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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Two Cons and the Emperor's new clothes

The Security con and most securities cons have one important thing in common. They are both variations of the "emperor's new clothes" con. Both rely on often faulty intelligence and analysis Sometimes folks really know what they are doing, but it is easier to play the con, and cheaper. In real life the more data one has the more muddy the picture of what is going on usually is. To get information out of that data one must analyze it, and that introduces personal biases, group biases, cultural, and emotional biases. For that reason it is easier to simply apply those biases and pretend one's data is better quality than it is in fact. Both the security game and the financial game rely on secrecy to make that so much easier.

You remember the story:

A group of salesmen come to the Kings court and tell the king they are weavers of the most wonderful clothing. They arrange an audience with the king in which they pay people to help them convince the king they are selling such clothing. They show him bolts of cloth so magical that only a fool can't see it's wondrous qualities, and all the people in the room nod and pretend that they are looking at real cloth while there actually is nothing there. They then take money from him and begin pretending to weave, and next thing you know he's parading down the street stark naked. All are convinced "that only a fool can't see this cloth" and so everyone watches in awe, pretending that the clothes are magnificent. Meanwhile the grifters abscond with their takings and head for the hills. In the story sometimes a little boy notices the nakedness and points it out and that is how the con is revealed. In some versions they stone the little boy and don't realize the con until they see the grifters have robbed the pallace during the parade.

Our Financial and Security industries have been running such cons.

There are legitimate reasons to keep both economic information and military-industrial-police-security information secret and private. Ironically the main reason is to protect that information from falling into the wrong hands. However, while the "wrong hands" are usually sold to people as outside enemies. The most likely enemy to individual security, safety, privacy and wealth, is usually found in the trustees of that information. Thus we are in most danger for our personal wealth from our security personnel and from those we've trusted to invest our money. Our republic is in danger, not from outside enemies (they are a danger more to their own communities than ours), but from these grifters who are using our injust laws and spy state to steal from us and empoverish us. In the name of "security, jobs, and prosperity." We once had nice clothes, now all of us are naked because of the cons.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Catch 22 and unintended/Intended consequence

The other day in my article "Surveillance metastasizes" I wrote how the NSA has basically been spun off into various daughter organizations, Fusion Centers, and various program agencies. All this was ordered by an National Security Directive you can find at the Whitehouse website. The article detailed a few of the orders, but not all of them. But it shows how fiendishly transparent our government can be in a Catch 22 Milo Minderbinder kind of way. Anyway one of the organizations had these Instructions:

"Using the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency and inter- national law enforcement task force established in 2000 and led by ICE, to assist with combating intellectual property theft and maintaining the integrity of public health, public safety, the military, and the U.S. economy."

... and I deduced (predicted): that "We can expect to find out that NSA intelligence sharing is helping Giant Companies go after people who download movies, pirate software and who knows what else." Well I was right (of course) the referenced organization exists and is relentless in it's pursuit of housewives, teachers and other people in search of material long in the public domain:

http://www.iprcenter.gov/reports/public-service-announcements is their website. And they have a mission:
"The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) stands at the forefront of the U.S. government’s response to global intellectual property (IP) theft. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters."
"http://www.iprcenter.gov/about-us"

So they've been active since 2000. With some successes world wide! An article in the blog "Daily dot" claims " Mega founder Kim Dotcom had some key intelligence on his online activity, provided by a foreign government's spy powers" which were used to bring him down. They've also made it possible to arrest folks buying knock off purses and such in New Yorks Manhattan Garment District. That would have killed my late wife twice.

All these fusion centers and orgs are not strictly speaking NSA, so when NSA demurres from claims it spies on school teachers downloading files for teaching materials -- they are technically right. Our Catch 22 rules are secret, so if you want to see them you have to fill out a form. But what you will see, if you are ever allowed to see it, will be redacted.

Lots in the news today.

And when the NSC decided to protect "intellectual property" I'm sure they had more Kim Dotcom in mind than the school teachers they so openly went after recently. It's just easier to go after teenagers, cheap purse buyers, and moms, than Mega companies or actual Pedophiles who might be coaches at important universities or Senators, or Wall Street kleptarchs. Thus we find the FBI working with spies to go after folks protesting Wall Street instead of Wall Street. It's just easier and your benefactors will pay you. That's the law of intended/unintended consequences. Modern Catch 22.

Daily Dot: http://www.dailydot.com/politics/nsa-kim-dotcom-xkeyscore-gcsb/

PBS article on the spies spying on journalists and politicians to keep them in line: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government_programs/july-dec13/whistleblowers_08-01.html

Yesterdays' post reviewing Sirota's article:The Ghost of J. Edgar Hoover lives on

Catch 22: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_Minderbinder

AP Report on court decision about NSA: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/nsa-collected-thousands-us-communications

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Ghost of J. Edgar Hoover lives on -- A review of Sirota's article

David Sirota, in an article for NSFWcorp.com, titled comically "Saying Boo to a Ghost" writes about the apparent disconnect between public outrage over NSA and spying related excesses and the response:

"What accounts for the disconnect between public outrage and Washington nonchalance? Is it money? Ideology? Or is it something even more sinister? In fact, it's almost certainly a combination of all three - with the third apparently so taboo almost nobody dares mention it."[https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/]

He details the obvious:

..."money is the most obvious. The private intelligence industry is a $56-billion-a-year business whose profits are almost wholly dependent on government contracts"...which privides a lucrative source for revolving door bribes and corrupt rewards. And which is often spent grooming "future presidential candidates.[https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/]

And we can't forget that over the years the Intelligence people has located major contracts in their home districts. That, in itself can explain why otherwise, seemingly progressive congress-critters, and the President, seem to "turn and cringe" from anything more than rhetorical flourishes about "more oversight."

And of course money is the reality behind the masks of ideology, the "public face of money". And in that topsy turvey world, a leak of highly embarrassing evidence of corruption, malfeasance, murder, and wholesale violations of human rights can be an "endangerment of people's lives", actually livelihoods. Always the rationale for more secrecy is that somehow the crimes kept secret will damage "national security" when released, and hurt people. In a way that is true. It hurts criminals when they are caught. But Sirota notes an even darker side to this. It gets even worse:

"That Congress nonetheless hasn't done anything about it - not even anything fake and PR-ish - suggests an insidious fear factor is also at work. No, not lawmakers' fear that without surveillance their constituents will be killed by terrorists, but lawmakers' deeper unspoken fear that if they don't continue supporting such surveillance, their careers could be killed by the NSA."[https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/]

And considering that there have been an awful lot of "suicides", "unexplained deaths", and just plain strange events around people attempting to be whistleblowers, or involved in trying to combat official corruption surrounding the spy programs, it's more than just careers on the line. I'm sure some of these people fear for their lives to question the spy programs. Sirota is noticing what others have remarked on for years. It is dangerous to tangle with the security state. Any security state, including our own.

"Consider the deep messaging of the NSA's brand. Only forty years removed from the blackmail-tinged reign of J. Edgar Hoover, the NSA has developed an image which implies the agency is vacuuming up more than enough incriminating phone records, emails and text/sext messages to politically torpedo any rank-and-file congressman, should that congressman step out of line."[https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/]

J. Edgar Hoover, bless his heart, kept two special file-cabinets available only to him. And if a congressman, politician, or for that matter activist or reporter, dared come too close to challenging his little empire, he'd give them a quiet little reminder of the materials in those files; Maybe a phone call. Maybe a warning. Most of the time he didn't have to actually arrest anyone. And less anyone think that our spy problems are only with the NSA, most of the issues regarding domestic spying turn out to involve "intelligence sharing" between all levels of Government, partly through Fusion Centers, but also through other programs. (See Bush's Loogie, and Surveillance Metastasizes for more)> And Bless his heart too, Deep Throat was Hoover's #2, Mark Felt, and Nixon had challenged the FBI when it created the Plumbers instead of working with them to spy on people and roll up enemies. So fear explains more than simple greed at this point. I know I'm giving up lucrative contract jobs just to talk about this since my field makes me a natural for designing and organizing the databases it takes to properly run a spy program. Heck if I were inside I'd be asking for "break the glass controls" and better audit trails and restrictions but not challenging it either. The problem is you can't trust human beings not to misuse a tool you give them, so "fixing that tool" is always a cludge.

And of course it always gets even juicier. Like with J. Edgar Hoover, a little bit of leaking about the program can a; scare ordinary people into shutting up; and b; guarantee that the powers that be won't challenge it. They can remind the President what happened to Kennedy for trying to do the right thing. As Sirota, somewhat ironically (or cynically) notes:

"And here's the thing: for all the agita intelligence officials express about new disclosures, those disclosures illustrate the sheer size and scope of governement surveillance. That doesn't weaken the NSA - on the contrary, it serves to politically strengthen the agency by constantly reminding lawmakers that the NSA 1) probably has absolutely everything on them and 2) could use that stuff against them."[https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/]

So I'm not expecting anything to be done. Though I would like to see "break the glass" auditing, more transparency in decision making, and better controls on access. The whole exercise is designed to be super secret treachery against the constitution aimed at ordinary citizens. I doubt they'll do more than put a few fig leaf process controls on the system.

We are toast, and given the partisan reactions of my democratic friends, it's already baked.

I was working on linking together all the public disclosures that tell us that the "metadata only" stuff is barely covering malarky. But Sirota finishes the argument for me. So I invite you to read his article, and focus on the final paragraphs, especially that quote from Allen Grayson.

Usually I quote 5 or six sources so that I'm presenting something new (at least in synthesis). Think of this as a review of Sirota's article.

Sources:

David Sirota:
https://www.nsfwcorp.com/scribble/5695/f3cf4b5670fff686e04e6a27898d3230b64b808e/
Washington post released today:
how privacy advocates shined light on the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance http://wapo.st/1dw0Pr6
They even redact the FISC courts decision that they violated the law:
http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/nsa-mad-libs-choose-your-own-redacted

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Strategic thinking and Corporatism

Strategic thinking means thinking about the long term effects: blow-backs, synergies, negative feedback -- suppresses an effect and positive feedback -- amplifies an effect, of our actions. Generals are taught to think strategically.

Unfortunately Generals usually get to be Colonels by following orders and tactical brilliance -- which isn't always strategically smart -- so truly brilliant Generals are rare. Less rare than you'd think however, and so we've got work by the Joint Chiefs that has looked into all of it.

Those strategies used to be public information, but I believe are now classified, and those fellows examined all these sorts of thing. Colin Powell wrote the book on Asymmetric warfare, and then burned it because he and other Generals involved in Vietnam concluded that such warfare was counterproductive strategically.

More recently they either rewrote the books or dusted them off of hidden shelves because they had to reinvent asymmetric warfare to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, with pretty much the same inconclusive and strategically stupid results. Even the expansion into other countries reminds people familiar with Vietnam of our invasions of Cambodia and Laos. And folks familiar with the backstory can see how it also involved misunderstandings and bad decisions about countries all over the world in the name of fighting communism but actually in the name of corporatism and international banking.

Ironically the international banking folks won the Vietnam war at our expense. We don't even notice when our jobs get shipped to Vietnam and China.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Surveillance metastasizes

Often the worst official crimes start out as well meaning attempts to improve the fight against criminality, but in a bureaucratic context. That is the case with NSA and it's capabilities. We are told publicly that the NSA only collects "meta information" that there is no privacy expectation on meta-information, and that therefore we should trust NSA that it will strictly enforce the law and hold it's efforts to the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and we won't spy on Americans. But this is too powerful a tool for the various police agencies in our government to keep to themselves.

From an Anti-Terrorism tool to an Anti-Drug Crime tool

So how did that NSA program get to be the basis for a massive internal spy effort? Well it starts out with a directive asking for improved capability to fight "Transnational Organized Crime"

I can't find the date on this directive. So you have an innocent sounding directive from the white house from the National Security Council dated sometime in 2012 calling for improved Intelligence and information sharing:

Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Enhance Intelligence and Information Sharing

The Article gives the standard boilerplate justification:

"A shift in U.S. intelligence collection priorities since the September 11, 2001 attacks left significant gaps in TOC-related intelligence. Meanwhile, the TOC threat has worsened and grown in complexity over the past 15 years. The fluid nature of TOC networks, which includes the use of criminal facilitators, makes targeting TOC increasingly difficult."

So this becomes the rationale for a program initially directed against international Crime Syndicates to become a nationwide program:

"Enhancing U.S. intelligence collection, analysis, and counterintelligence on TOC is a necessary first step, but should be accompanied by collaboration with law enforcement authorities at Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial levels and enhanced sharing with foreign counterparts. We will also supplement our understanding of TOC involvement in licit commercial sectors to better enable policymakers to develop specific interventions. Our aim is enhanced intelligence that is broad-based and centered on substan- tially upgraded signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT) and open sources intelligence (OSINT). This effort will be aided through greater information sharing with foreign partners and closer cooperation among intelligence, law enforcement, and other applicable agencies domestically."

The problem here is that a program aimed at international drug cartels, but operated down to the locality is going to enable spying on not only drug king-pins, but all the way down to the local pot-head who sells on the side to support his habit. In otherwords. This noble sounding objective is the rationale for a massive program that enables blanket wiretaps of millions of people.

And of course every legal issue has to be a national security issue to justify the secrecy involved:

We will augment our intelligence in step with the new TOC threats described previously. The Administration will review its current intelligence priorities, including the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, and determine how best to enhance our intelligence against the highest-level TOC threats to national security.

Decoding (note some terms skipped because not germaine):

"Enhancing SIGINT and HUMINT collection on TOC threats"...
SIGINT authorizes NSA to gather and keep phone and messaging records on targets. HUMINT allows the hiring of personnel ot infiltrate or spy on people individually.
"Coordinating with the interagency International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) to utilize existing resources and databases of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Fusion Center (OFC) and SOD to share intelligence, de-conflict operations, and produce actionable leads for investigators and prosecutors working nationwide;
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
"Employs a strategy to focus federal drug resources on reducing the flow of illicit drugs and drug proceeds.., and conducting expanded, nationwide investigations against all the related parts of the targeted organizations." which means down to the end user essentially.
Source; http://www.justice.gov/criminal/taskforces/ocdetf.html
All folks had to do was to read these messages carefully and run down the terms and they could have seen that this order authorized a nationwide spy program. Reuters detailed from what they did, but anyone reading this directive and being able to decode the Acronyms could have predicted it.
Special Operations Division
Established in 1994, the Special Operations Division (SOD) is a DEA-led multi-agency operations coor- dination center with participation from Federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and international law enforcement partners. SOD’s mission is to establish strategies and operations to dismantle national and international trafficking organizations by attacking their command and control communications. Special emphasis is placed on those major drug trafficking and narco-terrorism organizations that operate across jurisdictional boundaries on a regional, national, and international level. SOD provides foreign- and domestic-based law enforcement agents with timely investigative information that enables them to fully exploit Federal law enforcement’s investigative author- ity under Title III of the U.S. Code. SOD coordinates overlapping investigations, ensuring that tactical and operational intelligence is shared among law enforcement agencies.
The Fusion Centers
...are State organized entities that use wiretap information to go after general crime as directed by Governors at the State Level. There are also Fusion centers established by the Federal Government to operate various programs. The article goes on to define a number of them. I'm only sharing those directly related to domestic spying but the whole idea of fusion centers is to coordinate efforts, which usually means coordinating domestic spying, law enforcement and international spying. So the argument that "we don't spy on US citizens" is either false, or these organizations don't do anything.
De-conflict operations
First reading suggested this was an effort to prevent conflict, but it appears that this referred to the effort to ensure that every effort using spying was supported by nonspying corroborating evidence so the investigation real sources could be kept secret.
And this is a scandal as yet unrevealed:
"Using the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency and inter- national law enforcement task force established in 2000 and led by ICE, to assist with combating intellectual property theft and maintaining the integrity of public health, public safety, the military, and the U.S. economy."

We can expect to find out that NSA intelligence sharing is helping Giant Companies go after people who download movies, pirate software and who knows what else.

But of course the part that concerns us today is the following order:

" Enhancing Department of Defense support to U.S. law enforcement through the Narcotics and Transnational Crime Support Center."

Authorizing NSA to support Drug warfare in the name of National Security

The next part of the directive specifies actions to be taken. Actions that pretty much spell out authorization for local authorities to use NSA information and to spy on folks related to National efforts, drug enforcement, and law enforcement:

Specifically:

"Strengthen ties among U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence, law enforcement, and military entities, while strengthening cooperation with international intelligence and law enforcement partners.

These efforts were implemented through the Fusion Centers and programs like Infraguard.

Develop and foster stronger law enforcement and Intelligence Community relationships among Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial authorities.

The following reinforces a long time intelligence sharing effort were we spy for them and they would spy for us:

Support multilateral senior law enforcement exchanges to promote the sharing of criminal intelligence and enhance cooperation, such as the “Quintet of Attorneys-General” and the “Strategic Alliance Group” fora established with the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

And of course the following enables the spies to go after everyone involved in using or dealing drugs;

Establish a comprehensive and proactive information-sharing mechanism to identify TOC actors and exclude them from the United States or uncover them within the United States.

quotes from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/intelligence-sharing

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Fusion Center
Created in June 2006, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Fusion Center (OFC) serves as a central data warehouse for drug intelligence, financial intelligence, and related investigative information, and is designed to conduct cross-agency integration and analysis of such data with a view to creating comprehensive intelligence pictures of targeted organizations, including those identified as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets—the United States’ most wanted international drug and money laundering targets. The OFC provides agencies with operational human and financial intelligence, and is staffed with agents and analysts detailed from 14 participating investigative agencies. These personnel conduct analysis to produce investigative leads, develop target profiles, and identify links between drug organizations and other criminal activity in support of drug investigations.
The International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center
In May 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the establishment of the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2), an entity that marshals the resources and information of U.S. law enforcement agencies and Federal prosecutors to collectively combat the threats posed by inter- national criminal organizations. Understanding that international criminal organizations are profit-driven, IOC-2 also works with investigators and prosecutors to target the criminal proceeds and assets of inter-national criminal organizations. In recognition of the demonstrated interrelationship between criminal organizations that engage in illicit drug trafficking and those that engage in international organized crime involving a broader range of criminal activity, IOC-2 works in close partnership with the OFC and SOD.

The IOC would not be germaine to domestic crime, except it works with the SODs and shares intelligence with other Fusion Centers and Federal and State Law enforcement.

The EPIC Border Intelligence Fusion Section
The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), managed by the DEA, was established in 1974 to support enforce- ment efforts against drug and alien smuggling along the Southwest border. EPIC has grown over time to better support Federal, State, local and tribal law enforcement. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis established the Border Intelligence Fusion Section (BIFS) at EPIC in November 2010 with the objective of providing U.S. law enforcement, border enforcement, and investigative agencies with multi-source intelligence and law enforcement information to support investigations, interdictions, and other law enforce- ment operations related to the Southwest border. The BIFS is a joint, collaborative effort of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and partners in the Intelligence Community and, as a multi-source/all threats intelligence section at EPIC, the BIFS will access and analyze intelligence and information received by and developed at EPIC in order to produce a common intelligence picture and common operating picture.

EPIC is a classic example of mission creep.It was supposed to focus almost entirely on border crime, but now it works with local law enforcemnt along the border and within border states. This amounts to most of the country.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/intelligence-sharing

So from necessary "national security needs" we develop programs that wind up causing all sorts of troubles for ordinary Americans.

Thanks to these capabilities we have millions of people in prison.

http://www.alternet.org/how-many-americans-are-rotting-prison-because-secret-evidence-collected-spy-agencies

From Alternet/Salon / By Andrew O'Hehir DEA:

This is the logic of National Security. Everyone is connected to someone. And even if someone like you or I aren't involved in drug smuggling, we might read books, or be related to someone who is. So it's ironic that the people with the most separation from international drug cartels are the most targetted. It is also ironic that the people who should have been closest to the programs are the last ones to find out about them.

How the SOD bypasses the Constitution

Fakhoury (Deeplinks) writes in SOD bypasses the Constitution

Even beyond the larger systemic problem of insulating NSA surveillance from judicial review, criminal defendants whose arrest or case is built upon FISA evidence are now deprived of their right to examine and challenge the evidence used against them.

Fakhoury goes on:

Documents uncovered by Reuters specifically instruct federal agents and local police to “omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony.” Instead, cops and agents are told to “recreate the investigative trail” to make it look like regular police work. This is “parallel construction,” a marvelous and terrifying bureaucratic neologism that in plain English appears to mean lying. For instance, it might mean claiming that a traffic stop that led to a drug bust stemmed from a broken taillight or an illegal left turn, rather than an NSA intercept, an overseas wiretap or a CIA informant. "

And all this flows from the National Security Commission and their directives to do "intelligence sharing" and go after the drug cartels. Only they usually can't get the leaders of the various International Organizations -- so they go after ordinary folks instead. It's easier.

Fakhoury’s recent post on the EFF’s DeepLinks blog explores various ways that these deliberate deceptions appear to violate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and undercut the crucial role of legal scrutiny entrusted to the courts. They prevent judges from assessing the constitutionality of government surveillance (since they never even find out about it), and deprive criminal defendants of the venerable common-law right to examine and challenge the evidence against them. He also makes the broader point that the NSA’s enormous trove of surveillance data has provoked an “unquenchable thirst for access” among other law enforcement agencies, whose leaders imagine all the wonderful things they could do with it. "

This is because the information from deep sources, being clearly unconstitutional is "wiped" from the investigative records after it is "cleared" and verified through legal channels.

Taken together, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments guarantee a criminal defendant a meaningful opportunity to present a defense and challenge the government's case. But this intelligence laundering deprives defendants of these important constitutional protections. It makes it harder for prosecutors to comply with their ethical obligation under Brady v Maryland to disclose any exculpatory or favorable evidence to the defense—an obligation that extends to disclosing evidence bearing on the reliability of a government witness. Hiding the source of information used by the government to initiate an investigation or make an arrest means defendants are deprived of the opportunity to challenge the accuracy or veracity of the government's investigation, let alone seek out favorable evidence in the government's possession.

This means that even judges don't know what is going on. The Reuters article notes:

Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law professor who spent 18 years as a federal judge and cannot be accused of being a radical, told Reuters she finds the DEA story more troubling than anything in Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. It’s the first clear evidence that the “special rules” and disregard for constitutional law that have characterized the hunt for so-called terrorists have crept into the domestic criminal justice system on a significant scale. “It sounds like they are phonying up investigations,” she said. Maybe this is how a police state comes to America: Not with a bang, but with a parallel construction."

Actually I'd say it comes to America with Joint operations, Fusion Centers and parallel construction is just one of the means to keep the program a secret so we can all continue to live under the delusion that we actually live by the principles of our declaration of Independence and the bill of rights. After all if you don't know you are being spied on "no knowledge, no foul." It "never happened" is something I've heard before. For most of my career, and that of many other folks connected to the Federal Government we've been using. but there are fouls here:

"Millions of people have been sent to prison on drug-war convictions over the last 20 years. Most of those people have been poor and black. We will never know how many of those cases resulted from secret evidence collected by spy agencies, but it might not be a small number. One of the Reuters articles that broke this story quotes DEA officials as saying that the “parallel construction” tactic had been used by the agency “virtually every day since the 1990s.” Legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of the recent bestseller “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” sent me an email from her family vacation to say that these revelations “certainly lead one reasonably to wonder how many people — especially poor people of color, who have been the primary targets in the drug war — have been spied on by the DEA in the name of national security.”

The article from Alternet goes on:

"over the past week, the DEA’s Special Operations Division – originally created in 1994 to battle Latin American drug cartels – routinely funnels “information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.” We’re talking about data collected by all the clandestine but theoretically legal means that Edward Snowden’s leaks have told us about, data gathered in the name of combating terrorism that ends up being used for entirely different purposes. These are ordinary drug prosecutions with no links to terrorism or other national security issues, but in which the information that led to the original arrest is treated as a state secret. "

No Wonder the Administration is angry. Most of us in this business keep our mouths shut about this stuff. Heck, if I were still working or got a job in the business again I'd revert to my usual "I see Nothink! I see NothinK!" response to this stuff. It's a shame that those of us connected to the military and the security state should have to quote from "Hogan's heros" which was about prisoners in the German POW Concentration camps after all.

PS: The list is long

The enemies list has already expanded. In my previous blog I noted how Occupy was labeled a "potentially terrorist" organization and gone after in coordinated efforts out of Norfolk. I haven't finished running down the details of that story yet, but the Fusion centers now seem to have access to NSA wiretap info to go after pretty much anything they want to. And even worse info is hinted in the directive's mention of "intellectual property" because that is a private effort and yet NSA is directed to provide intelligence to them too.

And the IRS

UPDATE: Add the IRS to the list of federal agencies obtaining information from NSA surveillance. Reuters reports that the IRS got intelligence tips from DEA's secret unit (SOD) and were also told to cover up the source of that information by coming up with their own independent leads to recreate the information obtained from SOD. So that makes two levels of deception: SOD hiding the fact it got intelligence from the NSA and the IRS hiding the fact it got information from SOD. Even worse, there's a suggestion that the justice Department (DOJ) "closely guards the information provided by SOD with strict oversight," shedding doubt into the effectiveness of DOJ earlier announced efforts to investigate the program.

Further Readings and links used in this post:

Reuters Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/07/us-dea-irs-idUSBRE9761AZ20130807
article on NSA http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/?p=58188
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office
http://www.alternet.org/how-many-americans-are-rotting-prison-because-secret-evidence-collected-spy-agencies
Further Readings:
ttp://www.infragard-norfolk.org/
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/05/secret-dea-unit-surveillance-authorities
Later writings by me:
On DSAC:http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-domestic-security-alliance-council.html
Additional Readings:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/09/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-882013
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/08/09/protecting-our-security-and-preserving-our-freedoms
Bush's Loogie: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/08/bushs-loogie.html
Forbes Editorial:http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/08/09/lavabits-ladar-levison-if-you-knew-what-i-know-about-email-you-might-not-use-it/
Forbes Lavabit article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/08/08/email-company-reportedly-used-by-edward-snowden-shuts-down-rather-than-hand-data-over-to-feds/
Guardian Articlehttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/09/lavabit-shutdown-snowden-silicon-valley

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Privatization

Privatization is the turning over of services and entities to private government. It is a form of rent seeking in which persons seek to govern an entity for the sake of wealth and riches (profit). The rent seekers usually sell their services either on the premise that they can do a better job of running entities or they simply acquire and exercise power and control over entities and systems through acquisition and exercise of power. When they create the system they run that is not strictly speaking privatization as they are running that service from the start. But the results are similar.

Privately run entities are usually run for the private separate advantage of the owners and investors. They are usually monopolies and so such entities usually control their markets, have unequal power and information, can set monopolistic rents on their goods and services, and usually are monopolies or part of an oligarchic power structure. And so their rule of services and entities is usually oppressive and redistributes wealth from customers and employees to investors and owners.

History verifies is worse than bureaucratization (and usually combined). In the 19th century the Pennsylvania Railroad was bigger, had more power, and a bigger bureaucracy, than the State Government of Pennsylvania. Eventually they had to be "regulated" because they couldn't logically be broken up (on the contrary they needed to be integrated). Once regulated our Railroads decayed because private management was monopolistic acquisitive and diverted it's trust accounts to speculative purposes. Using it's monopoly over rails and steady income to finance other activities. A Government entity must be run on a mission; which may not have an end point but does have virtues and objective measures. For example a railroad provides transportation services and integrates towns and country; but private government does not have that mission, it's only mission is to make money. And as demonstrated with turnpikes, canals, railroads, and countless other examples going back to before the USA was a company, that is fatal to the efficient running (government) of any service or system.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Privacy protections like a string thong in a mens club

Press Secretary Carney's Press Conference August 9

Snowden's whistleblowing has embarrassed the administration because domestic spying in a Democracy is only effective if it is secret and under strict control. At least that is the premise of authorities before, and after, the word "democracy" becomes a joke due to abuses of spy powers. I was listening to Press Secretary Carney as he was asked about NSA spying. His carefully worded answer was that:

MR. CARNEY: "Well, I think the article eventually explained we have made clear that under FAA 702, the NSA may not intentionally target a U.S. person. In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect. And while NSA analysts examine only a very small percentage of the world’s traffic, if communications of U.S. persons are incidentally collected the agency must follow minimization procedures that are approved by the U.S. Attorney General and designed to protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Specifically, these procedures require NSA to minimize the acquisition processing, retention and dissemination of information of or concerning U.S. persons."

His answer was no difference from what Bush's Press Secretaries were saying. This of course is talking about the National Security Agency. And the problem is that reporters are asking the wrong question. Carney is absolutely right. NSA itself is not supposed to spy on US citizens. It's job is to spy on foreign threats. For spying on US citizens you have to look to other agencies and other programs, which piggyback on FISA and work with NSA, so that technically it's not the main NSA FISA program doing the spying. Carney can say:

"The purpose of the program is to investigate and potentially prevent terrorist threats emanating from foreign sources. And the protections in place regarding the inadvertent collection of information of U.S. citizens ensure that there's a minimized -- a process of minimization that protects the privacy of American citizens."

...and be perfectly misleading. The reporter, of course, already knows this is not the whole truth, so asked for a redirect in plain language about NSA listening/reading private citizen messages:

MR. CARNEY: "It's not being read. The information that is targeted has to do with terrorist threats or potential terrorist threats emanating from foreign persons in foreign areas. And there are procedures in place -- as I just described and I'm sure ODNI and others, NSA, can explain to you in greater detail -- that ensure that inadvertently collected information is minimized and dealt with appropriately.

The right questions are "are there other programs, beyond what NSA does, that do sift through private messages? Does the DEA have access to the so called "Corporate Store?" But Carney is probably forbidden to answer that question. Reporters have to be savvy enough to ask the right questions. What NSA does as NSA is the wrong question. And really they just need to do their homework. The white house press corps is supposed to be the best of the best. So far they've just shown they are the toadiest of a pack of toads.

Civil Liberties problem or PR problem?

Obama is almost breaking relations with Russia because he's sheltering Snowden. The irony of this is that we used to regularly harbor dissidents from the World oppression, the Russian Gulag and the Russian surveillance state, and we'd get super ticked if anyone threatened us for it. Russia is a sovereign state, and Snowden seeking assylum there is appropriate given that it is probably the only country that still is willing to stand up to us, he really does face torture and mistreatment when and if he ever returns to the USA, and Snowden did break the law but IS a whistleblower. If is he were a simple spy the USA government would probably get ticked and otherwise go "ho hum" that's the spy game. They are ticked at Snowden because he did blow the whistle on some programs that directly violate the constitution, directly violate liberal (not libertarian --that is a brand rustling counterfeiter operation) traditions, and traditions of free speech and good government. If Snowden were so wrong the President wouldn't have felt it necessary to give a speech affirming respect for due process, privacy, and individual civil rights

President's speech:

So the President gave a speech where he "highlighted his commitment to the balance between “protecting our security and preserving our freedoms" and announced his plans for increased transparency and reforms in our intelligence programs, in order to give the public confidence that these programs have strong oversight and clear protections against abuse:

"The American people need to have confidence in them as well. And that's why, over the last few weeks, I’ve consulted members of Congress who come at this issue from many different perspectives. I’ve asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to review where our counterterrorism efforts and our values come into tension, and I directed my national security team to be more transparent and to pursue reforms of our laws and practices."

He wouldn't have called for "appropriate reforms" of FISA and NSA if Snowden hadn't embarrassed him.

Infowars, Infragard, Fusion Centers and State Control

In his speech he agreed that the secret courts shall have a secret defense bar to represent those who don't know they are being spied on, probably as well as public defenders defend accused criminals in most states. Personally I'm not impressed. This looks like a PR move, and the center of abuses isn't at the Federal level anyway, it's at the State Level and it is centered on Fusion Centers and programs like Infragard, where these same national agencies work with State and local police, private and State agencies, and fight crime, "terrorism", "unrest", drugs, and whatever the pet Peeve of the local governor is; all with access to databases that originally were supposed to be for spying on spies only.

Fact is, as I alluded to the other day in "Bush's Loogie", General Hayden, Bill Casey, and others envisioned a public-private security capability that could focus on domestic spying and operate under fewer restrictions than Government agencies operating under supervision of courts and officials afraid of their shadow. but of course, courts need judicial oversight too;

Metastasis

The real problem is not the government going after Al Qaeda or actual terrorist groups. It is when they use the resources of a spy/police state to attack citizens trying to live within their lives and pursue their private affairs. Not everyone is a criminal, but for police and spy types, everyone is suspect until cleared. When prosecutorial forces are allowed to run free, the burden of proof for criminality becomes "can you prove your are innocent" or not. And since no human being is completely innocent, that means that no human being can be secure from a spy state. Spying Metastasizes. Moreover, spy states become so single mindedly obsessed about enemies and potential enemies that they will shut down or attack anything that gets in the way of their operations. And they will use their powers of official secrecy to criminalize efforts for such institutions to defend themselves from them. This is going on here. Yesterday, Lavabit, an internet email supplier shut down rather than comply with a secret court order:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/09/lavabit-shutdown-snowden-silicon-valley Greenwald writes (it's also in Forbes and other articles):

"A Texas-based encrypted email service recently revealed to be used by Edward Snowden - Lavabit - announced yesterday it was shutting itself down in order to avoid complying with what it perceives as unjust secret US court orders to provide government access to its users' content. "After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations," the company's founder, Ladar Levinson, wrote in a statement to users posted on the front page of its website. He said the US directive forced on his company "a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit." He chose the latter.

And so, will it really save us from the security forces if the secret courts have a secret defense, secret court orders, gag the ones they serve, and make it criminal to complain?

"CNET's Declan McCullagh smartly speculates that Lavabit was served "with [a] federal court order to intercept users' (Snowden?) passwords" to allow ongoing monitoring of emails; specifically: "the order can also be to install FedGov-created malware." After challenging the order in district court and losing - all in a secret court proceeding, naturally - Lavabit shut itself down to avoid compliance while it appeals to the Fourth Circuit.

So, here we have secret courts (presumably FISC court, but possibly just district courts) ordering secret behavior aimed, not at going after Foreign operatives, but going after an alleged "spy", Snowden, who most people would label more a whistleblower. And from the record around this, they probably were trying to force Lavabit to put in malware that would give them access not just to Snowden's email, but to all email clients of Lavabit. We are used to hearing of "black hatted" hackers sticking malware on our computers, but here it is the government doing it.

"This morning, Silent Circle, a US-based secure online communication service, followed suit by shutting its own encrypted email service. Although it said it had not yet been served with any court order, the company, in a statement by its founder, internet security guru Phil Zimmerman, said: "We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now."

And Glenn Greenwald comments (which I agree with):

What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

He then shares this from Lavabit:

I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what's going on - the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."

So between court gag orders and congress gagging those who they force to cooperate. Do we really have anything less than a police state? Forbes reports:

“As a Dallas company, we weren’t really equipped to respond to this inquiry. The government knew that,” said Levison, who drew parallels with the prosecutorial bullying of Aaron Swartz. “The same kinds of things have happened to me. The government tried to bully me, and [my lawyer] has been instrumental in protecting me, but it’s amazing the lengths they’ve gone to to accomplish their goals.”

Putting courts over spy programs actually just corrupts the courts, as long as secrecy is the rule. Separation of powers becomes a joke when Judges, prosecutors, and spies are all part of the same enterprise. Rule of law becomes less protective of privacy and rights than a string thong at at a mens club.

That is enough for this post. I drafted it yesterday. But the information is too depressing. Aaron Swartz was driven to suicide by a prosecution that was going to put him in jail for the rest of his life for challenging a private company's (JStore) usurpation of information that belongs in the public domain (and libraries). And "that's not all!". More to come.

Further Readings and links used in this post:

Sources and Further Readings:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press- office/2013/08/09/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-882013
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/08/09/protecting-our- security-and-preserving-our-freedoms
Bush's Loogie: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/08/bushs-loogie.html
Forbes Editorial:http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/08/09/lavabits-ladar-levison-if-you-knew-what-i-know-about-email-you-might-not-use-it/
Forbes Lavabit article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/08/08/email-company-reportedly-used-by-edward-snowden-shuts-down-rather-than-hand-data-over-to-feds/
Guardian Articlehttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/09/lavabit-shutdown-snowden-silicon-valley

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Summers and Wall Street should not run the Federal Reserve

Grifters and Swindlers

Wall Street was once a venerable institution, but is now little more than a den of thieves. Maybe there are decent people, but the culture itself is one of grifters and swindles, cons and it's been this way for a while with the help of corrupt lawyers like Eric Holder, and corrupt political-pundits like Rubin and Larry Summers. Okay, it always has had a sleazy side, ever since markets were places where animals were bought, sold, and slaughtered. There have always been hucksters, grifters, fraudsters, and thieves. But never so brazen and so many. And so transparently so! And they always manage to "dirty" their marks so that they think they are at fault.

I had other subjects in mind, but several news topics pushed them aside today. In the context of these news items I'm hearing that Larry Summers wants to be Federal Reserve Chairman and the logical and Obama wants to pass up the integral (person with integrity) choice for the job; Janet Yellen. This would be a disaster. Larry Summers should be in jail not the Fed. Janet Yellen is well qualified and what we need right now. But Summers is a corrupt insider and Obama likes him for some reason.

Champion putting hungry foxes in the hen houses

He's been involved in nearly every corrupt short sighted decision in this country since before he championed repeal of Glass Steagle in the waning days of the Clinton Administration. Wikipedia summarizes well [sorry this would take three blogs otherwise]:

  1. "Summers hailed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, which lifted more than six decades of restrictions against banks offering commercial banking, insurance, and investment services (by repealing key provisions in the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act):
  2. "Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," Summers said. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."
  3. As a member of President Clinton's Working Group on Financial Markets, Summers, along with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Arthur Levitt, Fed Chairman Greenspan, and Secretary Rubin, torpedoed an effort to regulate the derivatives that many blame for bringing the financial market down in Fall 2008."
  4. And there is his role in bringing down Gray Davis in California and enabling Enron to replace him with the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) Summers excused Enron's financial manipulation in that incident.

Indeed he still supports financial deregulation, is still blocking regulation of the derivatives market and enabling banks to acquire rent seeking opportunities. Heaven help us if he gets access to the Federal Reserves regulatory apparatus! In the Daily Beast Steven Senne quotes Kurt Eichenwald saying:

In his book about Enron, Conspiracy of Fools, Kurt Eichenwald describes Summers’ role in the early stages of the California energy crisis when the state was suddenly faced with power shortages and energy costs that were soaring up to 20 times normal levels. Then-Governor Gray Davis, convinced that Enron and others were manipulating the market, begged the federal government to intervene.

And of course it turned out that Enron really was engaging in swindles and frauds, and that the program of deregulation that the Summers/Rubin school was pursuing would eventually lead to other companies immitating and multiplying frauds -- which are still continuing to this day. And was there quid pro quo? You decide. Tony Wikrent posted this excerpt from emails from around that same time in "Real Economics":

"As you know, Ken has talked to Larry Summers about serving on Enron's Board of Directors. Larry told Ken that in light of his selection to head Harvard, he wants to hold off going on any corporate boards for now. My understanding is that Larry will most likely accept Ken's offer at the end of the year."

Looks like Quid Pro Quo to me. But that's not all. He's also been a champion of bankers and wealth over just about every other priority. During his stint at the World Bank he helped engineer our current trade imbalances by engineering a bailout of East Asian Countries based on letting them arbitrage the dollar. He:

"engineered a bailout that gave countries the money they needed to get through the crisis, but required that they would pay their debts in full. The flip side was that the United States would maintain an open door to exports from the region.

If he'd learned anything from these things it might be one thing but he still champions corporate power, is against regulation and is out to deregulate just about anything that wants to be deregulated. And Obama seems to feel the same way. The times Rana Foroohar quotes him in 2011:

“I’ve been more cautious than many about constraining financial innovation,” he said, adding that he didn’t believe the financial crisis had its roots in “new-fangled financial instruments” but rather in a simple real estate bubble.

If he can say that despite Enron and everything that has happened since, then he's also a prevaricator.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2011/04/12/larry-summers-no-regrets-on-deregulation/#ixzz2bJvLVbRa

No surprises

But that should be no surprise. Money leads people to moral blindness and eyes open recklessness, and the pursuit of money and power is what is behind most corruption. Wall Street is unrepentant. Goldman Sachs has been accused of manipulating aluminum prices, and other companies Copper and other metals. Without laws forbidding them using "other people's money" recklessly they'll continue using their corrupt control over congress, courts and executives to make more money and take over and loot one industry after another. With Summers at the Fed at least he won't be provoking stupid policy decisions such as getting rid of the mortgage option for ordinary people trying to buy a house:

Rules are meant to be Broken

Summers is an awful choice for a human being (could be worse of course), much less to be a trusted advisor or in any position of trust. Yet a lot of folks think Summers is a genius and continue to believe him despite his track record of being wrong and the corrupt results of his prescriptions. This is because he reflects the Wall Street mindset that Alexis Goldstein wrote about after he left it more than 2 years ago. Nothing has changed about it or the people who shill for it:

"But the key to truly understanding superiority on Wall Street is by looking at how it’s measured: with cold, hard numbers. Numbers can be amplified by honest work, but they can also be amplified by betrayal, manipulation, and cheating. And when everything is a cold cost-benefit analysis, why wouldn’t you break regulations—provided you knew the profits you stood to make would dwarf the fines you would pay should you get caught?"

Wall Street's modus operandi for nearly a century has been to "promise the moon" and then laugh at people when the promise turns out to be a lie. And folks like Larry Summers are there to make sure that they can ignore regulations, engage in "new-fangled" swindles and not even get fined in the first place -- to their hearts content. Deregulation and prosecutors who tell Congress that Wall Street firms are "too big to jail" have contributed to the current attitude that Goldstein refers to in this quote:

"This is why paying fines when you are caught breaking the rules is simply deemed “the cost of doing business” on Wall Street. "

Summers has already been handsomely rewarded, and once he leaves office he'll get more rewards still. I suspect his membership in boards and he'll draw good speech fees once he leaves office. And he's still at it. His current project is an attack on government supported mortgages for the remaining middle class: BINYAMIN APPELBAUM writes in the New York Times;

The president praised a bipartisan Senate effort to replace Fannie and Freddie with a system that would charge lenders for explicit government guarantees of some mortgage loans. And while there is a risk that the cost of borrowing would increase, Mr. Obama also said that he wanted to preserve the wide availability of the 30-year, fixed-rate loans that are preferred by most Americans.

A risk? No the word is certainty. And all of us know that their promises are worthless. The end of Fannie and Freddie means the end of the 30 year fixed rate mortgages and folks locked into Usurious interest rates. Wall Street has a massive power over both parties -- and this has to be fought. The first step is defeating Summers.

But of course the Grifters label these frauds and corrupting laws "reform" and act like it will benefit the people it assaults. The same article notes:

"“Washington has suddenly come alive on housing finance reform,” said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association"

Mike Papantonio notes that we should be deliberative as we fight, and neither get furious, nor let nasty people rattle our nerves. It is hard sometimes. But worth the effort. Because once you open your eyes and learn how to see and analyze you can tell the scoundrels from more integral people. I didn't mention that Yellen is more than qualified, a lot smarter, teaches economics, serves on the Federal Reserve Board now, and is honest. Nor did I mention that Larry Summers has a reputation as a macho misogynist. That is because the current in crowd thinks that being a woman or having integrity is a drawback for the job.

Sources for this post:
http//www.nytimes.com/1999/11/05/business/congress-passes-wide-ranging-bill-easing-bank-laws.html
http//online.wsj.com/article/SB123665023774979341.htm
http//www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/#morelink"
http//www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/05/larry-summers-enron_n_3708137.html
http//www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2008/11/12/larry-summers-and-enron.html
http//real-economics.blogspot.com/2010/12/larry-summers-role-in-derivatives.html
http//www.cepr.net/index.php/op-eds-&-columns/op-eds-&-columns/larry-summers-biggest-blunder
http//business.time.com/2011/04/12/larry-summers-no-regrets-on-deregulation/
Aluminum scam:
http//www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/how-goldman-made-5-billion-by-manipulating-aluminum-inventories-and-copper-is-up-next.html
http//nplusonemag.com/leaving-wall-street
http//www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/washington-edges-warily-into-housing.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0
Rolling Stone's narrative on the 2008 bailout includes details on Summer's swindling role in it:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104?page=2

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bush's Loogie

Ever since Jefferson came into office facing off with his relative John Marshall who suddenly discovered that the Supreme Court has the power to determine constitutionality, the right has been adept at using courts and institutions to frustrate more popular sovereignty.... We still haven't learned. Come to think of it Jefferson wrote his letters back to the USA in code because he was convinced that John Adam's administration was spying on him.... We really haven't learned.

Background -- Spying and the Church Committee

....NSA was the product of pre-war spying and Benchly Park WWII efforts. During World War II British and American Cryptographers, mathematicians and what would be called computer programmers, developed techniques for hacking almost any foreign cipher code. After the war the USA setup an international telecom system that just happened to flow pretty much all traffic through USA cities. This aspect of USA led telecom development was a strict secret (rumors of it's existence were considered nut case ravings by most who heard them), but it made spying on foreigners easier. This access to telecom transmissions was and is still known as "The corporate store." Technically it was illegal to tap the Corporate Store prior to 9/11 except for foreign spying or under a warrant. Getting a court order to spy on somebody was a useful prelude to arresting them, but the rest of the time "no harm no foul, and "if you don't even know they spied on you, even better" may have been the practice. We don't even know to this day the details of spying on USA citizens, but we know it occurred before 1978 because the FISA act was supposed to take care of that. The Church Committee discovered a veritable nightmare hidden world of assassinations, coups, and spying internally and externally. Intelligence Services cannot resist spying at home, and ours had been no exception. They'd labeled anti-war activists, hippies, civil rights activists, and just about the entire Republican opposition to be potential terrorists and "unamerican" and spied, sent in agent provocateurs, and targeted them for prosecution and tax audits. The Church Committee documented massive abuses.

In order to deal with intelligence abuses that had come to light in the Church Committee hearings Congress created and passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) setup a Foreign Intelligence Court (FISC), under the supervision of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1978, during the Carter Administration, with bi-partisan support....

Baited and Switched Again

The laudable goal of the FISA Act was to take the intelligence effort out of the hands of people like Richard Nixon, based on the plausible but faulty premise that White House tyranny would be similar to Nixon's "Plumbers" who'd been run out of the White House with the purpose of "fixing leaks" and with the dream of assassinations and prosecutions of leakers.

Thus FISA was setup to control foreign intelligence and NSA was supposed to only gather intelligence on foreign countries. The FBI could only legally spy on individuals after an individual wiretap warrant.

Switch

It turns out that Nixon had created the plumbers because the established intelligence services weren't cooperating with him. In fact it turns out that a top official of the FBI was "Deep Throat" and was actively undermining him for personal reasons. [Deep throat was a top official who was passed over when J. Edgar Hoover was replaced with a Nixon crony]. The FBI uses wiretaps, but it never had trouble getting them.

And it turns out the NSA already had it's "5 eyes" program and using intelligence sharing could spy on anyone they wanted to as long as they didn't get caught. If they'd been willing to cooperate with Nixon, he'd have never needed amateurs and losers like the plumbers. They had the tools, and if they wanted to they could pretend to get the information from other countries. So it is that with the first Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Congress setup a system that was designed to frustrate "tyrants" but really was designed to be unaccountable; And with Foreign Intelligence Sharing, worldwide. John Adams would be proud.

.....And it has been under barely disguised Republican Control since then since the Chief Justice is almost always a Republican. Even so the FISA court wasn't that big a deal when NSA was restricted from spying on everybody. The FBI spied on Americans using court orders and had no trouble getting them. NSA could spy on everybody quicker and easier, but was restrained by law. Apparently they did it anyway, but they couldn't use the intelligence gathered domestically except indirectly without tipping their hand to their lawbreaking. Until after 9/11.

Al Qaeda baits the hook for our domestic spying

So it is that Bush's disastrous response to the 9/11 disaster provided an opening for NSA to ramp up what it was doing already through the Telecoms, and for the intelligence services to share that wonderful treasure chest of everyone's internet and telephone communications that they'd had to keep locked away (or pretend to keep locked away -- it is a secret after all and the secret keepers never resist opening the treasury and looking at their jewels), with other intelligence force. And that is how Bush left office giving Obama a big loogie.

When 9/11 happened Bush and Cheney opened up the dark closet of CIA and NSA spying and police state tactics. Cheney advanced his "99%" solution, and the NSA was given a greenlight to modernize it's collection capabilities. Essentially they could openly tap into their existing splitters and spy on people. This was all under a black budget but people found out they were being spied on and didn't like it. When spies look at someone's record they spy on them surreptitiously, look at their stuff and then decide whether to "clear them" or advance them for further scrutiny. If no one knows they've been looked at "No harm, no foul", but once someone knows they're being spied on (or just as scary they might be spied on) they get anxious. Foreign enemies become the justification for attacking domestic enemies. General Hayden expressed the "Bait" Rational:

“The source of information about vulnerabilities of and potential attacks on the homeland will not be dominated by foreign intelligence, as was the case in the Cold War. The terrorists understood us well, and so they lived and planned where we did not spy (inside the U.S.),” said Woolsey in prepared remarks before the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security on June 24, 2004. 1

The Loogie - Al Qaeda = Domestic enemies of the right

But this is the bait. This country criminalizes so many things that one can be suspected of "thought crimes" just for thinking, so nobody is safe from venal spies who might want to get a warrant out on some kid for making a joke about their feelings about some bullies in their school. And there are worse things that spies regular do that can entrap a person or setup a person -- so one just doesn't feel safe when one knows one is being spied on. Which is why the spooks and the people who let them spy are so pissed at Snowden. Our politicians promised prophylactic (preventative) security. You only get that if you criminalize thought crimes and verbal expression. It requires totalitarian government to get prophylactic security. Even then it can't be done. But when you create a police state it is very good at punishing thought crimes -- such as working for an opposition party or investigating wrong doing. Terrorism is a State tool for terrorizing people into not looking too carefully at sketchy finances and bad behavior. Spying might be acceptable if it remains in government hands, but it is such a useful too, especially our modern total solutions, but it never does. If a tool can fall into the wrong hands it always does.

Chief Justice Rex

Chief Justice Robert ended the days of a moderate supreme court and as head of the FISC court he's turned it into an instrument of state security and made it a rubber stamp for all the kinds of spying that the Church Committee had denounced. Having a majority Right Wing Supreme Court means that his fellow Justices can't or won't challenge him. So he's got near dictatorial powers over the spy machine absent legislation to reign him in by the other two branches. The President can advise the Chief Justice, but not dictate. He can arrest, but what court can he prosecute in? But that's not all folks.

Fusion Centers as a Loogie

It's access to the "corporate store" of major telecoms let's NSA acquire any transmissions it wants and can store. But that's not the biggest part of the loogie. During the Bush Administration, the FISC court was supplemented by a private public partnership organized and paid for by Homeland security, but organized and chartered by State Governors and involving private "NSA"-lets, or private companies given privileges to conduct government spy business. These organizations were setup, initially in deep secrecy and were known as "fusion centers." They are run by the Governors, not the President, and they work together on issues important to themselves. Most of them are involved in "fighting terrorism" more broadly defined than fighting Al Qaeda. For example the Virginia Fusion center promotes a "See something Say something" program aimed at getting intelligence from you and I. A laudable goal if not abused;

The Department of Homeland security setup "fusion centers" to coordinate anti-terrorism efforts:

"Fusion centers contribute to the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) through their role in receiving threat information from the federal government; analyzing that information in the context of their local environment; disseminating that information to local agencies; and gathering tips, leads, and suspicious activity reporting (SAR) from local agencies and the public. Fusion centers receive information from a variety of sources, including SAR from stakeholders within their jurisdictions, as well as federal information and intelligence. They analyze the information and develop relevant products to disseminate to their customers. These products assist homeland security partners at all levels of government to identify and address immediate and emerging threats.3

The Fusion centers thus coordinate efforts between the Federal Government and the States. But they also have a directing role in law enforcement:

Beyond serving as a focal point for information sharing, fusion centers add significant value to their customers by providing a state and local context to help enhance the national threat picture. Fusion centers provide the federal government with critical state and local information and subject matter expertise that it did not receive in the past – enabling the effective communication of locally generated threat‐related information to the federal government. Integrating and connecting these state and local resources creates a national capacity to gather, process, analyze, and share information in support of efforts to protect the country.

Created for violent Threats used against Non Violent Political Targets

So far so good. We all want to be defended against evil terrorists and insurrectionists. But here is where they rapidly turn dark:

"Our nation faces an evolving threat environment, in which threats not only emanate from outside our borders, but also from within our communities. This new environment demonstrates the increasingly critical role fusion centers play to support the sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and SLTT partners."

"Emerging threats from within our borders" could mean domestic terrorists like the folks who blow up abortion clinics and such, but it can also be turned around to mean activists, Women's groups, or protest organizations like Occupy. And in practice the Fusion centers have been caught coordinating attacks on Occupy. How can this be?

So the bait was fighting Al Qaeda but the switch is that they can be the basis of legally coordinating police efforts for warring against community activists, Occupy, environmentalists or anybody else that law enforcement deems a potential threat. If potential violence is a crime, and thought crimes a crime, then being in opposition to tyrannical power can be a crime. Being a whistleblower, a dissident, a member of Occupy, can all be considered a "threat from within our borders!"

State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers Independent of the Federal Government

The DHS site notes that State and Major Urban areas are independent of the Federal Government.

In fact they are organized and controlled by the State Governors:

State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) are owned and operated by state and local entities, and are designated by the governor of their state. In accordance with the Federal Resource Allocation Criteria (RAC) policy, which defines objective criteria and a coordinated approach for prioritizing the allocation of federal resources to fusion centers, the federal government recognizes these designations and has a shared responsibility with state and local governments to support the national network of fusion centers. 4

So they reflect the qualities and predilections of their Governors. Anyone in the democratic party familiar with the Governors of Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas ought to find this fact terrifying. There are guidelines they are supposed to follow, but we've already criminalized most of the things that go into dissent and activism, so they don't really have to give them more than lip service.

National Network of Fusion Centers

For example the Virginia Fusion center states it's mission as:

The Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) was created as a partnership between the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Emergency Management to improve the Commonwealth of Virginia’s preparedness against terrorist attacks and to deter criminal activity. The Center provides a vital conduit for information exchange allowing the VFC to communicate with its’ partners.

So the Fusion Centers are now general coordinating bodies. As Beau Hodai writes about the Arizona Fusion Center (ACTIC);

"Initially intended to combat "terrorism," ACTIC, while still retaining its "counter terrorism" appellation, has shifted to an "all hazards/all crimes" mission. This shift in the focus of fusion centers from "terrorism" to "all hazards/all crimes" (which does include "terrorism," along with any and every other activity that could be deemed a "hazard") occurred nationwide as the result of both legislative action and presidential directives. ACTIC pursues this "all hazards" detection, disruption and investigation model through the use of several programs/units-- including the ACTIC Intelligence Analyst Unit, the ACTIC Computer Forensics Unit, ACTIC Facial Recognition Unit and the ACTIC Threat Mitigation Unit.5"

All Hazards, Across the country

And we know from Occupy lawsuits that Fusion centers work together across state lines. We know a lot of this from the ongoing Occupy Wall Street lawsuit, but the Virginia site says so explicitly:

....The VFC operates on a 24 hour, 7 days a week basis, and is staffed by personnel representing several state and federal agencies.
The VFC has partnerships in the following areas:
Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement
Military Personnel
Critical Infrastructure
Emergency Response
Homeland Security
Private Industries
Public

"http://www.vsp.state.va.us/FusionCenter/About_Us.shtm"> 2

And it turns out that some of the agencies and private industry participants include private security, and during the nationwide police assault on Occupy Wall-street, Security personnel representing Bank of America. The Fusion centers, in the wrong hands, become an agency for repression. But they don't need banks to instigate them always.

The Washington State Occupy released a press release on what they found out:

"new evidence has emerged about antiwar activists who were infiltrated and spied on by the military and an array of other law enforcement agencies, including the Olympia and Tacoma Police Departments, beginning in 2006. Through Public Records Act requests and discovery in the case Panagacos v. Towery, it was revealed that the U.S. Army, in collaboration with the Washington State Fusion Center, targeted avowedly nonviolent activists as domestic terrorists and listened in on their privileged attorney-client discussions. As a result, Chris Adamson, director of Regional Intelligence Group 5 for the fusion center, and others were added today as new named defendants in the case."

They were secretly labeled as potential terrorists and that made them targets.

Example of Brenda Dowhan

In Arizona for instance they actually hired someone to spy on Occupy full time:

"According to AZDOHS records, these funds were intended to fill positions for both a PPD "ACTIC Intelligence Analyst" and "IT Planner." Records obtained by DBA/CMD indicate that these project funds have been used, in part, to hire and pay the more than $71,000 compensation annual (this figure includes salary and benefits) of PPDHDB/ACTIC "Terrorism Liaison All-Hazards Analyst" Brenda Dowhan."

Her role?

"Dowhan's primary role at ACTIC over the course of 2011 (according to records, Dowhan appears to have been hired in July of 2011) and 2012 appears to have been the monitoring of Phoenix activists."

She was able to use NSA information to do her work:

"According to records obtained by DBA/CMD, in order to facilitate Dowhan's work PPD personnel regularly fed the "Terrorism Liaison All-Hazards Analyst" logs containing the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, driver's license/state identification numbers, and physical descriptions of citizens arrested, issued citations-- or even given warnings by police-- in connection with Occupy Phoenix. The vast majority of these citizens who had been arrested, or had other interactions with PPD, were cited/warned for alleged violations of the city's "urban camping" ordinance."

And of course, they were actually violating various laws intended to suppress political activity.

"The fact that Dowhan was regularly provided these detailed logs is important to note, as records indicate that much of Dowhan's work for ACTIC/PPDHDB during 2011/2012 involved the monitoring of social media sites and other online forums-- such as Facebook pages and blogs-- associated with individuals and organizations involved in Occupy Phoenix. Records indicate that Dowhan would take information trolled from these "open source" [note: "counter terrorism" personnel refer to information culled from social media and other "open sources" as "open source intelligence"] resources and either distribute it immediately to fellow law enforcement/"counter terrorism" personnel in the form of "alerts," or include it in her sometimes daily "Occupy Phoenix Social Media and Events Updates," which were distributed to PPDHDB personnel and other TLOs. Records obtained by DBA/CMD indicate that this type of activity was Dowhan's primary duty, beginning as early as October, 2011 and extending well into 2012 [note: available records, returned pursuant to public records requests submitted by DBA/CMD in June, 2012, show Dowhan still carrying out these duties during June of 2012]."4

So suspicions are confirmed, that troll bothering you on the internet, may also be looking at your personal information when he/she isn't trolling... And getting paid for it.

I have a lot more to say about this, but this is enough for today. I'll also try to clean up my footnotes. I'm enclosing some links if you want to read more. Occupy may not be able to overcome "qualified immunity" on the basis of first and fourth amendment rights, and freedom of information inquiries don't always yield all the treasures of misbehavior. But that should disturb the rest of us even more.

Footnotes:
  1. http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-national-security-industrial-complex-and-nsa-spying-the-revolving-doors-between-state-agencies-and-private-contractors/5339634
  2. http://www.vsp.state.va.us/FusionCenter/About_Us.shtm
  3. http://www.policymic.com/articles/48845/booz-allen-hamilton-70-of-the-u-s-intelligence-budget-goes-to-private-contractors
  4. http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/05/12122/homeland-security-apparatus-fusion-centers-data-mining-and-private-sector-partner
Further reading:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RL34533.pdf
http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/fisa-amendments-act
http://www.policymic.com/articles/48845/booz-allen-hamilton-70-of-the-u-s-intelligence-budget-goes-to-private-contractors
http://www.dhs.gov/state-and-major-urban-area-fusion-centers
Austin Texas/Washington State:
https://www.facebook.com/OccupyAustinTx/posts/623073954384036
Complaint: http://www.scribd.com/doc/149721217/4th-AMENDED-Civil-Complaint-Panagacos-v-John-J-Towery-Thomas-R-Rudd-Olympia-Police-Department-Tacoma-Police-Department-Chris-Adamson
Legal complaint against an Occupy member for "aggressiveness": http://www.scribd.com/doc/149773844/Domestic-Terrorism-Conference-Dossiers-Redacted
global Security covers some of the material I had to leave out for space reasons.
Beau Hodai's article is here:http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/05/12122/homeland-security-apparatus-fusion-centers-data-mining-and-private-sector-partner