April 3, 2008
Fresh revelations of state and Pentagon run terrorist surveillance programs that "skirt legal restrictions" serve to remind the American public that they are now the prime suspects in the post 9/11 panopticon society.
Separate documents obtained by the ACLU and the Washington Post have created similar headlines on the same day about two new freedom eroding processes that have been in full swing for some time.
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports, according to the Washington Post.
Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies.
The centers received $254 million from the Department of Homeland Security between 2004 and 2007 and also work in conjunction with the military arm of the DHS, NORTHCOM.
They also have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans’ locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.
Some of these data-brokers, such as one in Maryland called Entersect, claim to hold records about 98 percent of Americans.
The justification is, as always, the war on terror, but the targets of the information gathering are everyday Americans.
"There is never ever enough information when it comes to terrorism" said Maj. Steven G. O’Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "That’s what post-9/11 is about."
Yes sir, drill that "post 9/11" mantra into our brains one more time please.
In a separate revelation, AP reports that the military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, according to Pentagon documents.
The documents were obtained by the ACLU after it sued the Defense Department last year for its withholding of information pertaining to national security letters, which are used to force businesses, such as internet service providers, to turn over information on their customers without subpoena.
"Newly unredacted documents released today reveal that the Department of Defense is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power," said the ACLU.
In other words, the military is using the federal government as a go between in order to obtain the personal information of American citizens.
The DoD is not authorized to obtain e-mail and phone records or lists of web sites that people have visited as it is illegal for the military to engage in domestic investigations, yet the FBI can currently get the information by using a national security letter.
The ACLU also alleges that the military lied to Congress and silenced NSL recipients from speaking out about the records requests.
Total Information Awareness
These latest revelations are to be added to the countless instances of unaccountable government and military programs that have been in operation for decades, all centered around covertly spying and gathering information on American citizens.
We have extensively documented such programs from COINTELPRO through to Operation CHAOS, the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity and the recent NSA warrantless wiretapping.
We are now witnessing the coordination and mass consolidation of scores of these operations into one all encompassing panopticon program.
After 9/11 the work of 16 different intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the giant National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on international communications, as well as the Energy Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration was centralized under the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Why such rampant centralization? Why is the military now so intent on fusing itself with the federal government via Homeland security and through the FBI and why are the targets of their operations always American citizens?
We are constantly bombarded with the notion that the biggest threat we face is from those who reject and abhor western values, yet the government and military continue to relentlessly focus their anti-terror activity directly upon freedom loving American people.