyranny” upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not “want to see this country ever go across the bridge” of constitutional protection, congressional oversight and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that “we,” implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, “must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The result was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated. The law requires that the NSA get clearance from the FISA Court, a secret surveillance court, before it can carry out surveillance on American citizens. Fast forward to the present day, and the so-called solution to the problem of government entities engaging in unjustified and illegal surveillance—the FISA Court—has unwittingly become the enabler of such activities, rubberstamping almost every warrant request submitted to it.

The 9/11 attacks served as a watershed moment in our nation’s history, ushering in an era in which immoral and/or illegal government activities such as surveillance, torture, strip searches, SWAT team raids are sanctioned as part of the quest to keep us “safe.”

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. That wireless wiretap program was reportedly ended in 2007 after the New York Times reported on it, to mass indignation.

Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.

It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.

Even so, nothing really changed.

Since then, presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone, but none of them have done much to put an end to the government’s “technotyranny.”

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative democracy by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Yet the surveillance sector is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under close watch and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for the CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

Most recently, the Biden Administration indicated it may be open to working with non-governmental firms in order to warrantlessly monitor citizens online.

This would be nothing new, however. Vast quantities of the government’s digital surveillance is already being outsourced to private companies, who are far less restrained in how they harvest and share our personal data.

In this way, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its militarized domestic surveillance efforts.

Cue the dawning of what The Nation refers to as “the rise of a new class in America: the cyberintelligence ruling class. These are the people—often referred to as ‘intelligence professionals’—who do the actual analytical and targeting work of the NSA and other agencies in America’s secret government. Over the last [20] years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit.”

The snitch culture has further empowered the Surveillance State.

As Ezra Marcus writes for the New York Times, “Throughout the past year, American society responded to political upheaval and biological peril by turning to an age-old tactic for keeping rule breakers in check: tattling.”

This new era of snitch surveillance is the lovechild of the government’s post-9/11 “See Something, Say Something” programs combined with the self-righteousness of a politically correct, technologically-wired age.

Marcus continues:

“Technology, and our abiding love of it, is crucial to our current moment of social surveillance. Snitching isn’t just a byproduct of nosiness or fear; it’s a technological feature built into the digital architecture of the pandemic era — specifically when it comes to software designed for remote work and Covid-tracing… Contact tracing apps … have started to be adapted for other uses, including criminal probes by the Singaporean government. If that seems distinctly worrying, it might be useful to remember that the world’s most powerful technology companies, whose products you are likely using to read this story, already use a business model of mass surveillance, collecting and selling user information to advertisers at an unfathomable scale. Our cellphones track us everywhere, and our locations are bought and sold by data brokers at incredible, intimate detail. Facial recognition software used by law enforcement trawls Instagram selfies. Facebook harvests the biometric data of its users. The whole ecosystem, more or less, runs on snitching.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, what we are dealing with today is not just a beast that has outgrown its chains but a beast that will not be restrained.

The post Make Way for the Snitch State first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Joe Biden Police State precrime Surveillance

Total Tyranny: We’ll All Be Targeted Under the Government’s New Precrime Program

It never fails.

Just as we get a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, there might be a chance of crawling out of this totalitarian cesspool in which we’ve been mired, we get kicked down again.

In the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that police cannot carry out warrantless home invasions in order to seize guns under the pretext of their “community caretaking” duties, the Biden Administration announced its plans for a “precrime” crime prevention agency.

Talk about taking one step forward and two steps back.

Precrime, straight out of the realm of dystopian science fiction movies such as Minority Report, aims to prevent crimes before they happen by combining widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technology, and neighborhood and family snitch programs to enable police to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

This particular precrime division will fall under the Department of Homeland Security, the agency notorious for militarizing the police and SWAT teams; spying on activists, dissidents and veterans; stockpiling ammunition; distributing license plate readers; contracting to build detention camps; tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices; carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities; using the TSA as an advance guard; conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners; carrying out soft target checkpoints; directing government workers to spy on Americans; conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers; carrying out Constitution-free border control searches; funding city-wide surveillance cameras; and utilizing drones and other spybots.

The intent, of course, is for the government to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful in its preemptive efforts to combat domestic extremism.

Where we run into trouble is when the government gets overzealous and over-ambitious and overreaches.

This is how you turn a nation of citizens into snitches and suspects.

In the blink of an eye, ordinary Americans will find themselves labeled domestic extremists for engaging in lawful behavior that triggers the government’s precrime sensors.

Of course, it’s an elaborate setup: we’ll all be targets.

In such a suspect society, the burden of proof is reversed so that guilt is assumed and innocence must be proven.

It’s the American police state’s take on the dystopian terrors foreshadowed by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick all rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.

What’s more, the technocrats who run the surveillance state don’t even have to break a sweat while monitoring what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, how much you spend, whom you support, and with whom you communicate.

Computers now do the tedious work of trolling social media, the internet, text messages and phone calls for potentially anti-government remarks, all of which is carefully recorded, documented, and stored to be used against you someday at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

In this way, with the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software, government agents are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state.

It works the same in any regime.

As Professor Robert Gellately notes in his book Backing Hitler about the police state tactics used in Nazi Germany: “There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”

Here’s the thing as the Germans themselves quickly discovered: you won’t have to do anything illegal or challenge the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state and locked up like a dangerous criminal.

In fact, all you will need to do is use certain trigger words, surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, drive a car, stay at a hotel, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious to a neighbor, question government authority, or generally live in the United States.

The following activities are guaranteed to get you censored, surveilled, eventually placed on a government watch list, possibly detained and potentially killed.

Use harmless trigger words like cloud, pork and pirates: The Department of Homeland Security has an expansive list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats. While you’ll definitely send up an alert for using phrases such as dirty bomb, Jihad and Agro terror, you’re just as likely to get flagged for surveillance if you reference the terms SWAT, lockdown, police, cloud, food poisoning, pork, flu, Subway, smart, delays, cancelled, la familia, pirates, hurricane, forest fire, storm, flood, help, ice, snow, worm, warning or social media.

Use a cell phone: Simply by using a cell phone, you make yourself an easy target for government agents—working closely with corporations—who can listen in on your phone calls, read your text messages and emails, and track your movements based on the data transferred from, received by, and stored in your cell phone. Mention any of the so-called “trigger” words in a conversation or text message, and you’ll get flagged for sure.

Drive a car: Unless you’ve got an old junkyard heap without any of the gadgets and gizmos that are so attractive to today’s car buyers (GPS, satellite radio, electrical everything, smart systems, etc.), driving a car today is like wearing a homing device: you’ll be tracked from the moment you open that car door thanks to black box recorders and vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems that can monitor your speed, direction, location, the number of miles traveled, and even your seatbelt use. Once you add satellites, GPS devices, license plate readers, and real-time traffic cameras to the mix, there’s nowhere you can go on our nation’s highways and byways that you can’t be followed. By the time you add self-driving cars into the futuristic mix, equipped with computers that know where you want to go before you do, privacy and autonomy will be little more than distant mirages in your rearview mirror.

Attend a political rally: Enacted in the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

Express yourself on social media: The FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior. A decorated Marine, 26-year-old Brandon Raub was targeted by the Secret Service because of his Facebook posts, interrogated by government agents about his views on government corruption, arrested with no warning, labeled mentally ill for subscribing to so-called “conspiratorial” views about the government, detained against his will in a psych ward for having “dangerous” opinions, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys.

Serve in the militaryOperation Vigilant Eagle, the brainchild of the Dept. of Homeland Security, calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” Police agencies are also using Beware, an “early warning” computer system that tips them off to a potential suspect’s inclination to be a troublemaker and assigns individuals a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—based on a variety of factors including one’s criminal records, military background, medical history and social media surveillance.

Disagree with a law enforcement official: A growing number of government programs are aimed at identifying, monitoring and locking up anyone considered potentially “dangerous” or mentally ill (according to government standards, of course). For instance, a homeless man in New York City who reportedly had a history of violence but no signs of mental illness was forcibly detained in a psych ward for a week after arguing with shelter police. Despite the fact that doctors cited no medical reason to commit him, the man was locked up in accordance with a $22 million program that monitors mentally ill people considered “potentially” violent. According to the Associated Press, “A judge finally ordered his release, ruling that the man’s commitment violated his civil rights and that bureaucrats had meddled in his medical treatment.”

Call in sick to work: In Virginia, a so-called police “welfare check” instigated by a 58-year-old man’s employer after he called in sick resulted in a two-hour, SWAT team-style raid on the man’s truck and a 72-hour mental health hold. During the standoff, a heavily armed police tactical team confronted Benjamin Burruss as he was leaving an area motel, surrounded his truck, deployed a “stinger” device behind the rear tires, launched a flash grenade, smashed the side window in order to drag him from the truck, handcuffed and searched him, and transported him to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and mental health hold. All of this was done despite the fact that police acknowledged they had no legal basis nor probable cause for detaining Burruss, given that he had not threatened to harm anyone and was not mentally ill.

Limp or stutter: As a result of a nationwide push to certify a broad spectrum of government officials in mental health first-aid training (a 12-hour course comprised of PowerPoint presentations, videos, discussions, role playing and other interactive activities), more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported for having mental health issues by non-medical personnel. Mind you, once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, or a dissident watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there. For instance, one 37-year-old disabled man was arrested, diagnosed by police and an unlicensed mental health screener as having “mental health issues,” apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait, and subsequently locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will and with no access to family and friends. A subsequent hearing found that Gordon Goines, who suffers from a neurological condition similar to multiple sclerosis, has no mental illness and should not have been confined.

Appear confused or nervous, fidget, whistle or smell bad: According to the Transportation Security Administration’s 92-point secret behavior watch list for spotting terrorists, these are among some of the telling signs of suspicious behavior: fidgeting, whistling, bad body odor, yawning, clearing your throat, having a pale face from recently shaving your beard, covering your mouth with your hand when speaking and blinking your eyes fast. You can also be pulled aside for interrogation if you “have ‘unusual items,’ like almanacs and ‘numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones.’” One critic of the program accurately referred to the program as a “license to harass.”

Allow yourself to be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun, such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane, for instance: No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. John Crawford was shot by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart for holding an air rifle sold in the store that he may have intended to buy. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot 7 times in 10 seconds by a California police officer who mistook the boy’s toy gun for an assault rifle. Christopher Roupe, 17, was shot and killed after opening the door to a police officer. The officer, mistaking the Wii remote control in Roupe’s hand for a gun, shot him in the chest. Another police officer repeatedly shot 70-year-old Bobby Canipe during a traffic stop. The cop saw the man reaching for his cane and, believing the cane to be a rifle, opened fire.

Stare at a police officer: Miami-Dade police slammed the 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian to the ground, putting him in a chokehold and handcuffing him after he allegedly gave them “dehumanizing stares” and walked away from them, which the officers found unacceptable.

Appear to be pro-gun, pro-freedom or anti-government: You might be a domestic terrorist in the eyes of the FBI (and its network of snitches) if you: express libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers); exhibit Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership); read survivalist literature, including apocalyptic fictional books; show signs of self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies); fear an economic collapse; buy gold and barter items; subscribe to religious views concerning the book of Revelation; voice fears about Big Brother or big government; expound about constitutional rights and civil liberties; or believe in a New World Order conspiracy. This is all part of a larger trend in American governance whereby dissent is criminalized and pathologized, and dissenters are censored, silenced or declared unfit for society.

Attend a public school: Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement. Additionally, as part of the government’s so-called ongoing war on terror, the FBI—the nation’s de facto secret police force—has been recruiting students and teachers to spy on each other and report anyone who appears to have the potential to be “anti-government” or “extremist” as part of its “Don’t Be a Puppet” campaign.

Speak truth to power: Long before Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who were being singled out for daring to speak truth to power. These men and others like them had their phone calls monitored and data files collected on their activities and associations. For a little while, at least, they became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Yet as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, you don’t even have to be a dissident to get flagged by the government for surveillance, censorship and detention.

All you really need to be is a citizen of the American police state.

The post Total Tyranny: We’ll All Be Targeted Under the Government’s New Precrime Program first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
agenda Censorship citizen elitists enslavement global slavery government is slavery Headline News Intelwars Monitored Murder New World Order Police Police State propaganda SLAVERY speak truth to power Surveillance totalitarian traced tracked tyranny United States wake up

Total Tyranny: We’ll All Be Targeted Under the Government’s New Precrime Program

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute.

“There is now the capacity to make tyranny total in America.”? James Bamford

It never fails.

Just as we get a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, there might be a chance of crawling out of this totalitarian cesspool in which we’ve been mired, we get kicked down again.

In the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that police cannot carry out warrantless home invasions in order to seize guns under the pretext of their “community caretaking” duties, the Biden Administration announced its plans for a “precrime” crime prevention agency.

Talk about taking one step forward and two steps back.

Precrime, straight out of the realm of dystopian science fiction movies such as Minority Report, aims to prevent crimes before they happen by combining widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technology, and neighborhood and family snitch programs to enable police to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

This particular precrime division will fall under the Department of Homeland Security, the agency notorious for militarizing the police and SWAT teams; spying on activists, dissidents, and veterans; stockpiling ammunition; distributing license plate readers; contracting to build detention camps; tracking cell phones with Stingray devices; carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities; using the TSA as an advance guard; conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners; carrying out soft target checkpoints; directing government workers to spy on Americans; conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers; carrying out Constitution-free border control searches; funding city-wide surveillance cameras; and utilizing drones and other spybots.

The intent, of course, is for the government to be all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful in its preemptive efforts to combat domestic extremism.

Where we run into trouble is when the government gets overzealous and over-ambitious and overreaches.

This is how you turn a nation of citizens into snitches and suspects.

In the blink of an eye, ordinary Americans will find themselves labeled domestic extremists for engaging in lawful behavior that triggers the government’s precrime sensors.

Of course, it’s an elaborate setup: we’ll all be targets.

In such a suspect society, the burden of proof is reversed so that guilt is assumed and innocence must be proven.

It’s the American police state’s take on the dystopian terrors foreshadowed by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick all rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.

What’s more, the technocrats who run the surveillance state don’t even have to break a sweat while monitoring what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, how much you spend, whom you support, and with whom you communicate.

Computers now do the tedious work of trolling social media, the internet, text messages, and phone calls for potentially anti-government remarks, all of which is carefully recorded, documented, and stored to be used against you someday at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

In this way, with the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware, and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software, government agents are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state.

It works the same in any regime.

As Professor Robert Gellately notes in his book Backing Hitler about the police state tactics used in Nazi Germany: “There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”

Here’s the thing as the Germans themselves quickly discovered: you won’t have to do anything illegal or challenge the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state and locked up like a dangerous criminal.

In fact, all you will need to do is use certain trigger words, surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, drive a car, stay at a hotel, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious to a neighbor, question government authority, or generally live in the United States.

The following activities are guaranteed to get you censored, surveilled, eventually placed on a government watch list, possibly detained, and potentially killed.

Use harmless trigger words like cloud, pork, and pirates: The Department of Homeland Security has an expansive list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats. While you’ll definitely send up an alert for using phrases such as dirty bomb, Jihad, and Agro terror, you’re just as likely to get flagged for surveillance if you reference the terms SWAT, lockdown, police, cloud, food poisoning, pork, flu, Subway, smart, delays, canceled, la familial, pirates, hurricane, forest fire, storm, flood, help, ice, snow, worm, warning or social media.

Use a cell phone: Simply by using a cell phone, you make yourself an easy target for government agents—working closely with corporations—who can listen in on your phone calls, read your text messages and emails, and track your movements based on the data transferred from, received by, and stored in your cell phone. Mention any of the so-called “trigger” words in a conversation or text message, and you’ll get flagged for sure.

Drive a car: Unless you’ve got an old junkyard heap without any of the gadgets and gizmos that are so attractive to today’s car buyers (GPS, satellite radio, electrical everything, smart systems, etc.), driving a car today is like wearing a homing device: you’ll be tracked from the moment you open that car door thanks to black box recorders and vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems that can monitor your speed, direction, location, the number of miles traveled, and even your seatbelt use. Once you add satellites, GPS devices, license plate readers, and real-time traffic cameras to the mix, there’s nowhere you can go on our nation’s highways and byways that you can’t be followed. By the time you add self-driving cars into the futuristic mix, equipped with computers that know where you want to go before you do, privacy and autonomy will be little more than distant mirages in your rearview mirror.

Attend a political rally: Enacted in the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations, and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

Express yourself on social media: The FBI, CIA, NSA, and other government agencies are investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior. A decorated Marine, 26-year-old Brandon Raub was targeted by the Secret Service because of his Facebook posts, interrogated by government agents about his views on government corruption, arrested with no warning, labeled mentally ill for subscribing to so-called “conspiratorial” views about the government, detained against his will in a psych ward for having “dangerous” opinions, and isolated from his family, friends, and attorneys.

Serve in the militaryOperation Vigilant Eagle, the brainchild of the Dept. of Homeland Security, calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” Police agencies are also using Beware, an “early warning” computer system that tips them off to a potential suspect’s inclination to be a troublemaker and assigns individuals a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—based on a variety of factors including one’s criminal records, military background, medical history, and social media surveillance.

Disagree with a law enforcement official: A growing number of government programs are aimed at identifying, monitoring, and locking up anyone considered potentially “dangerous” or mentally ill (according to government standards, of course). For instance, a homeless man in New York City who reportedly had a history of violence but no signs of mental illness was forcibly detained in a psych ward for a week after arguing with shelter police. Despite the fact that doctors cited no medical reason to commit him, the man was locked up in accordance with a $22 million program that monitors mentally ill people considered “potentially” violent. According to the Associated Press, “A judge finally ordered his release, ruling that the man’s commitment violated his civil rights and that bureaucrats had meddled in his medical treatment.”

Call in sick to work: In Virginia, a so-called police “welfare check” instigated by a 58-year-old man’s employer after he called in sick resulted in a two-hour, SWAT team-style raid on the man’s truck and a 72-hour mental health hold. During the standoff, a heavily armed police tactical team confronted Benjamin Burruss as he was leaving an area motel, surrounded his truck, deployed a “stinger” device behind the rear tires, launched a flash grenade, smashed the side window in order to drag him from the truck, handcuffed and searched him, and transported him to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and mental health hold. All of this was done despite the fact that police acknowledged they had no legal basis nor probable cause for detaining Burruss, given that he had not threatened to harm anyone and was not mentally ill.

Limp or stutter: As a result of a nationwide push to certify a broad spectrum of government officials in mental health first-aid training (a 12-hour course comprised of PowerPoint presentations, videos, discussions, role-playing, and other interactive activities), more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported for having mental health issues by non-medical personnel. Mind you, once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, or a dissident watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there. For instance, one 37-year-old disabled man was arrested, diagnosed by police and an unlicensed mental health screener as having “mental health issues,” apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait, and subsequently locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will and with no access to family and friends. A subsequent hearing found that Gordon Goines, who suffers from a neurological condition similar to multiple sclerosis, has no mental illness and should not have been confined.

Appear confused or nervous, fidget, whistle, or smell bad: According to the Transportation Security Administration’s 92-point secret behavior watch list for spotting terrorists, these are among some of the telling signs of suspicious behavior: fidgeting, whistling, bad body odor, yawning, clearing your throat, having a pale face from recently shaving your beard, covering your mouth with your hand when speaking and blinking your eyes fast. You can also be pulled aside for interrogation if you “have ‘unusual items,’ like almanacs and ‘numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones.’” One critic of the program accurately referred to the program as a “license to harass.”

Allow yourself to be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun, such as a water nozzle or remote control or a walking cane, for instance: No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. John Crawford was shot by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart for holding an air rifle sold in the store that he may have intended to buy. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot 7 times in 10 seconds by a California police officer who mistook the boy’s toy gun for an assault rifle. Christopher Roupe, 17, was shot and killed after opening the door to a police officer. The officer, mistaking the Wii remote control in Roupe’s hand for a gun, shot him in the chest. Another police officer repeatedly shot 70-year-old Bobby Canipe during a traffic stop. The cop saw the man reaching for his cane and, believing the cane to be a rifle, opened fire.

Stare at a police officer: Miami-Dade police slammed the 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian to the ground, putting him in a chokehold and handcuffing him after he allegedly gave them “dehumanizing stares” and walked away from them, which the officers found unacceptable.

Appear to be pro-gun, pro-freedom, or anti-government: You might be a domestic terrorist in the eyes of the FBI (and its network of snitches) if you: express libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers); exhibit Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership); read survivalist literature, including apocalyptic fictional books; show signs of self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies); fear an economic collapse; buy gold and barter items; subscribe to religious views concerning the book of Revelation; voice fears about Big Brother or big government; expound about constitutional rights and civil liberties, or believe in a New World Order conspiracy. This is all part of a larger trend in American governance whereby dissent is criminalized and pathologized, and dissenters are censored, silenced, or declared unfit for society.

Attend a public school: Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, over criminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero-tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement. Additionally, as part of the government’s so-called ongoing war on terror, the FBI—the nation’s de facto secret police force—has been recruiting students and teachers to spy on each other and report anyone who appears to have the potential to be “anti-government” or “extremist” as part of its “Don’t Be a Puppet” campaign.

Speak truth to power: Long before Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who were being singled out for daring to speak truth to power. These men and others like them had their phone calls monitored and data files collected on their activities and associations. For a little while, at least, they became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Yet as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, you don’t even have to be a dissident to get flagged by the government for surveillance, censorship, and detention.

All you really need to be is a citizen of the American police state.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Before you say the Constitution has “given” us rights in this country, remember your rights do NOT come from the Constitution or any government:

“But whether the Constitution really be one thing or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.” -Lysander Spooner

The post Total Tyranny: We’ll All Be Targeted Under the Government’s New Precrime Program first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

Share
Categories
Apple Censorship China Intelwars privacy Surveillance

Apple Censorship and Surveillance in China

Good investigative reporting on how Apple is participating in and assisting with Chinese censorship and surveillance.

Share
Categories
Asset forfeiture chicago Drones Intelwars Police privacy Surveillance

Chicago Cops Use Asset Forfeiture Funds to Buy Drones “Off the Books”

Asset forfeiture funds help fund the ever-growing national surveillance state.

Civil asset forfeiture is a pernicious policy in its own right. It is nothing more than legalized, institutionalized, government-sanctioned theft. Forfeiture laws flip due process on its head and create perverse “policing for profit” incentives.

On top of that, we have long suspected that police departments use forfeiture money to secretly purchase surveillance technology. Recent Chicago Police Department emails obtained from a trove of hacked documents prove this happens, revealing that cops used asset forfeiture money to buy drones off the books with no oversight or accountability.

According to reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times, details of the CPD drone program were revealed in an email sent by the director of police research and development. In the email exchange, Karen Conway told other high-ranking police officials that the department’s counterterrorism bureau “utilized 1505 funds for a pilot Drone program that operates within the parameters of current laws.”

Conway wrote that drones “have been purchased and the Electronic & Technical Support Unit (Counter-terrorism) is in the process of creating a training to start a pilot. Some of the Drone uses will be for missing persons, crime scene photos, and terrorist-related issues.”

The city refused to answer specific questions about the drone program, saying the city would not answer questions relating to hacked emails.

The 1505 fund is made of asset forfeiture proceeds, along with other assets seized in connection to criminal investigations. According to the Sun-Times, the fund is “off the books” and isn’t included in the department’s budget. In addition to funding the purchase of drones, 1505 money was reportedly used to purchase cell-site simulators, commonly known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

According to data gathered under a state law requiring asset forfeiture reporting, the CPD reported taking in seized or awarded assets valued at an estimated $25.9 million over the last two years. That’s a lot of off-the-books money.

Assurances that law enforcement uses the drones “within the parameters of current laws” didn’t ease the concerns of Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. He told the Sun-Times the emails show the city “continues to pursue the invasive technologies without any public disclosure, oversight or publicly adopted privacy policies,”

“We should not be surprised. This behavior goes back more than two decades when Chicago first began to place surveillance cameras all across the city. To this day, residents of the city have never seen a privacy policy for the use of those cameras.”

In 2018, the Illinois legislature considered a bill to allow drones equipped with facial recognition technology to surveil protests. Separate versions passed each chamber of the legislature, but a reconciled bill never made it to the governor’s desk. The ACLU of Illinois said former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was the “heavy hand” pushing that legislation.

“Given that the city not so long ago sought legislation to permit using drones to surveil public gatherings, including those engaged in First Amendment activity, it is worth questioning its motivations,” Yohnka said

In a report on the city’s response to unrest in the wake of the shooting of George Floyd, Illinois Inspector General Joseph Ferguson noted that drones were likely flying overhead at some demonstrations.

The Chicago Police Department reveals how asset forfeiture money can serve as another secret funding source for surveillance programs, keeping them out of the public eye.

Local police have access to a mind-boggling array of surveillance equipment. As it now stands, many law enforcement agencies can obtain this high-tech, extremely intrusive technology without any approval or oversight using these off-the-books funding sources. In addition to forfeiture proceeds, local law enforcement agencies can also tap into federal government grants and other funding sources to buy high-tech spy gear. Members of the community, and even elected officials, often don’t know their police departments possess technology capable of sweeping up electronic data, phone calls and location information.

This isn’t just a local concern. State and local police surveillance feed into the national surveillance state.

Information collected by local law enforcement undoubtedly ends up in federal databases. The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE.

Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”

Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.

The federal government encourages and funds surveillance technology including ALPRs, drones and stingrays at the state and local level across the U.S. In return, it undoubtedly gains access to a massive data pool on Americans without having to expend the resources to collect the information itself. By requiring approval and placing the acquisition of spy gear in the public spotlight, local governments can take the first step toward limiting the surveillance state at both the local and national levels.

The post Chicago Cops Use Asset Forfeiture Funds to Buy Drones “Off the Books” first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
CURRENT EVENTS FBI FISA FISC Intelwars NSA Section 702 spying Surveillance usps

More Government Spying and Lying

Twice last week, the federal government’s unconstitutional spying on ordinary Americans was exposed. One of these revelations was made by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., who wrote that the FBI is still using warrantless spying in criminal cases, notwithstanding the Constitution and federal laws. The other revelation was a surprise even to those of us who monitor these things — the United States Postal Service acknowledged that it has been spying on Americans.

Here is the backstory.

The modern American security state — the parts of the federal government that spy on Americans and do not change on account of elections — received an enormous shot in the arm in 1978 when Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That naively misguided and profoundly unconstitutional law was sold to Congress as a way to control the security state’s spying in the aftermath of Watergate. Watergate had revealed that President Richard M. Nixon used the FBI and the CIA to spy on real and imagined domestic political adversaries.

FISA set up a secret court that authorized domestic spying by issuing warrants not based on probable cause of crime, as the Constitution requires, but on probable cause of communicating with foreign agents. Never mind that communications about noncriminal matters are protected speech; the FISA court issued tens of thousands of these warrants.

As the security state’s appetite for spying grew more voracious, its agents and lawyers persuaded the FISA court to lower the bar for issuing a surveillance warrant from communicating with a foreign agent to communicating with a foreign person, and to expand the scope of those warrants to include Americans who have communicated with other Americans who have communicated with foreign people. Under this procedure, if I call my cousins in Florence and then you call me, all of your calls could be surveilled.

Jealous of the ease with which America’s spies can obtain warrants from the FISA court, the FBI persuaded its friends on Capitol Hill to enact legislation that gives the FBI a peek at data the security state gathers — if it meets certain standards — to see if any of it pertains to criminal matters. Each one of these FBI peeks at raw intelligence data is known as a “share.”

All of this was done in utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment requirements that no search warrants shall be issued without showing under oath probable cause of crime and that all warrants shall specifically describe the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.

If an FBI agent sees evidence of a nonnational security crime on one of the shares, the agent will try to use it in a criminal prosecution, even though he acquired it in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If federal prosecutors want to introduce evidence from the share at trial, they need to find another source for it, as no judge will admit raw intelligence data obtained without a warrant in a criminal case.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency — the 60,000-person strong branch of the military that quarterbacks domestic spying — to capture every keystroke on every computer and the contents of every phone call in America. All presidents since Bush — even President Donald Trump, who was personally victimized by this spying — have continued the practice of universal, suspicionless, warrantless spying.

The NSA sharing data with the FBI is deeply troubling because it violates both the Fourth Amendment and federal law. The intentional use of FISA to obtain data about an American for nonnational security-related criminal activity is itself a criminal act as it constitutes a planned and direct violation of the Fourth Amendment by electronic means — otherwise known as hacking.

Last week, the chief judge of the FISA court revealed that for 2019 the FBI reported just one instance of sharing, even though Department of Justice auditors found 91 instances. And that number is far lower than the true number of shares since — inexplicably — the DOJ counts all shares performed by one agent as one share, even though the agent may have accessed the data of more than one American.

In August 2019, one FBI agent accessed the raw intelligence data of 16,000 Americans in order to find criminal evidence about seven of them. The FBI reported that as one share.

Also last week, the USPS revealed that its postal inspectors have been monitoring social media at random, looking for troublemakers. Since social media is publicly posted, you and I can read it at will. But the Fourth Amendment requires that the government have “articulable suspicion” about the person whose social media is being surveilled before it begins its surveillance — even surveillance of publicly available materials. This is to prevent fishing expeditions.

What articulable suspicions did the Postal Service have before its police began their surveillance? What conceivable threat to the postal mails is manifested in texts and emails (other than that the latter are infinitely faster and profoundly more efficient)? None and none.

All this shows just how corrupted America’s security state has become under presidents of both parties. From counting 16,000 as if it were one, to hacking the texts and emails of people without articulable suspicion or probable cause, to orchestrating end runs around the Fourth Amendment, to lying to federal judges about all this — we see the tactics of the East German Stasi and Soviet KGB have been reborn on this side of the Atlantic.

Of what value is the constitutional guarantee of privacy if those we have hired to protect it are themselves undermining it?

The post More Government Spying and Lying first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
Biden administration Biden extremist chatter Capitol riot Domestic terrorism Intelwars Surveillance

Report: Biden considers using private firms to surveil ‘extremist chatter’ online in response to domestic terrorism, Capitol riot

The Biden administration is considering partnering with outside firms to surveil “extremist chatter” online as part of an effort to combat domestic terrorism in the country, CNN reported Monday.

What are the details?

The move — which comes in apparent response to the growth of far-right extremism in America and, specifically, the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol — would enhance the federal government’s ability to gather intelligence from conversations happening in private spaces online.

As it stands, the Department of Homeland Security is legally limited in how it can surveil citizens online without justification and prohibited from assuming false identities to breach private messaging apps, CNN noted. Instead, federal authorities can only browse through information shared on social media and other open platforms.

But under the new plan, which is currently being discussed inside the department, federal officials would be able to “circumvent those limits” by partnering with “research firms who have more visibility in this space.”

“A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge,” the report stated.

Essentially, private researchers who already monitor such activity online would act as middlemen in the new scheme, providing DHS with “broad summaries or analysis of narratives” emerging in private groups operated by groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers.

DHS officials reportedly insisted to CNN that any information obtained by the department would “not be used to target specific individuals.”

What else?

The plan aims to close an intelligence gap which allegedly contributed to a failure to prepare for the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, experts and officials argued, despite claims that warnings were given to the FBI well in advance of the riot. Notably, even as concerns grew ahead of the day, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser discouraged additional federal law enforcement.

One DHS official reportedly told CNN that by the time narratives are appearing on Facebook, it is usually too late.

“Domestic violent extremists are really adaptive and innovative. We see them not only moving to encrypted platforms, but obviously couching their language so they don’t trigger any kind of red flag on any platforms,” the official said.

“There was only limited awareness before January 6 of what violent extremists were planning through social media,” added Tom Warrick, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who served as DHS deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism policy from 2008 until 2019.

He said he expects the DHS is exploring “whether contractors could help them understand plots and trends” emerging online.

Anything else?

The Biden administration has been outspoken about its intentions to combat the growth of white supremacist extremism in the country.

Last week, during his first address to a joint session of Congress, Biden claimed that white supremacists have replaced jihadists as the “most lethal terrorist threat” to the U.S.

Share
Categories
Intelwars postal service Surveillance usps

US Postal Service is secretly keeping tabs on Americans’ social media posts as part of ‘covert operations program’

The United States Postal Service has been secretly collecting data on Americans’ social media posts, Yahoo News revealed Wednesday.

According to a March 16 government bulletin obtained by the outlet, the USPS’ law enforcement arm is tracking citizens’ social media activity to gather data on a host of topics, including “inflammatory” postings and planned protests, that it shares across multiple federal agencies as part of an effort called the Internet Covert Operations Program, or iCOP.

Yahoo News said the document, which was marked “law enforcement sensitive,” specifically mentioned an examination of alleged planned activity for March 20 and was distributed through Homeland Security’s fusion centers.

“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” the bulletin said. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”

The report said iCOP’s intelligence admitted that nothing pointed to the alleged threats as actually being legitimate:

A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. “Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to ‘do serious damage,'” says the bulletin.

“No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats,” it adds.

The bulletin includes screenshots of posts about the protests from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites. Individuals mentioned by name include one alleged Proud Boy and several others whose identifying details were included but whose posts did not appear to contain anything threatening.

“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” the bulletin says.

Constitutional concerns

Civil liberties experts told Yahoo News they were concerned about both the surveillance and why the USPS would be tasked with such an undertaking.

“It’s a mystery,” said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, who, Yahoo noted, reviewed the NSA’s bulk data collection during the Obama years following the Edward Snowden leaks. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.

“I just don’t think the Postal Service has the degree of sophistication that you would want if you were dealing with national security issues of this sort,” he continued.

“That part is puzzling,” Stone said. “There are so many other federal agencies that could do this, I don’t understand why the post office would be doing it. There is no need for the post office to do it — you’ve got FBI, Homeland Security and so on, so I don’t know why the post office is doing this.”

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, who serves as deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program, told Yahoo that the program “seems a little bizarre.”

“Based on the very minimal information that’s available online, it appears that [iCOP] is meant to root out misuse of the postal system by online actors, which doesn’t seem to encompass what’s going on here,” she added. “It’s not at all clear why their mandate would include monitoring of social media that’s unrelated to use of the postal system.”

She also pointed to the constitutionally dubious nature of the program.

“If the individuals they’re monitoring are carrying out or planning criminal activity, that should be the purview of the FBI,” Levinson-Waldman said. “If they’re simply engaging in lawfully protected speech, even if it’s odious or objectionable, then monitoring them on that basis raises serious constitutional concerns.”

Yahoo News said the U.S. Postal Inspection Service did not respond to specific questions about iCOP.

Share
Categories
4th amendment CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Surveillance

The Coming War on Privacy

When Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked at his confirmation hearings earlier this month what his priorities would be if confirmed, he responded immediately that it would be a vigorous pursuit of domestic terrorism. He did not say he would lead vigorous prosecutions, just vigorous pursuits.

This is dangerous business for the Department of Justice because it transforms its role from prosecuting crimes after they happen to predicting who would commit crimes that never happen.

How could the feds predict crimes? They would attempt to do so by a serious uptick in domestic surveillance of broad categories of people based on political and ideological views. The government loves to cast out fishing nets — so to speak — and then intimidate or prosecute whomever they bring in.

The National Security Agency — America’s 60,000-person strong domestic spying apparatus — already captures all data transmitted on fiber optic cable into, out of, and within the U.S.; that’s every email, text and phone call. But they don’t admit to this. When the FBI desperately sought to gain entry to the cellphones of two deceased mass murderers in San Bernardino, California, a few years ago, the NSA would not help them because doing so would acknowledge the NSA’s mass warrantless spying.

Stymied by their own colleagues’ refusal to admit their unconstitutional behavior, but emboldened that the NSA could get away with this, federal agents either would break the law themselves by engaging in warrantless surveillance or obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court by claiming foreign terrorism as a pretext for domestic law enforcement surveillance.

Under the unconstitutional standards employed by the FISA court, if the feds present probable cause of an American’s communication with a foreign person, the FISA court would issue a search warrant for surveillance of all communications of the American.

This is unconstitutional because the standard for obtaining search warrants from a judge is articulated in the Fourth Amendment, which neither the Congress nor the courts can change. That standard is probable cause of crime — is it more likely than not that the place to be searched contains evidence of crimes — not probable cause of communication with a foreigner.

The former is a high standard intended to compel the courts, before issuing search warrants, to take account of the natural right to privacy, prevent government fishing expeditions and force the government to focus its law enforcement efforts on real, not imagined, crimes.

The FISA standard — which morphed by a series of secret judicial opinions from probable cause of being a foreign agent to probable cause of communicating with a foreign agent to probable cause of communicating with a foreign person — is far easier for federal agents to demonstrate than is probable cause of crime. It means that a call to my cousins in Florence is a sufficient basis for the feds to get a search warrant to legally surveil all of my communications — telephone, texting and emails.

FBI and other federal agents know this. They know how easy it is to get a warrant from the FISA court. The most recent statistics revealed that it granted 99.96% of all surveillance applications.

When FBI agents go to the FISA court with probable cause of communication with a foreign person, but they are really looking for their target’s domestic criminal communications, they have engaged in an act of corruption, deceived the court and cut holes in the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

Once they have all of a person’s communications, their plan is to find something that would constitute probable cause of crime or enable them to use fear of exposure to induce the person to work for them undercover.

If your neighbor tells you on the phone how happy he is in his anti-government group, and then someone in the group trespasses on government property and is arrested, expect a knock on your door from the feds who will demand to know what you knew and when you knew it. If the trespass is a felony, they will claim that they can prosecute you for your silence. This, too, is unconstitutional. Silence is protected by the First Amendment.

This is the danger of the Garland devotion to predicting who would commit crime; and it will get worse. Expect the next legislative step to be proposals that impose the legal obligation to report suspicious activities — and the failure to do would be a crime. This would turn the U.S. into East Germany where thousands were prosecuted for failure to report their neighbors, friends and family; and thousands more suffered from prosecutions based on false reports.

The Fourth Amendment was written to prevent this. Under the Constitution, the government may not seek punishment for silence, surveil for beliefs or charge for crimes not committed. But if a wired undercover agent can get someone the government fears to inculpate himself with his words and then persuade that person to take a small step in furtherance of those words — even if no actual crime is committed — this is enough to charge conspiracy; the prosecutor’s favorite crime because it is the easiest to prove.

In the years following 9/11, hundreds of folks in America were set up by the feds and prosecuted and convicted for crimes that they never committed, but which they merely agreed to commit when persuaded by an undercover agent.

The government loves to give the impression that it has caught bad guys before they struck, thereby keeping us safe. Don’t believe it. The government’s first task is to keep us free. But when it violates the Constitution, it keeps us neither safe nor free. Who will keep us safe from the government?

The post The Coming War on Privacy first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
Big Brother CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Joe Manchin Social Media Surveillance

New Proposal Would Make You Part of the National Surveillance State

Senator Joe Manchin wants to bring DHS’s spy on your neighbors, “If You See, Something Say Something”  program to social media, blogs, websites, and much more. Manchin’s bill, the “See Something, Say Something Online Act” would essentially turn social media users into Federal spies by forcing them to report suspicious people to law enforcement.

Just how bad is this bill?

This bill would essentially force anyone on social media to report suspicious “transmissions” to law enforcement.

“Known Suspicious Transmission.—The term ‘‘known suspicious transmission’’ is any suspicious transmission that an interactive computer service should have reasonably known to have occurred or have been notified of by a director, officer, employ, agent, interactive computer service user, or State or Federal law enforcement agency.”

Major Crime —The term ‘‘major crime’’ means a Federal criminal offense that is a crime of violence (as defined 13 in section 16 of title 18, United States Code); relating to domestic or international terrorism (as those terms are defined in section 16 2331 of title 18, United States Code)

What exactly is a known suspicious transmission or major crime?

The term “suspicious transmission” means any public or private post, message, comment, tag, transaction, or any other user-generated content or transmission that commits, facilitates, incites, promotes, or otherwise assists the commission of a major crime.

How could social media users, bloggers, web forum moderators, web conferencing users, etc. know that a comment left or uttered by someone would later lead to them committing a major crime?

The See Something, Say Something Online Act would force social media users into red-flagging every person’s comments just in case someone commits a major crime in the future.

This bill would effectively destroy the First Amendment as we know it, dispelling any vestiges of America still being a free country.

Social media users would be forced to submit a Suspicious Transmission Activity Report (STAR) on suspicious individuals within 30 days.

“In General.—If a provider of an interactive computer service detects a suspicious transmission, the interactive computer service, including any director, officer, employee, agent, or representative of such provider, shall submit to the Department a STAR describing the suspicious transmission in accordance with this section.”

As Reason warned, the See Something, Say Something Online Act would put reporting on your fellow American on steroids. It would create a glut of frivolous reports, including many that are politically motivated, or otherwise disingenuous.

Social media users and law enforcement would keep detailed personal information, including metadata of suspicious people for five years.

“Each STAR submitted under this section shall contain, at a minimum—  (1) the name, location, and other such identification information as submitted by the user to the provider of the interactive computer service; (2) the date and nature of the post, message, comment, tag, transaction, or other user-generated content or transmission detected for suspicious activity such as time, origin, and destination; and (3) any relevant text, information, and metadata related to the suspicious transmission.” 

Retention Of Records —Each provider of an interactive computer service shall— (A) maintain a copy of any STAR submitted under this section and the original record equivalent of any supporting documentation for the 5-year period beginning on the date on which the STAR was submitted. (B) make all supporting documentation available to the Department and any appropriate law enforcement agencies upon request.”

No one can tell a person that they have been flagged as suspicious.

“Non-Disclosure—Except as otherwise prescribed by the Attorney General, no provider of an interactive computer service, or officer, director, employee, or agent of such a provider, subject to an order under subsection (a) may disclose the existence of, or terms of, the order to any person.”

Social media users could face prosecution for not reporting suspicious people.

Imagine someone leaving a comment on social media like the police suck or calling someone a bitch, twit or twat and then they go on to commit a crime in the future. Would anyone like to guess what might happen next?

Every social media user who refused to file a STAR report on a suspicious person would open themselves up to prosecution or a lawsuit.

“Compliance—Any provider of an interactive computer service that fails to report a known suspicious transmission shall not be immune from civil or criminal liability for such transmission under section 230(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230(c)).”

Where does one begin when it comes to describing just how bad this bill is?

Forcing social media users to essentially submit STAR reports on people they deem as suspicious opens up a Pandora’s box of problems.

Social media users who are forced into reporting on people could flag everyone’s comments to guard against being prosecuted or sued. This bill, if passed as it is written, would have a devastating effect on the civil rights and freedoms of every American.

This article was originally published at MassPrivateI

The post New Proposal Would Make You Part of the National Surveillance State first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
Big Brother compiling information Data freedom government is slavery Headline News Intelwars mass surveillance matrix political class power grid Prepare rulers ruling class spied on Surveillance the system traced tracked United States wake up

Big Brother Is Spying On You In Thousands Of Ways, And All Of That Info Now Goes Into Centralized “Fusion Systems”

This article was originally published by Michael Snyder at The End of the American Dream. 

Big Brother is watching you.  Sadly, most people don’t realize how extensive the surveillance grid has now become.

As you drive to work or to school, license plate readers are systematically tracking where you travel.  In major cities, thousands of highly advanced security cameras (many equipped with facial recognition technology) are monitoring your every move.  If authorities detect that you are doing something suspicious, they can quickly pull up your criminal, financial and medical records.  Of course, if they want to dig deeper, your phone and your computer are constantly producing a treasure trove of surveillance data.  Nothing that you do on either one of them is ever private.

In the past, compiling all of that information would take a great deal of time.  But now tech giants such as Microsoft, Motorola, Cisco and Palantir are selling “fusion systems” to governments all over the planet.  These “fusion systems” can instantly integrate surveillance data from thousands of different sources, and this has totally transformed how law enforcement is conducted in many of our largest cities.

Arthur Holland Michel is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and he was given a tour of a “fusion system” that is used by the city of Chicago called Citigraf

He clicked “INVESTIGATE,” and Citigraf got to work on the reported assault. The software runs on what Genetec calls a “correlation engine,” a suite of algorithms that trawl through a city’s historical police records and live sensor feeds, looking for patterns and connections. Seconds later, a long list of possible leads appeared onscreen, including a lineup of individuals previously arrested in the neighborhood for violent crimes, the home addresses of parolees living nearby, a catalog of similar recent 911 calls, photographs and license plate numbers of vehicles that had been detected speeding away from the scene, and video feeds from any cameras that might have picked up evidence of the crime itself, including those mounted on passing buses and trains. More than enough information, in other words, for an officer to respond to that original 911 call with a nearly telepathic sense of what has just unfolded.

But these systems are not just used to track down criminals.

In fact, they can be used to investigate literally anyone.

On another occasion, Arthur Holland Michel got the opportunity to test out the “fusion system” that Microsoft had built for New York City

The NYPD official showed me how he could pull up any city resident’s rap sheet, lists of their known associates, cases in which they were named as a victim of a crime or as a witness, and, if they had a car, a heatmap of where they tended to drive and a full history of their parking violations. Then he handed me the phone. Go ahead, he said; search a name.

A flurry of people came to mind: Friends. Lovers. Enemies. In the end, I chose the victim of a shooting I’d witnessed in Brooklyn a couple of years earlier. He popped right up, along with what felt like more personal information than I, or even perhaps a curious officer, had any right to know without a court order. Feeling a little dizzy, I gave the phone back.

If this is what is going on in major cities such as Chicago and New York, can you imagine the technology that the alphabet agencies of the federal government must now possess?

Of course, this isn’t just happening in the United States.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a joint European surveillance project known as ROXANNE is causing a great deal of concern

An acronym for Real time netwOrk, teXt, and speaker ANalytics for combating orgaNized crimE, it was announced in November the Republic’s involvement in the project currently being developed in Switzerland.

A biometrics based platform ostensibly to monitor and crack down on organised crime, an additional application of ROXANNE which its creators advertise freely is the ability to monitor those guilty of alleged hate speech and political extremism.

Strict new laws against “hate speech” and “political extremism” are being instituted all over Europe, and this new tool will help to track down “thought criminals”.

In particular, this new tool will be heavily monitoring “social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube as well as normal telecommunications platforms”…

A product of the EU funded Horizon 2020 to foster new surveillance technology, ROXANNE works across social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube as well as normal telecommunications platforms to identify, categorise, and track faces and voices enabling authorities to paint a more in depth picture of the network being investigated, whether it be in relation to criminal activity or those deemed politically extreme.

Enabling authorities to draw on raw data from a variety of sources and platforms in order to recognise common speech patterns, facial features, and geolocation, the end result is both to identify suspects and paint an intricate picture of the networks being put under the microscope.

So if you live in Europe and you think that you might be guilty of “thought crime” at some point, you might want to get rid of your phone and your computer.

Seriously.

Things really have gotten that bad over there, and it is just a matter of time before the madness gets to the same level in the United States, because we are going down the exact same road.

Here in the U.S., more political voices are being “de-platformed” with each passing day.  Progressive reporter Jordan Chariton originally cheered when conservatives were being de-platformed, but at this point, he regrets his calls for censorship now that YouTube has taken down one of his videos

However, after YouTube pulled video from his own channel featuring footage of the January 6 riot for violating the platform’s policies against “spam and deceptive practices,” the Chariton reversed his position.

“With time to reflect, & seeing Silicon Valley’s censorship onslaught, I regret this tweet made in [the] heat of moment,” the progressive journalist wrote. “Whether certain cable/YouTube outlets mislead audiences w/ dishonest claims lacking real evidence, they shouldn’t be targeted.”

It is all fun and games when it is happening to “the other side”, but when it happens to you suddenly it becomes real.

They really do want to control what all of us do, say, and think, and the Big Brother surveillance grid is becoming more suffocating with each passing year.

If we do not put limits on this technology while we still can, it is just a matter of time before our society becomes a dystopian nightmare far more horrible than anything than George Orwell ever dared to imagine.

***Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com.  In addition to my new book, I have written four others that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing the books you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream, and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial, or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on FacebookTwitter, and Parler, and anyway that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.

The post Big Brother Is Spying On You In Thousands Of Ways, And All Of That Info Now Goes Into Centralized “Fusion Systems” first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

Share
Categories
FISA Fourth Amendment Intelwars national security Online Edition Surveillance

Updating the Fourth Amendment Analysis of U.S. Person Communication Incidentally Collected Under FISA Section 702

Peter G. Machtiger[*]

[Full text of this Article in PDF is available at this link]

Introduction

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States government rallied around its national security apparatus to improve its ability to detect and prevent future acts of terrorism. As part of this mission, the Intelligence Community was asked to “identify and target plotters in some of the most remote parts of the world and to anticipate the actions of networks that, by their very nature, cannot be easily penetrated with spies or informants.”[1] Improvements in surveillance technology meant that there were “fewer and fewer technical constraints” on what the government could do.[2] Members of all three branches of government were therefore left to wonder what the government should do.[3] These government actors, in thinking about the proper scope of government surveillance, have assessed many competing factors from information overload and mission creep to trust-in-government and law enforcement legitimacy.[4]

Surveillance involving U.S. persons is the most legally complicated type of surveillance because it requires a difficult balancing of competing factors. Under the Fourth Amendment, U.S. persons have rights against unreasonable government “surveillance.” However, the government also has an important countervailing interest in conducting surveillance, which may implicate U.S. persons, to protect national security. Accommodating expectations of privacy and security involves identifying an equilibrium between “the interest in liberty from government restraint or interference and the interest in public safety, in recognition of the grave threat that terrorism poses to the nation’s security.”[5] The bounds of Executive Branch surveillance in the realm of national security are rarely litigated in open court. Due to Article III case or controversy requirements,[6] federal courts rarely review foreign intelligence surveillance programs. Such review occurs rarely outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),[7] which has various duties related to the oversight of intelligence surveillance programs, including the authorization of FISA surveillance orders and the review of proposed procedures for targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located abroad.[8] The FISC is composed of federal judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to address foreign intelligence oversight.[9] Occasionally, however, cases have led judges to rule on legal challenges to government surveillance programs that implicate the civil liberties of U.S. persons; such cases provide perspectives that may “challeng[e] that of the national security experts.”[10] One of the most prominent examples of a government surveillance program that has been reviewed in Article III courts is “Section 702” of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act (FAA).[11] Most recently, a Second Circuit panel in United States v. Hasbajrami,[12] held that the introduction by prosecutors of evidence derived from Section 702 created a “case or controversy” sufficient for review of the program in federal court.

The Hasbajrami court—like all previous courts to consider the issue—upheld the constitutionality, as applied, of the warrantless use of incidentally collected U.S. person communications under Section 702.[13] In doing so, the court made only one citation[14] to Carpenter v. United States,[15] which has been called “one of this generation’s most important Fourth Amendment opinions.”[16] Hasbajrami’s connection to Carpenter may not be immediately obvious, for Carpenter established a warrant requirement for law enforcement access to a certain amount of a person’s cell site location information (CSLI).[17] However, Carpenter provides a window into how the Supreme Court thinks about the constitutional implications of bulk data collection. Ignoring Carpenter in deciding Hasbajrami might make sense under a narrow reading of Carpenter, which focuses solely on CSLI, but dicta from Carpenter about applying the Fourth Amendment in the era of modern technology may support a more robust constitutional analysis of incidental collection under Section 702.[18] While Carpenter’s dicta are non-binding, they may provide insight into how the Supreme Court might address other forms of bulk data collection, like the collection in Hasbajrami, in the future.

Both Executive Branch and congressional personnel have flagged the lack of a warrant requirement for incidentally collected U.S. person communication as a cause for concern. President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies recommended that “it should take either a law enforcement or FISA judicial order to query the database. . . . [T]here should at least be a judge involved before there is access to the contents of U.S. person communications.”[19] One draft bill in Congress would have “[r]estrict[ed] law enforcement from using information obtained or derived from warrantless surveillance except when investigating the most serious crimes, like murder.”[20] The Hasbajrami case provides the opportunity for the judiciary to address the issues as a matter of constitutionality.

This piece will proceed in two parts. Part I will describe the factual and legal background of United States v. Hasbajrami and explain some modern developments in Fourth Amendment doctrine, primarily from Carpenter, that are relevant to the issues in Hasbajrami. Part II will look closely at the reasoning of the Hasbajrami court and provide an alternative Fourth Amendment analysis of incidentally collected U.S. person communications under FISA Section 702.

 

I.  Context for This Case-Study: United States v. Hasbajrami

 

            A.  Factual Background

 

In 2011, Agron Hasbajrami, a legal permanent resident located in the United States,[21] communicated via e-mail with an unidentified foreign citizen located abroad “who Hasbajrami believed was associated with a terrorist organization.”[22] Over the course of those communications, Hasbajrami indicated interest in traveling to Pakistan to join the terrorist organization.[23] After intercepting these communications, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Hasbajrami and arrested him on September 6, 2011, as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey out of New York.[24] He was charged with “attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, alleging that he intended to travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan, where he expected to join a terrorist organization, receive training, and ultimately fight ‘against U.S. forces and others in Afghanistan and Pakistan.’”[25]

Hasbajrami pleaded guilty to “attempting to provide material support to terrorists in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A” and was sentenced to 180 months in prison.[26] While serving his sentence, Hasbajrami was informed by the government that some previously disclosed evidence obtained from traditional FISA surveillance was actually “derived from other collection pursuant to [Section 702].”[27] Hasbajrami withdrew his plea and moved to suppress “the fruits of all warrantless FAA surveillance,” including:

 

all evidence and information derived as a result of [Section 702] surveillance; all evidence and information obtained or derived from Title I and Title III FISA collection . . . [that was] itself also derived from other collection pursuant to [Section 702] . . . [and] [a]ny other evidence and information that the Government could not have obtained in this case through an independent source.[28]

 

The district court denied the motion to suppress, and Hasbajrami appealed that decision to the Second Circuit, leading to the opinion discussed here.

 

B.  Legal Background

      1. FISA Section 702

 

The provision at issue here, Section 702, was not part of the original FISA in 1978. The original FISA was passed to address several concerns, including “judicial confusion over the existence, nature and scope of a foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement,” “Congressional concern over perceived Executive Branch abuses of such an exception,” and the “need to provide the Executive Branch with an appropriate means to investigate and counter foreign intelligence threats.”[29]

Section 702 was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to provide a new framework for the government to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance of “the communications of non-U.S. persons located abroad.”[30] Section 702 requires the government to submit targeting, minimizing, and querying procedures that will govern the program for approval by the FISC.[31] It does not require the government to specify with particularity the “nature and location” of any surveilled facilities or to “demonstrate probable cause that the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”[32] Surveillance conducted under Section 702 is jointly authorized by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence and must target non-U.S. persons outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.[33]

The Hasbajrami court looked at Section 702 surveillance as a five-step process: (1) targeting; (2) collection; (3) minimization; (4) retention and storage; and (5) dissemination and querying.[34] Overall, this process of acquiring a communication under Section 702 must be “conducted in a manner consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”[35] The surveillance generally involves compelling internet service providers to secretly provide the government with the desired communications.[36]

In 2018, an estimated 164,770 targets were subject to Section 702 surveillance.[37] In previous years, the National Security Agency (NSA) estimated that it annually acquired over 250 million Internet communications pursuant to the program.[38] It is seemingly a useful program for the Intelligence Community, according to career intelligence professionals. Former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morrell called Section 702 “one of our nation’s most effective programs to protect our national security,”[39] and former FBI Director James Comey called it “essential to the safety of this country.”[40]

Buy-in from the Intelligence Community, like the above statements, is a threshold condition for an intelligence program, but buy-in from the citizens it is meant to protect matters too. Buy-in from regular citizens may even matter more, as public trust in government is essential to our democratic system. For an intelligence program that former intelligence leaders consider effective and essential to be maintained with legitimacy and supported by Americans, it must be scrutinized carefully when it implicates the constitutional interests of U.S. persons.

 

      1. Incidental Collection of U.S. Person Communications

 

“Incidental collection” occurs when a “target”––a non-U.S. person located abroad–– communicates with a U.S. person and that entire communication is acquired by an intelligence agency conducting surveillance.[41] The information communicated by the U.S. person is said to be “incidentally collected.”[42] As long as there are U.S. persons communicating with non-U.S. persons located abroad, the possibility of incidental collection is inevitable.[43] The inevitability is why it is important to look at how the government handles incidentally collected communications.[44]

According to investigative reporting, in one cache of communications intercepted by the NSA, only about 10% of identified accounts belonged to intended surveillance targets while about half of the incidentally collected accounts belonged to U.S. persons.[45] This high volume of incidental collection occurs because of the way internet communications are collected; for example, if a surveillance target enters an online chat room, the identities of all of the other participants and all of the chat room communications are collected, regardless of the subject matter.[46] After communications are intercepted, NSA analysts review the information to determine whether each communication involves a target and is “reasonably believed to contain foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime.”[47] Communications meeting that criteria are retained and potentially disseminated to other agencies, while communications that do not meet that criteria are destroyed unless they otherwise meet an enumerated exception.[48]

Retained communications are maintained in databases that may later be searched to display either the content of the communications or noncontent metadata. In 2018, there were an estimated 9,637 search terms “concerning a known U.S. person used to retrieve the unminimized contents of communications obtained under Section 702,” and an estimated 14,374 queries “of unminimized noncontent information” obtained under Section 702 concerning known U.S. persons.[49] A U.S. person’s identity may be disseminated “unminimized” ––i.e., not redacted–– if it is “necessary to understand the foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,” meaning that the U.S. person may be involved in a crime or their identity might shed light on a potential threat to “the safety of any person or organization.”[50]

As part of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, which occurred after the surveillance and arrest of Hasbajrami, Congress statutorily mandated that the FBI obtain a court order when seeking to access the contents of communications “retrieved pursuant to a query made using a United States person query term that was not designed to find and extract foreign intelligence information.”[51] This provided a statutory limitation to querying in cases unrelated to national security, but the statute does not affect the constitutional analysis in this case.

 

      1. Use of Incidentally Collected Communications in Criminal Prosecutions

 

Generally, there is no requirement to give notice to persons whose communications are incidentally collected pursuant to Section 702. Thus, courts rarely have the opportunity to provide meaningful oversight. However, the government is required by statute to give notice to the “aggrieved person” if it “intends to enter into evidence or otherwise use or disclose . . . any information obtained or derived from an electronic surveillance” in a court proceeding.[52]

Despite this requirement, no criminal defendant received notice of Section 702 surveillance until 2013, when New York Times reporting revealed that the Justice Department had “misrepresented” its notice policy to the Supreme Court in Clapper v. Amnesty International.[53] Following this revelation, the Justice Department gave notice of Section 702 surveillance in five criminal cases between October 2013 and April 2014, including in Hasbajrami.[54] The Justice Department has not provided any notices since making those five disclosures. This lack of notice might mean a shift in how the Justice Department interprets “derived from”; for example, as one commentator has theorized, the Justice Department might consider evidence to be “derived from” Section 702 surveillance “only when it has expressly relied on Section 702 information in a later court filing.”[55] This would allow the Justice Department to evade the notice requirement even if the expressly cited evidence that is used would not have been obtained without the original Section 702 surveillance.[56]

If the Justice Department has indeed altered its interpretation of the statute to evade the notice requirement, Hasbajrami may be the last case in which a federal court reviews the Fourth Amendment implications of the incidental collection of U.S. person communications under Section 702.

 

C.  Modern Developments in Fourth Amendment Doctrine

 

Fourth Amendment doctrine has continually developed to try to address the implications of modern technology unfathomable to the Framers of the Constitution. The most recent example of this is the Carpenter case, which has been called “one of this generation’s most important Fourth Amendment opinions” because it thoroughly analyzes how the Framers’ intentions map on to the modern technological capabilities for massive data collection.[57]

The procedure at issue in Carpenter, by which the government could obtain historical location data collected by telecommunications companies, was authorized under the Stored Communications Act. The Supreme Court found that it was “not a permissible mechanism for accessing historical cell-site records” and held that the government was required to obtain a warrant for that information.[58] The Court made this determination by considering the following factors: the “deeply revealing nature of CSLI”; its “depth, breadth, and comprehensive reach”; and the “inescapable and automatic nature of its collection.”[59] Carpenter could be read narrowly to apply only to the CSLI that was at issue in the case. However, the case could also plausibly be read to hold that “even if congressionally authorized, any process short of obtaining a warrant—and thus any level of suspicion less than probable cause—would be unconstitutional.”[60]

It is worth examining the incidental collection of U.S. person communications under Section 702 through the lens of Carpenter, the Supreme Court’s most recent guidance on the constitutional implications of modern data collection. The issues in each case are somewhat analogous: Section 702 surveillance is authorized by statute, like the CSLI acquisition in Carpenter, and allows vast quantities of historical data to be retained in databases, which is an aspect of CSLI acquisition that concerned the Carpenter court.[61] When the Ninth Circuit examined incidental collection under Section 702, the court called its “vast, not de minimis” volume the “most troubling aspect” of the incidental collection and noted that “[t]his quantity distinguishes § 702 collection from Title III and traditional FISA interceptions.”[62]

 

* * *

 

If the Justice Department has altered its interpretation of the notice requirement for evidence derived from Section 702, then the Second Circuit cited Carpenter only once in what is potentially the last opportunity for a Fourth Amendment analysis of incidental collection under Section 702.[63] The following is an alternative analysis that the court could have undertaken had it fully embraced the underlying principles revealed by Carpenter’s dicta.

 

II.  Alternative Analysis of

United States v. Hasbajrami

 

The court reviewed the Hasbajrami case as an “as-applied challenge to the constitutionality of warrantless collection and review of his communications under Section 702.”[64] The court determined that “the incidental collection in this case, and the government’s use of the information thus collected, was lawful,” but did not conclude as to the reasonableness of any querying involved in the case and remanded to the district court for further fact-finding on that issue.[65]

In finding the use of the incidentally collected information lawful, the Second Circuit explicitly adopted a similar approach to the Ninth Circuit—first, deciding that “a warrant is not required for such collection” and, second, deciding that “the incidental collection of Hasbajrami’s e-mails was reasonable.”[66] The court’s analysis on both of these issues seems to follow the pre-Carpenter reasoning of other courts, which reached those conclusions based on a combination of only partially applicable case law concerning the extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment and the “incidental overhear” doctrine. This seems less convincing in a post-Carpenter world, where the Supreme Court has indicated that judges should consider how modern technology meshes with the intentions of the founders, especially as to the warrant requirement. The Hasbajrami court’s strongest analysis occurs in its section separately considering querying, although it is unclear why the court treats querying so much differently than collection. These issues will now be addressed in turn.

 

A.  Warrant Requirement

 

The warrant requirement in criminal law derives from the Fourth Amendment’s warrant clause which states “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”[67] In the ordinary criminal context, the Supreme Court has found the Fourth Amendment’s warrant clause to require three elements: (1) “warrants must be issued by neutral, disinterested magistrates”; (2) “those seeking the warrant must demonstrate to the magistrate their probable cause to believe that the evidence sought will aid in a particular apprehension or conviction for a particular offense”; (3) “warrants must particularly describe the things to be seized, as well as the place to be searched.”[68] The Supreme Court has found warrantless searches “per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment” unless they fall within “a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.”[69] However, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to explicitly extend these same requirements to cases involving national security.[70]

The Hasbajrami court determined that a warrant was not required in this instance for two reasons. First, the court noted that “the Fourth Amendment does not apply extraterritorially to the surveillance of persons abroad, including United States citizens.”[71] Next, the court relied on the “incidental overhear” doctrine, according to which an additional warrant is not required when, “in the course of executing a warrant or engaging in other lawful search activities, [officers] come upon evidence of other criminal activity outside the scope of the warrant or the rationale justifying the search, or the participation of individuals not the subject of the initial warrant or search.”[72] Neither argument is particularly convincing in the context of Section 702 incidental collection because both doctrines arose out of specific sets of facts not analogous to the facts in this case.

 

      1. Extraterritoriality

Supreme Court precedent makes clear that the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement does not apply extraterritorially to searches of non-U.S. persons. However, that rule is only pertinent to the Fourth Amendment analysis of incidental collection insofar as it legitimizes the surveillance of non-U.S. person intelligence targets located outside the United States.[73]

In addition to the aforementioned traditional extraterritoriality principle from United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, the Hasbajrami court cited Second Circuit precedent that telephone surveillance conducted extraterritorially, even of U.S. persons, does not require a warrant.[74] As the court acknowledged, Section 702 surveillance, by its nature, only occurs within the territory of the United States.[75] The court addressed this point by citing Katz for the proposition that the location of the surveillance is not important, and thus “a foreign national resident abroad, does not acquire . . . [a Fourth Amendment-protected privacy interest] by reason of the physical location of the intercepting device.”[76]

Assuming this logic to be sound, this section on extraterritoriality only establishes that the Section 702 surveillance of foreign persons located outside the United States is lawful, which is relevant only because it sets up the next section on the incidental overhear doctrine. This section, on its own, does nothing to address the Fourth Amendment-protected privacy interest of Hasbajrami, who at the time of surveillance was a U.S. person located in the United States and whose communications were collected in the United States. The fact that the surveillance target did not have Fourth Amendment rights does not mean that Hasbajrami’s Fourth Amendment rights correspondingly disappear.[77]

 

      1. Incidental Overhear Doctrine

 

The court applied the incidental overhear doctrine to its finding that the collection of the target’s communications falls outside the warrant requirement and holds that the warrantless incidental collection and use of Hasbajrami’s communications are similarly lawful. But, the incidental overhear doctrine does not seem exactly appropriate in the context of Section 702 collection because: (1) the source cases involve Title III wiretaps with warrants and (2) traditional wiretaps are fundamentally different than Section 702 collection in terms of the factors identified in Carpenter.

The Hasbajrami court primarily cited United States v. Donovan,[78] as establishing the incidental overhear doctrine, which, as the court understands it, provides that:

 

law enforcement agents do not need to obtain a separate warrant to collect conversations of persons as to whom probable cause did not previously exist with individuals whose oral or wire communications are being collected through a lawful wiretap or bug, where those conversations on their face contain evidence of criminal activity.[79]

 

The idea underpinning the incidental overhear doctrine started prior to Donovan in United States v. Kahn.[80] In both Kahn and Donovan, defendants opposed the use of their communications collected pursuant to Title III wiretap orders because they had not been named in the orders.[81] The holding of Kahn, echoed in Donovan, was that “(1) Title III does not require that a wiretap order name every person whose conversations will be the target of interception, and (2) the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement is satisfied by specifying the facilities to be surveilled and the conversations to be seized.”[82] In other words, the warrant obtained by the government identifying the phone lines to be surveilled and subject matter to be discussed was sufficient under the Fourth Amendment to collect the defendants’ communications, even though they were not specifically named.[83] These cases cannot be directly applied to Section 702 collection because they involved warrants and “[a] section 702 collection order is obviously not a warrant.”[84] The Hasbajrami court would rebut this point by reading the incidental overhear cases only to require that the initial surveillance be “lawful” whether by “a warrant, a FISC order, or some other exception to the warrant requirement.”[85] It seems like a large leap to read Fourth Amendment case law involving warrants to apply equally to a case about warrantless surveillance given the sanctity of the warrant requirement.[86] However, it is the same leap the Ninth Circuit made in Mohamud. To support the proposition, both courts only cite the district court opinion from Hasbajrami.[87] Deriving an exception to the warrant requirement this way also seems to be a far cry from the “jealously and carefully drawn” exceptions described by the Supreme Court.[88] The Supreme Court has emphasized the Fourth Amendment importance of a “neutral and detached magistrate.”[89] The surveillance in both Donovan and Kahn involved such a magistrate as part of the Title III wiretap process, while the surveillance in Hasbajrami did not. Thus, the link between the incidental overhear doctrine and the Section 702 collection in Hasbajrami is not as strong as the Hasbajrami court suggests.

When examined through the lens of the Carpenter factors — the “deeply revealing nature” of the information; its “depth, breadth, and comprehensive reach”; and the “inescapable and automatic nature of its collection”[90] –– Section 702 collection also seems fundamentally different from Title III wiretaps. The Hasbajrami court seemed to consider this only in its analysis of querying,[91] perhaps thinking of Section 702 collection as contemporaneous in the same way as wiretaps. However, Section 702 collection appears to have much more in common with Section 702 querying than it does with Title III wiretaps in terms of its comprehensive reach and the inescapable nature of its collection. In 2018, a total of 2,937 wiretaps were reported between federal and state judges.[92] Compare that to the 164,770 Section 702 targets in the same year,[93] encompassing hundreds of millions of internet communications.[94] This amount of collection would have been unfathomable even at the time of Donovan and Kahn, let alone in the eighteenth century. As the Supreme Court reiterated in Carpenter: “As technology has enhanced the Government’s capacity to encroach upon areas normally guarded from inquisitive eyes, this Court has sought to assure preservation of that degree of privacy against government that existed when the Fourth Amendment was adopted.”[95] In conducting this analysis for CSLI, Chief Justice Roberts noted:

 

Prior to the digital age, law enforcement might have pursued a suspect for a brief stretch, but doing so for any extended period of time was difficult and costly and therefore rarely undertaken . . . . For that reason, society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not—and indeed, in the main, simply could not—secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period.[96]

 

A similar pre-digital analogy for incidental collection under Section 702 might include having spies surveilling foreign targets overseas at an impossible scale, who are able to open every single piece of mail received by their targets, make copies, and send those copies back to the United States, potentially to prosecute U.S. persons. In this way, Carpenter is all about asking “whether a prior limit on government power has been lifted.”[97] When comparing Section 702 collection to Title III wiretaps, the answer to that question is undoubtedly “yes,” which inspires further doubt as to the appropriateness of applying cases like Donovan to the situation in Hasbajrami.

* * *

            In sum, Hasbajrami, a U.S. person whose communications were intercepted within the United States without a warrant, could be criminally prosecuted based on those communications because of the combination of two doctrines that fail to amount to an enumerated exception to the warrant requirement. It is worth noting that the Second Circuit staked its entire reasoning on the combination of extraterritoriality and the incidental overhear doctrine, rather than on a foreign intelligence or national security exception to the warrant requirement. Other courts looking at incidental collection under Section 702 have also avoided relying on a foreign intelligence or national security exception.[98] Whether or not such an exception would be more convincing than the reasoning chosen here,[99] the common denominator in Fourth Amendment cases is a reasonableness analysis.

 

B.  Reasonableness

 

Having determined that the warrant requirement does not apply, the Hasbajrami court conducted a reasonableness analysis, examining “the totality of the circumstances to balance . . . the degree to which [the government’s action] intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and . . . the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate government interests.”[100] However, the court did not reckon with the fact that the Supreme Court considers warrantless searches of U.S. persons within the U.S. per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, except for a few clearly delineated exceptions.[101]

The court began by acknowledging that Hasbajrami, as a U.S. person, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of his e-mails, even when communicating with someone overseas.[102] This is in line with Carpenter, in which “all nine justices signed onto opinions that declare that the police need a warrant to read the content of email messages.”[103]

Notably, the court did not invoke the third-party doctrine to find some kind of diminished expectation of privacy, a mistake that other federal courts in other circuits looking at incidental collection under Section 702 have made.[104] Those courts that invoked the third-party doctrine have simultaneously considered e-mails to have full Fourth Amendment protections because they are like letters and no Fourth Amendment protections because of the third-party doctrine. The considerations average out to some diminished expectation of privacy in what Professor Orin Kerr calls “the Fourth Amendment as quantum physics.”[105] By avoiding the third-party doctrine trap and simply acknowledging that e-mails are like letters, the reasoning of the Hasbajrami court maintains greater legitimacy.

The court then described the government interest in preventing “[t]he recruitment of persons inside the United States or the placement of agents here to carry out terrorist attacks” as one “of particular importance.”[106] Due to their presence on U.S. soil, the U.S. person might even pose a greater immediate threat than the foreign intelligence target with whom they are communicating. However, it is also worth remembering that Section 702 surveillance does not require any showing that the target poses some threat to the United States, just that the target is a non-U.S. person located outside the United States and that “foreign intelligence information” is reasonably expected to be acquired.[107] With such a broad targeting standard, it is equally likely that the surveillance will acquire the communications of U.S. journalists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens who are in contact with non-U.S. persons overseas. These groups are certainly entitled to Fourth Amendment protections.[108]

The court found, under the totality of the circumstances, that “the incidental collection of communications between targets foreigners abroad and United States persons . . . is thus reasonable” and that dissemination of those communications to law enforcement is reasonable when the communications raise “reasonable grounds to believe that a crime is being committed or planned in the United States.”[109] Other courts have come to the same conclusion.[110]

Preventing crime is certainly a legitimate government interest, but one that the Framers anticipated when they enacted the Fourth Amendment and included a warrant requirement. Even in the context of domestic security threats in which all of the suspected dangerous individuals are located on U.S. soil, the Supreme Court has emphasized that “[t]he warrant clause of the Fourth Amendment is not dead language . . . It is not an inconvenience to be somehow weighed against the claims of police efficiency.”[111] It is not obvious that this calculus should change simply because one of the suspected co-conspirators is located overseas and can thus be surveilled outside of the Fourth Amendment framework.

Perhaps a more reasonable process would involve requiring a warrant for law enforcement to access the contents of incidentally collected U.S. person communications under Section 702. This could function the same way at both the collection and querying stages: if electronic communications between a U.S. person and a non-U.S. person are intercepted by intelligence professionals and contain evidence of a potential crime, the intelligence professionals could disseminate only the identity of the U.S. person to law enforcement. Law enforcement officials would then need to make a probable cause showing to a judge and obtain a warrant to access the contents of the communications. A judicial determination that this is a constitutional requirement—rather than relying on a statutory fix—would follow in the footsteps of Carpenter and provide greater respect for the Fourth Amendment interests of U.S. persons, without unduly burdening the government’s law enforcement interest.

 

C.  Querying

 

The Hasbajrami court considered the querying of previously collected Section 702 analysis separately, which is something other courts have not done.[112] In doing so, the court expressed some concern about the breadth, comprehensive reach, and automatic nature of Section 702, noting that “the program begins to look more like a dragnet, and a query more like a general warrant.”[113] The court remanded to the district court for more fact-finding on the issue of querying, but seemed to seriously consider that querying should receive greater Fourth Amendment protection than it currently does.[114]

The court is right to suspect that querying needs greater Fourth Amendment protection, but it should also apply this logic to the collection stage of Section 702. The communications being queried are the same communications being reviewed at the collection stage and the broad, comprehensive, and automatic nature of the acquisition should be considered throughout.[115] In short, the court seemed to identify a meaningful gap between the nature of querying and collection where it should not.

 

* * *

 

While the court’s reasoning related to the warrant requirement is unconvincing, there are seeds for hope in the section of the opinion about querying. If the full Second Circuit eventually takes this case en banc, other members of the court might pick up the concerns in the section on querying and decide to apply the logic of that section to the entire collection process, similar to the analysis laid out in this piece. Requiring a warrant before law enforcement can access the contents of incidentally collected U.S. person communications for the purposes of criminal investigation would provide the most reasonable framework under the Fourth Amendment.

 

Conclusion

 

Hasbajrami provides an opportunity for the judiciary to undertake a constitutional review of incidental collection under Section 702, potentially for the last time.[116] By re-hashing arguments made by other courts writing about incidental collection before Carpenter, the Second Circuit fails to reckon with the privacy-protective guidance from the Supreme Court in Carpenter. In doing so, the court not only allows the government to access U.S. person communications without a warrant in this instance, but also signals to the Executive Branch that the judiciary will not stand in the way of mass surveillance programs as long as they are conducted in the name of national security. “Courts regularly deal with the most difficult issues of our society”[117]—this is undoubtedly a difficult issue, but a thorough and convincing analysis is necessary to maintain the legitimacy of both the program and the courts. As Hasbajrami continues to make its way through the federal courts, judges have an opportunity to engage in an analysis that protects the Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. persons in a world of increasing data collection and surveillance. A judicial decision protecting U.S. persons from warrantless surveillance would send a strong signal to an Executive Branch seeking to push the boundaries of intelligence surveillance of U.S. persons.[118]

Recommended Citation
Peter G. Machtiger, Updating the Fourth Amendment Analysis of U.S. Person Communications Incidentally Collected Under FISA Section 702, Harv. Nat’l Sec. J. Online (Feb. 7, 2021), https://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2021/02/Machtiger_Fourth-Amendment-Under-FISA-702.pdf


[*] A.B., Harvard College, 2014; J.D. Candidate, New York University School of Law, Class of 2021.

[1] Remarks on United States Signals Intelligence and Electronic Surveillance Programs, 2014 Daily Comp. Pres. Doc. 2 (Jan. 17, 2014), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/DCPD-201400030/pdf/DCPD-201400030.pdf [ https://perma.cc/QWH4-P8P5].

[2] Id.

[3] See id.

[4] See Stephen J. Schulhofer, Rethinking the Patriot Act: Keeping America Safe and Free 27 (2005).

[5] Richard A. Posner, Not A Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency 31 (2006).

[6] See U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1.

[7] See 50 U.S.C. § 1803.

[8] See David Kris & J. Douglas Wilson, Nat’l Security Investigations & Prosecutions § 5.2 (3d ed. 2019).

[9] See id. at § 5.1.

[10] Posner, supra note 5, at 5.

[11] Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Pub. L. No. 110-261, 122 Stat. 2436 (codified at 50 U.S.C. § 1881a); see United States v. Mohamud, 843 F.3d 420 (9th Cir. 2016); United States v. Mohammad, 339 F. Supp. 3d 724 (N.D. Ohio 2018); United States v. Muhtorov, 187 F. Supp. 3d 1240 (D. Colo. 2015).

[12] 945 F.3d 641 (2d Cir. 2019).

[13] See id. at 661.

[14] See id. at 672.

[15] 138 S. Ct. 2206 (2018).

[16] Alan Z. Rozenshtein, Fourth Amendment Reasonableness After Carpenter, 128 Yale L.J. Forum 943, 943 (Apr. 1, 2019), (first citing Orin S. Kerr, Implementing Carpenter, in The Digital Fourth Amendment (forthcoming) (manuscript at 1), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3301257 [https://perma.cc/FTZ4-ZANU]; then citing Susan Freiwald & Stephen Wm. Smith, The Carpenter Chronicle: A Near-Perfect Surveillance, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 205, 206 (2018); and then citing Paul Ohm, The Many Revolutions of Carpenter, 32 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 357 (2019)).

[17] Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2222.

[18] See id. at 2214.

[19] Peter Swire & Richard Clarke, Reform Section 702 to Maintain Fourth Amendment Principles, Lawfare (Oct. 19, 2017, 2:02 PM), https://www.lawfareblog.com/reform-section-702-maintain-fourth-amendment-principles [https://perma.cc/WF4Q-EYMK]; see also Geoffrey Stone & Michael Morrell, The One Change We Need to Surveillance Law, Wash. Post. (Oct. 9, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-one-change-we-need-to-surveillance-law/2017/10/09/53a40df0-a9ea-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html [https://perma.cc/R6SN-4C6K] (arguing “[t]he government should no longer be permitted to search the data collected under Section 702 without a warrant when seeking information about U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.”).

[20] Charlie Savage, Fight Brews Over Push to Shield Americans in Warrantless Surveillance, N.Y. Times (May 6, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/us/politics/congress-surveillance-nsa-privacy.html [https://perma.cc/75U8-Q9NM].

[21] See Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 658.

[22] Id. at 647.

[23] See id.

[24] See id. at 645.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id. at 648.

[28] Id. at 648–49.

[29] United States v. Rosen, 447 F. Supp. 2d 538, 542–43 (E.D. Va. 2006).

[30] United States v. Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 437.

[31] See id.

[32] Id. (citing Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l USA, 133 S. Ct. 1138, 1144 (2013)).

[33] See 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(a).

[34] See Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at  651–58.

[35] 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(b)(6).

[36] See Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 651 (citing 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(i)(1)(A)).

[37] See Off. of the Dir. of Nat’l Intel., Statistical Transparency Report Regarding the Use of National Security Authorities 13 (2019), https://www.dni.gov/files/CLPT/documents/2019_ASTR_for_CY2018.pdf [https://perma.cc/8HPD-TJJ4].

[38] See [Case Title Redacted], 2011 WL 10945618, at *9 (FISA Ct. Oct. 3, 2011).

[39] Stone & Morrell, supra note 19.

[40] Savage, supra note 20.

[41] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 654.

[42] Id.

[43] See Robert Chesney, Unmasking: A Primer on the Issues, Rules, and Possible Reforms, Lawfare (Apr. 6, 2017, 1:58 PM), https://www.lawfareblog.com/unmasking-primer-issues-rules-and-possible-reforms [https://perma.cc/XDZ6-PTWR].

[44] See id.

[45] See Barton Gellman, Julie Tate & Ashkan Soltani, In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are, Wash. Post. (July 5, 2014), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-nsa-intercepted-data-those-not-targeted-far-outnumber-the-foreigners-who-are/2014/07/05/8139adf8-045a-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html [https://perma.cc/3HSA-J9MX].

[46] See id.

[47] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 656  (citing Minimization Procedures Used by the National Security Agency in Connection with Acquisitions of Foreign Intelligence Information Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, As Amended § 3(b)(4) (2011), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Minimization%20Procedures%20used%20by%20NSA%20in%20Connection%20with%20FISA%20SECT%20702.pdf. [https://perma.cc/J3H3-47JJ].

[48] See id.

[49] Off. of the Dir. of Nat’l Intel., supra note 37, at 14–15.

[50] Chesney, supra note 43 (quoting Nat’l Sec. Agency et al., United States Signal Intelligence Directive SP0018: (U) Legal Compliance and U.S. Persons Minimization Procedures para. 7.2.c (Jan. 15, 2011), https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/1118/CLEANEDFinal%20USSID%20SP0018.pdf [https://perma.cc/ZLY4-VMHP].

[51] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 658 (citing 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(f)(2)(A)).

[52] 50 U.S.C. § 1806(c).

[53] Patrick C. Toomey, Why Aren’t Criminal Defendants Getting Notice of Section 702 Surveillance—Again?, Just Sec. (Dec. 11, 2015), https://www.justsecurity.org/28256/arent-criminal-defendants-notice-section-702-surveillance-again / [https://perma.cc/QY32-5T6A].

[54] See id.

[55] Id.

[56] See id. This interpretation of the notice requirement may be unlawful according to the reasoning of United States v. Moalin, 973 F.3d 977 (9th Cir. 2020), a recent case about FISA’s now-expired telephony metadata program. According to the Ninth Circuit in Moalin, the Fourth Amendment requires notice to a criminal defendant when the prosecution intends to enter into evidence or otherwise use information obtained or derived from surveillance conducted under FISA or the FISA Amendments Act. 973 F.3d at 1000–01; see also Orin Kerr, Did the Ninth Circuit Create a New Fourth Amendment Notice Requirement for Surveillance Practices?, Lawfare (Sept. 9, 2020, 7:01 AM), https://www.lawfareblog.com/did-ninth-circuit-create-new-fourth-amendment-notice-requirement-surveillance-practices [https://perma.cc/LQ2R-2QHY].

[57] Rozenshtein, supra note 16, at 943.

[58] Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2221.

[59] Id. at 2223.

[60] Rozenshtein, supra note 16, at 944.

[61] See Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2218 (“[T]he Government can now travel back in time to retrace a person’s whereabouts, subject only to the retention policies of the wireless carriers . . . .”).

[62] Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 440.

[63] See Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 672 (2d Cir. 2019).

[64] Id. at 660.

[65] Id. at 661.

[66] Id. at 662.

[67] U.S. Const. amend. IV.

[68] In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717, 738 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2002) (citing Dalia v. United States, 441 U.S. 238, 255 (1979)).

[69] Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967); see also Carpenter v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2206, 2221 (2018) (“[I]n the absence of a warrant, a search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the warrant requirement.”).

[70] Katz, 389 U.S. at 358 n.23 (“Whether safeguards other than prior authorization by a magistrate would satisfy the Fourth Amendment in a situation involving the national security is a question not presented by this case.”); see also Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2220 (“[O]ur opinion does not consider other collection techniques involving foreign affairs or national security.”).

[71] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 662.

[72] Id.

[73] See id. (citing United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990)).

[74] Id. at 663 (citing In re Terrorist Bombings, 552 F.3d 157, 171 (2d Cir. 2008)).

[75] See id. at 664.

[76] Id. at 665. Accepting this proposition that the location of the surveillance is not important, it is not totally clear why then the U.S. citizen in In re Terrorist Bombings lost the protection of the warrant requirement because he was overseas. See 552 F.3d 157.

[77] See Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 441 (assuming that the defendant “had a Fourth Amendment right in the incidentally collected communications” (citing Orin S. Kerr, The Fourth Amendment and the Global Internet, 67 Stan. L. Rev. 285, 313–14 (2015) (“Communicating with a person who lacks Fourth Amendment rights should not waive the rights of the person who has those rights. The Fourth Amendment should continue to fully protect the U.S. person who communicates with those lacking Fourth Amendment rights.”); also citing Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Bd. (“PCLOB”), Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 94 (July 2, 2014) (“The government has acknowledged that the Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. persons are affected when their communications are acquired under Section 702 incidentally or otherwise[.]”))).

[78] 429 U.S. 413 (1977).

[79] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 663.

[80] United States v. Kahn, 415 U.S. 143 (1974).

[81] See Elizabeth Goitein, Another Bite Out of Katz: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance and the “Incidental Overhear” Doctrine, 55 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 105, 115 (2018), https://www.law.georgetown.edu/american-criminal-law-review/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2018/04/55-1-Another-Bite-out-of-Katz-Foreign-Intelligence-Surveillance-and-the-%E2%80%9CIncidental-Overhear%E2%80%9D-Doctrine.pdf [https://perma.cc/88P7-CGZU].

[82] Id. at 122.

[83] Id.

[84] Orin Kerr, The Surprisingly Weak Reasoning of Mohamud, Lawfare (Dec. 23, 2016, 7:30 AM), https://www.lawfareblog.com/surprisingly-weak-reasoning-mohamud [https://perma.cc/DN5G-EPNQ].

[85] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 665.

[86] See Katz, 389 U.S. at 357 (calling searches without warrants “per se unreasonable” outside “a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions”).

[87] See Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 440-41 (“[W]hen surveillance is lawful in the first place—whether it is the domestic surveillance of U.S. persons pursuant to a warrant, or the warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. persons who are abroad—the incidental interception of non-targeted U.S. persons’ communications with the targeted persons is also lawful.”) (citing United States v. Hasbajrami, No. 11-CR-623 (JG), 2016 WL 1029500, at *9, (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 8, 2016)).

[88] Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 455 (1971).

[89] Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14 (1948).

[90] Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2223.

[91] See United States v. Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 672.

[92] See U.S. Cts., Wiretap Report 2018, https://www.uscourts.gov/statistics-reports/wiretap-report-2018 [https://perma.cc/23W6-Q86A] (last updated Dec. 31, 2018).

[93] See Off. of the Dir. of Nat’l Intel., supra note 37, at 13.

[94] See [Case Title Redacted], 2011 WL 10945618, at *9.

[95] Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2214 (citing Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 34 (2001)).

[96] Id. at 2217.

[97] Orin S. Kerr, Implementing Carpenter, in The Digital Fourth Amendment (forthcoming) (manuscript at 8), https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract_id=3301257 [https://perma.cc/ARK7-JYSW].

[98] See Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 441 n.25 (“Because the incidental collection excepts this search from the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, we need not address any ‘foreign intelligence exception.’”); see also Muhtorov, 187 F. Supp. 3d at 1253–54) (“I find the special need/foreign intelligence exception argument somewhat academic and limiting, because the standard ultimately is one of reasonableness.”).

[99] See Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Bd., supra note 77, at 90 n.411 (distinguishing Section 702 from caselaw recognizing a foreign intelligence exception, but ultimately not taking a position on the existence or scope of such an exception).

[100] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 666.

[101] See Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2221 (“[I]n the absence of a warrant, a search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the warrant requirement.”).

[102] See Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 666.

[103] Paul Ohm, The Many Revolutions of Carpenter, 32 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 357, 398 (Spring 2019) (citing Carpenter, 138 S. Ct. at 2222; id. at 2230 (Kennedy, J., dissenting); id. at 2269 (Gorsuch, J., dissenting)).

[104] See Mohamud, 843 F.3d at 442; Mohammad, 339 F. Supp. 3d at 752; Muhtorov, 187 F. Supp. 3d at 1255.

[105] Kerr, supra note 84.

[106] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 666–67.

[107] 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(a).

[108] United States v. U.S. Dist. Court (Keith), 407 U.S. 297, 314 (1972) (“Fourth Amendment protections become the more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs.”).

[109] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 667.

[110] See United States v. Mohamud, 843 F.3d 420, 443 (9th Cir. 2016); Mohammad, 339 F. Supp. 3d at 753.

[111] Keith, 407 U.S. at 315.

[112] See Muhtorov, 187 F. Supp. 3d at 1256; see also United States v. Mohamud, No. 3:10-cr-475-KI-1, 2014 WL 2866749, at *26 (D. Or. June 24, 2014).

[113] Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d at 670–71.

[114] See id. at 672.

[115] See id. at 669–73 (comparing querying to collection and citing the Carpenter factors).

[116] See Toomey, supra note 53.

[117] U.S. Dist. Court (Keith), 407 U.S. at 320.

[118] See Steve Vladeck & Benjamin Wittes, DHS Authorizes Domestic Surveillance to Protect Statues and Monuments, Lawfare (July 20, 2020), https://www.lawfareblog.com/dhs-authorizes-domestic-surveillance-protect-statues-and-monuments [https://perma.cc/AYH3-USPT].

 

Share
Categories
4th amendment CURRENT EVENTS Defense Intelligence Agency Intelwars Justice Louis D. Brandeis Surveillance

Surveillance Kills Freedom

“The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings, and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men.” — Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)

When Justice Louis D. Brandeis referred to the right to privacy as “the right to be let alone,” it was 1928. He was dissenting in a Supreme Court opinion called Olmstead v. United States, in which federal agents tapped the telephone lines of Roy Olmstead and others and recorded their conversations about importing alcohol into the U.S. during Prohibition. They did so without search warrants. On the basis of the tapped conversations, Olmstead and his colleagues were convicted of conspiracy to violate federal law. The Supreme Court upheld their convictions.

The issue in the case was whether the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of searches and seizures without a warrant issued by a judge based on probable cause of crime includes surveillance. When Brandeis dissented in Olmstead, telephones were novel and not in widespread personal use. It would be 39 years before the Supreme Court accepted Brandeis’ dissent as properly encapsulating the understanding of the framers when it characterized surveillance as a search.

Stated differently, the language in the Fourth Amendment, which unambiguously prohibits the government from engaging in warrantless searches and seizures, was not interpreted so as to characterize government surveillance as a search until 1967, when the Supreme Court accepted Brandeis’ rationale. Since then, it is commonplace that the government needs a warrant to engage in surveillance. The warrant is a constitutional bulwark against fishing expeditions, and it requires the courts to defer to privacy.

I offer this brief constitutional history so as to address the abuse of the Fourth Amendment, and the consequences of that abuse. Two weeks ago, the Defense Intelligence Agency — an arm of the Pentagon and one of 16 federal entities that spies on Americans — acknowledged publicly that it uses commercial software to monitor the movements and conversations of those on whom it has chosen to spy. And because it does so without warrants, it spies on whomever it wishes.

It claims that the language of the Fourth Amendment — which protects the right of all people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects — only restrains law enforcement and does not restrain the balance of the government.

Yet, the whole purpose of the Bill of Rights is to recognize that personal liberty stems from our humanity. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he referred to our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable from our human nature, and as gifts of the Creator.

The Bill of Rights, too, articulates that our rights are natural. The Ninth Amendment expressly commands that the enumeration of certain rights — such as the freedoms of religion, speech and press — shall not be construed by any government to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.

Among the rights retained by the people — never given away to the states or the federal government — and thus protected by the Ninth Amendment, and since 1967 by the Fourth, is the right to privacy. The Olmstead decision focused narrowly on whether listening to someone’s telephone conversations without a warrant is as unconstitutional as rummaging through the person’s papers and effects without a warrant.

Brandeis understood that true happiness can only come from the exercise of personal liberty, and James Madison understood this when he wrote the Fourth Amendment. This understanding, as recognized by the courts today, is that the right to privacy protects intellectual activities, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, sensations, and private communications about them.

Who could be happy under a state of surveillance? Privacy is natural — there are things we all do that are none of the government’s business. Surveillance is totalitarian. It is the manifestation of the tyrant’s wish to know all about a potential opponent.

The whole purpose of the Bill of Rights is to keep the government at bay — off the people’s backs, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote — thereby protecting our natural state of freedom so that we can pursue happiness.

The Declaration of Independence underscores, and the Bill of Rights protects, the right to pursue happiness for individuals, not for governments.

Who can be happy while being observed by the government? A watched person changes behavior and loses liberty on account of being watched. The liberty to make unfettered choices, the right to shake a metaphorical fist in the tyrant’s face, the personal power to ignore what the government expects are all dissipated.

A watched person hesitates to exercise freedom. The more the government gets away with surveillance without warrants, the more people will accept the servitude it brings.

Personal freedom is the unfettered power to exercise natural rights without the approval of the government or the consent of any other person. It is the means to happiness. Yet, because we live in a society in which we need the government’s permission to do nearly anything, is it any wonder that the government wants to know everything about us?

The government that spies continuously has large ears and insatiable eyes. And on its face there is no smile.

The post Surveillance Kills Freedom first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

Share
Categories
hacking Insiders Intelwars privacy Surveillance

Insider Attack on Home Surveillance Systems

No one who reads this blog regularly will be surprised:

A former employee of prominent home security company ADT has admitted that he hacked into the surveillance feeds of dozens of customer homes, doing so primarily to spy on naked women or to leer at unsuspecting couples while they had sex.

[…]

Authorities say that the IT technician “took note of which homes had attractive women, then repeatedly logged into these customers’ accounts in order to view their footage for sexual gratification.” He did this by adding his personal email address to customer accounts, which ultimately hooked him into “real-time access to the video feeds from their homes.”

Slashdot thread.

Share
Categories
cell phones geolocation Intelwars privacy Surveillance

Cell Phone Location Privacy

We all know that our cell phones constantly give our location away to our mobile network operators; that’s how they work. A group of researchers has figured out a way to fix that. “Pretty Good Phone Privacy” (PGPP) protects both user identity and user location using the existing cellular networks. It protects users from fake cell phone towers (IMSI-catchers) and surveillance by cell providers.

It’s a clever system. The players are the user, a traditional mobile network operator (MNO) like AT&T or Verizon, and a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNOs aren’t new. They’re intermediaries like Cricket and Boost.

Here’s how it works:

  1. One-time setup: The user’s phone gets a new SIM from the MVNO. All MVNO SIMs are identical.
  2. Monthly: The user pays their bill to the MVNO (credit card or otherwise) and the phone gets anonymous authentication (using Chaum blind signatures) tokens for each time slice (e.g., hour) in the coming month.
  3. Ongoing: When the phone talks to a tower (run by the MNO), it sends a token for the current time slice. This is relayed to a MVNO backend server, which checks the Chaum blind signature of the token. If it’s valid, the MVNO tells the MNO that the user is authenticated, and the user receives a temporary random ID and an IP address. (Again, this is now MVNOs like Boost already work.)
  4. On demand: The user uses the phone normally.

The MNO doesn’t have to modify its system in any way. The PGPP MVNO implementation is in software. The user’s traffic is sent to the MVNO gateway and then out onto the Internet, potentially even using a VPN.

All connectivity is data connectivity in cell networks today. The user can choose to be data-only (e.g., use Signal for voice), or use the MVNO or a third party for VoIP service that will look just like normal telephony.

The group prototyped and tested everything with real phones in the lab. Their approach adds essentially zero latency, and doesn’t introduce any new bottlenecks, so it doesn’t have performance/scalability problems like most anonymity networks. The service could handle tens of millions of users on a single server, because it only has to do infrequent authentication, though for resilience you’d probably run more.

The paper is here.

Share
Categories
academic papers Eavesdropping Intelwars privacy side-channel attacks Surveillance

Eavesdropping on Phone Taps from Voice Assistants

The microphones on voice assistants are very sensitive, and can snoop on all sorts of data:

In Hey Alexa what did I just type? we show that when sitting up to half a meter away, a voice assistant can still hear the taps you make on your phone, even in presence of noise. Modern voice assistants have two to seven microphones, so they can do directional localisation, just as human ears do, but with greater sensitivity. We assess the risk and show that a lot more work is needed to understand the privacy implications of the always-on microphones that are increasingly infesting our work spaces and our homes.

From the paper:

Abstract: Voice assistants are now ubiquitous and listen in on our everyday lives. Ever since they became commercially available, privacy advocates worried that the data they collect can be abused: might private conversations be extracted by third parties? In this paper we show that privacy threats go beyond spoken conversations and include sensitive data typed on nearby smartphones. Using two different smartphones and a tablet we demonstrate that the attacker can extract PIN codes and text messages from recordings collected by a voice assistant located up to half a meter away. This shows that remote keyboard-inference attacks are not limited to physical keyboards but extend to virtual keyboards too. As our homes become full of always-on microphones, we need to work through the implications.

Share
Categories
cell phones cracking forensics Intelwars privacy schools searches Surveillance

US Schools Are Buying Cell Phone Unlocking Systems

Gizmodo is reporting that schools in the US are buying equipment to unlock cell phones from companies like Cellebrite:

Gizmodo has reviewed similar accounting documents from eight school districts, seven of which are in Texas, showing that administrators paid as much $11,582 for the controversial surveillance technology. Known as mobile device forensic tools (MDFTs), this type of tech is able to siphon text messages, photos, and application data from student’s devices. Together, the districts encompass hundreds of schools, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands of students to invasive cell phone searches.

The eighth district was in Los Angeles.

Share
Categories
cyberweapons drug trade Intelwars mexico privacy Spyware Surveillance

Mexican Drug Cartels with High-Tech Spyware

Sophisticated spyware, sold by surveillance tech companies to Mexican government agencies, are ending up in the hands of drug cartels:

As many as 25 private companies — including the Israeli company NSO Group and the Italian firm Hacking Team — have sold surveillance software to Mexican federal and state police forces, but there is little or no regulation of the sector — and no way to control where the spyware ends up, said the officials.

Lots of details in the article. The cyberweapons arms business is immoral in many ways. This is just one of them.

Share
Categories
Fourth Amendment Intelwars privacy Surveillance

No Expectation of Privacy? Are You Sure About That?

A lot of people just parrot things they hear without really thinking about it. If they did carefully consider what they were saying, they probably wouldn’t say it. This is particularly true when it comes to mass, warrantless surveillance.

The Lexington Police Department covertly uses two cameras that can be hidden in streetlights and one that is disguised as a utility box. Coupled with the fact that documents released by the LPD during legal proceedings reveal lax policies that could be interpreted to allow surveillance virtually any place at any time, I find the use of these cameras troubling.

But I’ve been told I have no basis to oppose the use of these cameras because, “You have no expectation of privacy in a public place.”

This is true in a technical, legal sense. But just because something is legal doesn’t make it just or ethical. And legality has virtually no bearing on how we live our lives.

And when you really did deep, most people don’t really believe this nonsense.

Based on the “expectation of privacy” doctrine, you can stand on the sidewalk in front of my house and take pictures of my daughter playing in the yard all day every day. You can even take pictures of my wife getting dressed through the window if she forgets to pull the curtains closed. Now, I may not have any legal expectation of privacy in my front yard or through my open blinds, but in the real world, I damn sure expect my daughter to be able to play in the yard and my wife to be able to get dressed free from your video-voyeurism.

And I think most reasonable people have the same expectation. It may not be a valid legal expectation, but it is certainly a reasonable human expectation.

The legal notion of “no expectation of privacy” in public is really meant to apply to incidental observation. I can’t come after you for taking a photo of a bird in my yard even if you happen to capture my daughter in the frame. I can’t demand police arrest you if you happen to glance up and see my wife through an uncovered window. I can’t get angry if I start dancing in a public park and you film me and stick it on YouTube.

But even from a legal standpoint, you can’t spy on me. At some point, your behavior crosses the line from incidental observation to stalking. I’m pretty sure if you saw me standing on the street taking pictures of your kids for hours on end, my insistence that you have “no expectation of privacy” would fall on deaf ears.

Government surveillance is more akin to stalking than incidental observation. If a cop positions a camera in such a way as to capture everything that happens in your yard, that’s a little creepy. It may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right.

In fact, government is held to a higher standard than everyday folks. The Fourth Amendment and privacy protections in every state constitution make this clear. For instance, Section 10 of the Kentucky State Constitution declares:

“The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable search and seizure; and no warrant shall issue to search any place, or seize any person or thing, without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.”

If government agents are going to watch me, they should have probable cause and get a warrant. Otherwise, they should leave me alone.

The issue of privacy was one of the flashpoints that led to the American War for Independence.

Prior to the Revolution, the British claimed the authority to issue Writs of Assistance allowing officials to enter private homes and businesses to search for evidence of smuggling. These general warrants authorized the holder to search anyplace for smuggled good and did not require any specification as to the place or the suspected goods. Writs of assistance never expired and were considered a valid substitute for specific search warrants. They were also transferable.

Electronic surveillance is the 21st-century version of writs of assistance. They allow police to go on fishing expeditions and watch our every move. They empower law enforcement to track us, document us and monitor us until they find a reason to come after us.

George Orwell’s 1984 was meant to warn us about ubiquitous government surveillance, not serve as an instruction manual.

I’ve written before about the negative impacts of surveillance on society and this odd mantra of “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.” I encourage you to review that article if you’re still not convinced.

People who roll out arguments like “you have no expectation of privacy” or “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” are really telling me they simply don’t believe the government would ever target them with surveillance. This mostly comes from conservatives who value law and order. But you should ask yourself a question: who is going to get targeted by surveillance when the government decides it wants to enforce a mask mandate? Or arrest people for attending a church service? Or when they come after a certain kind of gun? You are only one policy-shift away from having the digital crosshairs on your back.

Never forget, the power you give government over others — it also has over you.

Share
Categories
Intelwars Surveillance

The Government’s Lust to Spy

In 2019, agents of the federal and state governments persuaded judges to issue 99% of all requested intercepts. An intercept is any type of government surveillance — telephone, text message, email, even in-person.

These are intercepts that theoretically are based on probable cause of crime, as is required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The 2019 numbers — which the government released as we were all watching the end of the presidential election campaign — are staggering. The feds, and local and state police in America engaged in 27,431,687 intercepts on 777,840 people.

They arrested 17,101 people from among those intercepted and obtained convictions on the basis of evidence obtained via the intercepts on 5,304. That is a conviction rate of 4% of all people spied upon by law enforcement in the United States.

Here is the backstory.

Readers of this column are familiar with the use by federal agents of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to obtain intercepts using a standard of proof considerably lesser than probable cause of crime.

That came about because Congress basically has no respect for the Constitution and authorized the FISA Court to issue intercept warrants if federal agents can identify an American or a foreign person in America who has spoken to a foreign person in another country.

Call your cousin in Florence or a bookseller in Edinburgh or an art dealer in Brussels, and under FISA, the feds can get a warrant from the FISA Court to monitor your future calls and texts and emails.

This FISA system is profoundly unconstitutional; the Fourth Amendment expressly requires that the government — state and federal — can only lawfully engage in searches and seizures pursuant to warrants issued by a judge based upon a showing under oath of probable cause of crime.

The Supreme Court has ruled consistently that intercepts and surveillances constitute searches and seizures. The government searches a database of emails, texts or recorded phone calls and seizes the data it wants.

Thus, when the feds have targeted someone for prosecution and lack probable cause of crime about that person, they resort to FISA. This is not only unlawful and unconstitutional, but also it is corrupting, as it permits criminal investigators to cut constitutional corners by obtaining evidence of crimes outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment. The use of the Fourth Amendment is the only lawful means of engaging in surveillance sufficient to introduce the fruits of the surveillance at a criminal trial.

If the feds happen upon evidence of a crime from their FISA-authorized intercepts, they then need to engage in deceptive acts of parallel construction. That connotes the false creation of an ostensibly lawful intercept in order to claim that they obtained lawfully what they already have obtained unlawfully.

Share