Etiket arşivi: surveillance

Federal court OKs warrantless use of hidden cameras

Surveillance cameras can be placed on a person’s property without permission

A federal court ruling Tuesday served yet another blow to U.S. citizens’ dwindling expectations of privacy from government surveillance. A U.S. district judge sided with the Justice Department to rule that it was reasonable for DEA agents to enter a property without permission or a warrant to install multiple “covert digital surveillance cameras.” (The case in question involved finding evidence in a rural property of mass marijuana plant growing.)

The Wisconsin-based case saw video evidence from hidden cameras placed around the property of Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, where 1,000 marijuana plants were found growing. The two men face possible life imprisonment after Judge William Griesbach ruled that “the DEA’s warrantless surveillance did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and requires that warrants describe the place that’s being searched,” CNET reported.

The general repercussions from this particular ruling are not yet obvious. The judge’s decision was based on a recommendation from a U.S. magistrate which essentially determined that Mendoza and Magana’s private property fell under the category of “open fields,” which can be searched without a warrant. However, as Brett Reetz, Magana’s attorney, objected, “The owner and his guest… had reason to believe that their activities on the property were not subject to video surveillance as it would constitute a violation of privacy.”

Tuesday’s ruling comes amid growing outcry from privacy and civil liberties advocates at the government’s increasing use of warrantless surveillance over phone calls and emails. As Salon noted last month, “according to government documents obtained by the ACLU, the Justice Department’s use of warrantless phone and internet tapping has increased 600 percent in the past decade.”

FBI Going Dark: Law Enforcement Problems in Lawful Surveillance

FBI Going Dark … Law Enforcement Problems in Lawful Surveillance.pdf

FBI quietly forms secretive Net-surveillance unit

CNET has learned that the FBI has formed a Domestic Communications Assistance Center, which is tasked with developing new electronic surveillance technologies, including intercepting Internet, wireless, and VoIP communications.

The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.

The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.

While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC — it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who’s running it, for instance — CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents.

DCAC’s mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order. It’s also designed to serve as a kind of surveillance help desk for state, local, and other federal police.

The center represents the technological component of the bureau’s "Going Dark" Internet wiretapping push, which was allocated $54 million by a Senate committee last month. The legal component is no less important: as CNET reported on May 4, the FBI wants Internet companies not to oppose a proposed law that would require social-networks and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

During an appearance last year on Capitol Hill, then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni referred in passing, without elaboration, to "individually tailored" surveillance solutions and "very sophisticated criminals." Caproni said that new laws targeting social networks and voice over Internet Protocol conversations were required because "individually tailored solutions have to be the exception and not the rule."

Caproni was referring to the DCAC’s charge of creating customized surveillance technologies aimed at a specific individual or company, according to a person familiar with the FBI’s efforts in this area.

An FBI job announcement for the DCAC that had an application deadline of May 2 provides additional details. It asks applicants to list their experience with "electronic surveillance standards" including PacketCable (used in cable modems); QChat (used in push-to-talk mobile phones); and T1.678 (VoIP communications). One required skill for the position, which pays up to $136,771 a year, is evaluating "electronic surveillance solutions" for "emerging" technologies.

"We would expect that capabilities like CIPAV would be an example" of what the DCAC will create, says Steve Bock, president of Colorado-based Subsentio, referring to the FBI’s remotely-installed spyware that it has used to identify extortionists, database-deleting hackers, child molesters, and hitmen.

Bock, whose company helps companies comply with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and has consulted for the Justice Department, says he anticipates "that Internet and wireless will be two key focus areas" for the DCAC. VoIP will be a third, he says.

For its part, the FBI responded to queries this week with a statement about the center, which it also refers to as the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (even Caproni has used both names interchangeably), saying:

The NDCAC will have the functionality to leverage the research and development efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement with respect to electronic surveillance capabilities and facilitate the sharing of technology among law enforcement agencies. Technical personnel from other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will be able to obtain advice and guidance if they have difficulty in attempting to implement lawful electronic surveillance court orders.

It is important to point out that the NDCAC will not be responsible for the actual execution of any electronic surveillance court orders and will not have any direct operational or investigative role in investigations. It will provide the technical knowledge and referrals in response to law enforcement’s requests for technical assistance.

Here’s the full text of the FBI’s statement in a Google+ post.

One person familiar with the FBI’s procedures told CNET that the DCAC is in the process of being launched but is not yet operational. A public Justice Department document, however, refers to the DCAC as "recently established."

"They’re doing the best they can to avoid being transparent"

The FBI has disclosed little information about the DCAC, and what has been previously made public about the center was primarily through budget requests sent to congressional committees. The DCAC doesn’t even have a Web page.

"The big question for me is why there isn’t more transparency about what’s going on?" asks Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco. "We should know more about the program and what the FBI is doing. Which carriers they’re working with — which carriers they’re having problems with. They’re doing the best they can to avoid being transparent."

The DCAC concept dates back at least four years. FBI director Robert Mueller was briefed on it in early 2008, internal FBI documents show. In January 2008, Charles Smith, a supervisory special agent and section chief in the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, sent e-mail to other division officials asking for proposals for the DCAC’s budget.

When it comes to developing new surveillance technologies, Quantico is the U.S. government’s equivalent of a Silicon Valley incubator. In addition to housing the FBI’s Operational Technological Division, which boasts of developing the "latest and greatest investigative technologies to catch terrorists and criminals" and took the lead in creating the DCAC, it’s also home to the FBI’s Engineering Research Facility, the DEA’s Office of Investigative Technology, and the U.S. Marshals’ Technical Operations Group. In 2008, reported that the FBI has "direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier’s systems" through a high-speed DS-3 link to Quantico.

The Senate appropriations committee said in a report last month that, for electronic surveillance capabilities, it authorizes "$54,178,000, which is equal to both the request and the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. These funds will support the Domestic Communications Assistance Center, providing for increased coordination regarding lawful electronic surveillance amongst the law enforcement community and with the communications industry." (It’s unclear whether all of those funds will go to the DCAC.)

In trying to convince Congress to spend taxpayers’ dollars on the DCAC, the FBI has received help from local law enforcement agencies that like the idea of electronic surveillance aid. A Justice Department funding request for the 2013 fiscal year predicts DCAC will "facilitate the sharing of solutions and know-how among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies" and will be welcomed by telecommunications companies who "prefer to standardize and centralize electronic surveillance."

A 2010 resolution from the International Association of Chiefs of Police — a reliable FBI ally on these topics — requests that "Congress and the White House support the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center Business Plan."

The FBI has also had help from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which last year requested $1.5 million to fund eight additional DCAC positions. DEA administrator Michele Leonhart has said (PDF) the funds will go to "develop these new electronic surveillance capabilities." The DEA did not respond to CNET’s request for comment.

An intriguing hint of where the DCAC might collaborate with the National Security Agency appeared in author James Bamford’s article in the April issue of Wired magazine. Bamford said, citing an unidentified senior NSA official, that the agency has "made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems" — an obstacle that law enforcement has encountered in investigations.

Eventually, the FBI may be forced to lift the cloak of secrecy that has surrounded the DCAC’s creation. On May 2, a House of Representatives committee directed the bureau to disclose "participation by other agencies and the accomplishments of the center to date" three months after the legislation is enacted.

Public Intelligence

Last month, Cryptome quietly posted a 2007 draft of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s vision statement for the Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC). The document, which has received no media attention, offers the most in depth view yet of the DCAC and its surveillance functions. In May, CNET correspondent Declan McCullagh disclosed the existence of the DCAC, which he described as having a mandate “covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order.” The vision statement obtained by Cryptome describes the general functions and organization of the DCAC as well as the FBI’s national electronic surveillance (ELSUR) strategy.

Under the plan, DCAC will coordinate, integrate, and distribute ELSUR solutions among domestic law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and intelligence community agencies (ICAs), acting as a centralized hub for obtaining and processing intercepted communications. According to the FBI, ELSUR capabilities are not “investigation-specific” and are “used in nearly every significant intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, criminal, and cyber crime investigation.” The increasing “complexity and variety” of communications technologies in recent years has created difficulties for the FBI in maintaining their ELSUR capabilities. Though the FBI “spear-headed” the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which substantially enhanced law enforcement’s ability to conduct ELSUR, changes to the current system are needed to maintain operational effectiveness. The FBI’s vision statement argues that “with the advent of digitally-based, switch-centric, advanced telecommunication services and features, the efficacy of agency-based ‘wiretapping’ diminished by the day” and as “computer-based ‘electronic communications’ continue to grow and surpass voice communications in volume, especially with the emergence and use of broadband technology, they far exceed voice communications in ELSUR complexity.”

The FBI’s Domestic Electronic Surveillance Strategy

To combat these “emerging challenges” in maintaining ELSUR capabilities, the FBI created a five-pronged national strategy aimed at improving coordination between law enforcement and private industry as well as updating legal provisions to make sharing easier. The DCAC is a central component of the FBI’s larger national ELSUR strategy, weaving through each of its five focus areas summarized below:

1. Updating Federal ELSUR assistance mandates (e.g., updating CALEA):The FBI wants to revise CALEA to clarify that VoIP and broadband access providers are covered by CALEA, including the “lawful authority of LEAs/ ICAs to fully receive and appropriately process a subject’s communications traffic, including IP/packet-based communications.”

2. Revising and enhancing certain Federal statutory and administrative ELSUR-related authorities: “Sensitive law enforcement and proprietary service provider ELSUR techniques and information” should be protected and restrictions on the FBI’s ability to “loan ELSUR equipment and provide technical assistance, training, etc. to state and local LEAs” should be removed.

3. Enhancing LEA and ICA ELSUR coordination: The DCAC will serve as a centralized location for coordinating research and development as well as operating networks “for the delivery of ELSUR intercept traffic, information-sharing, and technical support.”

4. Enhancing ELSUR cooperation between Industry and LEAs/ICAs: The expanding complexity of communications technologies requires that “greater and broader industry liaison be pursued, especially with IP-based communications service providers and manufacturers and emerging trusted third-party ELSUR solution providers.” The DCAC will play a significant role in this coordinating capacity as without “such centralized FBI-DCAC industry liaison efforts, fragmented and/or parochial approaches that otherwise might be pursued by individual Federal, state, and local agencies could unwittingly impair industry relations and their technical assistance to the detriment of the strategic goals of ICAs and LEAs.”

5. Increasing LEA and ICA ELSUR technical and financial resources: The DCAC will serve as a distribution point for financial assistance in maintaining ELSUR capabilities, providing “centralized and coordinated utilization of ELSUR funds.”

These areas of focus are designed to increase the FBI’s technical capabilities for ELSUR and provide a centralized system for obtaining and delivering intercepted communications, something the “communications industry itself will welcome.” The communications industry, according to the FBI’s vision, “much prefers government agencies to act in unity” and “identify a single set of ELSUR requirements.”

The central hub of this ELSUR strategy is the DCAC’s Coordinating Office which will lead a network of “Regional Support Centers” designed to “facilitate the rapid distribution of DCAC ELSUR capabilities and solutions.” These regional centers will “operate as the conduit through which strategic ELSUR services” can be distributed to ICAs and LEAs. To assist in this process, “the DCAC will establish and maintain a cost-effective transport mechanism to deliver ELSUR traffic from the intercept access points (IAPs) of communications providers (telephone companies, ISPs, broadband access and VoIP providers, etc.)” to one of the DCAC’s regional centers. The regional center will then process the traffic and provide it to “end-user agencies that will be responsible for administering, monitoring, minimizing, recording, and storing the ELSUR product.” The DCAC “will not have any direct operational role or responsibility in the actual criminal or intelligence investigations being conducted by any participating agencies using DCAC ELSUR technical support.”

The DCAC’s Coordinating Office will lead and oversee larger aspects of industry collaboration and research and development including “outreach and liaison with entities in the communications industry and standards bodies.” Centralized funding in the form of “establishing a special-purpose multi-year account” for the DCAC’s Coordinating Office will also allow the FBI to “continue to carry out and significantly expand upon its vitally important ELSUR R&D and other ELSUR-related efforts” that are designed to benefit the entire domestic governmental community.

The Menace of Satellite Surveillance

by John Flemming

June 19, 2003

Unknown to most of the world, satellites can perform astonishing and often menacing feats. This should come as no surprise when one reflects on the massive effort poured into satellite technology since the Soviet satellite Sputnik, launched in 1957, caused panic in the U.S. A spy satellite can monitor a person’s every movement, even when the "target" is indoors or deep in the interior of a building or traveling rapidly down the highway in a car, in any kind of weather (cloudy, rainy, stormy). There is no place to hide on the face of the earth.

It takes just three satellites to blanket the world with detection capacity. Besides tracking a person’s every action and relaying the data to a computer screen on earth, amazing powers of satellites include reading a person’s mind, monitoring conversations, manipulating electronic instruments and physically assaulting someone with a laser beam. Remote reading of someone’s mind through satellite technology is quite bizarre, yet it is being done; it is a reality at present, not a chimera from a futuristic dystopia! To those who might disbelieve my description of satellite surveillance, I’d simply cite a tried-and-true Roman proverb: Time reveals all things (tempus omnia revelat)…

As extraordinary as clandestine satellite powers are, nevertheless prosaic satellite technology is much evident in daily life. Satellite businesses reportedly earned $26 billion in 1998. We can watch transcontinental television broadcasts "via satellite," make long- distance phone calls relayed by satellite, be informed of cloud cover and weather conditions through satellite images shown on television, and find our geographical bearings with the aid of satellites in the GPS (Global Positioning System). But behind the facade of useful satellite technology is a Pandora’s box of surreptitious technology. Spy satellites–as opposed to satellites for broadcasting and exploration of space–have little or no civilian use–except, perhaps, to subject one’s enemy or favorite malefactor to surveillance. With reference to detecting things from space, Ford Rowan, author of Techno Spies, wrote "some U.S. military satellites are equipped with infra-red sensors that can pick up the heat generated on earth by trucks, airplanes, missiles, and cars, so that even on cloudy days the sensors can penetrate beneath the clouds and reproduce the patterns of heat emission on a TV-type screen. During the Vietnam War sky high infra-red sensors were tested which detect individual enemy soldiers walking around on the ground." Using this reference, we can establish 1970 as the approximate date of the beginning of satellite surveillance–and the end of the possibility of privacy for several people.

The government agency most heavily involved in satellite surveillance technology is the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an arm of the Pentagon. NASA is concerned with civilian satellites, but there is no hard and fast line between civilian and military satellites. NASA launches all satellites, from either Cape Kennedy in Florida or Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, whether they are military- operated, CIA-operated, corporate-operated or NASA’s own. Blasting satellites into orbit is a major expense. It is also difficult to make a quick distinction between government and private satellites; research by NASA is often applicable to all types of satellites. Neither the ARPA nor NASA makes satellites; instead, they underwrite the technology while various corporations produce the hardware.

Corporations involved in the satellite business include Lockheed, General Dynamics, RCA, General Electric, Westinghouse, Comsat, Boeing, Hughes Aircraft, Rockwell International, Grumman Corp., CAE Electronics, Trimble Navigation and TRW.

The World Satellite Directory, 14th edition (1992), lists about a thousand companies concerned with satellites in one way or another. Many are merely in the broadcasting business, but there are also product headings like "remote sensing imagery," which includes Earth Observation Satellite Co. of Lanham, Maryland, Downl Inc. of Denver, and Spot Image Corp. of Reston, Virginia. There are five product categories referring to transponders. Other product categories include earth stations (14 types), "military products and systems," "microwave equipment," "video processors," "spectrum analyzers." The category "remote sensors" lists eight companies, including ITM Systems Inc., in Grants Pass, Oregon, Yool Engineering of Phoenix, and Satellite Technology Management of Costa Mesa, California. Sixty-five satellite associations are listed from all around the world, such as Aerospace Industries Association, American Astronautical Society, Amsat and several others in the U.S.

Spy satellites were already functioning and violating people’s right to privacy when President Reagan proposed his "Strategic Defense Initiative," or Star Wars, in the early 80s, long after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 had demonstrated the military usefulness of satellites. Star Wars was supposed to shield the U.S. from nuclear missiles, but shooting down missiles with satellite lasers proved infeasible, and many scientists and politicians criticized the massive program. Nevertheless, Star Wars gave an enormous boost to surveillance technology and to what may be called "black bag" technology, such as mind reading and lasers that can assault someone, even someone indoors. Aviation Week & Space Technology mentioned in 1984 that "facets of the project [in the Star Wars program] that are being hurried along include the awarding of contracts to study…a surveillance satellite network." It was bound to be abused, yet no group is fighting to cut back or subject to democratic control this terrifying new technology. As one diplomat to the U.N. remarked, "`Star Wars’ was not a means of creating heaven on earth, but it could result in hell on earth."

The typical American actually may have little to fear, since the chances of being subjected to satellite surveillance are rather remote. Why someone would want to subject someone else to satellite surveillance might seem unclear at first, but to answer the question you must realize that only the elite have access to such satellite resources. Only the rich and powerful could even begin to contemplate putting someone under satellite surveillance, whereas a middle- or working-class person would not even know where to begin. Although access to surveillance capability is thus largely a function of the willfulness of the powerful, nevertheless we should not conclude that only the powerless are subjected to it. Perhaps those under satellite surveillance are mainly the powerless, but wealthy and famous people make more interesting targets, as it were, so despite their power to resist an outrageous violation of their privacy, a few of them may be victims of satellite surveillance. Princess Diana may have been under satellite reconnaissance. No claim of being subject to satellite surveillance can be dismissed a priori.

It is difficult to estimate just how many Americans are being watched by satellites, but if there are 200 working surveillance satellites (a common number in the literature), and if each satellite can monitor 20 human targets, then as many as 4000 Americans may be under satellite surveillance. However, the capability of a satellite for multiple-target monitoring is even harder to estimate than the number of satellites; it may be connected to the number of transponders on each satellite, the transponder being a key device for both receiving and transmitting information. A society in the grips of the National Security State is necessarily kept in the dark about such things. Obviously, though, if one satellite can monitor simultaneously 40 or 80 human targets, then the number of possible victims of satellite surveillance would be doubled or quadrupled.

A sampling of the literature provides insight into this fiendish space-age technology. One satellite firm reports that "one of the original concepts for the Brilliant Eyes surveillance satellite system involved a long-wavelength infrared detector focal plane that requires periodic operation near 10 Kelvin." A surveillance satellite exploits the fact that the human body emits infra-red radiation, or radiant heat; according to William E. Burrows, author of Deep Black, "the infrared imagery would pass through the scanner and register on the [charged-couple device] array to form a moving infrared picture, which would then be amplified, digitalized, encrypted and transmitted up to one of the [satellite data system] spacecraft…for downlink [to earth]." But opinion differs as to whether infrared radiation can be detected in cloudy conditions.

According to one investigator, there is a way around this potential obstacle: "Unlike sensors that passively observe visible-light and infra-red radiation, which are blocked by cloud cover and largely unavailable at night, radar sensors actively emit microwave pulses that can penetrate clouds and work at any hour." This same person reported in 1988 that "the practical limit on achievable resolution for a satellite-based sensor is a matter of some dispute, but is probably roughly ten to thirty centimeters. After that point, atmospheric irregularities become a problem." But even at the time she wrote that, satellite resolution, down to each subpixel, on the contrary, was much more precise, a matter of millimeters–a fact which is more comprehensible when we consider the enormous sophistication of satellites, as reflected in such tools as multi- spectral scanners, interferometers, visible infrared spin scan radiometers, cryocoolers and hydride sorption beds. Probably the most sinister aspect of satellite surveillance, certainly its most stunning, is mind-reading.

As early as 1981, G. Harry Stine (in his book Confrontation in Space), could write that Computers have "read" human minds by means of deciphering the outputs of electroencephalographs (EEGs). Early work in this area was reported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1978. EEG’s are now known to be crude sensors of neural activity in the human brain, depending as they do upon induced electrical currents in the skin. Magnetoencephalographs (MEGs) have since been developed using highly sensitive electromagnetic sensors that can directly map brain neural activity even through even through the bones of the skull. The responses of the visual areas of the brain have now been mapped by Kaufman and others at Vanderbilt University. Work may already be under way in mapping the neural activity of other portions of the human brain using the new MEG techniques. It does not require a great deal of prognostication to forecast that the neural electromagnetic activity of the human brain will be totally mapped within a decade or so and that crystalline computers can be programmed to decipher the electromagnetic neural signals.

In 1992, Newsweek reported that "with powerful new devices that peer through the skull and see the brain at work, neuroscientists seek the wellsprings of thoughts and emotions, the genesis of intelligence and language. They hope, in short, to read your mind." In 1994, a scientist noted that "current imaging techniques can depict physiological events in the brain which accompany sensory perception and motor activity, as well as cognition and speech." In order to give a satellite mind-reading capability, it only remains to put some type of EEG-like-device on a satellite and link it with a computer that has a data bank of brain-mapping research. I believe that surveillance satellites began reading minds–or rather, began allowing the minds of targets to be read–sometime in the early 1990s. Some satellites in fact can read a person’s mind from space.

Also part of satellite technology is the notorious, patented "Neurophone," the ability of which to manipulate behavior defies description. In Brave New World, Huxley anticipated the Neurophone. In that novel, people hold onto a metal knob to get "feely effects" in a simulated orgy where "the facial errogenous zones of the six thousand spectators in the Alhambra tingled with almost intolerable galvanic pleasure." Though not yet applied to sex, the Neurophone–or more precisely, a Neurophone-like-instrument–has been adapted for use by satellites and can alter behavior in the manner of subliminal audio "broadcasting," but works on a different principle.

After converting sound into electrical impulses, the Neurophone transmits radio waves into the skin, where they proceed to the brain, bypassing the ears and the usual cranial auditory nerve and causing the brain to recognize a neurological pattern as though it were an audible communication, though often on a subconscious level. A person stimulated with this device "hears" by a very different route. The Neurophone can cause the deaf to "hear" again. Ominously, when its inventor applied for a second patent on an improved Neurophone, the National Security Agency tried unsuccessfully to appropriate the device.

A surveillance satellite, in addition, can detect human speech. Burrows observed that satellites can "even eavesdrop on conversations taking place deep within the walls of the Kremlin." Walls, ceilings, and floors are no barrier to the monitoring of conversation from space. Even if you were in a highrise building with ten stories above you and ten stories below, a satellite’s audio surveillance of your speech would still be unhampered. Inside or outside, in any weather, anyplace on earth, at any time of day, a satellite "parked" in space in a geosynchronous orbit (whereby the satellite, because it moves in tandem with the rotation of the earth, seems to stand still) can detect the speech of a human target. Apparently, as with reconnaissance in general, only by taking cover deep within the bowels of a lead-shielding fortified building could you escape audio monitoring by a satellite.

There are various other satellite powers, such as manipulating electronic instruments and appliances like alarms, electronic watches and clocks, a television, radio, smoke detector and the electrical system of an automobile. For example, the digital alarm on a watch, tiny though it is, can be set off by a satellite from hundreds of miles up in space. And the light bulb of a lamp can be burned out with the burst of a laser from a satellite. In addition, street lights and porch lights can be turned on and off at will by someone at the controls of a satellite, the means being an electromagnetic beam which reverses the light’s polarity. Or a lamp can be made to burn out in a burst of blue light when the switch is flicked. As with other satellite powers, it makes no difference if the light is under a roof or a ton of concrete–it can still be manipulated by a satellite laser. Types of satellite lasers include the free-electron laser, the x-ray laser, the neutral-particle-beam laser, the chemical- oxygen-iodine laser and the mid-infra-red advanced chemical laser.

Along with mind-reading, one of the most bizarre uses of a satellite is to physically assault someone. An electronic satellite beam–using far less energy than needed to blast nuclear missiles in flight– can "slap" or bludgeon someone on earth. A satellite beam can also be locked onto a human target, with the victim being unable to evade the menace by running around or driving around, and can cause harm through application of pressure on, for example, one’s head. How severe a beating can be administered from space is a matter of conjecture, but if the ability to actually murder someone this way has not yet been worked out, there can be no doubt that it will soon become a reality. There is no mention in satellite literature of a murder having been committed through the agency of a satellite, but the very possibility should make the world take note.

There is yet another macabre power possessed by some satellites: manipulating a person’s mind with an audio subliminal "message" (a sound too low for the ear to consciously detect but which affects the unconscious). In trying thereby to get a person to do what you want him to do, it does not matter if the target is asleep or awake. A message could be used to compel a person to say something you would like him to say, in a manner so spontaneous that noone would be able to realize the words were contrived by someone else; there is no limit to the range of ideas an unsuspecting person can be made to voice. The human target might be compelled to use an obscenity, or persons around the target might be compelled to say things that insult the target. A sleeping person, on the other hand, is more vulnerable and can be made to do something, rather than merely say something. An action compelled by an audio subliminal message could be to roll off the bed and fall onto the floor, or to get up and walk around in a trance. However, the sleeping person can only be made to engage in such an action for only a minute or so, it seems, since he usually wakes up by then and the "spell" wears.

It should be noted here that although the "hypnotism" of a psychoanalyst is bogus, unconscious or subconscious manipulation of behavior is genuine. But the brevity of a subliminal spell effected by a satellite might be overcome by more research. "The psychiatric community," reported Newsweek in 1994, "generally agrees that subliminal perception exists; a smaller fringe group believes it can be used to change the psyche." A Russian doctor, Igor Smirnov, whom the magazine labeled a "subliminal Dr. Strangelove," is one scientist studying the possibilities: "Using electroencephalographs, he measures brain waves, then uses computers to create a map of the subconscious and various human impulses, such as anger or the sex drive. Then. through taped subliminal messages, he claims to physically alter that landscape with the power of suggestion." Combining this research with satellite technology–which has already been done in part–could give its masters the possibility for the perfect crime, since satellites operate with perfect discretion, perfect concealment. All these satellite powers can be abused with impunity. A satellite makes a "clean getaway," as it were. Even if a given victim became aware of how a crime was effected, noone would believe him, and he would be powerless to defend himself or fight back.

And this indeed is the overriding evil of satellite technology. It is not just that the technology is unrestrained by public agencies; it is not just that it is entirely undemocratic. The menace of surveillance satellites is irresistible; it overwhelms its powerless victims. As writer Sandra Hochman foresaw near the beginning of the satellite age, though seriously underestimating the sophistication of the technology involved: Omniscient and discrete, satellites peer down at us from their lofty orbit and keep watch every moment of our lives… From more than five-hundred miles above earth, a satellite can sight a tennis ball, photograph it, and send back to earth an image as clear as if it had been taken on the court at ground zero. Satellites photograph and record many things…and beam this information, this data, back to quiet places where it is used in ways we don’t know. Privacy has died." This terror is in the here and now."

It is not located in the mind of an eccentric scientist or futurologist. Satellite surveillance is currently being abused. Thousands of Americans are under satellite surveillance and have been stripped of their privacy. And presently they would have little or no recourse in their struggle against the iniquity, since technology advances well ahead of social institutions.

The powers of satellites, as here described, especially lend themselves to harassment of someone. The victim could be a business or political rival, an ex-spouse, a political dissident, a disliked competitor, or anyone who for whatever reason provokes hatred or contempt. Once the target is a "signature," he can almost never escape a satellite’s probing eyes. (As an article in Science explained, "tiny computers…check the incoming signals with computerized images, or `signatures,’ of what the target should like.") As long as his tormentor or tormentors–those with the resources to hire a satellite–desire, the victim will be subject to continuous scrutiny. His movements will be known, his conversations heard, his thoughts picked clean, and his whole life subjected to bogus moralizing, should his tormentor diabolically use the information gained. A sadist could harass his target with sound bites, or audio messages, directly broadcast into his room; with physical assault with a laser; with subliminal audio messages that disturb his sleep or manipulate persons around him into saying something that emotionally distresses him; with lasers that turn off street lights as he approaches them; with tampering with lamps so that they burn out when he hits the switch; and in general with the knowledge gained acquired through the omniscient eyes and ears of satellites. In short, a person with access to satellite technology could make his victim’s life a living nightmare, a living hell.

How you could arrange to have someone subjected to satellite surveillance is secretive; it might even be a conspiracy. However, there seem to be two basic possibilities: surveillance by a government satellite or surveillance by a commercial satellite. According to an article in Time magazine from 1997, "commercial satellites are coming online that are eagle-eyed enough to spot you– and maybe a companion–in a hot tub." The Journal of Defense & Diplomacy stated in 1985 that "the cost of remote sensors is within the reach of [any country] with an interest, and high-performance remote sensors (or the sensor products) are readily available. Advances in fourth-generation (and soon fifth-generation) computer capabilities. especially in terms of VHSIC (very-high-speed integrated circuits) and parallel processing, hold the key to rapid exploitation of space-derived data. Wideband, low-power data relay satellites are, at the same time, providing support for communication needs and for relay of remote sensor data, thus providing world-wide sensor coverage." In addition, The New York Times reported in 1997 that "commercial spy satellites are about to let anyone with a credit card peer down from the heavens into the compounds of dictators or the back yards of neighbors with high fences." "To date [the newspaper further noted] the Commerce Department has issued licenses to nine American companies, some with foreign partners, for 11 different classes of satellites, which have a range of reconnaissance powers." But this last article discussed photographic reconnaissance, in which satellites took pictures of various sites on earth and ejected a capsule containing film to be recovered and processed, whereas the state of the art in satellite technology is imaging, detection of targets on earth in real time. Currently, industry is hard at work miniaturizing surveillance satellites in order to save money and be in a position to fill the heavens with more satellites.

Yet no source of information on satellites indicate whether the abuse of satellite surveillance is mediated by the government or corporations or both. More telling is the following disclosure by the author of Satellite Surveillance (1991): "Release of information about spy satellites would reveal that they have been used against U.S. citizens. While most of the public supports their use against the enemies of the U.S., most voters would probably change their attitudes towards reconnaissance satellites if they knew how extensive the spying has been. It’s better…that this explosive issue never surfaces." Few people are aware of the destruction of the rights of some Americans through satellite surveillance, and fewer still have any inclination to oppose it, but unless we do, 1984 looms ever closer. "With the development of television and the technical device to receive and transmit on the same instrument, private life came to an end."


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The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters

Tom Cruise as John Anderton in the futuristic film Minority Report, where the advertisements use recognition technology to call out to the shoppers. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.

Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Fast forward: after the Occupy crackdowns, I noted that odd-looking CCTVs had started to appear, attached to lampposts, in public venues in Manhattan where the small but unbowed remnants of Occupy congregated: there was one in Union Square, right in front of their encampment. I reported here on my experience of witnessing a white van marked "Indiana Energy" that was lifting workers up to the lampposts all around Union Square, and installing a type of camera. When I asked the workers what was happening – and why an Indiana company was dealing with New York City civic infrastructure, which would certainly raise questions – I was told: "I’m a contractor. Talk to ConEd."

I then noticed, some months later, that these bizarre camera/lights had been installed not only all around Union Square but also around Washington Square Park. I posted a photo I took of them, and asked: "What is this?" Commentators who had lived in China said that they were the same camera/streetlight combinations that are mounted around public places in China. These are enabled for facial recognition technology, which allows police to watch video that is tagged to individuals, in real time. When too many people congregate, they can be dispersed and intimidated simply by the risk of being identified – before dissent can coalesce. (Another of my Facebook commentators said that such lamppost cameras had been installed in Michigan, and that they barked "Obey", at pedestrians. This, too, sounded highly implausible – until this week in Richmond, British Columbia, near the Vancouver airport, when I was startled as the lamppost in the intersection started talking to me – in this case, instructing me on how to cross (as though I were blind or partially sighted).

Finally, last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases.

And we know from industry newsletters that the US military, law enforcement, and the department of homeland security are betting heavily on facial recognition technology. As PC World notes, Facebook itself is a market leader in the technology – but military and security agencies are close behind.

According to Homeland Security Newswire, billions of dollars are being invested in the development and manufacture of various biometric technologies capable of detecting and identifying anyone, anywhere in the world – via iris-scanning systems, already in use; foot-scanning technology (really); voice pattern ID software, and so on.

What is very obvious is that this technology will not be applied merely to people under arrest, or to people under surveillance in accordance with the fourth amendment (suspects in possible terrorist plots or other potential crimes, after law enforcement agents have already obtained a warrant from a magistrate). No, the "targets" here are me and you: everyone, all of the time. In the name of "national security", the capacity is being built to identify, track and document any citizen constantly and continuously.

The revealing boosterism of a trade magazine like Homeland Security Newswire envisions endless profits for the surveillance industry, in a society where your TV is spying on you, a billboard you drive by recognizes you, Minority Report style, and the FBI knows where to find your tattoo – before you have committed any crime: "FBI on Track to Book Faces, Scars, Tattoos", it notes; "Billboards, TVs Detect your Faces; Advertisers Salivate", it gloats; "Biometric Companies See Government as the Driver of Future Market Growth", it announces. Indeed, the article admits without a blush that all the growth is expected to be in government consumption, with "no real expectation" of private-sector growth at all. So much for smaller government!

To acclimate their populations to this brave new world of invasive surveillance technologies, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, both recently introduced "snoop" bills. Meanwhile, in the US – "the land of the free" – the onward march of the surveillers continues apace, without check or consultation.

Surveillance of the Church – Die STASI-Überwachung der Kirche

Surveillance of the Church – Die STASI-berwachung der Kirche.pdf

Trapwire: It’s Not the Surveillance, It’s the Sleaze

Stratfor executive Fred Burton. Photo: AP

Ever since WikiLeaks began releasing a series of documents about the surveillance system Trapwire, there’s been a panicked outcry over this supposedly all-seeing, revolutionary spy network. In fact, there are any number of companies that say they comb through video feeds or suspicious activity reports in largely the same way that Trapwire claims to do. What’s truly extraordinary about Trapwire was how it was marketed by the private intelligence firm Stratfor, whose internal e-mails WikiLeaks exposed.

The documents show Stratfor being less than straight with its clients, using temporary jobs in government to set up Trapwire contracts, and calling it all a “wet dream.” In their e-mails, executives at Stratfor may have been hyping up a surveillance technology. But what they really did was provide reconnaissance on the $25 billion world of intelligence-for-hire that’s ordinarily hidden from public view. In this case, the sunlight isn’t particularly flattering.

‘Once Fred is the #2 dude in the Texas Department of Public Safety, he is going get $1,500,000 to install TrapWire.’

On Nov. 4, 2009, Fred Burton, the vice president of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, co-wrote an essay on emerging terrorist threats and the means to stop them. Particularly impressive, Burton wrote, was a new software tool called Trapwire, which works “with camera systems to help detect patterns of preoperational surveillance … to help cut through the fog of noise and activity and draw attention to potential threats.”

The essay was typical of the trend analyses, news summaries, and hot tips that Strator provides every day to its customers in government and in industry. For these services, Burton’s clients pay his firm handsomely; a single Stratfor enterprise license costs more than $20,000 (.pdf). These customers rely on Burton and his team to provide the latest word from flashpoints worldwide — and to explain what this torrent of information all means. They count on Stratfor to help make sense of the world.

What his customers reading that November 2009 essay may not have realized was that Burton was also marketing them a product. On Aug. 17 of that year, Stratfor and Trapwire signed a contract (.pdf) giving Burton’s company an 8 percent referral fee for any business they send Trapwire’s way. The essay was partially a sales pitch — a fact that Burton neglected to mention.

After the November 2009 essay, Burton told a fellow Stratfor executive: “I plugged TrapWire in our weekly [report] that has gone out to thousands…. Hopefully, it would generate some business.”

That’s a breach of trust and possibly worse, says Matthew Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror. “It’s a conflict of interest.”

“If I was one of Stratfor’s business clientele or government clientele, I’d be a little alarmed or a little confused or both,” adds Aid, a former executive at the private intelligence firm Kroll Associates. ”If you don’t tell the people who are paying for your products caveat emptor [buyer beware] … that’s constructive fraud, to use a legal term.”

Trapwire did not immediately respond to e-mail and telephone inquiries from Danger Room. Stratfor declined to comment.

The pattern repeated itself on Sept. 25, 2010. Burton launched his public blog with a post lauding Trapwire, which was, in his words, “leading the way” in video analytics. “A suspect conducting surveillance of an HVT [high-value target] in one city can … be spotted by TrapWire conducting similar activity in another location, connecting the infamous dots,” he added. “I can also see the tool being very effective in identifying general street crime as well.” Again, clients were not told of Stratfor’s relationship with Trapwire.

And Stratfor did more than promote Trapwire in Burton’s writing, as independent journalist Ben Doernberg discovered as he sifted through the WikLeaked emails. In the late summer of 2009, Fred Burton was appointed as the Texas Department of Public Safety’s assistant director for intelligence. To Stratfor president Don Kuykendall, the convergence of the Trapwire contract and the Burton appointment were a potential gold mine.

“Fred has said that, once he is #2 dude in the Texas DPS (September oneth) that he is going use the appropriated $1,500,000 to install TrapWires [sic] product on the Texas border,” Kuykendall wrote on August 22, 2009. “George, 8% X $1,500,000 = $120,000 for the good guys. Now, this all could be a wet dream, but stranger things have happened.”

Burton only stayed with the Texas DPS a few months. But he and the company continued to use his connections with the department to promote the surveillance system. On Dec. 18, 2009, Strafor executive Patrick Boykin told Burton that the Texas Department of Public Safety would be signing up as a Trapwire customer. In an e-mail entitled “Trapwire and Perry” — an apparent reference to Texas governor Rick Perry — Boykin reported, “I talked with a good friend of mine, Patrick Rose, Texas rep [state representative] for Dripping Springs and he said that come March its [sic] full on again.”

When the Trapwire contract didn’t immediately follow, Burton began tapping his government contacts. On March 30, 2010, for example, Burton reached out to Blake Sawyer of the Texas DPS to see if Trapwire was “on the schedule” to be purchased by the agency. Burton sent a similar note on April 2, a follow-up on May 22, and a fourth note on July 6.

On July 16, Burton reported to his colleagues that “TrapWire for the Great State of Texas is a go. Cash should begin to flow to Abraxas within 10 days. As many of you old-timers know, we arranged to get a cut. I think the first dump is $250,000 to Abraxas, with an annual renewal of $150,000 per year for the TrapWire license. The point man for the project worked directly for me at DPS.”

Even without the Texas contract, Trapwire already had a rather impressive client roster. ”We have the Pentagon, Big Army and the USMC [United States Marine Corps] on the system now. Navy’s next on the list,” Burton crowed in July of 2011. Police departments in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City were also testing out the system, according to the WikiLeaked e-mails. (NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne flatly denied this to The New York Times, saying “We don’t use TrapWire.”)

When these documents began surfacing last week, it was greeted by some of the unveiling of a vast, Orwellian network that had previously lurked just beyond public view. “A detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology,” announced Russia Today, the Kremlin-funded news service. proclaimed that “Big Brother Now Monitors Your Every Move.”

But video analytics firms have been promoting their relative omniscience for more than a decade — often with disappointing results. In 2008, for example, the NYPD announced a new surveillance camera network for lower Manhattan, and publicly promised that it would catch terrorists before they struck. In private, police officials admitted that the cameras were more for show than for terror prevention. “The cameras become a great subject for conversation because they’ll all be in public areas,” one NYPD official told me at the time. “Quite frankly, we want people to see them.”

These video analytics systems are good at analyzing crime scenes — after the fact. They can spot a truck entering through an exit or a bag left on a subway platform. With precisely the right lighting conditions, they can occasionally identify a face. Beyond that — well, be careful about taking Stratfor’s promises and promotion as the literal truth, cautions Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire: Inside the Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. ”You’ve got to be so skeptical of what these contractors say — even to each other,” he says.

Especially because, to Strafor, every new Trapwire installation was an opportunity to upsell more products.

“The agencies with TW are potentially the single biggest captive audience we have that could purchase something from us especially in the govt arena. Do you know how much a Lockheed Martin would pay to have their logo/feed into the USSS CP? MI5? RCMP? LAPD CT? NYPD CT?” Burton asked, using the acronyms for the U.S. Secret Service, the British security service MI5, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the counterterrorism divisions of the Los Angeles and New York Police Departments. ”Its [sic] unbelievable access. Either we handle this one right, or we’ll fall flat on our faces.”

A May 31, 2009 e-mail from Kuykendall illustrates other ways that the company looked to turn its connections into cash. The message describes a set of potential contracts in Mexico for the Dutch chemical concern LyondellBasell.

One – a $28,000 “easy” one and another … to determine the effort and $$$$$$$$$ from me after getting the info. Also out there with LyondellBasell is a biggie we priced at $300,000 which is centered around Fred [Burton]‘s cashing in some chits in Mexico. This has nothing to do with time spent – it’s all about introductions to the right people which is VALUE to LyondellBasell. This is “easy money” and therefore has low probability of getting done. LyondellBasell is loosing [sic] between $1,500,000 and $5,000,000 / year on the local Mexicans skimming production from one of their plants in Mexico. I’m not counting on this. The company is taking our proposal to their Board next week.

Stratfor’s now-famous business partner, Trapwire Inc., began as a division of Abraxas Corporation, one of the more prominent intelligence contractors to crop up after the 9/11 attacks. Begun by Richard “Hollis” Helms, the former head of the CIA’s European division, the company grew so quickly that by 2005, Helms boasted it was “the largest aggregate of analytical counter-terrorism capabilities outside of the U.S. government.” The CIA began entrusting Abraxas with one of its most sensitive tasks: constructing false identities, front companies, and cover stories for agents traveling overseas. At one point, so many CIA employees were jumping ship for Abraxas that the director of the CIA asked it, and a handful of other firms, to stop recruiting in the agency cafeteria.

Today, contractors make up about one-third of the 845,000 people with top-secret security clearances in this country, the Washington Post estimates. It’s safe to assume that at least the same portion of the $80 billion annual intelligence budget goes to these outside firms. The Post counted 1,931 private companies in nearly 10,000 locations across America working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence efforts.

In 2009, most of Abraxas was sold off to the defense contractor Cubic Corporation. Trapwire was not included in the deal; it hadn’t generated the revenue that executives had expected when the product was first launched. On Monday, Cubic took the unusual step of issuing a press release stating that it has “no affiliation” with the surveillance firm. If only everyone in this sordid story was so clear about their corporate connections.


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