Wednesday, March 3, 2010


"Every year Privacy International and a growing number of affiliate human rights groups present the Big Brother Awards to government agencies, private companies and individuals who have excelled in the violation of our privacy."

As it were... Beat The Chip is one blog who reports a lot of eye irritating news that points towards the simpatico symbiotics of the surveillance industrial complex.

Even if no one asked us or cares - our nominee for this years Big Brother Award goes to i2.


Operation DeFuse : Fusion Centers and Information Sharing Pt 1
Operation DeFuse : Fusion Centers and Information Sharing Pt 2

U.S. Security Agencies Begging for a Cybersecurity 'Cold War'

c/o HuffPo's Jay Stanley

So the U.S. security establishment is salivating at the prospect of a new cybersecurity "Cold War." In an over-the-top op-ed in Tuesday's Washington Post, Mike McConnell issues a declaration that we are "fighting a cyber war today" and compares it to the nuclear showdown with the Soviets. McConnell exemplifies the security establishment as much as anyone -- former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), former Director of National Intelligence, and currently executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a private-sector refuge for former U.S. intelligence officials (and a company that stands to make large sums from consulting on cybersecurity).

The Cold War was, among many other things, a bonanza for the military and for security agencies from the NSA to the CIA to the FBI, which saw their budgets skyrocket and their power and reach expand in ways that were unprecedented in a country that had always held a deep suspicion of "standing armies" and government power. With the end of the Soviet Union and talk of a "peace dividend," these institutions faced sharp cutbacks and a loss of mission. In the 1990s there was suddenly a lot of attention paid to China and the threat it was said to pose. Then came 9/11 and -- although the nature of the threat was far, far different from the Soviet Union -- the security establishment nevertheless had a new raison d'ĂȘtre, and a rationale for not only maintaining all the institutions it had built up against the Soviets, but expanding its powers. Proposals such as the Patriot Act, which Congress had rejected in the 1990s, now sailed through without any examination of whether they actually addressed any of the problems responsible for 9/11 (mostly they did not).

Cybersecurity is many things. It is a genuine problem. It is a threat to civil liberties, especially online privacy and anonymity. And, it is also being pushed as the latest reason to keep shoveling new tax dollars and new powers to the NSA and other security agencies -- sometimes with almost comical eagerness, as in McConnell's piece. His op-ed is almost a perfect exhibit in leveraging current events as part of a security-bureaucracy bid for power:

Overdramatic description of the situation as a world-historic "war?" Check.

Focus on centralized, top-down, command-and-control solutions to a problem that is largely a matter of distributed rather than centralized vulnerabilities? Check.

Call for highly ambitious military "grand projects" of dubious attainability but no doubt never-ending budgets? Check. McConnell: "We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options -- and we must be able to do this in milliseconds." A proposal to "monitor cyberspace" could mean different things, but when it comes from a former NSA director and intelligence chief, Americans should be afraid.

Ominous desire to gain some control over the Internet and erase Internet anonymity? Check. McConnell: "We need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment -- who did it, from where, why and what was the result -- more manageable."

The Internet has been an amazing engine of freedom, innovation and economic growth precisely because it is not under anyone's control. Its radical decentralized design has permitted it to flourish through the actions of millions of people acting independently and not under anyone's control.

But this kind of decentralized, out-of-control freedom could not be more at odds with the traditional, military, bureaucratic, control-everything security mindset. Sure enough, Mike McConnell, who seems to exemplify this mindset, wants to make "attribution" more "manageable" -- seemingly an endorsement of radical calls to end the possibility of anonymity online in the name of cybersecurity. Anonymous speech is recognized as part of our First Amendment rights and is an old American tradition that goes back to the Federalist Papers, which were written anonymously by (we now know) James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. :::MORE HERE:::

HISTORY: DNA data retention found illegal in International Human Rights Courts

BTC - Involuntary DNA retentions have been found to be an international violation of Human Rights. Tell that to all your globalist friends at the United Nations.

c/o Privacy International



Press release issued by the Registrar



The European Court of Human Rights has today delivered at a public hearing its Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 30562/04 and 30566/04).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

DIGEST: Good bill- Bad bill, Expanded Presidential Cyberpowers

Two months ago, REAL-ID went into effect in Florida and many residents are having problems proving their identities to obtain the new driver’s licenses. Florida is one of the few states complying with the law as many states have said that REAL-ID is too expensive to implement and the federal government has extended the deadline several times.

This gets confusing. They all have the same numbers!

HR 3471: REAL ID repeal and Identity Security Enhancement Act of 2009
HR 3741: Help for children debilitated due to government sponsored vaccine campaigns

H.R. 3174: Photo Identification Security Act
Why it's bad: Requires photo identity to be imported onto Social Security Cards and a Real ID Act compliant ID to be able to open a bank account.

The hidden risks of biometric credentials Commentary c/o Future Identity
How the hell am I going to explain that to a US immigration official, whose database (totally beyond the control of the National Intelligence Registry) clearly shows that my biometrics belong to "Oscar Wilde", not "William Gladstone"?

The road to dictatorship Commentary c/o Justin Raimondo

E-Very-fail Continued: A newly released report claims the federal E-Verify program fails to catch more than half of the unauthorized workers that it checks, according to The Associated Press. MEANWHILE: Oklahoma State finds the E-verfiy program has some problems with constitutionality.

FACEBOOK: Maybe you should get out while you can?

Facebook Glitch Sends Wrong Messages, Raises Privacy Questions

CRYPTOME.ORG shut down after exposing MSGlobalistSpy

Freedom's Phoenix>>Speak Truth2 Power is a venerable New York based anti-secrecy site that has been publishing since 1999. On Feb 24, 2010, the site was forceably taken down following its publication Microsoft’s “Global Criminal Compliance Handbook”, a confidential 22 page booklet designed for police and intelligence services. The guide provides a “menu” of information Microsoft collects on the users of its online services.

Microsoft lawyers threatened Cryptome and its “printer”, internet hosting provider giant Network Solutions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA was designed to protect the legitimate rights of publishers, not to conceal scandalous internal documents that were never intended for sale. Although the action is a clear abuse of the DMCA, Network Solutions, a company with extensive connections to U.S. intelligence contractors, gagged the site in its entirety. Such actions are a serious problem in the United States, where although in theory the First Amendment protects the freedom of the press, in practice, censorship has been privatized via abuse of the judicial system and corporate patronage networks. ::: MORE HERE:::

FUSION CENTERS: A locally owned and operated Intelligence Machine

Fusion centers constitute a new piece in a vastly more powerful police apparatus. They give the executive branch an incredible physical reach into state and local communities.
c/o Thomas Cincotta for The Public Eye

The Department of Homeland Security’s network of fusion centers operate under the auspices of state police or even large local police forces, thus sidestepping the guidelines enacted under the Privacy Act of 1974 that limit information sharing by federal agencies. Yet fusion centers have a national command center feel, with mosaics of television monitors, and desks for all the police agents assigned to work together and enjoy face time -- the county sheriff, local police officers, the FBI, National Guard (restricted by law to drug-related missions), state police, Department of Homeland Security, and the civilian intelligence analysts. The FBI field office may rent space to fusion centers, and even helps run the Los Angeles fusion center, but it rarely plays a visibly lead role. Still, all the analysts are tied into federal information-sharing networks.

Since Homeland Security launched the program in 2003, these centers have evolved largely independently of one another. At first glance, smaller, more diffuse centers might seem to pose a smaller threat to civil liberties than a KGB-like national force. In truth, however, this decentralized network may be more dangerous, because it obscures lines of authority, subverts Congressional oversight and privacy guidelines, and turns numerous state and local police into intelligence agents.

Around the world, the War on Terror has served as an “indispensable Trojan Horse [enabling] intensified surveillance for all sorts of purposes.”[3] As early as 1978, the Public Eye reported on an effort to bring the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy under one Director of National Intelligence that unsurprisingly failed amidst fresh memories of COINTELPRO – the FBI’s spying and dirty tricks program targeting activists— and Richard Nixon’s enemies list. By the 2001 attacks, memories of the domestic spying controversies of the 1970s had dimmed and calls for a national intelligence agency reemerged. Congressional sponsors of legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security wanted a fully functional intelligence organization within DHS, but the Bush administration preferred to realign organizations already under the authority of the FBI director, director of Central Intelligence, and the new director of national intelligence. As a result, Congress did not initially give DHS itself the capacity to produce raw intelligence.[4][5] But today fusion centers give DHS the capacity to produce, not just receive, intelligence.

Nurtured by more than $327 million in direct grant funding from 2004 through 2008, fusion centers won an additional $250 million in President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan to be spent by 2010 on upgrading, modifying, or constructing sites. DHS currently has 41 officers deployed at fusion centers and hopes to have an officer at every fusion center in the country by the end of 2010. By the end of 2008, governors, mayors, and police chiefs had established 72 operational centers within the United States and its territories, covering 49 states, District of Columbia, and Guam. Additionally, fusion centers in Idaho, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are in the final stages of development.


Fusion centers facilitate the collection of massive amounts of information. DHS – itself comprised of 225,000 people in 22 separate agencies – uses fusion centers, information sharing, and agency integration as a “force multiplier” to tap into the potential of 718,000 state and local police in over 15,000 departments, plus local emergency responders, who could collect more data than 12,000 FBI agents. “There is never enough information when it comes to terrorism,” says Major Steven G. O’Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.[11] Unfortunately, the intelligence could be worthless and often is.

Fusion centers ostensibly complement the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which bring together local law enforcement with federal law enforcement components like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol, the Secret Service, and Transportation Security Administration. These two parallel systems for interagency coordination – one under DHS, the other under the Department of Justice – raise questions about redundancy and waste. At the same time, though, the information from fusion centers gives DHS leverage and access to other federal intelligence.


Fusion centers gather, mine, and “fuse” data to help police fight crime and FBI agents stop terrorism. Data streams in from multiple sources, including intelligence groups, the federal government, other states, private databases, and open sources. Moreover, analysts scrutinize daily crime and 911 reports for patterns. Tips may come in to fusion center tip lines from citizens or police officers. Fusion centers also respond to requests for analysis from law enforcement agencies in the field, primarily investigators seeking to spot trends in areas like drug crime, gang activity, or theft.

It is a universe marked by redundancy. Information currently flows from fusion centers into a national “information sharing environment” such as the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program, and Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN – for classified data), which all sit alongside the Department of Justice’s Regional Information Sharing System (RISS), the FBI’s Regional Data Exchange and eGuardian, the Naval Investigative Services’ Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) and the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit’s (LEIU) LEO network (LEIU is a private organization of public law enforcement officials, including chiefs of police).

In the absence of purely terrorist activity, DHS’s emphasis on “ensuring that our communities are not places where violent extremism can take root” may invite fusion centers to identify local threats based on political rhetoric that is critical of government policies. Evidence suggests this is already happening. In February 2009, North Central Texas Fusion System issued a “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” calling on law enforcement to report the activities of Muslim civil rights organizations and antiwar protest groups. In March 2009, the Missouri State Highway Patrol was forced to halt the distribution of a report prepared by the Missouri Information Analysis Center that linked extremists in the modern militia movement to supporters of third-party presidential candidates such as Congressman Ron Paul of Texas and former Congressman Bob Barr of Iowa. The report also said that some militia members subscribe to anti-abortion beliefs or oppose illegal immigration – suggestions that created a public uproar among law-abiding groups concerned that they were being lumped in with violent, dangerous people.[20]

The Virginia Fusion Center identified “subversive thought” as a marker for violent terrorism. Furthermore, the Virginia Fusion Center’s 2009 Threat Assessment identified “subversive thought” as a marker for violent terrorism and thus targeted “university-based student groups as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group.”[21] In words reminiscent of “communist front” theory dating to the Cold War, Virginia Fusion Center analysts warned of the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged strategy of boring from within by infiltrating different Islamic organizations and obtaining leadership roles. DHS also monitored the D.C. Anti-War Network and shared information with the Maryland State Police – most likely through the fusion center – during a year-long infiltration of Baltimore area peace and social justice organizations in 2007-2008.[22]


Fusion centers reflect the tendency of surveillance systems to grow both in depth – with reams of information on any one person – and in breadth by broadening the variety of sources of personal data that they draw on. With unprecedented access to criminal, intelligence, and private sector databases, fusion centers give local authorities an exceptional capacity to monitor behavior and select individuals or communities for intervention. Accordingly, fusion centers responded with vigor to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security’s 2006 guidelines urging them to “obtain access to an array of databases and systems.” Although the guidelines listed only public information assets, such as motor vehicle databases, state fusion centers now contract with private data brokers to access private information like unpublished cell phone numbers, consumer credit profiles, insurance claims, car rentals, and real estate sales. In 2009, DHS announced a new arrangement with the U.S. Department of Defense that allowed select fusion center personnel to access terrorism-related information from the Department of Defense’s classified network.

The rise of cyberspace, mobile telephones, and a nearly universal reliance on credit and debit cards has, as James Rule put it, “created cornucopias of actionable personal data to tempt the surveillance appetites of institutions.”[28] For instance, in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Fusion Center website boasts access to Accurint, Lexis-Nexis, LocatePlus, and Autotrack, a product of Atlanta’s Choicepoint, the giant private data aggregator that moved aggressively into the domestic intelligence market after 9/11.[29] Autotrack permits subscribers to browse through more than 17 billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses with as little as a name or social security number as a starting point. In Maryland, authorities similarly rely on a data broker called Entersect, which maintains 12 billion records on about 98 percent of Americans. Systems like fusion centers feed on steady diets of supposedly “actionable” personal information– all accessed without a warrant.

Most government data mining today occurs in a legal vacuum outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment barring unreasonable searches.

State governments established fusion centers with federal dollars in the absence of any legal framework, and their data mining occurs in a legal vacuum outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches.[30] Although data mining can have real consequences for individuals tracked, there are no legal guarantees for the accuracy or appropriateness of the data or the searches, no redress for people injured by being falsely identified as posing a threat, and no judicial or legislative oversight. Some fusion centers purge data searches after one or five years, but no one is responsible for doing so. Fusion center records are also beyond the reach of the Privacy Act of 1974, which regulates and gives individuals access to the files of federal agencies.

Most government data mining today occurs in a legal vacuum outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment barring unreasonable searches.


The logic of surveillance systems is to grow. Because there is no “natural limit” to the incorporation of personal information in systems of mass surveillance, our only defense is collective action to impose limits on the post-9/11 intelligence apparatus.[33]

An engaged Congress which takes its oversight role seriously must enact a new series of legal protections on the scale of those of the 1970s. (See Constitution Project proposals.) Just as Americans’ fought for reform in the 1970s, it will take investigations by Congress, state legislatures, attorneys generals, journalists, and citizens to expose the current practices of fusion centers and build the political pressure necessary for change. Lawyers representing protestors and defendants in terrorism cases can also play a key role in discovering how these institutions are monitoring their clients. Lastly, just as DHS engages academia in promoting troublesome theories of intelligence-led policing and violent radicalization, civil libertarians must respond in kind. In a free society, civil liberties must be the cornerstone of antiterrorism policy, not an afterthought, as it has been in the development of fusion centers.