The New American
by Alex Newman
The Orwellian cities of the future being designed and imposed right this instant all over the world — so-called “Smart Cities” — will be watching you. In fact, they already are watching you. And unless humanity takes action soon to rein in its would-be omniscient rulers, the technological dystopia being erected all around you will ensure that governments and dictators know virtually everything about everyone — perhaps more than individuals know even about themselves. The plot to create the total surveillance state under the guise of making cities “smart” will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, too. But the price tag in terms of lost privacy and liberty will be far higher.
As the concept of “smart” cities continues to evolve with technology, countless definitions and terms to describe the scheming have been proposed. Discussing a planned “smart” city in South Korea, Frederic Ojardias, Ph.D., at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies said the concept is simple. “The city is filled with sensors and cameras at every corner (monitoring temperature, traffic, electricity) that are all interconnected and linked to a central ‘brain’ that computes all this information in real time in order to optimize the management of the city, minute by minute,” he said to describe the vision.
According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “smart cities” bring together technology, government, and society to enable a smart economy, smart environment, smart living, smart governance, and more. There are also a number of technologies associated with smart cities. Among them: “Intelligent lighting; Smart building controls; Wireless charging for automobiles; Facial recognition; Wind turbines; Intelligent Buildings; A connected self-aware environment;” and much more.
And that is just the beginning, with tech giants coming up with new technology every day that could be used to improve lives — or destroy liberty and privacy. Already, the former head of the NSA and CIA has been boasting that “we kill people based on metadata.” With “smart” cities providing unfathomable amounts of data to authorities, Americans can expect the lawlessness to continue accelerating if nothing changes.
Of course, “smart” technology is already ubiquitous, from so-called “smart” phones that double as portable espionage devices to “smart” meters used (when they are not exploding at least) to spy on people’s water and electricity use. Smart TVs now spy on their users, too. Schools are doing it as well. According to news reports, in London, data gathered from cameras is cross-referenced with government lists of people who have paid their driving fees, allowing violators to be identified and punished. Authorities in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stockholm, and other cities are also openly and purposely trying to become “smart.” In South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, fully “smart” cities are being designed and built from the ground up.
With facial-recognition software now extremely advanced, and billions of people around the world posting their data and pictures online through social-networking services, hand-held “smart” technology has already created potentially totalitarian tools far beyond anything George Orwell could have imagined in his worst nightmares. Even years ago, U.S. cities were exposed rolling out so-called “Intellistreets” streetlights that double as Big Brother espionage tools to listen in on conversations. Entire smart cities are the next logical step, and the establishment is going all out to promote them as it works to abolish cash and shift everything online at the same time.
During a recent visit to India, for example, Obama pledged some $4 billion in U.S. taxpayer “investments and loans” to help Indian authorities build infrastructure, including $2 billion for the government there to create “smart cities.” Speaking to a large crowd, Obama said America was committed to the “smart cities” concept, linked to United Nations “sustainability” programs such as Agenda 21, and would help the Indian government pay to build them. To start with, 100 Indian cities are going to be made “smart.”
“We are ready to join you in building new infrastructure … roads and airports, the ports and bullet trains to propel India into the future,” Obama told Indians, without offering any hints on where the debt-riddled federal government would get the funds to propel India into the future or why U.S. taxpayers should fund it. “We are ready to help design smart cities.” Critics lambasted the scheme from all angles, pointing out that the U.S. government is already drowning in debt and that the whole “sustainability” theme behind the radical “smart cities” agenda represents a major threat to liberty, markets, and more.
Around the same time, arch sustainability profiteer (and self-styled inventor of the Internet) Al Gore joined with former Mexican President Felipe Calderón at the World Economic Forum to demand that all cities worldwide be made “smart.” For a mere $90 trillion (as a starting point), the two globalist crusaders against carbon dioxide explained, every city in the world could be made much denser — a so-called “smart city” in which citizens would be packed in like sardines, and hence, easier to control.
Under the Gore-Calderón vision, personal transportation such as cars would be phased out as the “smart cities” of the future force everyone to either walk or rely on government-run transportation to get around. Ironically, perhaps, more than 1,700 private jets descended on Davos for the confab so its occupants could plot new ways to reduce the CO2 emissions of the unwashed masses as they are corralled into their “smart” cities (often at gunpoint). Of course, the plan to pack humans into tiny cities is not new, and has been advancing under UN “Agenda 21” and other schemes for more than two decades. And the UN has been promoting “smart” cities since at least 2009, when UN chief Ban Ki Moon called for “better, more equitable urban planning” and “new ideas from smart cities around the world” to guide “sustainable urbanization.”
Alleged benefits of the interconnected ecosystem of data-gathering technology, such as better traffic management, catching criminals, and a smaller “carbon footprint” for city residents, are being shouted from the rooftops by those seeking to push the agenda — governments, profiteers, futurists, and others. Businesses, too, will be able to harness the gargantuan amounts of data being produced to target individual consumers. The darker side of the shift toward intelligence-gathering everything, everywhere, however, has been largely buried from public discourse — not to mention the dangers of combining all of the information with emerging “artificial intelligence” technologies.
In a recent puff piece promoting the potential benefits of “smart cities” in the Wall Street Journal, CEO Mike Weston with the “data-science” consulting firm Profusion offered some terrifying insight into the awesome powers that will be available to the rulers of these future Orwellian cities. “In a fully ‘smart’ city, every movement an individual makes can be tracked,” Weston observed, noting that governments and municipalities from Boston to Beijing were pledging billions of tax dollars to the plot. “The data will reveal where she works, how she commutes, her shopping habits, places she visits and her proximity to other people.”
While Weston focuses largely on the profit opportunities surrounding all of that data for marketers, and ethical concerns for businesses, the same data will also enable authorities to compile unimaginably detailed profiles of every single individual. “By analyzing this information using data-science techniques, a company could learn not only the day-to-day routine of an individual but also his preferences, behavior and emotional state,” the CEO explained. “Private companies could know more about people than they know about themselves.” And, of course, so could governments, hacker spies working for the regime in Beijing, and even private-sector criminals with access to the surveillance data.
Weston claims that a smart city “doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds.” That is true. But considering governments’ track records on snooping — think NSA, KGB, Stasi, and so on — the likelihood of smart cities not ending up as Orwellian as they sound is probably slim to none. With the added “smartness” of emerging technologies, and with some two thirds of humanity expected to live in cities within a few decades, the possibilities for controlling and oppressing mankind in previously unimaginable ways are almost endless. Rulers will soon, if they do not already, be able to know more about the individuals they rule than those individuals know themselves.
Of course, technology, in and of itself, is not the problem or the threat. Instead, the threat comes from totalitarian-minded governments, globalists, politicians, dictators, and bureaucrats anxious to further oppress the public and further empower themselves. From the UN and the World Bank to the Obama administration and the European Union super-state, the establishment is planning to bring “smartness” to a city near you in the near future. Based on their track record so far, however, it should be beyond clear that the “smart” cities are a dumb and dangerous idea — especially if you value liberty and privacy.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON
Infowars first warned of PC microphone snooping nearly a decade ago
Almost a decade after Infowars first warned that corporations may be spying on computer users via PC microphones, it has now come to light that secretly installed Google software is doing precisely that.
“The Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users,” reports the London Guardian.
The software was designed to work with Chrome’s ‘OK, Google’ hotword detection, which functions in response to voice commands given by the user – but in some cases the software was installed and activated without permission.
“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room,” writes Pirate party founder Rick Falkvinge. “Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by … an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions.”
Google has denied the accusations, asserting that users have to “opt-in” before the software is activated, but developers insist otherwise.
“The default install will still wiretap your room without your consent, unless you opt out, and more importantly, know that you need to opt out, which is nowhere a reasonable requirement,” said Falkvinge.
Way back in 2006 we first reported that both the state and corporations were moving to utilize microphones attached to people’s computers to eavesdrop on their conversations, as well as for building psychological profiles for the purposes on invasive, Minority Report-style advertising.
Indeed, that same year Google announced that they were developing software that would use PC microphones to listen to ambient background noise in order to generate “relevant content” for the user.
“Since at least 150 million Americans are Internet-active they will all be potential targets for secret surveillance and the subsequent sell-off of all their information to unscrupulous data mining corporations and government agencies,” we reported nearly nine years ago.
Other companies have also been accused of using voice recognition software to spy on conversations.
Since its launch in 2010, Microsoft’s X-Box Kinect games device has a video camera and a microphone that records speech. The company informs its users that they “should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features,” while Microsoft also “may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.”
Last year, Microsoft was forced to deny claims that the Xbox One’s Kinect camera could see gamers’ genitals after video footage emerged which suggested the device’s IR camera was so sophisticated that it could capture the outline of a user’s penis.
Gamers also complained that Kinect was monitoring their Skype conversations for swearing and then punishing them with account bans.
New Eastern Outlook
by Steven MacMillan
The century of ‘big data’ will be the century of unprecedented surveillance. The dream of tyrants down through history has been the total monitoring, control and management of the public, with the ability to predict the behaviour of entire populations the most efficient means of achieving this objective. For millennia, this has mainly existed in the realm of fantasy, however with the vast leap in technology in recent decades, this idea is becoming less a dystopian science fiction movie and more the daily business of totalitarian high-tech regimes.
Most readers are now familiar with the predatory surveillance practices of agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ, which high-level NSA whistleblower William Binney describes as “totalitarian” in nature, adding that the goal of the NSA is “to set up the way and means to control the population”. Yet many people may not be aware of the next phase in 21st century surveillance grid; the ‘smarter city’.
Promoted by some as a low-cost and efficient way of managing the workings of a city, others see the surveillance implications of such initiatives as chilling to say the least. Smart cities are broadly defined as digitally connected urban areas filled with ubiquitous sensors, monitors and meters, which collect data on every aspect of the city; from energy usage, to transport patterns. This data is then analysed and used by city planners to ‘improve decision making’.
Today, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas – a trend that is set to accelerate into the future – meaning the smart city concept is going to affect the lives of billions of people around the world. India is at the forefront of this push as it plans to build 100 smart cities in the coming years, with Singapore set to become the world’s first smart nation. Smart cities are not just confined to Asia however, as Glasgow (where I’m writing from), Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans and Cape Town are just a handful of cities involved in IBM’s “smarter cities challenge”.
Privacy in a Smart City
The global move towards a ‘smarter planet’ is a worrying prospect for many who are concerned with the growing erosion of privacy in the modern world. Can privacy exist in a smart city where every corner and crevice of the urban environment is fitted with digital sensors collecting data on every movement of the city 24 hours a day?
Furthermore, many of the supporters and proponents of smart initiatives are multinational corporations and notorious foundations, including IBM, Siemens, Cisco and the Rockefeller Foundation. The notion of corporate giants managing a smarter planet becomes even more troubling when you consider the history of companies such as IBM, which played a pivotal role in the holocaust and worked closely with Nazi Germany. Given IBM’s dark history, should we trust it with the power to regulate and manage numerous cities around the world?
“The surveillance implications of these sorts of mass data-generating civic projects are unnerving, to say the least. Urban designer and author Adam Greenfield wrote on his blog Speedbird that this centralized governing model is “disturbingly consonant with the exercise of authoritarianism.” To further complicate matters, the vast majority of smart-city technology is designed by IT-systems giants like IBM and Siemens. In places like Songdo, which was the brainchild of Cisco Systems, corporate entities become responsible for designing and maintaining the basic functions of urban life…. Private corporations are the ones measuring and controlling these mountains of data, and that they don’t have the same accountability to the public that government does.”
The Age of Big Data and Predictive Policing
The amount of data generated in recent years has skyrocketed, with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty noting in a 2013 speech that “90% of all the data ever known to man has been created in the last two years”. With this trend only set to continue into the future, the race is now on to develop systems to accurately predict the behaviour of entire populations through scanning copious volumes of data for behavioural patterns.
In Australia, the federal crime commission is now using big data systems to analyse patterns of behaviour in a quest to predict criminal activities before they occur. It seems the world is moving closer to the themes in the 1950’s science fiction story by Philip K. Dick and the later film adaptation of the work, ‘The Minority Report’.
It is not just Australia however that is engaged in such activities, as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a division called the Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response Division (RACR). The RACR uses cutting-edge algorithmic systems and analytics in an attempt to predict future crime. British police in Kent have also been using a precrime software program called Predpol for two years, which analyses crimes based on date, place and category of offence, in order to assist police in making decisions on patrol routes.
The ethical and moral questions of the move towards predictive policing are obvious, leading many to fear a potential ‘tyranny of the algorithm’ in the future. With big data being used in the field of law enforcement to surveil and attempt to predict criminal behaviour, you can be assured that intelligence agencies and corporations will be using big data in the futuristic smart city to monitor and predict the behaviour of the city’s population.
Crystal Ball Software
Back in 2010, we got a glimpse into the intentions of the CIA and Google when they funded a start-up company called ‘Recorded Future’, an organisation that claimed to have technology that could predict the future through collecting data from the internet. ‘Recorded Future’ attempts to scan the entire web looking for patterns and analyzing information on a global scale; with the companies CEO Christopher Ahlberg revealing that the software scans “8 billion data points, [from] 600, 000 sources” each week.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand in size and scope producing even more data, demand for companies such as ‘Recorded Future’ by intelligence agencies and corporations will continue to increase. Techopedia defines the IoT as a “computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.” The number of devices connected to the internet has exploded in recent years, a trend that Cisco details in a 2011 report:
“In 2003, there were approximately 6.3 billion people living on the planet and 500 million devices connected to the Internet… Explosive growth of smartphones and tablet PCs brought the number of devices connected to the Internet to 12.5 billion in 2010… Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.”
Many have voiced privacy concerns over the idea of the internet being embedded in everything considering the fact that government agencies and corporate entities have been illegally collecting vast swaths of personnel information from the internet for years. As Michael Snyder writes in a recent article, “could an IoT create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government? “
We are truly entering a ‘Brave New World’, where science fiction is becoming reality. But what input will the people of the world have in the creation of this ‘Brave New World’, and what role will representative government play?
The Daily Sheeple
by John W. Whitehead
“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.”—William Binney, NSA whistleblower
We now have a fourth branch of government.
As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.
You might know this branch of government as Surveillance, but I prefer “technotyranny,” a term coined by investigative journalist James Bamford to refer to an age of technological tyranny made possible by government secrets, government lies, government spies and their corporate ties.
Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.
The police state is about to pass off the baton to the surveillance state.
Having already transformed local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s soldier cops into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.
This is about to be the new face of policing in America.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been a perfect red herring, distracting us from the government’s broader, technology-driven campaign to render us helpless in the face of its prying eyes. In fact, long before the NSA became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.
Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine.
The raging debate over the fate of the NSA’s blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and ongoing domestic surveillance programs is just so much noise, what Shakespeare referred to as “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
It means nothing: the legislation, the revelations, the task forces, and the filibusters.
The government is not giving up, nor is it giving in. It has stopped listening to us. It has long since ceased to take orders from “we the people.”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, none of it—the military drills, the surveillance, the militarized police, the strip searches, the random pat downs, the stop-and-frisks, even the police-worn body cameras—is about fighting terrorism. It’s about controlling the populace.
Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the NSA continues to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.
Legislation such as the USA Patriot Act serves only to legitimize the actions of a secret agency run by a shadow government. Even the proposed and ultimately defeated USA Freedom Act, which purported to restrict the reach of the NSA’s phone surveillance program—at least on paper—by requiring the agency to secure a warrant before surveillance could be carried out on American citizens and prohibiting the agency from storing any data collected on Americans, amounted to little more than a paper tiger: threatening in appearance, but lacking any real bite.
The question of how to deal with the NSA—an agency that operates outside of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution—is a divisive issue that polarizes even those who have opposed the NSA’s warrantless surveillance from the get-go, forcing all of us—cynics, idealists, politicians and realists alike—to grapple with a deeply unsatisfactory and dubious political “solution” to a problem that operates beyond the reach of voters and politicians: how do you trust a government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing to actually obey the law?
Since its official start in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency—nicknamed “No Such Agency”—has operated covertly, unaccountable to Congress all the while using taxpayer dollars to fund its secret operations. It was only when the agency ballooned to 90,000 employees in 1969, making it the largest intelligence agency in the world with a significant footprint outside Washington, DC, that it became more difficult to deny its existence.
In the aftermath of Watergate in 1975, the Senate held meetings under the Church Committee in order to determine exactly what sorts of illicit activities the American intelligence apparatus was engaged in under the direction of President Nixon, and how future violations of the law could be stopped. It was the first time the NSA was exposed to public scrutiny since its creation.
The investigation revealed a sophisticated operation whose surveillance programs paid little heed to such things as the Constitution. For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”
Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers “at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”
Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator “to impose total tyranny” upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not “want to see this country ever go across the bridge” of constitutional protection, congressional oversight and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that “we,” implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, “must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
The result was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated. The law requires that the NSA get clearance from the FISA Court, a secret surveillance court, before it can carry out surveillance on American citizens. Fast forward to the present day, and the so-called solution to the problem of government entities engaging in unjustified and illegal surveillance—the FISA Court—has unwittingly become the enabler of such activities, rubberstamping almost every warrant request submitted to it.
The 9/11 attacks served as a watershed moment in our nation’s history, ushering in an era in which immoral and/or illegal government activities such as surveillance, torture, strip searches, SWAT team raids are sanctioned as part of the quest to keep us “safe.”
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. That wireless wiretap program was reportedly ended in 2007 after the New York Times reported on it, to mass indignation.
Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.
It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.
What this brief history of the NSA makes clear is that you cannot reform the NSA.
As long as the government is allowed to make a mockery of the law—be it the Constitution, the FISA Act or any other law intended to limit its reach and curtail its activities—and is permitted to operate behind closed doors, relaying on secret courts, secret budgets and secret interpretations of the laws of the land, there will be no reform.
Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have done much to put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.”
The beast has outgrown its chains. It will not be restrained.
The growing tension seen and felt throughout the country is a tension between those who wield power on behalf of the government—the president, Congress, the courts, the military, the militarized police, the technocrats, the faceless unelected bureaucrats who blindly obey and carry out government directives, no matter how immoral or unjust, and the corporations—and those among the populace who are finally waking up to the mounting injustices, seething corruption and endless tyrannies that are transforming our country into a technocrized police state.
At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative democracy by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”
What we have failed to truly comprehend is that the NSA is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for the CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.
In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts. Conveniently, as the Intercept recently revealed, many of the NSA’s loudest defenders have financial ties to NSA contractors.
Thus, if this secret regime not only exists but thrives, it is because we have allowed it through our ignorance, apathy and naïve trust in politicians who take their orders from Corporate America rather than the Constitution.
If this shadow government persists, it is because we have yet to get outraged enough to push back against its power grabs and put an end to its high-handed tactics.
And if this unelected bureaucracy succeeds in trampling underfoot our last vestiges of privacy and freedom, it will be because we let ourselves be fooled into believing that politics matters, that voting makes a difference, that politicians actually represent the citizenry, that the courts care about justice, and that everything that is being done is in our best interests.
Indeed, as political scientist Michael J. Glennon warns, you can vote all you want, but the people you elect aren’t actually the ones calling the shots. “The American people are deluded … that the institutions that provide the public face actually set American national security policy,” stated Glennon. “They believe that when they vote for a president or member of Congress or succeed in bringing a case before the courts, that policy is going to change. But … policy by and large in the national security realm is made by the concealed institutions.”
In other words, it doesn’t matter who occupies the White House: the secret government with its secret agencies, secret budgets and secret programs won’t change. It will simply continue to operate in secret until some whistleblower comes along to momentarily pull back the curtain and we dutifully—and fleetingly—play the part of the outraged public, demanding accountability and rattling our cages, all the while bringing about little real reform.
Thus, the lesson of the NSA and its vast network of domestic spy partners is simply this: once you allow the government to start breaking the law, no matter how seemingly justifiable the reason, you relinquish the contract between you and the government which establishes that the government works for and obeys you, the citizen—the employer—the master.
Once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there’s no way to rein it back in, short of revolution. And by revolution, I mean doing away with the entire structure, because the corruption and lawlessness have become that pervasive.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, where this article first appeared. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.
by MIKAEL THALEN
Espionage driving governments to protect their cellular communications
A new system designed to detect and track IMSI catchers, commonly referred to as “Stingrays,” is grabbing the attention of Western governments as revelations of widespread cellular surveillance continue to emerge.
IMSI catchers, known best for their use by law enforcement, are suitcase-sized devices that mimic cell towers in order to capture anything from a mobile phone’s current location to text and voice data.
Recent stories on the subject have revealed extensive and unwarranted use by police departments across the country, with agencies such as the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service spearheading a campaign to deceive prosecutors and judges on the technology.
Both governments and the public alike became increasingly aware of the technology’s pervasiveness late last year when security experts detected as many as 18 IMSI catchers while traveling through Washington D.C.
Fearing deployment by foreign and rogue actors, who have the ability to build such devices for less than $1,500, governments have now approached those same security experts to acquire “Overwatch,” the first real-time IMSI catcher detection system.
“ESD Overwatch gives alerts in real-time of IMSI catcher and jammer threats,” Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, told Infowars. “Using the system, governments can detect organized crime or foreign spies who use IMSI catchers to track people or listen to calls.”
Six years in the making, the system integrates a set of sensors with the Overwatch software platform to detect and even neutralize active attacks on mobile communications.
“ESD Overwatch sensors are strategically placed around a geographic area of interest,” Goldsmith said. “They gather information on all cell towers in the given area. When an IMSI catcher or jammer is detected, the sensor conducts a number of tests and feeds the information back to Overwatch for analysis and reporting.”
More than a dozen countries, including the United States, are currently in the process of acquiring the system. According to Goldsmith, economic espionage remains a large factor for those looking into Overwatch.
Six governments in Asia express interest in buying ESD Overwatch system.
— ESD Overwatch (@ESDOverwatch) April 27, 2015
“Today even small countries run their own sprawling listening and monitoring stations,” writes cell provider GSMK, a partner of ESD America. “More and more of the capabilities are being used for economic espionage…”
“Private investigators also routinely and illegally try to get access to calls by a variety of means, for purposes of industrial espionage, business intelligence and economic warfare between competing companies.”
While governments attempt to detect adversarial IMSI catchers, the public likewise attempts to shed light on government use.
In response to public scrutiny, the U.S. Justice Department announced a full review of the IMSI catcher program earlier this month in order to specify policies regarding use by law enforcement.
The New American
by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Video of prototype of cicada drone: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
The Department of Defense is well on its way to developing various iterations of tiny drones that will give the federal government “squad level intel” on every man, woman, and child in the United States, even inside their homes.
The latest addition to the miniature monitors is the U.S. Navy’s Cicada drones. Business Insider published an AFP story describing the tiny vehicles:
US military scientists have invented a miniature drone that fits in the palm of a hand, ready to be dropped from the sky like a mobile phone with wings.
The “micro air vehicle” is named after the insect that inspired its invention, the Cicada, which spends years underground before appearing in great swarms, reproducing and then dropping to the ground dead.
“The idea was why can’t we make UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that have the same sort of profile,” Aaron Kahn of the Naval Research Laboratory told AFP.
“We will put so many out there, it will be impossible for the enemy to pick them all up.”
That wouldn’t be such a threat to liberty were it not for the fact that since the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, the United States has been designated a theatre in the “War on Terror” and Americans can be denied the most fundamental of their rights and indefinitely detained on the command of the president.
In other words, in order to appreciate the danger of these drones, one must understand the contemporary definition of “enemy.”
Unlike their larger, louder cousins, the Cicadas (an acronym standing for Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) are quiet and nearly invisible until it’s too late. Business Insider reports the battlefield workings of the weapon:
It is designed to glide to programmed GPS coordinates after being dropped from an aircraft, a balloon or a larger drone, researchers said.
In a test about three years ago in Yuma, Arizona, Cicada drones were released from 57,600 feet (17,500 meters). The little drone flew — or fell — 11 miles, landing within 15 feet of its target.
The Cicada drone can fly at about 46 miles (74 kilometers) per hour and are virtually silent, with no engine or propulsion system.
“It looks like a bird flying down,” said Daniel Edwards, an aerospace engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory. But, he said, “it’s very difficult to see.”
In light of the revelations made a few years ago by this reporter regarding Trapwire — the software that allows the government to aggregate all surveillance and traffic camera video feeds and send them to federal agencies — the next potential use for the Cicadas is particularly worrisome to all defenders of individual liberty.
One possible scenario could be using the drones to monitor traffic on a remote road behind enemy lines.
“You equip these with a microphone or a seismic detector, drop them on that road, and it will tell you ‘I heard a truck or a car travel along that road.’ You know how fast and which direction they’re traveling,” a Navy official said, as quoted by the AFP.
It isn’t beyond the region of imagination to foresee a not-so-distant future where anyone audacious enough to challenge the hegemony of the federal government could have his every move monitored by these powerful pocket-sized eyes in the sky.
BizTekMojo.com reports, “Even intelligence agencies were interested in the Cicada program. It makes sense as they could be used to spy on enemy territory with minimal risks and costs. Instead of spy planes, the drones could be scattered … through fields without being spotted.”
The blog “In Homeland Security” in its report on the Cicadas suggests that the bad press generated by the civilian assassinations carried out by Predator drones may have prompted the move to shrink the vehicles. “This may replace the larger Predator class drones where such large kinetic strikes elicit diplomatic outrage and local backlash on the populations below. In spite of the tremendous amount of precision and the increased efforts and pressure to limit and lessen collateral damage, American forces are learning to go smaller and stealthier,” the blog reports.
It is informative that none of the stories, in particular the one from In Homeland Security, mentions that perhaps we should focus less on making it easier carry out kill missions and more on upholding the rule of law that supports life and liberty.
In fact, not only does the report not mention this aspect of the plan, but it seems to glorify the mortal might of the Cicada and similar weapons: “Next generation models of mini-drones might well take on the additional form of a swarming tornado of artificial locusts that could one day devastate and destroy the urban enemy in a matter of hours like the agrarian croplands. A micro-UAV locust model might become the next killer variant.”
As long as money can be made by the military industrial complex, it’s unlikely that peaceful, constitutional alternatives will ever be seriously considered.
Another disturbing fact about this deadly plague is that not only could the Cicadas monitor and record movements and conversations (the AFP report calls it a “phone with wings”), but when the mission is complete, the devices could be destroyed, as one of the selling points is that their price point makes them “disposable.” The Washington Post reports:
By the estimates of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, a single prototype for a CICADA can be produced for less than $1,000. And as more uses are found for these micro-drones, it’s easy to see the price falling further. One scenario being bandied about is using these CICADAS to monitor extreme weather situations, such as tornadoes. Within a few years, as more applications are discovered, that price might drop to as low as $250.
Two hundred and fifty dollars for that type of killing machine — who could say no?
Apparently, nobody. Silicon Republic reports on the durability and desirability of the tiny drones:
“They’ve flown through trees. They’ve hit asphalt runways. They have tumbled in gravel. They’ve had sand in them. The only thing that we found that killed them was desert shrubbery,” said Daniel Edwards, aerospace engineer at the US Navy’s research laboratory.
He went on to say that people from many fields, both military and civilian, are interested in the Cicada: “Everyone is interested. Everyone.”
It’s little wonder that a president that has assumed autocratic authority over life and death would want such an arrow in his quiver. That is a given. What is still a variable, however, is how the American people will respond to this latest threat to their civil liberties.
Of course, in the present climate of near-constant urban unrest, it isn’t a stretch to see the deployment of these drones justified by the urgent need to restore peace and order.
Thanks to the legal plunder perpetrated by the federal government and the billions of dollars it puts at the disposal of the Department of Defense, the watchers will soon be able to be the proverbial fly on the wall — walls within the formerly private residences of Americans.
Day by day, the dossier of dictatorship being compiled by President Obama grows thicker and thicker. From the assumption of authority to draw “First Amendment Zones” to the supposed right to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and the capacity to send swarms of nearly silent, nearly invisible miniature drones throughout urban areas, President Obama and his congressional co-conspirators are attacking the constitutional barriers protecting the people from tyrants.
But the complete shredding of the U.S. Constitution protecting us from tyranny is not inevitable, and the damage already inflicted on history’s greatest experiment in human liberty can be reversed over time — if enough citizens become informed and then work with others to put the federal government back into its constitutional restraints.