War, Media Propaganda and the Police State

Global Research
By James F. Tracy

unclesam

Modern propaganda techniques utilized by the corporate state to enforce anti-democratic and destructive policies routinely entail the manufacture and manipulation of news events to mold public opinion and, as Edward Bernays put it, “engineer consent” toward certain ends.

Such events include not only overt political appeals, but also acts of seemingly spontaneous terrorism and militarism that traumatize the body politic into ultimately accepting false narratives as political and historical realities.

Western states’ development and utilization of propaganda closely parallels the steady decay of political enfranchisement and engagement throughout the twentieth century. Upon securing a second term in 1916, the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson plunged the United States into the most violent and homicidal war in human history. Wilson, a former Princeton University academician groomed for public office by Wall Street bankers, assembled a group of progressive-left journalists and publicists to “sell the war” to the American people.

Prof James F. Tracy on GRTV at the  Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, August  2014

George Creel, Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays and Harold Lasswell all played influential roles in the newly-formed Committee on Public Information, and would go on to be major figures in political thought, public relations, and psychological warfare research.

The sales effort was unparalleled in its scale and sophistication. The CPI was not only able to officially censor news and information, but essentially manufacture these as well. Acting in the role of a multifaceted advertising agency, Creel’s operation “examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material.”

The Committee’s domestic organ was comprised of 19 subdivisions, each devoted to a specific type of propaganda, one of which was a Division of News that distributed over 6,000 press releases and acted as the chief avenue for war-related information. On an average week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns carried data provided through CPI propaganda. The Division of Syndicated Features enlisted the help of popular novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These mainstream American authors presented the official line in a readily accessible form reaching twelve million people every month. Similar endeavors existed for cinema, impromptu soapbox oratory (Four Minute Men), and outright advertising at home and abroad.[1]

With the experiences and observations of these war marketers variously recounted and developed throughout the 1920s (Lippmann, Public Opinion, The Phantom Public, Bernays, Propaganda, Crystallizing Public Opinion, Creel, How We Advertised America, Lasswell, Propaganda and the World War), alongside the influence of their elite colleagues and associates, the young publicists’ optimism concerning popular democracy guided by informed opinion was sobered with the realization that public sentiment was actually far more susceptible to persuasion than had been previously understood. The proposed solutions to guarantee something akin to democracy in an increasingly confusing world lay in “objective” journalism guided by organized intelligence (Lippmann) and propaganda, or what Edward Bernays termed “public relations.”

The argument laid out in Lippmann’s Public Opinion was partly motivated by the US Senate’s rejection of membership in the League of Nations. An adviser to the Wilson administration, a central figure behind intelligence gathering that informed postwar geopolitical dynamics laid out at the Paris Peace Conference, and an early member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Lippmann increasingly viewed popular democracy as plagued by a hopelessly ill-informed public opinion incapable of comprehending the growing complexities of modern society. Only experts could be entrusted with assessing, understanding, and acting on the knowledge accorded through their respective professions and fields.

Along these lines, journalism should mimic the then-fledgling social sciences by pursuing objectivity and deferring to the compartmentalized expertise of established authority figures. News and information could similarly be analyzed, edited, and coordinated to ensure accuracy by journalists exercising similar technocratic methods. Although Lippmann does not exactly specify what body would oversee such a process of “organized intelligence,” his postwar activities and ties provides a clue.

Edward Bernays’ advocacy for public opinion management is much more practical and overt. Whereas Lippmann suggests a regimented democracy via technocratic news and information processing, Bernays stresses a privileged elite’s overt manipulation of how the populace interprets reality itself. Such manipulation necessitates contrived associations, figures and events that appear authentic and spontaneous. “Any person or organization depends ultimately on public approval,” Bernays notes,

“and is therefore faced with the problem of engineering the public’s consent to a program or goal … We reject government authoritarianism or regimentation, but we are willing to be persuaded by the written or spoken word. The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.[2]

Bernays demonstrates an affinity with Lippmann’s notion of elite expediency when pursuing prerogatives and decision-making the public at large cannot be entrusted to interpret. In such instances,

democratic leaders must play their part in leading the public through the engineering of consent to socially constructive goals and values. This role naturally imposes upon them the obligation to use educational processes, as well as other available techniques, to bring about as complete an understanding as possible.[3]

Written in the early 1950s, these observations become especially apt in the latter half of the twentieth century, where the US is typically a major aggressor in foreign (and eventually domestic) affairs. Yet what does Bernays mean by, for example, “educational processes”? An indication may be found by noting his central role in the promotion of tobacco use, municipal water fluoridation, and the overthrow of the democratically-elected Arbenz regime in Guatemala.[4]

With the advent of the national security state in 1947, secret programs emerge where the people are as a matter of course intentionally left unaware of the state’s true rationales and objectives.

Indeed, a wealth of contemporary historical examples suggest how the “engineering of consent” is wholly calculating and anti-democratic, and where the crises requiring such drastic and immediate public relations and military measures are themselves the result of the same leadership’s policies and actions. The US economic provocation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Tonkin Gulf incident precipitating US military occupation of Vietnam are obvious examples of such manufactured events.

Similar techniques are apparent in the major political assassinations of the 1960s, where to this day the public is prompted to partake in the false reality that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole culprit in the murder of President John F. Kennedy, much as Sirhan Sirhan was responsible for the death of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

In fact, in each instance overwhelming evidence points to Central Intelligence Agency involvement in orchestrating the assassinations while training and presenting Oswald and Sirhan as the would-be assassins.

The US government’s assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., probably the most influential African American public persona of the twentieth century, is not even open to debate, having been soundly proven in a court of law.[5] Yet as with the Kennedys, it is a genuine public relations achievement that much of the American population is oblivious to the deeper dynamics of these political slayings that are routinely overlooked or inaccurately recounted in public discourse.

Along these lines, in the historical context of Operation Gladio, the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, the events of September 11, 2001, the London 7/7/2005 bombings, and lesser episodes such as the “shoe” and “underwear” bombers, the engineering of consent has reached staggering new heights where state-orchestrated terrorism is used to mold public opinion toward acceptance of militarized policing operations, the continued erosion of civil liberties, and major sustained aggression against moderate Middle Eastern nations to cartelize scarce resources and politically reconfigure an entire region of the world.

Again, the public is essentially compelled to believe that political extremism of one form or another is the cause of each event, even in light of how the sophistication and scope of the Oklahoma City and 9/11 “attacks” suggest high-level forces at work. If one is to delve beneath the public relations narrative of each event, the recent Newtown massacre and Boston Marathon bombing likewise appear to have broader agendas where the public is again purposely misled.

Conventional journalists and academics are reluctant to publicly address such phenomena for fear of being called “conspiracy theorists.” In the case of academe this has severely curtailed serious and potentially crucial inquiry into such deep events and phenomena in lieu of what are often innocuous intellectual exchanges divorced from actually existing social and political realities that cry out for serious interrogation and critique.

The achievements of modern public relations are further evident in the Warren and 9/11 Commissions themselves, both of which have spun the fantastic myths of Allan Dulles and Peter Zelikow respectively, and that today maintain footholds in public discourse and consciousness.

Indeed, the “conspiracy theory” meme, a propaganda campaign waged by the CIA beginning in the mid-1960s to counter criticism of the Warren Commission report, is perhaps as little-known as Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program where hundreds of journalists and publishers actively devoted their services to spread Agency disinformation. The overall effect of these combined operations has been an immensely successful program continues to shape the contours of American political life and mediated reality.[6]

The present socio-political condition and suppression of popular democracy are triumphs of modern propaganda technique. So are they also manifest in the corporate state’s efforts to engineer public acquiescence toward such things as the colossal frauds of genetically modified organisms masquerading as “food,” toxic polypharmacy disguised as “medicine,” and the police state and “war on terror” seeking to preserve “national security.”

Notes

[1] Aaron Delwiche, “Propaganda: Wartime Propaganda: World War I, The Committee on Public Information,” accessed September 28, 2014 at http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/ww1.cpi.html; George Creel, How We Advertised America, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920. Available at http://archive.org/details/howweadvertameri00creerich

[2] Edward Bernays, Public Relations, Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952, 159-160.

[3] Ibid. 160.

[4] “You can get practically any ideas accepted,” Bernays reflected on the campaign to fluoridate New York City’s water supply. “If doctors are in favor, the public is willing to accept it, because a doctor is an authority to most people, regardless of how much he knows, or doesn’t know … By the law of averages, you can usually find an individual in any field who will be willing to accept new ideas, and the new ideas then infiltrate the others who haven’t accepted it. Christopher Bryson, The Fluoride Deception, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004, 159.

[5] William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, New York: Verso, 2003.

[6] James F. Tracy, “Conspiracy Theory: Foundations of a Weaponized Term,” Global Research, January 22, 2013.

Global Research

FBI Forces Police Departments Across the US to Keep Quiet about Cellphone Spying Gear

RT

stingray

Not only are local police departments across the United States increasingly relying on so-called StingRay devices to conduct surveillance on cell phone users, but cops are being forced to keep quiet about the operations, new documents reveal.

Recent reports have indicated that law enforcement agencies from coast to coast have been turning to IMSI-catcher devices, like the StingRay sold by Florida’s Harris Corporation, to trick ordinary mobile phones into communicating device-specific International Mobile Subscriber Identity information to phony cell towers — a tactic that takes the approximate geolocation data of all the devices within range and records it for investigators. Recently, the Tallahassee Police Department in the state of Florida was found to have used their own “cell site simulator” at least 200 times to collect phone data without once asking for a warrant during a three-year span, and details about the use of StingRays by other law enforcement groups continue to emerge on the regular.

But while the merits of whether or not law enforcement officers should legally be able to collect sensitive cell information by masquerading as telecommunication towers remains ripe for debate — and continues for certain to be an issue of contention among civil liberties advocates — newly released documents raise even further questions about how cops use StingRays and other IMSI-catchers to gather great chunks of data concerning the whereabouts of not just criminal suspects, but seemingly anyone in a given vicinity that happens to have a phone in their hand or pocket.

Relentless pleas for details about use of IMSI-catchers by the Tacoma Police Department in Washington state paid off recently when the investigative news site Muckrock obtained a six-page document after following up for several months on a Freedom of Information Act request placed with the TPD.

According to the document, police in Tacoma were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before they could begin conducting surveillance on cell users with a Harris-sold StingRay.

Although the majority of the December 2012 document is redacted, a paragraph from FBI special agent Laura Laughlin to Police of Chief Donald Ramsdell reveals that Tacoma officers were told they couldn’t discuss their use of IMSI-catchers with anyone.

“We have been advised by Harris Corporation of the Tacoma Police Department’s request for acquisition of certain wireless collection equipment/technology manufactured by Harris Corporation,” the FBI letter reads in part. “Consistent with the conditions on the equipment authorization granted to Harris Corporation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state and local law enforcement agencies must coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to complete this non-disclosure agreement prior to the acquisition and use of the equipment/technology authorized by the FCC authorization.”

Muckrock first obtained documents in August referring to the NDA between the Tacoma PD and the US Department of Justice, but Shawn Musgrave wrote for the site this week that the agreement itself — albeit a highly redacted one — were only provided last Friday. (PDF)

“The Tacoma document provides key insight into the close cooperation among the FBI, Harris Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission to bar StingRay details from public release,” Musgrave wrote.

“The fact that the FBI received notification from Harris that TPD was interested in a StingRay reveals a surprising level of coordination between a private corporation and a federal law enforcement agency,”Musgrave continued. “The agreement also makes clear that completing the NDA is compulsory by order of the FCC.”

Alan Butler, an appellate advocacy counsel for the Washington, DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, was quick to comment to Muckrock about the information revealed by the FOIA request.

“What is so fascinating about the beginning paragraph of the NDA you received,” Butler said, “is that it makes clear that Harris, the FCC and the FBI are working together to facilitate the proliferation of these devices among state and local law enforcement agencies.”

“It’s not clear to me why the FCC would have an interest in requiring law enforcement agencies to sign NDA’s with the FBI, unless they were concerned that the spread of this technology could harm users of American communications networks,” added Butler, whose group has previously filed multiple FOIA requests and legal complaints on its own with the FBI over the use of IMSI-catchers.

And Matt Cagle, an attorney who specialized in surveillance an serves as a police fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California office, tweeted that it’s “alarming” to see that the FCC — a public agency — “is conditioning certification of cell spy tech” without informing the public.

As RT reported recently, the US Marshals Service recently intervened in a dispute between the police department in Sarasota, FL and the ACLU by seizing cell phone records collected by an cop-owned StingRay before the civil libertarians could review them.

This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for Stingray information,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed told Wired back in June. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

At the time, Wired reported that the ACLU believes that “dozens” of US police department have used StingRays under the caveat that they sign an NDA.

RT

When Should We Start Forcibly Resisting Police Tyranny?

The AntiMedia
by Justin King

A 17-year-old kid was tased into a coma and suffered brain damage after Officer Tim Runnels arrested him for a traffic ticket that was associated with the car he had borrowed. It was not his ticket. The window was broken and the minor could not roll the window down completely when ordered. Therefore the officer used force to enforce an unlawful order. The department has stated that Runnels acted within policy and placed the officer on paid vacation. The minor is the son of another police officer. Since it deals with one of their own, the FBI has launched a probe. 

swatprep

If putting a child in a coma for someone else’s traffic ticket is within policy, where does it end?

 “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

-President John F. Kennedy

Weeks of peaceful protests and outright riots in Missouri have accomplished nothing. The government has chosen to protect its enforcement class rather than its citizens. If peaceful requests for a redress of grievances, as guaranteed in the US Constitution, fail to work, do people have the right to engage in violence to protect their life and the lives of their loved ones?

Police officer deaths are at an all time low, yet cases of police brutality are at an all time high. More importantly, officers are not held accountable for their actions and are allowed to walk free even when a video is available that shows them murdering someone who is begging for their life. What are the American people to do when the protests, politicians, and courts have failed them?

Americans have been told that their freedom rests on four boxes: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.

People have exercised their right to stand on soap boxes and speak against the corruption and brutality that is plaguing the American justice system for decades and nothing has been done.

The ballot box has been proven pointless as special interests, police unions, and corrupt elected officials protect law enforcement in exchange for preferential treatment.

The jury box is also pointless as prosecutors and law enforcement work hand in glove to cover up the misdeeds of their fellow law enforcers.

The first three boxes have been used and proved to be useless against the machine of general mayhem that is known as the “thin blue line.” The only box left available to the American people is the cartridge box. Objections to shooting a cop are so ingrained in the American psyche that I can visualize many readers wincing as the subject is openly discussed. The discussion of uncomfortable ideas is the only path to reform; but to avoid sending the gentle reader into a shock-induced coma faster than Runnels’ taser, allow me to phrase the question differently:

If an organization displayed a pattern of assault, rape, murder, theft, home invasion, andracketeering would a person coming in contact with members of that organization have a reasonable expectation that they would be harmed if they did not act to preserve their own life?

All of a sudden the question seems almost ridiculously easy to answer. Of course, a person would have the right to defend their life and property when confronted with such an organization. So why are those that wear blue uniforms instead of blue bandanas immune from this judgment of guilt?

The answer is simple: propaganda. Much like those that turned a blind eye to totalitarian police forces throughout history, the average American sees these people as heroes out defending democracy against the threat of lawlessness. The problem, of course, is that the United States is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy.

Some readers probably retracted in horror from the screen at the idea that the United States is not what was told to them in their high school civics class. The term oligarchy gets thrown around and sometimes people aren’t clear on exactly what it means. Provided below is the definition.

Full Definition of OLIGARCHY

1:  government by the few

2:  a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also :  a group exercising such control

3:  an organization under oligarchic control

Does that seem more like the government we have today, or does the government represent the will of the people, as it would in a republic or a democracy?

Knowing those in government are out to pursue corrupt and selfish interests, makes it a lot easier to view the cop who is beating homeless people to death as the Sheriff of Nottingham and the government as Prince John. So where are Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men?

Where are those that are willing to stand up to injustice and fight those that would kill your child or maim them with a grenade to please the ruling class? Is it time to meet force with force in cases of police brutality? Is it time to stop demonizing the term “cop killer?”

The police watchdog group Cop Block put out video pondering this very question before the topic became the subject of national debate.

 

 

screencap1-300x139While I make it a point to never advocate violence, I will say that I can’t wait to go to Sherwood Forest and cover the story.

I openly posed this question on my personal Facebook account; these are some of the responses I received. It should be noted that at the time of writing not a single person indicated they believed it was wrong to use violence against law enforcement officers that were overstepping their bounds.

I pose the question to the reader: Is it time to start resisting police with violence?

The AntiMedia

Cameras to Detect ‘Abnormal’ Behavior

ConsortiumNews.com
By Sander Venema

watching eye camera

A few days ago I read an article about how TNO (the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research, the largest research institute in the Netherlands) developed technology for smart cameras for use at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. These cameras — installed at Schiphol airport by the Qubit Visual Intelligence, a company from The Hague — are designed to recognize certain “suspicious behavior,” such as running, waving your arms, or sweating.

Curiously enough, these are all things that are commonly found in the stressful environment that an international airport is to many people. People need to get to the gate on time, which may require running (especially if you arrived at Schiphol by train, which in the Netherlands is notoriously unreliable); they may be afraid of flying and trying to get their nerves under control; and airports are also places where friends and family meet after long times abroad, which (if you want to hug each other) requires arm waving.

I suspect that a lot of false positives are going to occur with this technology due to this. It’s the wrong technology at the wrong place. I fully understand the need for airport security, and we all want a safe environment for both passengers and crew. Flights need to operate under safe conditions. What I don’t understand is the mentality that every single risk in life needs to be minimized away by government agencies and combated with technology. More technology does not equal safer airports.

Security Theatre

A lot of the measures taken at airports constitute security theatre. This means that the measures are mostly ineffective against real threats, and serve mostly for show. The problem with automatic profiling, which is what this program tries to do as well, is that it doesn’t work.Security expert Bruce Schneier has written extensively about this, and I encourage you to read his 2010 essay “Profiling Makes Us Less Safe” about the specific case of air travel security.

The first problem is that terrorists don’t fit a specific profile or they can carefully avoid “suspicious” actions. Thus, these profiling systems can be circumvented once people figure out how, and because of the over-reliance on technology instead of common sense this can actually cause more insecurity.

In the novel Little Brother, Cory Doctorow wrote about how Marcus Yallow put gravel in his shoes to fool the gait-recognizing cameras at his high school so he and his friends could sneak out to play a game outside. Similar things will be done to try and fool these “smart” cameras, but the consequences can be much greater.

We are actually more secure when we randomly select people instead of relying on a specific threat profile or behavioral profile to select who to screen and who gets through security without secondary screening. The whole point of random screening is that it’s random. Therefore, a potential terrorist cannot in advance know what the criteria are that will make the system pick him out. If a system does use specific criteria, and the security of the system depends on the criteria themselves being secret, that would mean that someone would just have to observe the system for long enough to find out what the criteria are.

Technology may fail, which is something people don’t always realize. Another TNO report entitled: “Afwijkend Gedrag” (Abnormal Behavior) states under the (admittedly tiny) section that deals with privacy concerns that collecting data about abnormal behavior of people is ethically just because the society as a whole can be made safer with this data and associated technology. It also states (and this is an argument I’ve read elsewhere as well), that “society has chosen that safety and security trumps privacy.”

Now, let’s say for the sake of the argument that this might be true in a general sense (although it can be debated whether this is always the case, personally I don’t think so, as sometimes the costs are just too high and we need to keep a free and democratic society after all). The problem here is that the way technology and security systems are implemented is usually not something we as a society get to first have a vote on before the (no doubt highly lucrative) contracts get signed.

In the Dutch airport case, Qubit probably saw a way to make a quick buck by talking the Schiphol leadership and/or the government (as the Dutch state holds 69.77 percent of the Schiphol shares) into buying their technology. It’s not something the people had a conscious debate on, and then subsequently made a well-informed decision.

Major Privacy Issues

We have established that these systems are ineffective and can be circumvented (like any system can), and won’t improve overall security. But much more importantly, there are major privacy issues with this technology. What Schiphol and Qubit are doing here is analyzing and storing data on millions of passengers, the overwhelmingly vast majority of whom are completely innocent. This is like shooting a mosquito with a bazooka.

What happens with this data? We don’t know, and we have to believe Qubit and Schiphol on their word that data about non-suspect members of the public gets deleted. However, in light of recent events where it seems convenient to collect and store as much data about people as possible, I highly doubt any deletions will actually happen.

And the sad thing is: in the Netherlands the Ministry of Security and Justice is now talking about implementing the above-mentioned behavioral analysis system at another (secret) location in the Netherlands. Are we all human guinea pigs ready to be tested and played around with?

What Is Abnormal?

There are also problems with the definitions. This is something I see again and again with privacy-infringing projects like this. What constitutes “abnormal behavior”? Who gets to decide on that and who controls what is abnormal behavior and what isn’t?

Maybe, in the not-too-distant future, the meaning of the word “abnormal” begins to shift, and begins to mean “not like us,” for some definition of “us.” George Orwell mentioned this effect in his book Nineteen-Eighty-Four, where ubiquitous telescreens watch and analyze your every move and one can never be sure what are criminal thoughts and what aren’t.

In 2009, when the European research project INDECT got funded by the European Union, there were critical questions asked to the European Commission by the European Parliament. More precisely, this was asked:

Question from EP: How does the Commission define the term abnormal behavior used in the program?

Answer from EC: As to the precise questions, the Commission would like to clarify that the term behavior or abnormal behavior is not defined by the Commission. It is up to applying consortia to do so when submitting a proposal, where each of the different projects aims at improving the operational efficiency of law enforcement services, by providing novel technical assistance. [Source: Europarl (Written questions by Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) to the Commission)]

In other words: according to the European Commission it depends on the individual projects, which all happen to be vague about their exact definitions. And when you don’t pin down definitions like this (and anchor them in law so that powerful governments and corporations that oversee these systems can be held to account!), these can be changed over time when a new leadership comes to power, either within the corporation in control over the technology, or within government.

This is a danger that is often overlooked. There is no guarantee that we will always live in a democratic and free society, and the best defense against abuse of power is to make sure that those in power have as little data about you as possible.

Keeping these definitions vague is a major tactic in scaring people into submission. This has the inherent danger of legislative mission creep. A measure that once was implemented for one specific purpose soon gets used for another if the opportunity presents itself.

Once it is observed that people are getting arrested for seemingly innocent things, many people (sub)consciously adjust their own behavior. It works similarly with free speech: once certain opinions and utterances are deemed against the law, and are acted upon by law enforcement, many people start thinking twice about what they say and write. They start to self-censor, and this erodes people’s freedom to the point where we slowly shift into a technocratic Orwellian nightmare. And when we wake up it will already be too late to turn the tide.

ConsortiumNews.com

Nowhere To Hide As Minority Report-Style Facial Recognition Technology Spreads Across America

The Economic Collapse
by Michael Snyder

Eye Black And White - Public DomainWhat is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go?  As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015.  But that is only a small part of the story.  According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years.  In addition, as you will see below, advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better.  Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded.  Is that the kind of society that we want?

To the FBI, this technology does not represent an invasion of privacy.  Rather, they are very proud of the fact that they are not going to be so dependent on fingerprinting any longer.  The FBI has been developing the Next Generation Identification System for years, and this month it was announced that it is finally fully operational

The federal government’s Next Generation Identification System — a biometric database that relies largely on facial-recognition technology — is now fully operational, the FBI announced Monday.

“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement.

The latest advance in the technology gives users the ability to receive “ongoing status notifications” about individuals’ criminal histories, the FBI said. That means if, for instance, a teacher commits an offense, law enforcement can be immediately informed — and then pass that information on to administrators.

It’s to monitor criminal histories of those “in positions of trust,” the FBI said.

As part of this new system, every American will eventually be assigned a “Universal Control Number”.

Does that sound creepy to you?

Even mainstream news reports are admitting that it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie

It aims to eventually replace fingerprinting with a complex array of biometrics, assigning everyone with a “Universal Control Number”, in what sounds like a plotline from a sci-fi movie.

And it won’t just be the FBI using this database.

According to Fox News, more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies will have access to this information…

More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners across the country will have access to the system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So if your face is scanned somewhere or you do something noteworthy that is registered by the system, virtually every law enforcement agency in the country will instantly know about it.

Pretty scary stuff, eh?

But the FBI is actually lagging far behind the NSA.

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using “sophisticated facial recognition programs” for many years

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show.

Do you remember that stuff you saw in the Jason Bourne movies about how the NSA can track people?

Well, most of that stuff is real.

If you don’t like it, that is just too bad.  At this point not even Congress has much control over what the NSA does.

And there are police departments around the nation that are also way ahead of the FBI.

For example, just check out what has been going on in southern California

In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.

Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.

It’s done with state of the art facial recognition technology, and in Southern California it’s already happening.

At least one law enforcement agency in San Diego is currently using software developed by FaceFirst, a division of nearby Camarillo, California’s Airborne Biometrics Group. It can positively identify anyone, as long as physical data about a person’s facial features is stored somewhere the police can access. Though that pool of potential matches could include millions, the company says that by using the “best available facial recognition algorithms” they can scour that data set in a fraction of a second in order to send authorities all known intelligence about anyone who enters a camera’s field of vision.

Widespread use of facial recognition technology by our law enforcement authorities is becoming a way of life.

If the American people don’t like this, they need to stand up and say something.

But instead, in an era of widespread Internet hacking and identity theft, many Americans are actually clamoring for the implementation of more biometric identification.

For instance, the following is a brief excerpt from a Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…

In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.

As financial institutions adopt this kind of technology, a day may come when virtually all of us are required to have our faces scanned at the checkout counter.

That may sound crazy to you, but according to the Daily Mail a company in Finland has already launched this technology…

Bank cards are already being replaced by phones and wristbands that have payment technology built-in but the latest threat to the lowly plastic in your pocket could be your face.

A Finnish startup called Uniqul has launched what it calls the first ever payment platform based on facial recognition.

The system doesn’t require a wallet, bank card or phone – instead a camera is positioned at the checkout and takes a photo of a shopper’s face when they are ready to pay.

It then scans a database for the face and matches it to stored payment details in order to complete the transaction.

And advertisers are even more eager to adopt facial recognition technology.  In fact, the kind of face scanning billboards that we saw in “Minority Report” are already a reality.  For example, a company called Amscreen says that it already has more than 6,000 face scanning digital screens that are being viewed by approximately 50 million people each week…

Advertising network Amscreen recently launched a unique face-detection technology, originally developed by automated audience measurement firm Quividi.

Cameras have been installed in Amscreen’s digital advertising displays that can scan a person’s face and determine their gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers.

This is so adverts are served to the most appropriate audience.

Amscreen already has over 6,000 digital screens seen by a weekly audience of over 50 million people.

Even dating websites are starting to use facial recognition technology at this point.

Just check out what Match.com has been doing…

Popular dating site Match.com will use photos of users’ exes to determine which type of look they’re attracted to in order to find them a dating match.

The dating site has partnered with Three Day Rule, a Los Angeles-based matchmaking service, which has dating experts that act as personal dating concierges who hand-select and personally meet every potential match before making a formal introduction to clients, Mashable reports.

Members of Match.com will be able to upgrade to Three Day Rule’s premium service which will ask users to send pictures of exes to determine the type of look they’re attracted to. Three Day Rule will then use facial-recognition technology in an effort to help users find dates.

Our world is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Powerful new technologies are literally being introduced every single day now, and the future is probably going to look far different than any of us are imagining.

But with all of this new technology, will we end up losing what little personal privacy that we have left?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

The Economic Collapse

An Unbearable and Choking Hell: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11

InfoWars
by JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

What a strange and harrowing road we’ve walked since September 11, 2001

9/11
Image Credits: ndrwfgg / Wiki

“I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”—Osama bin Laden (October 2001), as reported by CNN

What a strange and harrowing road we’ve walked since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties. We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.

Ironically, just a short week after the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we find ourselves commemorating the 227th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution. Yet while there is much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there has been little to celebrate.

The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—a recitation of the Bill of Rights would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the Constitution has been on life support for some time now. We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

Consider the state of our freedoms, and judge for yourself whether this Constitution Day should be a day of mourning, celebration or a robust call to action:

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. Yet despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus charges such as “disrupting the peace” or “resisting arrest” for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. And protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” But to the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons. Police shootings of unarmed citizens continue to outrage communities, while little is being done to demilitarize law enforcement agencies better suited to the battlefield.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly posing as military forces—complete with military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a violent standing army on American soil. Moreover, as a result of SWAT team raids where police invade homes, often without warrants, and injure and even kill unarmed citizens, the barrier between public and private property has done away with this critical safeguard.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.

The use of civil asset forfeiture schemes to swell the coffers of police forces has continued to grow in popularity among cash-strapped states. The federal government continues to strong-arm corporations into providing it with access to Americans’ private affairs, from emails and online transactions to banking and web surfing. Coming in the wake of massive leaks about the inner workings of the NSA and the massive secretive surveillance state, it was recently revealed that the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 every day for failing to comply with the NSA’s mass data collection program known as PRISM.

The technological future appears to pose even greater threats to what’s left of our Fourth Amendment rights, with advances in biometric identification and microchip implants on the horizon making it that much easier for the government to track not only our movements and cyber activities but our very cellular beings. Barclays has already begun using a finger-scanner as a form of two-step authentication to give select customers access to their accounts. Similarly, Motorola has been developing thin “digital tattoos” that will ensure that a phone’s owner is the only person who may unlock it. All of this information, of course, will be available to the spying surveillance agencies.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. And now the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama, allows the military to arrive at your door if the president thinks you’re a terrorist (a.k.a. extremist), place you in military detention, jail you indefinitely and restrict access to your family and your lawyer.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. However, when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether. For example, if you are thrown into a military detention camp, then what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment is up to your jailers.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so. Thus, once the government began violating the non-enumerated rights granted in the Ninth Amendment, it was only a matter of time before it began to trample the enumerated rights of the people, as explicitly spelled out in the rest of the Bill of Rights.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC power elite—the president, Congress and the courts. Indeed, the federal governmental bureaucracy has grown so large that it has made local and state legislatures relatively irrelevant. Through its many agencies and regulations, the federal government has stripped states of the right to regulate countless issues that were originally governed at the local level. This distinction is further blurred by programs such as the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which distributes excess military hardware to local police stations, effectively turning them into extensions of the military.

If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded. In this regard, ironically, Osama Bin Laden was right when he warned that freedom and human rights in America are doomed, and that the U.S. government would be responsible for leading us into an “unbearable hell and a choking life.”

The choices before us are simple: We can live in the past, dwelling on what freedoms we used to enjoy and shrugging helplessly at the destruction of our liberties. We can immerse ourselves in the present, allowing ourselves to be utterly distracted by the glut of entertainment news and ever-changing headlines so that we fail to pay attention to or do anything about the government’s ongoing power-grabs. We can hang our hopes on the future, believing against all odds that someone or something—whether it be a politician, a movement, or a religious savior—will save us from inevitable ruin.

Or we can start right away by instituting changes at the local level, holding our government officials accountable to the rule of law, and resurrecting the Constitution, recognizing that if we follow our current trajectory, the picture of the future will be closer to what George Orwell likened to “a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Via The Rutherford Institute

Nationwide Biometric Database Goes Live

The Daily Sheeple
By Nicholas West

biometric data

Despite the FBI already having been sued by privacy groups amid plans for a nationwide biometric database, it has officially gone live. The Next Generation Identification system will eventually include iris scans, facial recognition, and a range of other biometric identifiers that are collated into a central database for real-time sharing at all levels of law enforcement and government agencies.

As suspected, what began as a border control initiative has now expanded to include everyone.

As the video report below highlights, this billion-dollar program was spearheaded by Lockheed Martin, and will invariably include images of even non-suspects in one great sweeping dragnet of digital surveillance. The fact that Lockheed Martin was involved in developing the program should signal heightened concern given their integral role in drone technology. As this database is being rolled out, drones are set to take to American skies in much greater numbers by 2015. One of the latest military-grade systems can now scan 36 million faces per second, or every face in the U.S. within 10 seconds. It is a technology that has trickled down from use in war zones like Afghanistan. The merger between this  FBI database and drone technology would be the next logical step.

There simply has been too much invested in a coming Minority Report world to turn back now. Nevertheless, we at least have reached a critical mass of ideological pushback against agencies like the NSA. Could additional leaks from whistleblowers and the work of digital privacy activists help to thwart plans to enter all of us into the real-time surveillance matrix? Or will this technology expand and reach its full potential?

http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.html#ec=ZrYW1kcDolQu96pV1_jFrVSueONkuP7I&pbid=54ea1c2f14ee44369ddf31ac887ffe7e&docUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thedailysheeple.com%2Fnationwide-biometric-database-goes-live_092014

Transcript by Jake Godin

It’s a program that still sounds futuristic, even today. The FBI announced its facial recognition program is finally up and running — and it has some privacy advocates a little concerned.

Labeled as the “Next Generation Identification System,” or NGI, the $1-billion program has been in development since at least 2008 when the FBI announced it was granting Lockheed Martin a contract to start building it.

As you’d expect with facial recognition technology, NGI will pull in photos “associated with criminal identities” and compare them to millions of other photos taken from various sources.

The system has been used successfully at least once already, helping catch longtime fugitive Neil Stammer.

He had been on the run from the FBI for 14 years but was found in Nepal when the U.S. Department of State found his photo on a passport with a different name. (Video via KRQE)

Using a Freedom of Information Act request, the Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained FBI documents showing the agency plans to have 52 million photos in its database by 2015.

Here’s where we get to the part that has privacy activists concerned.

Along with the fact that non-criminal photos are being stored in the database, the EFF says the FBI won’t take responsibility for inaccurate matches. Also, nearly a million of the database’s photos will come from unexplained sources.

A writer for Techdirt isn’t a big fan of the program either, saying: “This program has some very serious issues, and it’s only going to get worse unless someone outside the FBI intervenes.”

And Engadget says the system’s 85 percent accuracy is a little worrisome as well, pointing out that there’s no explanation for what happens when the NGI generates a list of potential suspects which lacks the actual criminal.

Following the EFF report, FBI director James Comey spoke at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in June to address concerns over the scope of the NGI’s database.

FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY VIA C-SPAN: “The pilot is mugshots because those are repeatable, we can count on the quality of them. … There was not a plan and there isn’t at present to add other, non-mug-shot photos.”

Which would seemingly contradict the documents the EFF dug up. The FBI plans to eventually roll out more parts of its new NGI system, including voice and iris identification.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

The Daily Sheeple

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