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Domestic surveillance and psyops have long gone together in America. The FBI, for example, subjected Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to a combination of these techniques in response to his Civil Rights Movement activities. One such combination entailed recording his affairs, calling his wife, and playing the tape — then sending him a letter suggesting he should commit suicide because if the affairs came out, it would hurt the movement.
This sort of thing is happening now with social media, e-commerce, phone, and physical elements of misinformation, harassment, intimidation, and threats. It has the potential to achieve an inestimable breadth and depth of professional and personal damage. In the military term of art, this is full-spectrum dominance — against civilians in peacetime. And the American people might not approve of it if they knew what was happening in their name.
Tag Archives | domestic surveillance
Now that the NSA is readying to shut down its domestic surveillance operation as the Patriot Act goes into limbo, some freelancers in New York City are picking up the NSA’s reins and recording private conversations at restaurants, gyms and other public locations. Generously, they are “declassifying” the recordings and publishing them at their website, WeAreAlwaysListening.com. Gothamist reports:
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Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the National Security Agency collects the phone records of every American in order to keep the country safe from terrorism. But for the past eight months a group of artists claiming to work for the NSA on “a freelance, pro bono basis” have been recording people’s private conversations in popular bars, restaurants, and gyms in Lower Manhattan to ensure that no actionable intelligence falls through the cracks.
“We’re looking for terrorism, we’re looking for signs of plots and schemes that could put the homeland at risk,” one of the group’s “agents” tells us.
This is, of course, setting aside the much broader data collection conducted by the NSA. PCWorld writes:
Verizon Communications received more than 320,000 requests for customer information from U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in 2013, more than 100 times the number of requests from any other country, the telecom carrier said in its first surveillance transparency report.
Verizon received more than 164,000 subpoenas from U.S. law enforcement agencies and nearly 71,000 court orders, including more than 6,300 pen-register or trap-and-trace orders and nearly 1,500 wiretap orders last year, Verizon said.
Verizon is one of a handful of tech and telecom companies that have begun to publish surveillance transparency reports after revelations last year of U.S. National Security Agency programs by former contractor Edward Snowden.
As football season gears up for its climax, many people are overlooking a much bigger game that is being played at the moment. Grant Gross for PC World reports on the Day We Fight Back protest:
Phoenix’s ABC15 reports on the forging ahead with new forms of corrupt policing:
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Arpaio confirms to ABC15 he has a plan to use drones, if he can get them. While Arpaio didn’t specify exactly the types of drones he wants, at a Tuesday press conference, he said the models they’re eyeing are between $5,000 and $20,000, and he’d like them outfitted with cameras and infrared capabilities.
The first drone, if obtained, would circle or hover in the areas above Arpaio’s jails, he explained. “Surveillance regarding crime scenes and drugs, catching dope peddlers,” Arpaio described.
When asked about people’s privacy, Arpaio responded without hesitation. “Privacy in the jails? Privacy for criminals, privacy for those with drugs? They better watch out.”
As for the cost of the drones, Arpaio says the money would come mainly through drug seizure dollars. “Isn’t it great? It would be the criminals buying these to arrest more criminals,” said Arpaio.
Well, that settles that. Via NPR:
President Obama defended the U.S. government’s surveillance programs, telling NBC’s Jay Leno on Tuesday that: “There is no spying on Americans.”
“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” Obama said on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. … That information is useful.”
During a lengthy discussion with Leno, Obama said he was “disappointed” in Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden.
“There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality,” Obama said of Russia. “What I continually say to them and to President Putin, ‘That’s the past. We’ve got to think about the future.’ “
If it’s in the name of “security,” telecommunications corporations can now monitor users’ personal messages with special legal immunity granted from existing wiretapping laws, CNET News reports:
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Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications on networks operated by AT&T and other service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.
The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors’ Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.
The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as “2511 letters,” a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.
“The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week.
Colleges across the country are starting to offer UAV piloting programs in anticipation of the coming drone boom. NBC News writes:
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Randal Franzen was 53, unemployed and nearly broke when his brother, a tool mentioned that pilots for remotely piloted aircraft – more commonly known as drones – were in high demand. He landed at Kansas State, and graduated in 2011 with with an offer “well into the six figures” as a flight operator for a military contractor in Afghanistan.
While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years. At the moment, 358 public institutions – including 14 universities and colleges – have permits from the FAA to fly unmanned aircraft. Among the possible applications: Monitoring livestock and oil pipelines, spotting animal poachers, tracking down criminals fleeing crime scenes and delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.
Tom McNamara, writing at Counterpunch:
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“Democracies die behind closed doors” – Judge Damon J. Keith
For 15 years (1956-1971) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ran a broad and highly coordinated domestic intelligence / counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgrams). What was originally deemed as a justifiable effort to protect the US during the Cold War from Soviet and Communist threats and infiltration, soon devolved into a program for suppressing domestic dissent and spying on American citizens. Approximately 20,000 people were investigated by the FBI based only on their political views and beliefs. Most were never suspected of having committed any crime.
The reasoning behind the program, as detailed in a 1976 Senate report, was that the FBI had “the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.” The fact that the “perceived threats” were usually American citizens engaging in constitutionally protected behaviour was apparently overlooked.
While much of the Petraeus story focuses on the government’s email snooping powers, non-profit news organization ProPublica reminds cellphone users that Big Brother has their numbers, too. So to speak:
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“The guest lists from hotels, IP [computer] login records, as well as the creative request to email providers for ‘information about other accounts that have logged in from this IP address’ are all forms of data that the government can obtain with a subpoena. There is no independent review, no check against abuse, and further, the target of the subpoena will often never learn that the government obtained data.”
It’s not just email. In July, Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, cajoled major cellphone carriers into disclosing the number of requests for data that they receive from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies: In 2011, there were more than 1.3 million requests. As ProPublica reported at the time, “Police obtain court orders for basic subscriber information so frequently that some mobile phone companies have established websites — here’s one — with forms that police can fill out in minutes.