Category Archives: Surveilling the population

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

Transnational Institute in Association with Statewatch, 2006

This report was produced by Ben Hayes for Statewatch and the Transnational Institute. Additional research was conducted by Max Rowlands and Fiona O’Malley of Statewatch, while Tony Bunyan and Trevor Hemmings (also Statewatch) provided a constant stream of invaluable comments, information and guidance (several sections also draw heavily on Tony Bunyan’s columns for the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Liberty Central’ website). The information and analysis provided by Frank Slijper (Dutch Campaign Against the Arms Trade and TNI), Matthias (from Gipfelsoli), and Kamil Mraijcek (ECCHR) was also invaluable, as was Thomas Mathiesen’s advice in respect to the variations on the ‘Panopticon’ discussed in this report.

In 2006, Statewatch and the Transnational Institute published Arming Big Brother, a briefing paper examining the development of the European Union’s Security Research Programme (ESRP). The ESRP is a seven year, €1.4 billion programme predicated on the need to deliver new security enhancing technologies to the Union’s member states in order to protect EU citizens from every conceivable threat to their security (understood here purely in terms of bodily safety).

The ESRP also has the explicit aim of fostering the growth of a lucrative and globally competitive ‘homeland security’ industry in Europe. To this end, a number of prominent European corporations from the defence and IT sectors have enjoyed unprecedented involvement in the development of the security ‘research’ agenda.

Arming Big Brother set out a number of concerns about the pending ESRP, including the implicit threat posed to civil liberties and fundamental rights by EU ‘research’ into surveillance and other security technologies. The report was also highly critical of the corporate influence on the EU security research programme and warned of various dangers in actively pursuing a ‘security-industrial complex’ in Europe.

This follow-up report contains new research showing how the European Security Research Programme continues to be shaped by prominent transnational defence and security corporations and other vested interests. Though technically a Research and Development (R&D) programme, the ESRP is heavily focused on the application of security technologies (rather than objective research per se ), and is increasingly aligned with EU policy in the fields of justice and home affairs (JHA, the ‘third pillar’), security and external defence (CFSP, the ‘second pillar’).

Governmental spending on products and services for homeland security should reach $141.6bn worldwide in 2009… The high priority given to homeland security has made that market one of the few recession-resistant sectors of the defence industry, some experts believe. (Visiongain Market Research, 2009 Global Homeland Security 2009-2019, ASD reports, see: http://www.asdreports.com/shopexd.asp?ID=1442)

Read the entire report:

2794_neoconopticon-report

Surveilling UK Muslims ‘cradle to grave’

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/02/surveilling-uk-muslims-cradle-grave-201422575943406757.html

Surveilling UK Muslims ‘cradle to grave’

New report details ‘McCarthy-like’ police surveillance and discrimination against the Muslim community
Simon Hooper – 26 Feb 2014 12:21
 
London, United Kingdom – Muhammad still does not know for sure why British counter-terrorism police came to the door of his east London home shortly before dawn one morning in March 2012.

It was 5:30am on the day of Muhammad and his wife’s third wedding anniversary. The couple’s two young children were sleeping in their cots, and his elderly parents were also visiting.

“My mum woke me up, saying: ‘There are police at the door. Get up! Get up!’ My wife grabbed her headscarf and we all went into the living room,” Muhammad told Al Jazeera, requesting only his first name be used for legal reasons.

“I counted 12 police officers in there and there were others lurking in the other rooms. They said they had a warrant to raid my house and my car.”

As police searched the property, Muhammad’s father suffered a heart attack. An ambulance was called to take him to hospital. The police eventually left at 2am the following morning, taking with them money, documents, electrical equipment, phones and Muhammad’s passport.

Muhammad, a British-born Muslim of Bangladeshi origin in his late 20s, was not arrested, detained or questioned as a result of the raid. His father made a full recovery. But the incident has turned his life upside down.

He has subsequently been routinely stopped and questioned at airports under Schedule Seven counter-terrorism powers, making his work as a guide escorting British pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on Hajj increasingly untenable. In October last year he said he was held for 26 hours at Riyadh airport before being deported back to the UK without explanation.

Pressure to inform

Last August, he was invited to visit a London police station to collect the belongings and money seized from his house almost a year and a half earlier.

“Two officers from SO15 [the London Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit] were waiting for me. You know they play good cop, bad cop? Well, that day they were both playing good cop, just chatting about stuff. As I was going to walk out they said: ‘Hold on, there’s someone that quickly needs to speak to you.'”

Muhammad was shown into a room where two men he said he believes worked for MI5, the UK’s internal security service, were waiting. He said they put him under pressure and offered him incentives to inform for them.

“They asked me about my friends, about Syria, stuff like that. They said they believed there were people who wanted to come back and cause mayhem in the UK. I said I had no intention of going to Syria. They gave me a phone number and told me to call if I heard anything.”

Muhammad’s story, according to the civil liberties group CAGE, is merely one case demonstrating how many British Muslims are becoming ensnared by increasingly intrusive and illiberal counter-terrorism policies targeting those deemed to be “extreme” in their faith.

In a report published this month into the UK government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, CAGE warned that Muslim communities were being subjected to “cradle-to-grave” levels of surveillance and discrimination that go beyond the policies used against suspected communist sympathisers in the United States at the height of the Cold War.

It highlighted how Prevent had put mosques, Muslim institutions and charities under scrutiny and how public officials, including teachers, lecturers, chaplains and healthcare workers, were being urged to inform on schoolchildren, students and patients deemed to be at risk of radicalisation.

CAGE’s director is Moazzam Begg, who was arrested on Tuesday for alleged terrorism offences related to Syria.

The former Guantanamo Bay detainee was captured in Pakistan in 2002 by US forces. He was released from the American prison camp in Cuba in 2005 without ever being charged.

In December Begg wrote about how he had been continually harassed by the British government and members of its security services and had his passport confiscated because of his investigations into British complicity in rendition, and because of his work supporting humanitarian-aid efforts for Syria.

In a statement CAGE said it was “outraged” by the detention.

“We do not accept involvement by Moazzam Begg in any form of terrorism,” it said. “He is simply one of many individuals and charities involved in Syria being viewed with suspicion in an effort to send a message to the wider Muslim community that working in Syria is no go area for them.”

‘Deprogramming’

The CAGE report highlighted the case of a nine-year-old boy alleged to have shown signs of extremism who was referred to authorities for “deprogramming”. Police figures show a steady increase in referrals among young people, with 748 referred for assessment in 2012-2013, compared with 580 a year earlier and more than 2,600 in total since 2006.

In other cases, youth groups and mental health projects aimed at Muslim communities found that access to public funding was conditional on sharing data and information with law enforcement agencies, while university Islamic societies have faced pressure to hand over membership lists and other data to counter-terrorism police.

“There has been nothing like the Prevent policy since the McCarthy era, but Prevent goes a lot further; it goes into every aspect of Muslim life,” Jahangir Mohammad, the co-author of the report, told Al Jazeera. “Prevent has created a climate of fear and alienation in the Muslim community. People feel they can’t challenge this stuff and they don’t have any rights.”

Yet recent proposals to further toughen the UK’s counter-terrorism laws in the aftermath of the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby last May, and amid current concerns over the security risk posed by British Muslims travelling to Syria, could make Prevent even more draconian.

In December, Theresa May, the British home secretary, announced plans to introduce legislation that would place the policy on a statutory footing. While local authorities, mosques, universities and other institutions are currently under no legal obligation to cooperate with Prevent, such a move would force them to do so by law.

Critics argue the government’s efforts to enshrine Prevent in law are driven by a neo-conservative ideology that conflates conservative interpretations of Islam with a heightened risk of violent radicalisation.

“Teachers, doctors, police officers, civil servants and local government officers are effectively being trained and indoctrinated with a politicised understanding of Islam,” the CAGE report states. “It is a policy to silence Muslims and pacify/de-politicise their faith. In short, it criminalises political dissent or alternative political thought.”

Alienation

Many of those on the sharp end of Prevent measures believe the policy has already proved counter-productive by alienating, rather than engaging, Muslim communities.

Shakur Rahman, an imam at the Redbridge Islamic Centre in east London, told Al Jazeera that he and other mosque officials had been regularly visited by Prevent officers voicing concerns about invited speakers and other events.

“We have people claiming to be Special Branch [SO15] coming in and demanding a meeting with the imam and saying: ‘If you do not comply we are going to make your life difficult,'” Rahman said.

“The implication is: ‘We are watching you. We have got our eye on you and we are going to be keeping our ears to the ground.’ Then you find certain people coming along to the community and asking strange questions. They turn up every now and then and then they disappear.

“We know, as every imam knows, that if you say something which they do not like you could be raided that night. They are creating that fear so that we are afraid to speak about fundamental issues that pertain to our community. If the whole strategy of Prevent is to minimise problems in the community then it is doing the exact opposite.”

Al Jazeera contacted the London Borough of Redbridge’s Prevent officer but she declined to comment. A spokesperson for the council said queries regarding Prevent should be directed to the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesperson told Al Jazeera: “Our Prevent strategy challenges extremist ideology, helps protect institutions from extremists, and tackles the radicalisation of vulnerable people.

“We work closely with local authorities to engage with faith institutions, civil society groups and other organisations and ensure they have the support and advice they need. We are also giving additional support to local communities on the frontline of tackling extremism by supporting integration projects and setting up a dedicated public communications platform.”

It’s UK government policy for spokespeople not to be named.

Under watch

The only reason that Muhammad can think of to explain why the police raided his home is that he had been collecting money for a Syrian aid appeal outside his local mosque the previous Friday.

“There was a group of brothers and they asked me to hold a tin for them,” he recalled. “Maybe MI5 was watching someone at the mosque and I was with that person and that’s how I got dragged in. The raid has made me fearful of going to mosques. I think, what if I go and it makes the situation worse?”

Muhammad is convinced he is still under surveillance. He has started wearing casual clothes rather than traditional Islamic dress to avoid drawing attention to himself. He often gets unknown calls on his phone, but the line is silent when he answers.

“Even when I came here tonight [for the interview] I saw a car parked up. You can tell what police look like when they are undercover. I have MI5 on my back, I have SO15 taking my stuff, and I am fearful. There is a question mark at the end of this because I don’t know what is going to happen to me.”

Follow Simon Hooper on Twitter: @simonbhooper

John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, justifies drone attacks

The White House  Office of the Press Secretary
June 29, 2011

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/29/remarks-john-o-brennan-assistant-president-homeland-security-and-counter

Remarks of John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on Ensuring al-Qa’ida’s Demise –

As Prepared for Delivery
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C.

Good afternoon.  Thank you, Dean Einhorn, for your very warm welcome and for your decades of service—in government, global institutions and here at SAIS.  And it’s a special pleasure to be introduced by John McLaughlin, a friend and colleague of many years and one of our nation’s great intelligence professionals.

It’s a pleasure to be here at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, an institution that has instilled in generations of public servants the pragmatic approach to problem-solving that is essential for the effective conduct of foreign policy.  I especially want to thank the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies for its emphasis on national security and for joining with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to introduce students to our Intelligence Community and inspiring the next generation of intelligence professionals.     

It’s wonderful to see so many friends and colleagues who I’ve had the privilege to work with over many years.  You have devoted your lives to protecting our nation from many threats, including the one that brings me here today, and one that has claimed the lives of some of our friends and colleagues—that is the continued terrorist threat from al-Qa’ida.  

Today, we are releasing President Obama’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism, which formalizes the approach that we’ve been pursuing and adapting for the past two and half years to prevent terrorist attacks and to ensure al-Qa’ida’s demise.  I’m pleased that we are joined today by dedicated professionals from across the federal government who helped to shape our strategy and who work tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.  Thank you for being here.

An unclassified summary of our strategy is being posted today to the White House website, WhiteHouse.gov.   In the time I have with you, I’d like to put our strategy in context, outline its key goals and principals, and describe how we’re putting these principles into practice to protect the American people.    

I want to begin with the larger strategic environment that shapes our counterterrorism efforts.  This starts with the recognition that this counterterrorism strategy is only one part of President Obama’s larger National Security Strategy.  This is very important.  Our counterterrorism policies do not define our entire foreign policy; rather, they are a vital part of—and are designed to reinforce—our broader national security interests.

Since taking office, President Obama has worked to restore a positive vision of American leadership in the world—leadership defined, not by the threats and dangers that we will oppose, but by the security, opportunity and dignity that America advances in partnership with people around the world.  This has enhanced our national security in many areas against many threats.  

At the same time, many of the President’s broader foreign policy and national security initiatives also help to achieve our more focused counterterrorism goals.  They do so by addressing the political, economic and social conditions that can sometimes fuel violent extremism and push certain individuals into the arms of al-Qa’ida.

For instance, when our diplomats promote the peaceful resolution of political disputes and grievances, when our trade and economic policies generate growth that lifts people out of poverty, when our development experts support good governance that addresses people’s basic needs, when we stand up for universal human rights—all of this can also help undermine violent extremists and terrorists like al-Qa’ida.  Peaceful political, economic, and social progress undermines the claim that the only way to achieve change is through violence.  It can be a powerful antidote to the disillusionment and sense of powerlessness that can make some individuals more susceptible to violent ideologies.

Our strategy recognizes that our counterterrorism efforts clearly benefit from—and at times depend on—broader foreign policy efforts, even as our CT strategy focuses more narrowly on preventing terrorist attacks against our interests, at home and abroad.

This, obviously, is also the first counterterrorism strategy to reflect the extraordinary political changes that are sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.  It’s true that these changes may bring new challenges and uncertainty in the short-term, as we are seeing in Yemen.  It also is true that terrorist organizations, and nations that support them, will seek to capitalize on the instability that change can sometimes bring.  That is why we are working closely with allies and partners to make sure that these malevolent actors do not succeed in hijacking this moment of hope for their own violent ends.  

But as President Obama has said, these dramatic changes also mark an historic moment of opportunity.  So too for our counterterrorism efforts.  For decades, terrorist organizations like al-Qa’ida have preached that the only way to affect change is through violence.  Now, that claim has been thoroughly repudiated, and it has been repudiated by ordinary citizens, in Tunisia and Egypt and beyond, who are changing and challenging their governments through peaceful protest, even as they are sometimes met with horrific brutality, as in Libya and Syria.  Moreover, these citizens have rejected the medieval ideology of al-Qa’ida that divides people by faith and gender, opting instead to work together—Muslims and Christians, men and women, secular and religious.

It is the most profound change in the modern history of the Arab world, and al-Qa’ida and its ilk have been left on the sidelines, watching history pass them by.  Meanwhile, President Obama has placed the United States on the right side of history, pledging our support for the political and economic reforms and universal human rights that people in the region are demanding.  This, too, has profound implications for our counterterrorism efforts.

Against this backdrop, our strategy is very precise about the threat we face and the goals we seek.  Paul Nitze once observed that “one of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve.”  President Obama is adamant that we never forget who we’re fighting or what we’re trying to achieve.

Let me start by saying that our strategy is not designed to combat directly every single terrorist organization in every corner of the world, many of which have neither the intent nor the capability to ever attack the United States or our citizens.

Our strategy of course recognizes that there are numerous nations and groups that support terrorism in order to oppose U.S. interests.  Iran and Syria remain leading state sponsors of terrorism.  Hezbollah and HAMAS are terrorist organizations that threaten Israel and our interests in the Middle East.  We will therefore continue to use the full range of our foreign policy tools to prevent these regimes and terrorist organizations from endangering our national security.

For example, President Obama has made it clear that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  And we will continue working closely with allies and partners, including sharing and acting upon intelligence, to prevent the flow of weapons and funds to Hezbollah and HAMAS and to prevent attacks against our allies, citizens or interests.

But the principal focus of this counterterrorism strategy—and the focus of our CT efforts since President Obama took office—is the network that poses the most direct and significant threat to the United States, and that is al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and its adherents.  We use these terms deliberately.

It is al-Qa’ida, the core group founded by Usama bin Laden, that has murdered our citizens, from the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole to the attacks of September 11th, which also killed citizens of more than 90 other countries.

It is al-Qa’ida’s affiliates—groups that are part of its network or share its goals—that have also attempted to attack our homeland.  It was al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen, that attempted to bring down that airliner over Detroit and which put explosives on cargo planes bound for the United States.  It was the Pakistani Taliban that sent Faisal Shahzad on his failed attempt to blow up an SUV in Times Square.

And it is al-Qa’ida’s adherents—individuals, sometimes with little or no direct physical contact with al-Qa’ida, who have succumbed to its hateful ideology and who have engaged in, or facilitated, terrorist activities here in the United States.  These misguided individuals are spurred on by the likes of al-Qaida’s Adam Gadahn and Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who speak English and preach violence in slick videos over the Internet.  And we have seen the tragic results, with the murder of a military recruiter in Arkansas two years ago and the attack on our servicemen and women at Fort Hood.

This is the first counterterrorism strategy that focuses on the ability of al-Qa’ida and its network to inspire people in the United States to attack us from within.  Indeed, this is the first counterterrorism strategy that designates the homeland as a primary area of emphasis in our counterterrorism efforts.       

Our strategy is also shaped by a deeper understanding of al-Qa’ida’s goals, strategy, and tactics. I’m not talking about al-Qa’ida’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate.  That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counterterrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen.  We are not going to elevate these thugs and their murderous aspirations into something larger than they are.

Rather, President Obama is determined that our foreign and national security policies not play into al-Qa’ida’s strategy or its warped ideology.  Al-Qa’ida seeks to terrorize us into retreating from the world stage.  But President Obama has made it a priority to renew American leadership in the world, strengthening our alliances and deepening partnerships.  Al-Qa’ida seeks to portray America as an enemy of the world’s Muslims.  But President Obama has made it clear that the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam.   

Al-Qa’ida seeks to bleed us financially by drawing us into long, costly wars that also inflame anti-American sentiment.  Under President Obama, we are working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan responsibly, even as we keep unrelenting pressure on al-Qa’ida.  Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense won’t always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us.

Al-Qa’ida seeks to portray itself as a religious movement defending the rights of Muslims, but the United States will continue to expose al-Qa’ida as nothing more than murderers.  They purport to be Islamic, but they are neither religious leaders nor scholars; indeed, there is nothing Islamic or holy about slaughtering innocent men, women, and children.  They claim to protect Muslims, but the vast majority of al-Qa’ida’s victims are, in fact, innocent Muslim men, women, and children.  It is no wonder that the overwhelmingly majority of the world’s Muslims have rejected al-Qa’ida and why its ranks of supporters continue to decline.

Just as our strategy is precise about who our enemy is, it is clear about our posture and our goal.  This is a war—a broad, sustained, integrated and relentless campaign that harnesses every element of American power.  And we seek nothing less than the utter destruction of this evil that calls itself al-Qa’ida.

To achieve this goal, we need to dismantle the core of al-Qa’ida—its leadership in the tribal regions of Pakistan—and prevent its ability to reestablish a safe haven in the Pakistan–Afghanistan region.  In other words, we aim to render the heart of al-Qa’ida incapable of launching attacks against our homeland, our citizens, or our allies, as well as preventing the group from inspiring its affiliates and adherents to do so.

At the same time, ultimately defeating al-Qa’ida also means addressing the serious threat posed by its affiliates and adherents operating outside South Asia.  This does not require a “global” war, but it does require a focus on specific regions, including what we might call the periphery—places like Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and the Maghreb.  This is another important distinction that characterizes this strategy.  As the al-Qa’ida core has weakened under our unyielding pressure, it has looked increasingly to these other groups and individuals to take up its cause, including its goal of striking the United States.

To destroy al-Qa’ida, we are pursuing specific and focused counterterrorism objectives.  
For example:

    We are protecting our homeland by constantly reducing our vulnerabilities and adapting and updating our defenses.
     
    We are taking the fight to wherever the cancer of al-Qa’ida manifests itself, degrading its capabilities and disrupting its operations.
     
    We are degrading the ability of al-Qa’ida’s senior leadership to inspire, communicate with, and direct the operations of its adherents around the world.
     
    We are denying al-Qa’ida any safe haven—the physical sanctuary that it needs to train, plot and launch attacks against us.
     
    We are aggressively confronting al-Qa’ida’s ideology, which attempts to exploit local—and often legitimate—grievances in an attempt to justify violence.
     
    We are depriving al-Qa’ida of its enabling means, including the illicit financing, logistical support, and online communications that sustain its network.
     
    And we are working to prevent al-Qa’ida from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction, which is why President Obama is leading the global effort to secure the world’s vulnerable materials in four years.

In many respects, these specific counterterrorism goals are not new.  In fact, they track closely with the goals of the previous administration.  Yet this illustrates another important characteristic of our strategy.  It neither represents a wholesale overhaul—nor a wholesale retention—of previous policies.

President Obama’s approach to counterterrorism is pragmatic, not ideological.  It’s based on what works.  It builds upon policies and practices that have been instituted and refined over the past decade, in partnership with Congress—a partnership we will continue.  And it reflects an evolution in our understanding of the threat, in the capabilities of our government, the capacity of our partners, and the tools and technologies at our disposal.        

What is new—and what I believe distinguishes this strategy—is the principles that are guiding our efforts to destroy al-Qa’ida.

First, we are using every lawful tool and authority available.  No single agency or department has sole responsibility for this fight because no single department or agency possesses all the capabilities needed for this fight.  This is—and must be—a whole-of-government effort, and it’s why the Obama Administration has strengthened the tools we need.

We’ve strengthened intelligence, expanding human intelligence and linguistic skills, and we’re constantly working to improve our capabilities and learn from our experiences.  For example, following the attack at Fort Hood and the failed attack over Detroit, we’ve improved the analytic process, created new groups to track threat information, and enhanced cooperation among our intelligence agencies, including better information sharing so that all threats are acted upon quickly.  

We’ve strengthened our military capabilities. We increased the size of our Special Forces, sped up the deployment of unique assets so that al-Qa’ida enjoys no safe haven, and ensured that our military and intelligence professionals are working more closely than ever before.

We’ve strengthened homeland security with a multi-layered defense, bolstering security at our borders, ports and airports; improving partnerships with state and local governments and allies and partners, including sharing more information; increasing the capacity of our first responders; and preparing for bioterrorism.  In taking these steps, we are finally fulfilling key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Learning the lessons of recent plots and attempted attacks, we’ve increased aviation security by strengthening watchlist procedures and sharing information in real-time; enhancing screening of cargo; and—for the first time—ensuring 100 percent screening of all passengers traveling in, to, and from the United States, which was another recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.  And we are constantly assessing and improving our defenses, as we did in replacing the old color-coded threat system with a more targeted approach that provides detailed information about specific, credible threats and suggested protective measures.

In addition, we are using the full range of law enforcement tools as part of our effort to build an effective and durable legal framework for the war against al-Qa’ida.  This includes our single most effective tool for prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing suspected terrorists—and a proven tool for gathering intelligence and preventing attacks—our Article III courts.  It includes reformed military commissions, which at times offer unique advantages.  And this framework includes the recently renewed PATRIOT Act.  In short, we must have a legal framework that provides our extraordinary intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement professionals with all the lawful tools they need to do their job and keep our country safe.  We must not tie their hands.

For all these tools to work properly, departments and agencies across the federal government must work cooperatively.  Today, our personnel are working more closely together than ever before, as we saw in the operation that killed Usama bin Laden.  That success was not due to any one single person or single piece of information.  It was the result of many people in many organizations working together over many years.  And that is what we will continue to do.

Even as we use every tool in our government, we are guided by a second principle—the need for partnership with institutions and countries around the world, as we recognize that no one nation alone can bring about al-Qa’ida’s demise.  Over the past decade, we have made enormous progress in building and strengthening an international architecture to confront the threat from al-Qa’ida.  This includes greater cooperation with multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, our NATO allies, and regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the African Union.

Over the past two and a half years, we have also increased our efforts to build the capacity of partners so they can take the fight to al-Qa’ida in their own countries.  That is why a key element of the President’s strategy in Afghanistan is growing Afghan security forces.  It’s why we’ll soon begin a transition so that Afghans can take responsibility for their own security.  And it’s why we must continue our cooperation with Pakistan.

In recent weeks we’ve been reminded that our relationship with Pakistan is not without tension or frustration.  We are now working with our Pakistani partners to overcome differences and continue our efforts against our common enemies.  It is essential that we do so.  As frustrating as this relationship can sometimes be, Pakistan has been critical to many of our most significant successes against al-Qa’ida.  Tens of thousands of Pakistanis—military and civilian—have given their lives in the fight against militancy.  And despite recent tensions, I am confident that Pakistan will remain one of our most important counterterrorism partners.

These kinds of security partnerships are absolutely vital.  The critical intelligence that allowed us to discover the explosives that AQAP was shipping to the United States in those cargo planes was provided by our Saudi Arabian partners.   Al-Qa’ida in Iraq has suffered major losses at the hands of Iraqi security forces, trained by the United States.  Despite the ongoing instability, our counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen continues, and I would argue that the recent territorial gains made by militants linked to AQAP only makes our CT partnership with Yemen more important.

Around the world, we will deepen our security cooperation with partners wherever al-Qa’ida attempts to take root, be it Somalia, the Sahel or Southeast Asia.  For while al-Qa’ida seeks to depict this fight as one between the world’s Muslims and the United States, it is actually the opposite—the international community, including Muslim-majority nations and Muslim communities, united against al-Qa’ida.

This leads to the third principle of our strategy—rather than pursuing a one-size fits-all approach, we recognize that different threats in different places demand different tools.  So even as we use all the resources at our disposal against al-Qa’ida, we will apply the right tools in the right way and in the right place, with laser focus.

In some places, such as the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will deliver precise and overwhelming force against al-Qa’ida.  Whenever possible, our efforts around the world will be in close coordination with our partners.  And, when necessary, as the President has said repeatedly, if we have information about the whereabouts of al-Qa’ida, we will do what is required to protect the United States—as we did with bin Laden.

In some places, as I’ve described, our efforts will focus on training foreign security services.  In others, as with our Saudi Arabian and Gulf state partners, our focus will include shutting down al-Qa’ida’s financial pipelines.  With longtime allies and partners, as in Europe, we’ll thwart attacks through close intelligence cooperation.  Here in the United States—where the rule of law is paramount—it’s our federal, state, and local law enforcement and homeland security professionals who rightly take the lead.  Around the world, including here at home, we will continue to show that the United States offers a vision of progress and justice, while al-Qa’ida offers nothing but death and destruction.

Related to our counterterrorism strategy, I would also note that keeping our nation secure also depends on strong partnerships between government and communities here at home, including Muslim and Arab Americans, some of whom join us today.  These Americans have worked to protect their communities from al-Qa’ida’s violent ideology and they have helped to prevent terrorist attacks in our country.  Later this summer, the Obama Administration will unveil its approach for partnering with communities to prevent violent extremism in the United States.  And a key tenet of this approach is that when it comes to protecting our country, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, they’re part of the solution.    

This relates to our fourth principle—building a culture of resilience here at home.  We are doing everything in our power to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil.  At the same time, a responsible, effective counterterrorism strategy recognizes that no nation, no matter how powerful—including a free and open society of 300 million Americans—can prevent every single threat from every single individual who wishes to do us harm.  It’s not enough to simply be prepared for attacks, we have to be resilient and recover quickly should an attack occur.

So, as a resilient nation, we are constantly improving our ability to withstand any attack—especially our critical infrastructure, including cyber—thereby denying al-Qa’ida the economic damage and disruption it seeks.  As a resilient government, we’re strengthening the partnerships that help states and localities recover quickly.  And as a resilient people, we must remember that every one of us can help deprive al-Qa’ida of the success it seeks.  Al-Qa’ida wants to terrorize us, so we must not give in to fear.  They want to change us, so we must stay true to who we are.

Which brings me to our final principle, in fact, the one that guides all the others—in all our actions, we will uphold the core values that define us as Americans.  I have spent more than thirty years working on behalf of our nation’s security.  I understand the truly breathtaking capabilities of our intelligence and counterterrorism communities.  But I also know that the most powerful weapons of all—which we must never forsake—are the values and ideals that America represents to the world.

When we fail to abide by our values, we play right into the hands of al-Qa’ida, which falsely tries to portray us as a people of hypocrisy and decadence.  Conversely, when we uphold these values it sends a message to the people around the world that it is America—not al-Qa’ida—that represents opportunity, dignity, and justice.  In other words, living our values helps keep us safe.

So, as Americans, we stand for human rights.  That is why, in his first days in office, President Obama made it clear that the United States of America does not torture, and it’s why he banned the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which did not work.  As Americans, we will uphold the rule of law at home, including the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of all Americans.  And it’s because of our commitment to the rule of law and to our national security that we will never waver in our conviction that the United States will be more secure the day that the prison at Guantanamo Bay is ultimately closed.

Living our values—and communicating to the world what America represents—also directly undermines al-Qa’ida’s twisted ideology.  When we remember that diversity of faith and background is not a weakness in America but a strength, and when we show that Muslim Americans are part of our American family, we expose al-Qa’ida’s lie that cultures must clash.  When we remember that Islam is part of America, we show that America could never possibly be at war with Islam.

These are our principles, and this is the strategy that has enabled us to put al-Qa’ida under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.  With allies and partners, we have thwarted attacks around the world.  We have disrupted plots here at home, including the plan of Najibullah Zazi, trained by al-Qa’ida to bomb the New York subway.

We have affected al-Qa’ida’s ability to attract new recruits.  We’ve made it harder for them to hide and transfer money, and pushed al-Qa’ida’s finances to its weakest point in years.  Along with our partners, in Pakistan and Yemen, we’ve shown al-Qa’ida that it will enjoy no safe haven, and we have made it harder than ever for them to move, to communicate, to train, and to plot.

Al-Qa’ida’s leadership ranks have been decimated, with more key leaders eliminated in rapid succession than at any time since 9/11.  For example, al-Qa’ida’s third-ranking leader, Sheik Saeed al-Masri—killed.  Ilyas Kashmiri, one of al-Qa’ida’s most dangerous commanders—reportedly killed.  Operatives of AQAP in Yemen, including Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan—all killed.  Baitullah Mahsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban—killed.  Harun Fazul, the leader of al-Qa’ida in East Africa and the mastermind of the bombings of our embassies in Africa—killed by Somali security forces.

All told, over the past two and half years, virtually every major al-Qa’ida affiliate has lost its key leader or operational commander, and more than half of al-Qa’ida’s top leadership has been eliminated.  Yes, al-Qa’ida is adaptive and resilient and has sought to replace these leaders, but it has been forced to do so with less experienced individuals.  That’s another reason why we and our partners have stepped up our efforts.  Because if we hit al-Qa’ida hard enough and often enough, there will come a time when they simply can no longer replenish their ranks with the skilled leaders they need to sustain their operations.  And that is the direction in which we’re headed today.

Now, with the death of Usama bin Laden, we have struck our biggest blow against al-Qa’ida yet.  We have taken out al-Qa’ida’s founder, an operational commander who continued to direct his followers to attack the United States and, perhaps most significantly, al-Qa’ida’s symbolic figure who has inspired so many others to violence.  In his place, the organization is left with Ayman al-Zawahiri, an aging doctor who lacks bin Laden’s charisma and perhaps the loyalty and respect of many in al-Qa’ida.  Indeed, the fact that it took so many weeks for al-Qa’ida to settle on Zawahiri as its new leader suggests possible divisions and disarray at the highest levels.

Taken together, the progress I’ve described allows us—for the first time—to envision the demise of al-Qa’ida’s core leadership in the coming years.  It will take time, but make no mistake, al-Qa’ida is in its decline.  This is by no means meant to suggest that the serious threat from al-Qa’ida has passed; not at all.  Zawahiri may attempt to demonstrate his leadership, and al-Qa’ida may try to show its relevance, through new attacks.  Lone individuals may seek to avenge bin Laden’s death.  More innocent people may tragically lose their lives.

Nor would the destruction of its leadership mean the destruction of the al-Qa’ida network.  AQAP remains the most operationally active affiliate in the network and poses a direct threat to the United States.  From the territory it controls in Somalia, Al-Shabaab continues to call for strikes against the United States.  As a result, we cannot and we will not let down our guard.  We will continue to pummel al-Qa’ida and its ilk, and we will remain vigilant at home.

Still, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as Americans seek to understand where we stand a decade later, we need look no further than that compound where bin Laden spent his final days.  There he was, holed-up for years, behind high prison-like walls, isolated from the world.  But even he understood the sorry state of his organization and its ideology.

Information seized from that compound reveals bin Laden’s concerns about al-Qa’ida’s long-term viability.  He called for more large-scale attacks against America, but encountered resistance from his followers and he went for years without seeing any spectacular attacks.  He saw his senior leaders being taken down, one by one, and worried about the ability to replace them effectively.

Perhaps most importantly, bin Laden clearly sensed that al-Qa’ida is losing the larger battle for hearts and minds.  He knew that al-Qa’ida’s murder of so many innocent civilians, most of them Muslims, had deeply and perhaps permanently tarnished al-Qa’ida’s image in the world.  He knew that he had failed to portray America as being at war with Islam.  In fact, he worried that our recent focus on al-Qa’ida as our enemy had prevented more Muslims from rallying to his cause, so much so that he even considered changing al-Qa’ida’s name.  We are left with that final image seen around the world—an old terrorist, alone, hunched over in a blanket, flipping through old videos of a man and a movement that history is leaving behind.

This fight is not over.  But guided by the strategy we’re releasing today, we will never waver in our efforts to protect the American people.  We will continue to be clear and precise about our enemy.  We will continue to use every tool at our disposal, and apply them wisely.  We will continue to forge strong partnerships around the world and build a culture of resilience here at home.  And as Americans, we will continue to uphold the ideals and core values that inspire the world, define us as people and help keep us safe.  

President Obama said it best last week—we have put al-Qa’ida on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.  Thank you all very much.

U.S. Counter-terrorism Strategy to Rely on Surgical Strikes, Unmanned Drones

U.S. Counter-terrorism Strategy to Rely on Surgical Strikes, Unmanned Drones

By Ken Dilanian
June 30, 2011″LA Times”

The Obama administration has concluded in a newly released counter-terrorism strategy that precision strikes and raids, rather than large land wars, are the most effective way to defeat Al Qaeda.

“Al Qaeda seeks to bleed us financially by drawing us into long, costly wars that also inflame anti-American sentiment,” John Brennan, President Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, said in a speech Wednesday unveiling the new strategy. “Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense won’t always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us.”

Brennan, a longtime former CIA officer, spoke at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, as the White House posted the new strategy on its website.

The strategy codifies policies the administration has been pursuing for 2 1/2 years, and much of it mirrors the practices of the Bush administration, Brennan said.  But at its core is a repudiation of the thinking that sent large numbers of American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated, Brennan said, thanks not to the wars but to “unyielding pressure” from U.S. operations to kill the group’s leaders one by one in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The more acute threats to the U.S. these days come from Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and perhaps Somalia, U.S. officials have said, and no one is contemplating sending large numbers of American troops to those countries.

Instead, the U.S. will pursue a war in the shadows, one relying heavily on missile strikes from unmanned aerial drones, raids by elite special operations troops, and quiet training of local forces to pursue terrorists.

Brennan said the recently announced troop reduction in Afghanistan would have no impact on U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in that country and Pakistan, where, he said, the U.S. has been delivering “precise and overwhelming force” against militants.

In the peculiar dance that marks the administration’s discussions of this issue, Brennan did not explicitly mention the vast expansion of drone strikes the U.S. has undertaken in Pakistan since January 2009— 213 of them, according to the New America Foundation, which counts them through media reports. That is because the program technically is secret, even though it is widely discussed and openly acknowledged by U.S. and Pakistani officials in private.

Later, when asked whether a policy of targeted killing was appropriate for the United States, Brennan responded that the U.S. is “exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat. And by that I mean, if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger.”

He added that in the last year, “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”

Brennan presumably was referring to covert strikes by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command, because in April, two American servicemen were killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a military drone after apparently being mistaken for insurgents moving to attack another group of Marines in southern Afghanistan.

Brennan’s willingness to boast about the precision of the drone strikes without actually acknowledging them underscores one of the implications of the Obama counter-terrorism strategy: It will be conducted largely in secret, without public accountability. When the military makes a mistake in a drone strike, as it has done in Afghanistan, there is an investigation and some transparency.

But when it comes to targeted killing by the CIA or clandestine special operations units, government officials are able to avoid public scrutiny, citing the need for secrecy. They are willing to make claims about limited civilian casualties, but are not willing to document those claims by, for example, releasing the video taken of each strike.

While members of Congress briefed on the drone program, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), back the administration’s claims that civilian casualties are minimal, other experts, including Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and Obama advisor, question how officials can be so sure.

Asked about this, the White House declined to comment.

You Can Take the 9/11 Security State From My Cold, Dead, Top Secret Hands

You Can Take the 9/11 Security State From My Cold, Dead, Top Secret Hands

 

By Spencer Ackerman May 11, 2011

Osama bin Laden’s death was the end result of a massive investment in surveillance and spy tools that arose after the 9/11 attacks, designed to end the emergency that al-Qaida posed. But according to the chairman of the House intelligence committee, rolling back that huge security state after bin Laden’s death would not only miss an opportunity to destroy al-Qaida once and for all, it would effectively give bin Laden one last laugh.

“This is the time to step on the gas and break their back,” Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and former FBI agent, told the Council on Foreign Relations in a Wednesday speech. The choice, as he laid it out, is between ratifying the post-9/11 redefinition of liberty and security and getting attacked again.

“All the tools” of the security state created after the Twin Towers fell need to be retained, Rogers argued. The Patriot Act, whose most controversial surveillance provisions are to expire on May 27? Keep it. The doubling of intelligence cash, which now stands at $80 billion annually? Keep it. The explosion of drones and other spy technologies that “didn’t exist ten years ago?” Keep it all.

Rogers argued that lesson of the bin Laden raid is that ballooning the surveillance state paid off — and that scaling back spycraft just leaves the U.S. vulnerable. Back in the 1990s, the government viewed “the intelligence community as the opportunity for the peace dividend for the fall of the Soviet Union,” he said. “We see what a serious mistake that was.”

And there are even more spy advances on the horizon, Rogers said, like better methods for analysts to navigate the flood of drone and satellite data coming in every day. He didn’t give any specific examples, but the Air Force is building a supercomputer-in-sky inside a giant blimp that will crunch drone footage before beaming it down to soldiers on the ground.

Not many people are calling for an intelligence rollback — especially not right as a team of spies sifts through a trove of hard drives, removable media, recording devices and cellphones taken from bin Laden’s compound. Besides, al-Qaida these days is more of a global franchise of terror groups than a strict hierarchy. And it’s not like bin Laden’s former crew are the only terrorists on the block.

By contrast, Rogers’ remarks come as the House Armed Services Committee is considering a measure that would reauthorize and expand the war to unnamed affiliates of al-Qaida. But, some wonder, if bin Laden’s death doesn’t prompt a chance to reconsider the security state, whatever will?

Rogers conceded there’s room for trimming around the edges. An audit conducted on his committee found “a couple hundred million bucks” worth of savings — out of $80 billion in annual spy spending. And he said that it might make sense to consolidate federal-state “fusion centers” and joint task forces for the dissemination of terrorism threat data.

Outside of that, Rogers made a robust case for keeping the 9/11 state as it is. His speech presented the entirety of intelligence advances — interrogations, surveillance, human spying — as part of an inexorable chain of events leading to bin Laden. (Interestingly, while he credited harsh interrogations with leading to at least some info on bin Laden’s couriers, he said, “I don’t think you have to use torture to get information; I’m a former FBI guy.”) Lose any part of it, and the country’s vulnerable to the next attack.

Left unsaid was whether any of these post-9/11 spy measures — passed as emergency provisions — could be jettisoned after the U.S. “breaks the back” of al-Qaida; or whether the America that bin Laden indirectly created will remain the terrorist’s enduring legacy.

EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour”

EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour”

The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for “abnormal behaviour”.

By Ian Johnston 9:08PM BST 19 Sep 2009

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6210255/EU-funding-Orwellian-artificial-intelligence-plan-to-monitor-public-for-abnormal-behaviour.html

A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence”.

Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.

The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.

Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring

Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring

By Noah Schachtman, Wired.com, 28 July 2010

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant’s investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth.

This appears to be the first time, however, that the intelligence community and Google have funded the same startup, at the same time. No one is accusing Google of directly collaborating with the CIA. But the investments are bound to be fodder for critics of Google, who already see the search giant as overly cozy with the U.S. government, and worry that the company is starting to forget its “don’t be evil” mantra.

America’s spy services have become increasingly interested in mining “open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the daily avalanche of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports.

Secret information isn’t always the brass ring in our profession,” then CIA-director General Michael Hayden told a conference in 2008. “In fact, there’s a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was dumb enough to leave out in the open.”

U.S. spy agencies, through In-Q-Tel, have invested in a number of firms to help them better find that information. Visible Technologies crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Attensity applies the rules of grammar to the so-called “unstructured text” of the web to make it more easily digestible by government databases. Keyhole (now Google Earth) is a staple of the targeting cells in military-intelligence units.

Recorded Future strips from web pages the people, places and activities they mention. The company examines when and where these events happened (“spatial and temporal analysis”) and the tone of the document (“sentiment analysis”). Then it applies some artificial-intelligence algorithms to tease out connections between the players. Recorded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events, hosted on Amazon.com servers. The analysis, however, is on the living web.

“We’re right there as it happens,” Ahlberg told Danger Room as he clicked through a demonstration. “We can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people.”

Recorded Future certainly has the potential to spot events and trends early. Take the case of Hezbollah’s long-range missiles. On March 21, Israeli President Shimon Peres leveled the allegation that the terror group had Scud-like weapons. Scouring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s past statements, Recorded Future found corroborating evidence from a month prior that appeared to back up Peres’ accusations.

That’s one of several hypothetical cases Recorded Future runs in its blog devoted to intelligence analysis. But it’s safe to assume that the company already has at least one spy agency’s attention. In-Q-Tel doesn’t make investments in firms without an “end customer” ready to test out that company’s products.

Both Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel made their investments in 2009, shortly after the company was founded. The exact amounts weren’t disclosed, but were under $10 million each. Google’s investment came to light earlier this year online. In-Q-Tel, which often announces its new holdings in press releases, quietly uploaded a brief mention of its investment a few weeks ago.

Both In-Q-Tel and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future’s board. Ahlberg says those board members have been “very helpful,” providing business and technology advice, as well as introducing him to potential customers. Both organizations, it’s safe to say, will profit handsomely if Recorded Future is ever sold or taken public. Ahlberg’s last company, the corporate intelligence firm Spotfire, was acquired in 2007 for $195 million in cash.

Google Ventures did not return requests to comment for this article. In-Q-Tel Chief of Staff Lisbeth Poulos e-mailed a one-line statement: “We are pleased that Recorded Future is now part of IQT’s portfolio of innovative startup companies who support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Just because Google and In-Q-Tel have both invested in Recorded Future doesn’t mean Google is suddenly in bed with the government. Of course, to Google’s critics — including conservative legal groups, and Republican congressmen — the Obama Administration and the Mountain View, California, company slipped between the sheets a long time ago.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt hosted a town hall at company headquarters in the early days of Obama’s presidential campaign. Senior White House officials like economic chief Larry Summers give speeches at the New America Foundation, the left-of-center think tank chaired by Schmidt. Former Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin is now the White House’s deputy CTO, and was publicly (if mildly) reprimanded by the administration for continuing to hash out issues with his former colleagues.

In some corners, the scrutiny of the company’s political ties have dovetailed with concerns about how Google collects and uses its enormous storehouse of search data, e-mail, maps and online documents. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of their products, and because of Google’s pledges not to misuse the information still ring true to many.

But unease has been growing. Thirty seven state Attorneys General are demanding answers from the company after Google hoovered up 600 gigabytes of data from open Wi-Fi networks as it snapped pictures for its Street View project. (The company swears the incident was an accident.)

“Assurances from the likes of Google that the company can be trusted to respect consumers’ privacy because its corporate motto is ‘don’t be evil’ have been shown by recent events such as the ‘Wi-Spy’ debacle to be unwarranted,” long-time corporate gadfly John M. Simpson told a Congressional hearing in a prepared statement. Any business dealings with the CIA’s investment arm are unlikely to make critics like him more comfortable.

But Steven Aftergood, a critical observer of the intelligence community from his perch at the Federation of American Scientists, isn’t worried about the Recorded Future deal. Yet.

“To me, whether this is troublesome or not depends on the degree of transparency involved. If everything is aboveboard — from contracts to deliverables — I don’t see a problem with it,” he told Danger Room by e-mail. “But if there are blank spots in the record, then they will be filled with public skepticism or worse, both here and abroad, and not without reason.”

Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak


Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/exclusive-google-cia/#ixzz0vuyaKWqE

US to access Europeans’ bank data in new deal

US to access Europeans’ bank data in new deal

BBC (8 July 2010)

Euro MPs have approved a new deal to allow US anti-terror investigators to access Europeans’ bank data.

The vote followed tough negotiations with US authorities after a previous agreement was blocked by the European Parliament in February.

EU negotiators say the new deal gives EU officials authority to monitor the US investigators’ actions.

The deal gives the US access to bulk data from Swift, a firm that handles millions of bank transactions daily.

Washington says the Swift deal is crucial to fighting terrorism, as part of the US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP) set up after the September 2001 attacks on the US.

Top US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, lobbied the EU over the data transfer deal.

The agreement was passed with 484 MEPs in favour and 109 against. There were 12 abstentions.

In February Euro MPs rejected an earlier draft agreement, saying the privacy safeguards were inadequate.

The fact that the US was secretly accessing Swift bank data did not come to light until 2006.

Under the new deal, the EU police agency Europol will assess whether specific data requests are necessary for the fight against terrorism before the data is sent to the US, the European Commission says.

The Commission will appoint EU officials to monitor the US investigators’ actions.

There is also a requirement that bulk data can never be sent to third countries.

EU citizens who believe their data has been misused will have the right to legal action in the US courts.

‘Sends right signals’

The Commission says the data transferred under TFTP can include identifying information about the originator and/or recipient of the transaction, including name, address, national identification number and other personal data related to financial messages.

A German Liberal MEP, Alexander Alvaro, said the deal “will ensure that terrorist financing can be traced back to its sources, but it will not affect day-to-day bank transfers of EU citizens”.

And the leader of the UK Conservative MEPs, Timothy Kirkhope, said it “sends the right signals about our resolve in fighting terrorism and our commitment to remaining a strong partner of the United States”.

The lobby group European Digital Rights (EDRI) says the new deal is still not restrictive enough. It will allow a great deal of data to be transferred to the US, EDRI says, doubting that aggrieved EU citizens will get any legal redress in the US.

EDRI also says Europol is the wrong vehicle to vet US anti-terror requests, because Europol itself will be able to request data from US searches, and that “drastically reduces any incentive to limit the transferred amount of data”.

A judicial body, not the police, should be in charge, it argues. 

You Are Under Surveillance

You Are Under Surveillance

Public space is increasingly policed by hidden surveillance systems. The private life of the individual is secretly captured, mapped, collected, and owned in effigy by a cabal of private business operations—the security industry.

Ironically, as communities disintegrate and more and more of us find ourselves lost in a faceless mass of consumers, the only ones we can count on to interest themselves in our lives are the enforcers of the laws that govern spaces designated for consumption. Reclaiming space from surveillance would reinforce our freedom to act privately, for ourselves and each other rather than the cameras, and thus enable us to come together out of our anonymity. We’ve had our fifteen minutes of fame—now point that thing somewhere else!

Such oppressive security measures are only necessary when wealth and power are distributed so unfairly that human beings cannot coexist in peace. The ones who oversee these security systems are mistaken when they claim that order must be established to clear the way for liberty and equality. The opposite is true: order is only possible as a consequence of people living together with freedom, equality, and justice for all. Anything else is simply repression. If cameras are necessary on every corner, then something is fundamentally wrong in our society, and getting rid of the cameras is as good a starting place as any.

As a culture, we are preoccupied with observation, images, spectatorship. Now internet advertisements offer consumers spy cameras and hidden microphones of our own, completing the three steps to panopticon: we watch monitors, we are monitored, we become our own monitors. But when the distinction between observer and observed is dissolved, we do not regain wholeness—on the contrary, we find we have been trapped outside ourselves, alienated in the most fundamental sense.

Here’s a quixotic project—get together with your friends and disable all the security cameras in your city, declaring it a free action zone. You know what they say about dancing like nobody’s watching.

In full view of the enemy 
Sean Penn for the CrimethInc. ex-Movie Stars’ Collective

What’s So Bad About Video Surveillance?

The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in closed circuit television camera surveillance of public space. Video cameras peer at us from the sides of buildings, from ATM machines, from traffic lights, capturing our every move for observation by police officers and private security guards. The effectiveness of these devices in reducing crime is dubious at best, and cases of misuse by public and private authorities have raised serious concerns about video monitoring in public space.

These are a few examples of people who might legitimately want to avoid having their picture taken by unseen observers:

Minorities

One of the big problems with video surveillance is the tendency of police officers and security guards to single out particular people for monitoring. It is hardly surprising that the mentality that produced racial profiling in traffic stops has found similar expression in police officers focusing their cameras on people of color. A study of video surveillance in the UK, the leading user of CCTV surveillance systems, revealed that “black people were between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half times more likely to be surveilled than one would expect from their presence in the population.” It is worth pointing out that, in this study, 40% of people that the police targeted were picked out “for no obvious reason,” other than their ethnicity or apparent membership in subcultural groups. In other words, they were singled out not for what they were doing, but for the way they looked alone.

Women

Police monitors can’t seem to keep it in their pants when it comes to video surveillance. In a Hull University study, 1 out of 10 women were targeted for “voyeuristic” reasons by male camera operators, and a Brooklyn police sergeant blew the whistle on several of her colleagues in 1998 for “taking pictures of civilian women in the area… from breast shots to the backside.”

Youth

Young men, particularly young black men, are routinely singled out by police operators for increased scrutiny. This is particularly true if they appear to belong to subcultural groups that authority figures find suspicious or threatening. Do you wear baggy pants or shave your head? Smile—you’re on candid camera!

Outsiders

The Hull University study also found a tendency of CCTV operators to focus on people whose appearance or activities marked them as being “out of place.” This includes people loitering outside of shops, or homeless people panhandling. Not surprisingly, this group includes individuals observed to be expressing their opposition to the CCTV cameras.

Activists

Experience has shown that CCTV systems may be used to spy on activist groups engaged in legal forms of dissent or discussion. For example, the City College of New York was embarrassed several years ago by student activists who found, much to their dismay, that the administration had installed surveillance cameras in their meeting areas. This trend shows no signs of abating: one of the more popular demonstrations of CCTV capabilities that law enforcement officials and manufacturers like to cite is the ability to read the text of fliers that activists post on public lampposts.

Everyone else

Let’s face it—we all do things that are perfectly legal, but that we still may not want to share with the rest of the world. Kissing your lover on the street, interviewing for a new job without your current employer’s knowledge, visiting a psychiatrist—these are everyday activities that constitute our personal, private lives. While there is nothing wrong with any of them, there are perfectly good reasons why we may choose to keep them secret from coworkers, neighbors, or anyone else.

But what’s the harm?

Clearly, video surveillance of public space represents an invasion of personal privacy. But so what? Having one’s picture taken from time to time seems a small price to pay for the security benefits such surveillance offers. It’s not like anyone ever sees the tapes, and let’s be honest—being singled out for scrutiny by remote operators without your even knowing about it is not at all the same as being pulled over, intimidated and harassed by a live cop.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The fact is, there is very little oversight of video surveillance systems, and the question of who owns the tapes—and who has the right to see them—is still largely undecided.

Many of the cameras monitoring public space are privately owned. Banks, office buildings, and department stores all routinely engage in continuous video monitoring of their facilities and of any adjacent public space. The recordings they make are privately owned, and may be stored, broadcast, or sold to other companies without permission, disclosure, or payment to the people involved.

Similarly, video footage that is captured by public police departments may be considered part of the “public record,” and as such are available for the asking to individuals, companies, and government agencies. At present, there is precious little to prevent television programs like “Cops” and “America’s Funniest Home Movies” from broadcasting surveillance video without ever securing permission from their subjects.

Sound far-fetched? Already in the UK—the country that so far has made the most extensive use of CCTV systems (although the Canada and US are catching up)—there have been such cases. In the 1990’s, Barrie Goulding released “Caught in the Act,” a video compilation of “juicy bits” from street video surveillance systems. Featuring intimate contacts—including one scene of a couple having sex in an elevator—this video sensationalized footage of ordinary people engaged in (mostly) legal but nonetheless private acts.

Similarly, there has been a proliferation of “spy cam” websites featuring clandestine footage of women in toilets, dressing rooms, and a variety of other locations. A lack of legislative oversight allows these sites to operate legally, but even if new laws are passed, the nature of the internet makes prosecutions highly unlikely.

As video surveillance systems evolve and become more sophisticated, the opportunities for abuse are compounded. Sophisticated video systems can identify the faces of individuals (matching video images to databases of known faces—for example, the repository of driver’s license photos maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles), the objects they carry (including, for example, reading the text on personal documents), and their activities. These systems enable the creation of databases that detail who you are, where you’ve been, when you were there, and what you were doing… databases that are conceivably available to a host of people with whom you’d rather not share such information, including employers, ex-lovers, and television producers.

Beyond these concerns, there is the question of the societal impact of our increasing reliance on surveillance, and our growing willingness to put ourselves under the microscope of law enforcement and commercial interests. Once a cold-war caricature of Soviet-style communist regimes, the notion of the “surveillance society” is now employed unironically to describe modern urban life in such supposed bastions of personal liberty and freedom as the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

While the nature of such a society has long been theorized by philosophers, critics, and sociologists (Jeremy Bentham, anyone?), the psychological and social effects of living under constant surveillance are not yet well understood. However, the impact of CCTV systems on crime is beginning to become clear.

Video Surveillance and Crime

Touted as a high-tech solution to social problems of crime and disorder by manufacturers selling expensive video surveillance systems to local governments and police departments, CCTV has gained much popularity in recent years. These manufactures claim that CCTV—which often costs upwards of $400,000 to install in a limited area—will dramatically decrease criminal activity, and provide a measure of security heretofore unknown to the general public. Yet these CCTV systems are often purchased at the expense of other, less oppressive, less expensive, already proven law-enforecement methods such as community policing, and the statistics do not bear out their claims.

CCTV is often promoted with thinly veiled references to the threat of terrorism: hence their widespread use in the UK, which has long lived with bomb threats and other violent actions. Following the September 11 attacks, video surveillance manufacturers have increased their efforts to court the American public—with some success, as evidenced by recent gains in these companies’ share prices.

Attempting to capitalize on an international tragedy to sell products in this manner is tastelessly opportunistic at best—but given the track record of CCTV systems to date, it’s downright cynical. According to studies of the effectiveness of video surveillance in use throughout the UK, there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of CCTV has any impact whatsoever on local crime rates. While there have been examples of reduced criminality in areas where CCTV has been installed, these reductions can just as easily be explained by other factors, including general decreases in crime throughout the UK. Indeed, in several areas where CCTV was installed, crime rates actually increased.

Given the widespread use of these systems, it is surprising how infrequently they lead to arrests. According to one report, a 22-month long surveillance of New York’s Times Square led to only 10 arrests, and the cameras involved have since been removed. Furthermore, the types of crime against which CCTV is most effective are small fry compared to the terrorism and kidnappings its advocates’ claim it stops. A study of CCTV use in the UK found that the majority of arrests in which video surveillance played a significant role were made to stop fistfights. Not only that, but these were relatively infrequent already; and this hardly seems to justify the exorbitant costs and loss of privacy associated with these systems.

Even more disturbing, if not at all surprising, was the study’s finding that incidents of police brutality and harassment captured by CCTV surveillance were routinely ignored. The tapes of these events also had a tendency to be “lost” by operators.

The effect of video surveillance on criminal psychology is not well understood. One Los Angeles study found that cameras in a retail store were perceived by criminals as a challenge, and thus encouraged additional shoplifting.

At best, CCTV seems not to reduce crime, but merely to divert it to other areas. According to one Boston police official, “criminals get used to the cameras and tend to move out of sight.”

Now More Than Ever

Given heightened awareness of public safety and increased demand for greater security in the face of growing threats of terrorist violence, projects that undermine systems for social control may seem to some to be in poor taste. But it is our position that such times call all the more strongly for precisely these kinds of projects. There is a vital need for independent voices that cry out against the cynical exploitation of legitimate human fear and suffering for political power and monetary gain.


Texts adapted by CrimethInc. Anonymists Autonomous. Some source material originally made public by the Institute for Applied Autonomy.

Debunking a myth: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

Debunking a myth: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

By Toby Stevens on February 25, 2009 9:07 PM 

Computer Weekly

The idea that an individual can live in a surveillance society with nothing to fear so long as they have nothing to hide may, on the face of it, appear attractive. For those of us who think of ourselves as ‘honest’ – we pay our taxes, don’t commit murders and are loyal to our partners – why indeed should we fear surveillance?

“Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” (NTHNTF) is a myth that is built on certain false assumptions, and these assumptions are never questioned when it is wheeled out as an argument to support whatever draconian surveillance measure is being pushed out in the face of citizen opposition (commercial organisations rarely try such an approach, since it dooms them to failure from the very beginning). These assumptions include:

  • Continuity: When a large data gathering exercise is started, the lifespan of the system will almost always be greater than that of its instigators. The most benign and caring government, authority or private company is inevitably subject to a change of management, and if the new executive does not share their moral stance, then data can be reused for very dangerous purposes. Those who provided data believing they had nothing to fear may find that data is misused in the future.
  • Context: Those who use the NTHNTF argument most commonly use it in the context of government collecting information about individuals. In the information age, the idea of a single entity holding that information does not hold true. The massive pressures to share information within and beyond government mean that information is constantly on the move. Sooner or later, information held by the government will be shared across the government and with the private sector.
  • Control: Whether through a sharing agreement, aggregation of databases or simply leaving a memory stick in a pub car park, information is always shared sooner or later. Information security professionals always assume a system to be insecure, and plan for when – not if – data is lost or corrupted.
  • Consistency: The most important issue is that of consistent use of accurate information across all authorities and all individuals.

Let’s consider consistency in more detail. When databases work from 100% accurate information; when that information is used in accordance with the original consent purpose; when processes work correctly; when outcomes are as expected for every subject in the database; then, arguably, individuals have nothing to fear. Unfortunately, this is a Utopian state that is never achieved in a real world system. We see numerous examples of this problem:

  • Take the extreme example of Khalid El-Masri. This German national was kidnapped, flown to Afghanistan, tortured and then eventually released when it was realised that his was a case of mistaken identity, and he was not in fact an alleged terrorist with a similar name.
  • In 2007, junior doctors found their personal information – including sexual orientation – published on the Internet in a web security breach. How many of those individuals were ‘outed’ as a result of that breach? Those who had kept their orientation secret from their families or colleagues were perfectly at rights to do so, but found it released anyway.
  • In 2006 a student was wrongfully arrested for stealing mail when a batch of letters were recovered. His fingerprints – which had been taken a year previously when he was accused of criminal damage but released without charge after the real culprit confessed – matched those on some of the letters. After his arrest it was discovered that the letters bearing his fingerprints were posted by him. He was released, and then had to campaign to have his DNA data removed from the National DNA Database.
  • Time and again individuals have been fired from jobs, or failed to get jobs, because of errors in the Criminal Records Bureau database. They have been stigmatised as criminals, even to the extent of being falsely branded as sex offenders, because of database failings.

This sort of mistake might seem rare, but it is going to become increasingly common.Police cars are being fitted with fingerprint scanners, and it seems to be only a matter of time before they can even check DNA on the spot. Systems will make mistakes, and procedures will go wrong. The victims of the benign database state are those who aren’t treated in accordance with the intended rules, but are at the wrong end of breakdowns in data accuracy, procedural rules or system errors. Under a benign government, it’s not the intended surveillance that makes victims of innocent people, but the errors.

So why do I fear the idea of a database state, even when I have “nothing to hide”? Well, I do have things to hide. Everyone has things to hide. If I have a serious health concern, I want to be able to consult my GP without worrying my wife. If I’m looking for a new job, there is no reason why I should have to reveal that to my employer. In fact, if even I’ve committed a serious crime, been convicted, rehabilitated and paid my debt to society, why should I be obliged to reveal that history to my neighbours if I pose no threat to them? Should my friends know if I’ve got an unauthorised overdraft, or if I’ve downloaded perfectly legal adult content from the Internet? I’ve done none of these things, and am in no particular rush to, but I demand the right to privacy if those situations arise.

“Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is a myth, a fallacy, a trojan horse wheeled out by those who can’t justify their surveillance schemes, databases and privacy invasions. It is an argument that insults intelligent individuals and disregards the reality of building and operating an IT system, a business or even a government. If ever you hear someone at a dinner party crank out this old chestnut, grab your coat, make your apologies, run fast and run far. And as William has said before, I wouldn’t want to be stuck at a dinner party next to someone who has nothing to hide – imagine how dull that would be.

German Police Open Mail at Random

German Police Open Mail at Random

by Markus Schlegel,24 May 2007

Germany’s executive branch seems to get ever more out of control. In a report in today’s online edition, eco-left oriented newspaper Tageszeitung (taz) reports about random controls in central post office distribution centers in the city of Hamburg.

According to the report, letters are being opened at random, sorted only according to the city districts and “suspect” receivers. After a series of violent arson attacks against objects such as cars (in which no persons were injured or hurt), and with German Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble justifying about any means for the sake of “security”, police apparently have lost measure in their activities. According to the rport, it is unclear as of Friday morning (local German time) whether a court order has been issued for the course of action taken by the German Bureau of Investigation (Bundeskriminalamt, Landeskriminalamt).

The case reported on Friday seems only the latest example of excès de pouvior on behalf of the executive branch where a combination of blurred lines within the procedural penal code’s provision and an increasing contempt for court orders by the German executive branch are at work.

The most obvious example of such ignorance apparently was the case of the German so called Luftsicherheitsgesetz (Air Security Act): After the German Constitutional Court had made it sufficiently clear in a ruling in February 2006 that it sees legal provisions for the downing of passenger jets by the German Air Force as unconstitutional, new draft legislation was immediately commissioned by German Interior Minister Schäuble to enable such military action.

In the runup to the G8 summit in Germany, after little under one and a half years with the conservative-social democrat grand coalition in power, civil liberties have suffered substancial structural blows. This transforms the according legal provisions into a turkney solution, providing an ideal toolbox for any possible future totalitarian government. In a worst case scenario, even the existing framework would provide such a government with powers and means, technically well beyond what was possible at the point in time when the Nazis took over Germany, in 1933:

  • Authorities are enabled to search any online traffic without court orders. Internet service providers, at own expense, need to provide the authorities with backdoors to their systems, entries through which must be intransparent at all times even for ISPs.
  • Trojan horse programmes are being commissioned and used by the German State police, enabling the targeting of any PC without prior court orders. After the Federal Administrative court had declared such practises unlawful for police forces, state politicians in Northrhine Westphalia and on the federal level said they saw no reasons to revision existing provisions on state and federal levels for clandestine online searches without court warrants by Secret State Police authorities (Landesverfassungsschutz, Bundesverfassungsschutz).
  • All connection data from any landline or mobile telephone line, as a result of European legislation, is currently being stored for 6 months. In the absence of efficient court control, it is unclear whether such data is actually being erased by the authorities, once collected.
  • Discussion is continuing over the internal use of the German Army (Bundeswehr) for policing tasks. With the armed forces being equipped for combat, experts question the scope of such legislation.
  • Scent sampling, a practise well known from former communist East Germany, has recently been used to identify suspects in the runup to the G8 summit.
  • Storage of biometrical data in all municipalities is planned by the conservative majority government and would de facto put all citizens into a position of potential suspects, with issues of misuse of the data unclear thus far.
  • In recent interviews, Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, said that for terrorist offences the principle of in dubio pro reo could not be sustained.
  • The right to free assembly, guaranteed by Article 8 of the German Constitution (Grundgesetz), is being seriously hampered, as no-go areas in the neighborhood of the G8 summit are being extended to a perimeter of 10 Kilometres, apparently ushering in a new tactic of complete denial of an efficient right to demonstrate.

According to a report by the reknowned German protestant news agency (epd), Amnesty International representatives asked to visit mass retention camps which will be set up for suspects near the G8 summit in Heiligendamm.

Beyond Orwell: The Electronic Police State, 2010

Global Research, March 16, 2010
Antifascist Calling… – 2010-03-14

A truism perhaps, but before resorting to brute force and open repression to halt the “barbarians at the gates,” that would be us, the masters of declining empires (and the chattering classes who polish their boots) regale us with tales of “democracy on the march,” “hope” and other banalities before the mailed fist comes crashing down.

Putting it another way, as the late, great Situationist malcontent, Guy Debord did decades ago in his relentless call for revolt, The Society of the Spectacle:

“The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular systemchooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender ‘lonely crowds.’ With ever-increasing concreteness the spectacle recreates its own presuppositions.”

And when those “presuppositions” reproduce ever-more wretched clichés promulgated by true believers or rank opportunists, take your pick, market “democracy,” the “freedom to choose” (the length of one’s chains), or even quaint notions of national “sovereignty” (a sure fire way to get, and keep, the masses at each others’ throats!) we’re left with a fraud, a gigantic swindle, a “postmodern” refinement of tried and true methods that would do Orwell proud!

Ponder Debord’s rigorous theorem and substitute “cell phone” and “GPS” for “automobile,” and “Internet” for “television” and you’re soon left with the nauseating sense that the old “infobahn” isn’t all its cracked up to be. As a seamless means for effecting control on the other hand, of our thoughts, our actions, even our whereabouts; well, that’s another story entirely!

In this light, a new report published by Cryptohippie, The Electronic Police State: 2010 National Rankings, delivers the goods and rips away the veil from the smirking visage of well-heeled corporate crooks and media apologists of America’s burgeoning police state.

“When we produced our first Electronic Police State report” Cryptohippie’s analysts write, “the top ten nations were of two types:

1. Those that had the will to spy on every citizen, but lacked ability.
2. Those who had the ability, but were restrained in will.

But as they reveal in new national rankings, “This is changing: The able have become willing and their traditional restraints have failed.” The key developments driving the global panopticon forward are the following:

● The USA has negated their Constitution’s fourth amendment in the name of protection and in the name of “wars” against terror, drugs and cyber attacks.
● The UK is aggressively building the world of 1984 in the name of stopping “anti-social” activities. Their populace seems unable or unwilling to restrain the government.
● France and the EU have given themselves over to central bureaucratic control.

In France, the German newsmagazine Spiegel reported that a new law passed by the lower house of Parliament in February “conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the surveillance state.”

Similar to legislation signed into law by German president Horst Köhler last month, police and security forces in France would be granted authority to surreptitiously install malware known as a “Trojan horse” to spy on private computers. Remote access to a user’s personal data would be made possible under a judge’s supervision.

While French parliamentarians aligned with right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy insist the measure is intended to filter and block web sites with criminal content or to halt allegedly “illegal” file sharing, civil libertarians have denounced the legislation.

Sandrine Béllier, a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, said that “when it comes to restrictions, this text is preparing us for hell.”

Additionally, the new law will include measures that will further integrate police files and private data kept by banks and other financial institutions. French securocrats cynically insist this is a wholly innocent move to “maintain the level and quality of service provided by domestic security forces,” Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told Spiegel.

Generalized political measures such as these that hinder free speech and expression, whilst enhancing the surveillance capabilities of the state, also indicate that so-called “Western democracies” are not far behind beacons of freedom such as China, North Korea, Belarus and Russia when it comes to repressive police measures. Indeed, Cryptohippie’s rankings place the United States a mere 2/100ths of a point behind Russia when it comes to Internet and other forms of electronic spying.

The top ten scofflaws in 2010 are: 1. North Korea; 2. China; 3. Belarus; 4. Russia; 5. United States; 6. United Kingdom; 7. France; 8. Israel; 9. Singapore and, 10. Germany.

A Profit-Driven Panopticon

In a capitalist “democracy” such as ours where the business of government is always business and individual liberties be damned, grifting North American and European telecommunications and security firms, with much encouragement and great fanfare from their national security establishments and a lap-dog media blaze the path for Western versions of the sinister “Golden Shield.”

Recently in the United States, whistleblowing web sites such as Cryptome and Slight Paranoia have come under attack. Both sites have been hit by take down notices under the onerous Digital Millennium Copyright Act for posting documents and files that exposed the close, and very profitable arrangements, made by giant telecommunications firms and ISPs with the American secret state.

In Cryptome’s case, administrator John Young had his site shuttered for a day when the giant software firm, Microsoft, demanded that its so-called “lawful spying guide” be removed by Young. All five files are currently back on-line as Zipped files at Cryptome and make for a very enlightening read.

But the harassment didn’t stop there. When Young published PayPal’s “lawful spying guide,” the firm froze Cryptome’s account, in all likelihood at the behest of America’s spy agencies, allegedly for “illegal activities,” i.e., offering Cryptome’s entire archive for sale on two DVDs!

Why would the secret state’s corporate partners target Young? Perhaps because since 1996, “Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance–open, secret and classified documents–but not limited to those. Documents are removed from this site only by order served directly by a US court having jurisdiction. No court order has ever been served; any order served will be published here–or elsewhere if gagged by order. Bluffs will be published if comical but otherwise ignored.”

In previous reports, Cryptohippie characterized an electronic police state thusly:

1. It is criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.
2. It is gathered universally (“preventively”) and only later organized for use in prosecutions.

Silent and seamless, our political minders have every intention of deploying such formidable technological resources as a preeminent–and preemptive–means for effecting social control. Indeed, what has been characterized by corporate and media elites as an “acceptable,” i.e. managed political discourse, respect neither national boundaries, the laws and customs of nations, nor a population’s right to abolish institutions, indeed entire social systems when the governed are reduced to the level of a pauperized herd ripe for plunder.

How then, does this repressive metasystem work? What are the essential characteristics that differentiate an Electronic Police State from previous forms of oppressive governance? Cryptohippie avers:

“In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email sent, every Internet site surfed, every post made, every check written, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and all are held in searchable databases. The individual can be prosecuted whenever the government wishes.”

“Long term” Cryptohippie writes, the secret state (definitionally expanded here to encompass “private” matters such as workplace surveillance, union busting, persecution of whistleblowers, corporate political blacklisting, etc.), “the Electronic Police State destroys free speech, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and other liberties. Worse, it does so in a way that is difficult to identify.”

As Antifascist Calling and others have pointed out, beside the usual ruses deployed by ruling class elites to suppress general knowledge of driftnet spying and wholesale database indexing of entire populations, e.g., “national security” exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, outright subversion of the rule of law through the expansion of “state secrets” exceptions that prohibit Courts from examining a state’s specious claims, one can add the opaque, bureaucratic violence of corporations who guard, by any means necessary, what have euphemistically been christened “proprietary business information.”

In a state such as ours characterized by wholesale corruption, e.g., generalized financial swindles, insider trading, sweetheart deals brokered with suborned politicians, dangerous pharmaceuticals or other commodities “tested” and then certified “safe” by the marketeers themselves, the protection of trade secrets, formulas, production processes and marketing plans are jealously guarded by judicial pit bulls.

Those who spill the beans and have the temerity to reveal that various products are harmful to the public health or have deleterious effects on the environment (off-loaded onto the public who foot the bill as so-called “external” costs of production) are hounded, slandered or otherwise persecuted, if not imprisoned, by the legal lackeys who serve the corporatist state.

How does this play out in the real world? According to Cryptohippie, the objective signs that an electronic net has closed in to ensure working class compliance with our wretched order of things, are the following:

Daily Documents: Requirement of state-issued identity documents and registration.

Border Issues: Inspections at borders, searching computers, demanding decryption of data.

Financial Tracking: State’s ability to search and record all financial transactions: Checks, credit card use, wires, etc.

Gag Orders: Criminal penalties if you tell someone the state is searching their records.

Anti-Crypto Laws: Outlawing or restricting cryptography.

Constitutional Protection: A lack of constitutional protections for the individual, or the overriding of such protections.

Data Storage Ability: The ability of the state to store the data they gather.

Data Search Ability: The ability to search the data they gather.

ISP Data Retention: States forcing Internet Service Providers to save detailed records of all their customers’ Internet usage.

Telephone Data Retention: States forcing telephone companies to record and save records of all their customers’ telephone usage.

Cell Phone Records: States forcing cellular telephone companies to record and save records of all their customers’ usage, including location.

Medical records: States demanding records from all medical service providers and retaining the same.

Enforcement Ability: The state’s ability to use overwhelming force (exemplified by SWAT Teams) to seize anyone they want, whenever they want.

Habeas Corpus: Lack of habeas corpus, which is the right not to be held in jail without prompt due process. Or, the overriding of such protections.

Police-Intel Barrier: The lack of a barrier between police organizations and intelligence organizations. Or, the overriding of such barriers.

Covert Hacking: State operatives copying digital evidence from private computers covertly. Covert hacking can make anyone appear as any kind of criminal desired, if combined with the removing and/or adding of digital evidence.

Loose Warrants: Warrants issued without careful examination of police statements and other justifications by a truly independent judge.

Sound familiar? It should, since this is the warped reality manufactured for us, or, as Debord would have it: “The spectacle cannot be understood as a mere visual excess produced by mass-media technologies. It is a worldview that has actually been materialized, a view of a world that has become objective.”

That such a state of affairs is monstrous is of course, an understatement. Yet despite America’s preeminent position as a militarist “hyperpower,” the realization that it is a collapsing Empire is a cliché only for those who ignore history’s episodic convulsions.

If, as bourgeois historian Niall Ferguson suggests in the March/April 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, the American Empire may “quite abruptly … collapse,” and that this “complex adaptive system is in big trouble when its component parts lose faith in its viability,” what does this say about the efficacy of an Electronic Police State to keep the lid on?

Despite the state’s overwhelming firepower, at the level of ideology as much as on the social battlefield where truncheons meet flesh and bullets fly, Marx’s “old mole” is returning with a vengeance, the “specter” once again haunting “rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations,” as Churchill described the West’s system of organized plunder.

Against this loss of “faith” in the system’s “viability,” Debord points out, although the working class “has lost its ability to assert its own independent perspective,” in a more fundamental sense “it has also lost its illusions.” In this regard, “no quantitative amelioration of its impoverishment, no illusory participation in a hierarchized system, can provide a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction.”

Forty years on from Debord, sooner rather later, an historical settling of accounts with the system of global piracy called capitalism will confront the working class with the prospect of “righting the absolute wrong of being excluded from any real life.”

As that process accelerates and deepens, it will then be the “watchers” who tremble…

Information Awareness Office

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyUnited States Department of Defense, in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying information technology to counter transnational threats to national security. The IAO mission was to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness". Following public criticism that the development and deployment of these technologies could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003, although several of the projects run under IAO have continued under different funding. (DARPA), the research and development agency of the

US NSA spies on US journalists and politicians

Did Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program Really Focus on American Journalists?

By Scott Horton

Harpers Magazine, 22 January 2009

For the last several weeks, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director who previously led the NSA, has been sweating bullets. In recent press meetings he was a bundle of worries, regularly expressing worries about “prosecutions.” Fear of the consequences of criminal acts has been a steady theme for Hayden. In her book The Dark Side, Jane Mayer reports that in 2004 Deputy Attorney General James Comey was “taken aback” by Hayden’s comments when he was let in on the details of the program that Hayden ran at NSA. “I’m glad you’re joining me, because I won’t have to be lonely, sitting all by myself at the witness table, in the administration of John Kerry.”

Last night on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” we learned that Hayden is concerned about more than just allegations that detainees in CIA custody were tortured. Former NSA analyst Russell Tice, a source for the New York Times disclosure of details of the program, appears to offer further details on the program. He reports that under Hayden the NSA was looking at “everyone’s” communications—telephone conversations, emails, faxes, IMs—and that in addition to suspect terrorists, the NSA was carefully culling data from Internet and phone lines to track the communications of U.S. journalists. This was done under the pretense of pulling out a control group that was notTice reports that when he started asking questions about why journalists were sorted out for special scrutiny, he found that he himself came under close scrutiny and was removed from involvement in the program. He found that he had come under intense FBI surveillance and his communications in all forms were being monitored. After expressing severe doubts about the operations of the NSA program, both Deputy Attorney General Comey and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith both believe they also came under intense surveillance. Both decided to leave the Bush Administration after these developments. suspect. But

If Tice’s allegations are correct, then Hayden managed a program which was in essence a massive felony, violating strict federal criminal statutes that limit the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations. While a number of media outlets reported that Hayden’s activities were “vindicated” by a recent FISA court ruling approving the NSA surveillance program, that view is completely incorrect. The FISA court ruling dealt only with the implementation of a program under the newly amended FISA following Hayden’s departure.

Watch the Tice interview here

Security services want personal data from sites like Facebook

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/oct/15/terrorism-security


The Guardian, 15 October 2008

Security services want personal data from sites like Facebook

Ministers say terrorists and other criminals are using free websites as a way of concealing their communications

The government is drawing up plans to give the police and security and intelligence agencies new powers to access personal data held by internet services, including social network sites such as Facebook and Bebo and gaming networks.

The move, heralded in this morning’s speech on international terrorism by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is prompted by concern that criminals and terrorists are using websites as a way of concealing their communications, according to Whitehall security sources.

At present, security and intelligence agencies can demand to see telephone and email traffic from traditional communications services providers (CSPs), which store the personal data for business purposes such as billing.

The rapid expansion of new CSPs – such as gaming, social networking, auction and video sites – and technologies such as wireless internet and broadband present a serious problem for the police, MI5, customs and other government agencies, the security sources say.

Sites such as Bebo and Facebook provide their services free, relying mainly on advertising for income. They do not hold records of their customers, many of whom in any case use pseudonyms.

"Criminals could use a chat facility – they are not actually playing the game but we can’t actually get hold of the data," said one official.

"Criminal terrorists are exploiting free social networking sites," said another Whitehall security official, who added that the problem was compounded by the increasing use of data rather than voice in communications.

"People have many accounts and sign up as Mickey Mouse and no one knows who they are," he said. "We have to do something. We need to collect data CSPs do not hold."

Whitehall officials say that with the help of GCHQ – the electronic eavesdropping centre with a huge information storage capacity – the government is looking at different options that will be put out for consultation. They declined today to spell out the options but said that whatever is decided will need new legislation.

Despite this reticence, it is clear that the government wants to be able to demand that the new generation of CSPs collect data from their customers so the security services can access them.

The response from the networks is likely to be hostile, not least because of the potential costs involved.

If the government, as expected, offers to pay for any new data access scheme, it is likely to cost taxpayers billions of pounds.

The plan will need international cooperation since many of the new CSPs are based abroad, notably in the US.

Government officials insist that what they call the interception modernisation programme, or IMP, is important since access to communications data is a crucial tool in combating crime such as paedophilia, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

They say the planned new legislation would apply only to communications data – such addresses and names – but not to the actual contents of the communications. Intercepting the contents would still need ministerial warrants. Access to communications data would be available, as now, to senior police, local council officers and other public bodies.

Clearly concerned about a public backlash against the plan, officials stress that the government is not building up a single central database containing personal information of everyone in the country.

U.S. Government Starts secret Spy Program in Mexico

U.S. Government Starts secret Spy Program in Mexico
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2007/4/2/18923/15941
By Erich Moncada,
Posted on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 06:09:23 PM EST
An American corporation is in charge of monitoring all types of communications in the country.

On March 5, “El Centro” (1) newspaper exposed information about a contract given by the U.S. State Department to Verint Technology Incorporated, a New York-based company, to spy on communications in Mexico.

An American corporation is in charge of monitoring all types of communications in the country.

On March 5, “El Centro” (1) newspaper exposed information about a contract given by the U.S. State Department to Verint Technology Incorporated, a New York-based company, to spy on communications in Mexico.

Verint Technology, according to its Web site (2), “is a leading provider of analytic software solutions for communications interception, digital video security and surveillance.” Its CEO, Dan Bodner, a former senior Israeli army officer, was under investigation by U.S. authorities for an alleged phone monitoring technology monopoly.(3)

On Feb. 23, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) awarded a US$2,963,438 contract bid (S-INLEC-07-M-0002) to Vernit thru the Federal Business Opportunities Web site (4).

The notice (5) states:

“The U.S. Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs intends to … purchase of Communications Intercept Systems to include installation, technical support and training on-site in Mexico.”

Solicitation No. 01 (Dec. 19, 2005) explains how the U.S. government aimed to obtain a system to “timely receipt, processing, analysis, and storage of intercepted communications from the national telephonic and other communications service providers in Mexico.”

It requested some delicate features, like real-time and off-line playback, call storing of all phone calls for at least 25,000 hours, installation of 30 monitoring stations and cell phone location and tracking devices.

The document describes the procurement was undertaken to “establish a lawful interception solution” and aid U.S. and Mexican security agencies with “the capability to intercept, analyze, and use intercepted information from all types of communications systems operating in Mexico (to) help deter, prevent, and mitigate acts of major federal crimes in Mexico that include narcotics trafficking and terrorism.”

Amendment 01 (Feb. 1, 2006) furthers about the project’s management. Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) will directly operate the system, aided by a Narcotics Affair Section (NAS) representative from the US Embassy in Mexico and the contractor.(6)

Authoritarian Proposals

On March 10, Mexican President Felipe Calderon proposed to Congress a constitutional reform (7) to increase detentions, search warrants, unlawful entries and wire tapping without judge authorization.

Calderon argued federal police have the need to search private property in “cases of flagrancy”; while the Federal Public Ministry requires “immediately” intrusion of private communications because “when there’s a request to judiciary authorities the investigation turns more difficult or impossible to do.”

The president assured the initiative concedes judges faculties to review wire tapings or search warrants after being executed.

Another troubling aspect of this new law is that evidence gathered without court’s supervision could became full proof. In current Mexican and U.S. legal systems, an exclusionary rule applies to dissuade prosecutors from using illegally collected or analyzed evidence in trial when in violation of constitutional principles.

To date, neither U.S. nor Mexican officials have confirmed or denied the existence of the spy program contract.

Links in English:

(1) “FBI Office Spies on Mexicans”
http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp”ID=%7B3B7C173 8-40AB-4123-98EC-2BB56DA04867%7D)&language=EN

(2) Verint Technologies
http://www.verint.com/

(3) “Software maker Witness Systems to be acquired by Verint in $950 million deal”
http://callcenterinfo.tmcnet.com/news/2007/02/14/2337773.htm

(4) Federal Business Opportunities. “58—Communications Intercept System Mexico”
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=452c714167df2a77ab69e8e51925be42

(5) Federal Business Opportunities. “58—Communications Intercept System”
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=1be92e46c2e7a4db688e9b6aebb0e0f1&tab=core&_cview=1

(6) Federal Business Opportunities. “58—Communications Intercept System Solicitation 01”
http://www.fbo.gov/spg/State/INL/INL-RM-MS/S%2DINL EC%2D06%2DR%2D4042/Attachments.html

(7) “Mexico’s Calderon pushes criminal law overhaul”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/03/09/us-mexico-crime-idUSN0923222520070309

The Era Of The American Internet Is Ending

U.S. tracking citizens’ border crossings

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/20/AR2008082000174.html

washingtonpost.com

U.S. tracking citizens’ border crossings: report
Reuters

Wednesday, August 20, 2008; 12:59 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government has been using its border checkpoints to collect information on citizens that will be stored for 15 years, raising concern among privacy advocates, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said the collection is part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats, the report said, citing a Federal Register notice the agency issued last month.

Officials said the disclosure is among a series of notices to make the department’s data gathering more transparent, the newspaper reported.

A notice by Customs and Border Protection, a DHS agency, said it does not perform data mining on border crossings to search for patterns that could signal a terrorist or law enforcement threat, according to the Post.

But it states that information may be shared with federal, state and local governments to test "new technology and systems designed to enhance border security or identify other violations of law," the Post reported.

A DHS spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

Information on international air passengers has long been collected this way but Customs and Border Protection only this year began to log the arrivals of all U.S. citizens across land borders, the Post said.

Privacy advocates raised concerns about the expanded collection of personal data and said safeguards are needed to ensure the system is not abused.

"People expect to be checked when they enter the country and for the government to determine if they’re admissible or not," Greg Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology told the Post.

"What they don’t expect is for the government to keep a record for 15 years of their comings into the country. "

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke told the paper that the retention period was justified.

"History has shown, whether you are talking about criminal or terrorist activity, that plotting, planning or even relationships among conspirators can go on for years," he said. "Basic travel records can, quite literally, help frontline officers to connect the dots."

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

© 2008 Reuters

Verizon spies for the US government

Verizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders

Firm’s Letter to Lawmakers Details Government Requests

By Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; Page A01

 

Verizon Communications, the nation’s second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers’ telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005.

The company said it does not determine the requests’ legality or necessity because to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminal investigations.

In an Oct. 12 letter replying to Democratic lawmakers, Verizon offered a rare glimpse into the way telecommunications companies cooperate with government requests for information on U.S. citizens.

Verizon also disclosed that the FBI, using administrative subpoenas, sought information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called. Verizon does not keep data on this “two-generation community of interest” for customers, but the request highlights the broad reach of the government’s quest for data.

The disclosures, in a letter from Verizon to three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the carriers’ participation in government surveillance programs, demonstrated the willingness of telecom companies to comply with government requests for data, even, at times, without traditional legal supporting documents. The committee members also got letters from AT&T and Qwest Communications International, but those letters did not provide details on customer data given to the government. None of the three carriers gave details on any classified government surveillance program.

From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon provided data to federal authorities on an emergency basis 720 times, it said in the letter. The records included Internet protocol addresses as well as phone data. In that period, Verizon turned over information a total of 94,000 times to federal authorities armed with a subpoena or court order, the letter said. The information was used for a range of criminal investigations, including kidnapping and child-predator cases and counter-terrorism investigations.

Verizon and AT&T said it was not their role to second-guess the legitimacy of emergency government requests.

The letters were released yesterday by the lawmakers as Congress debates whether to grant telecom carriers immunity in cases in which they are sued for disclosing customers’ phone records and other data as part of the government’s post-September 11 surveillance program, even if they did not have court authorization. House Democrats have said that they cannot contemplate such immunity without first understanding the nature of the carriers’ cooperation with the government.

“The responses from these telecommunications companies highlight the need of Congress to continue pressing the Bush administration for answers. The water is as murky as ever on this issue, and it’s past time for the administration to come clean,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who launched the investigation with panel Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.).

Congressional Democrats have been largely stymied in their efforts to have the Bush administration disclose the scope and nature of its surveillance and data-gathering efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Revelations have come through press reports, advocacy groups’ Freedom of Information Act lawsuits and Justice Department inspector general reports.

In May 2006, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had been secretly collecting the phone-call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by major telecom firms. Qwest, it reported, declined to participate because of fears that the program lacked legal standing.

Last month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group in San Francisco, obtained records through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit showing that the FBI sought data from telecom companies about the calling habits of suspects and their associates, the New York Times reported. Neither Qwest nor AT&T answered the lawmakers’ question as to whether they had received such requests for information.

Citizen surveillance needed, N.Y. mayor says

Citizen surveillance needed, N.Y. mayor says

International Herald Tribune, 2 October 2007

(AP) Residents of big cities like New York and London must accept that they are under constant watch by video cameras, and opposition to the use of high-tech surveillance to catch criminals and terrorists is ridiculous, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York said Monday.

Bloomberg, holding talks with his London counterpart, Ken Livingstone, said measures like London’s network of closed-circuit cameras that monitor the city center were a necessary protection in a dangerous world.

An estimated 4 million closed-circuit cameras operate in Britain, and some civil liberties advocates have warned that the country is becoming a “surveillance state”.