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.
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
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."
"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.
- Further reading:
- Austin Texas/Washington State:
- 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