- This article reviews two police state tools (among many
in use) in America. One is new, undiscussed and largely unknown to the
public. The other was covered in a December article by this writer called
Police State America. Here it's updated with new information.
- The National Applications Office (NAO)
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established
a new domestic spying operation in 2007 called the National Applications
Office (NOA) and described it as "the executive agent to facilitate
the use of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland
security and law enforcement purposes within the United States." The
office was to begin operating last fall to "build on the long-standing
work of the Civil Applications Committee (CAC), which was created in 1974
to facilitate the use of the capabilities of the intelligence community
for civil, non-defense uses in the United States."
- With or without congressional authorization or oversight,
the executive branch is in charge and will let NAO use state-of-the-art
technology, including military satellite imagery, to spy on Americans without
their knowledge. Implementation is delayed, however, after Committee on
Homeland Security Chairman, Bennie Thompson, and other committee members
raised questions of "very serious privacy and civil liberties concerns."
In response, DHS agreed to delay operating (officially) until all matters
are addressed and resolved.
- Given its track record post-9/11, expect little more
than pro forma posturing before Congress signs off on what Kate Martin,
the director of the Center for National Security Studies, calls "Big
Brother in the Sky" and a "police state" in the offing.
- DHS supplies this background information on NAO. Post-9/11,
the Director of National Intelligence appointed an Independent Study Group
(ISG) in May, 2005 to "review the current operation and future role
of the (1974) Civil Applications Committee and study the current state
of Intelligence Community support to homeland security and law enforcement
- In September 2005, the Committee produced a "Blue
Ribbon Study," now declassified. Its nine members were headed by and
included three Booz Allen Hamilton officials because of the company's expertise
in spying and intelligence gathering. Its other members have similar experience.
They all have a vested interest in domestic spying because the business
potential is huge for defense related industries and consultants.
- ISG members included:
- Keith Hall, Chairman Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
- Edward G. Anderson LTG US Army (Ret) Principal, Booz
- Thomas W. Conroy Vice President National Security Programs
- Patrick M. Hughes LTG US Army (Ret) Vice President, Homeland
Security L-3 Communications
- Kevin O'Connell Director of Defense Group Incorporated
(DGI) Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis (CIRA)
- CIRA is a think tank that calls itself "the premier
open source and cultural intelligence exploitation cell for the US intelligence
community." Its business is revolutionizing intelligence analysis.
- Jeff Baxter Independent Defense Consultant with DOD and
- Dr. Paul Gilman Director Oak Ridge Center for Advanced
Studies Oak Ridge National Laboratory US Department of Energy
- Kemp Lear Associate Booz Allen Hamilton, and
- Joseph D. Whitley, Esq Alston & Bird LLP, Government
Investigations and Compliance Group, former Acting Associate Attorney General
in GHW Bush administration, and former General Counsel for DHS under GW
- The ISG's report produced 11 significant findings and
27 recommendations based on its conclusion that there's "an urgent
need for action because opportunities to better protect the nation are
being missed." It "concluded a new management and process model
(is) needed to effectively employ IC (Intelligence Community) capabilities
for domestic uses."
- In March 2006, DHS unveiled the new agency to implement
ISG's recommendations called the National Applications Office. In May,
2007, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Michael McConnell, named
DHS as its executive agent and functional manager. At least in principle
according to DHS, Congress agreed with this approach and to provide funding
for it, beginning in the fall of 2007.
- The public knew nothing about this until a feature August
15, 2007 Wall Street Journal story broke the news. It was headlined "US
to Expand Use of Spy Satellites." It noted that for the first time
the nation's top intelligence official (DNI's McConnell) "greatly
expanded the range of federal and local (civilian law enforcement agencies
that) can get access to" military spy satellite collected information.
Until now, civilian use was restricted to agencies like NASA and the US
Geological Survey, and only for scientific and environmental study.
- The Journal explained that key objectives under new guidelines
- -- border security, -- securing critical infrastructure
and helping emergency responders after natural disasters,
- -- working with criminal and civil federal, state, and
local law enforcement agencies, and
- -- unmentioned by the Journal, the ability to spy on
anyone, anywhere, anytime domestically for any reason - an unprecedented
act using state-of-the-art technology enabling real-time, high-resolution
images and data from space.
- NAO will also oversee classified information from the
National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
(NGA) and other US agencies involved in dealing with all aspects of national
security, including "terrorism."
- NSA was established in 1952, is super-secret, and for
many years was never revealed to exist. Today, its capabilities are awesome
and worrisome. It eavesdrops globally, mines a vast amount of data, and
does it through a network of spy satellites, listening posts, and surveillance
planes to monitor virtually all electronic communications from landline
and cell phones, telegrams, emails, faxes, radio and television, data bases
of all kinds and the internet.
- NGA is new and began operating in 2003. It lets military
and intelligence analysts monitor virtually anything or anyone from state-of-the-art
spy satellites. Both NSA and NGA coordinate jointly with the National Reconnaissance
Office (NRO) that designs, builds and operates military spy satellites.
It also analyzes military and CIA-collected aircraft and satellite reconnaissance
- Combined with warrantless wiretapping, pervasive spying
of all kinds, the abandonment of the law and checks and balances, intense
secrecy, and an array of repressive post-9/11 legislation, Executive Orders
and National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives, NAO
is another national security police state tool any despot would love. It's
now established and may be operating without congressional approval.
- Using spy satellites domestically "is largely uncharted
territory," as the Wall Street Journal noted. Even its architects
admit there's no clarity on this, and the ISG's report stated "There
is little if any policy, guidance or procedures regarding the collection,
exploitation and dissemination of domestic MASINT (Measurement and Signatures
- The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the main DOD
spy agency. It manages MASINT that's ultra-secret and sophisticated. It
uses state-of-the-art radar, lasers, infrared sensors, electromagnetic
data and other technologies that can detect chemicals, electro-magnetic
activity, whether a nuclear power plant produces plutonium, and the type
vehicle from its exhaust. It can also see under bridges, through clouds,
forest canopies and even concrete to create images and collect data. In
addition, it can detect people, activity and weapons that satellites and
photo-reconnaissance aircraft miss, so it's an invaluable spy tool but
highly intrusive and up to now only for military and foreign intelligence
- Further, military spy satellites are state-of-the-art
and superior to civilian ones. They record in color as well as black and
white, use different parts of the light spectrum to track human activities
and ground movements and can detect chemical weapons traces and people-generated
heat in buildings.
- This much we know about them. Their full potential is
top secret and available only to the military and intelligence community.
The Journal quoted an alarmed Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel and director
of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, that advocates for
digital age privacy rights saying: "Not only is the surveillance they
are contemplating intrusive and omnipresent, it's also invisible. And that's
what makes this so dangerous."
- Anyone for any reason may be watched at all times (through
walls) with no way to know it, but a June 2001 (before 9/11) Supreme Court
decision offers hope. In Kyllo v. United States, the Court ruled for petitioner
5 to 4 (with Scalia and Thomas in the majority). It voided a conviction
based on police use of thermal imaging to detect heat in his triplex to
determine if an illegal drug was being grown, in this case marijuana.
- The Court held: "Where, as here, the Government
uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of
a private home that would previously have been unknowable without physical
intrusion, the surveillance is a Fourth Amendment 'search," and is
presumptively unreasonable without a warrant....To withdraw protection
of this minimum expectation would be to permit police technology to erode
the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment" protecting against
"unreasonable searches and seizures."
- In 1981, Ronald Reagan seemed to agree in Executive Order
12333 on United States Intelligence Activities. It bars the intelligence
community from most forms of home eavesdropping while providing wide latitude
to all government agencies to "provide the President and the National
Security Council with the necessary information (needed to) conduct....foreign,
defense and economic policy (and protect US) national interests from foreign
security threats. (Collecting this information is to be done, however,)
consistent with the Constitution and applicable law...."
- That was then, and this is now. It's hard imagining congressional
concern or DHS meaning that NAO will "prioritize the protection of
privacy and civil liberties" and citing the Reagan Executive Order
and the 1974 Privacy Act. That law mandates that no government agency "shall
disclose any record (or) system of records by any means of communication
to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request,
or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record
pertains." The Privacy act requires the US government to maintain
an administrative and physical security system to prevent the unauthorized
release of personal records.
- Post-9/11, the Patriot Act ended that protection, so
DHS is shameless saying NAO must comply with civil liberties and privacy
laws and be subject to "oversight by the DHS Inspector General, Chief
Privacy Officer, and the Officer for Civil Rights and Liberties" plus
additional oversight. No longer post-9/11 when the national security state
got repressive new tools to erode the constitution, ignore democratic principles,
and give the President unrestricted powers in the name of national security.
NAO is the latest one watching us as our "Big Brother in the Sky."
Orwell would be proud.
- Real ID Act Update - Another Intrusive Police State Tool
- The Read ID Act of 2005 required states to meet federal
ID standards by May, 2008. That's now changed because 29 states passed
or introduced laws that refuse to comply. They call the Act costly to administer,
a bureaucratic nightmare, and New Hampshire said it's "repugnant"
and violates the state and US Constitutions.
- The federal law mandates that every US citizen and legal
resident have a national ID card that in most cases is a driver's license
meeting federal standards. It requires it to contain an individual's personal
information and makes one mandatory to open a bank account, board an airplane,
be able to vote, get a job, enter a federal building, or conduct virtually
all essential business requiring identification.
- States balked, and that doomed the original version.
On January 11, changes were unveiled when the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) issued binding new rules. Under them, states have until 2011 to comply
(instead of 2008), until 2014 to issue "tamper-proof licenses"
to drivers born after 1964, and until 2017 for those born before this date.
DHS said the original law would cost states $14 billion. The new regulations
with an extended phase-in cuts the amount to around $3.9 billion or $8
- These numbers may be bogus, however, the true costs may
be far higher, and that's why the Information Technology Association of
America (ITAA) is lobbying for Real ID's passage. Its members include high-tech
card makers like Digimarc and Northrup Grumman and data brokers like Choicepoint
and LexisNexis that profit by selling personal information to advertisers
and the government.
- Under new DHS rules, licenses must include a digital
photo taken at the beginning of the application process and a filament
or other security device to prevent counterfeiting. They must also have
three layers of security that states can select from a DHS menu. In addition,
states must begin checking license applicants' Social Security and immigration
status over the next year.
- As of now, a controversial radio frequency identification
(RFID) technology microchip isn't required. It may come later, however,
and here's the problem. It'll let cardholder movements and activities be
tracked everywhere, at all times - in other words, a police state dream
along with other pervasive spying tools.
- Even worse would be mandating human RFID chip implants.
It's not planned so far (but not ruled out), and three states (California,
Wisconsin and North Dakota) preemptively banned the practice without recipients'
- Think it can't happen? Consider a January 13 article
in the London Independent headlined "Prisoners 'to be chipped like
dogs.' " The article states that civil rights groups and probation
officers are furious that "hi-tech 'satellite'.... machine-readable
(microchip) tagging (is) planned (for thousands of offenders) to create
more space in jails." Unlike ankle bracelets now sometimes used, tiny
RFID chips would be surgically implanted for monitoring the way they're
currently used for dogs, cats, cattle and luggage. They're more reliable,
it's believed, as current devices can be tampered with or removed.
- Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police
Officers (ACPO), was quoted saying: "We have looked at....the practicalities
and the ethics (and we concluded) its time has come." The UK currently
has the largest prison population per capita in western Europe. It sounds
like authorities plan to expand it using fewer cells. It also sounds like
a scheme to tag everyone after testing them first on prisoners. And consider
the possibilities. RFID technology is advancing, and one company plans
deeper implants that can vibrate, emit electroshocks, broadcast a message
to the implantee, and/or be a hidden microphone to transmit conversations.
It's not science fiction, and what's planned for the UK will likely come
to America. In fact, it's already here.
- In 2004, the FDA approved a grain-of-rice sized, antenna-containing
VeriChip for human implantation that allows vital information to be read
when a person's body is scanned. The company states on its web site that
it's "the world's first and only patented, FDA-cleared, human-implantable
RFID microchip....with skin-sensing capabilities." Reportedly, about
2000 test subjects now have them, but it may signal mandatory implantation
ahead. Consider for whom for starters - prisoners, military personnel and
possibly anyone seeking employment. After them, maybe everyone in a brave
new global surveillance world.
- It gets worse. Katherine Albrecht authored a report called
"Microchip-Cancer Report - Microchip-Induced Tumors in Laboratory
Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 1990-2006." After reading
it, Dr. Robert Benezra, Director Cancer Biology, Genetics Program, Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said: "There's no way in the world,
having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted
in my skin, or in one of my family members. Given the preliminary animal
data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."
- Albrecht's report evaluated 11 previously published toxicology
and pathology studies. In six of them, up to 10.2% of rats and mice developed
malignant tumors (typically sarcomas) where microchips were implanted.
Two others reported the same findings for dogs. These tumors spread fast
and "often led to the death of the afflicted animals. In many cases,
the tumors metastasized and spread to other parts of the animals. The implants
were unequivocally identified as the cause of the cancers."
- Report reviews, conclusions and recommendations were
to immediately stop further human implantations, inform people with them
of the dangers, offer a microchip removal procedure, and reverse all animal
- Debate Ahead on New DHS ID Rules
- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said new ID rules require
states to verify each cardholder's personal information (including a person's
legal status in the country) by matching it against federal Social Security
and passport databases and/or comparable state ones.
- States have time to adjust, but Senate Judiciary Chairman
Patrick Leahy wasted no time saying he'll recommend legislation to ban
Real ID drivers' license provisions because "so many Americans oppose"
them. They're intrusive, burdensome, and federal databases are full of
false or out-of-date information that's hard to disprove, but unless it
is Americans will be denied their legal right to a driver's license.
- The ACLU also strongly opposes Real ID because it violates
privacy, lets government agencies share data, and its "tortured remains"
represent an "utterly unworkable" system that will "irreparably
damage the fabric of American life." An ACLU January 11 press release
further states that DHS "dumped the problems of the statute on future
presidents like a rotting corpse left on (its) steps (and) whoever is president
in 2018." Congress must "recognize the situation and take action."
The Real ID Act and new DHS rules must be "repealed and replaced with
a clean, simple, and vigorous new driver's license security law that does
not create a national ID" or violate Americans' privacy.
- Futuristic Hi-Tech Profiling
- On January 14, Computerworld online revealed more cause
for concern in an article called "Big Brother Really is Watching."
It's about DHS "bankrolling futuristic profiling technology...."
for its Project Hostile Intent. It, in turn, is part of a broader initiative
called the Future Attribute Screening Technologies Mobile Module. It's
to be a self-contained, automated screening system that's portable and
easy to implement, and DHS hopes to test it at airports in 2010 and deploy
it (if it works) by 2012 at airports, border checkpoints, other points
of entry and other security-related areas.
- Here's the problem. If developed (reliable or not), these
devices will use video, audio, laser and infrared sensors to feed real-time
data into a computer using "specially developed algorithms" to
identify "suspicious people." It would work (in theory) by interpreting
gestures, facial expressions and speech variations as well as measure body
temperature, heart and respiration rate, blood pressure, skin moisture,
and other physiological characteristics.
- The idea would be detect deception and identify suspicious
people for aggressive interrogation, searches and even arrest. But consider
what's coming. If developed, the technology may be used anywhere by government
or the private sector for airport or other checkpoint security, buildings,
job interviews, employee screening, buying insurance or conducting any
other type essential business.
- Aside from Fourth Amendment issues, here's the problem
according to Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at security consultant
BT Counterpane: "It's a good idea fraught with difficulties....don't
hold your breath" it will work, and a better idea is to focus on detecting
suspicious objects. Schneier further compares the technology to lie detectors
that rely on "fake technology" and only work in films. They're
used because people want them although it's acknowledged, even when well-administered,
their median accuracy percentage is 50% at best.
- This technology is worse, it may never be reliable, but
may be deployed anyway in the age of "terror." Something to consider
next time we blink going through airport security, and ACLU Technology
and Liberty Project director Barry Steinhardt states the concern: "We
are not going to catch any terrorists (with it), but a lot of innocent
people, especially racial and ethnic minorities, are going to be trapped
in a web of suspicion." Even so, DHS spent billions on this and other
screening tools post-9/11. Expect lots more ahead, and here's the bottom
- As things now stand, Washington, post-9/11, suspended
constitutional protections in the name of national security and suppressed
our civil liberties for our own good. This article reviewed their newest
tools and wonders what's next. This writer called it Police State America
in December that won't change with a new White House occupant in 2009 unless
organized resistance stops it. Complacency is unthinkable, and unless we
act, we'll deserve Aleksandr Herzen's curse of another era - to be the
"disease," not the "doctors."
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.