Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Being under Permanent Suspicion by State and Private clandestine agencies

Nearly ALL state (Municipal, County, State, Federal) clandestine agencies have been united with almost all major corporations (and major property owners), through the programs called MATRIX, INFRAGARD, Fusion Centers...

"FBI reports show widespread domestic surveillance" 2013-09-20 by Bob Egelko from "San Francisco Chronicle" [link]

"Hemisphere Project: AT&T Hosting Massive User Database for DEA; The program, codenamed Hemisphere, covers 'every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers'" 2013-09-02 by Jon Queally from "Common Dreams" [link]

"We’re Being Watched How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists" 2013-05-29 by Adam Federman [link]

"Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother" 2013-06-20 by Norman Solomon [link]

"U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement"  2013-07-03 by Ron Nixon from New York Times [link]


Fusion Centers are a branch of the Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which "fuses" together the state and local security agencies (public and private) under one directive for Homeland Security against all domestic threats that are politically or religiously motivated or which are involved with certain illicit narcotics and weapons.
Declassified DHS files allowed into public review show a system of management which classifies almost all members of the current Civil-Rights movement as "low-level terrorists", from entire religious congregations to civic peace groups.
As of 2005, the DHS police-state employed roughly 10% of all Citizens of these United States.
Citizens can be snitches against all political threats, foreign, domestic and underground!

It is all "down-low-dabble" as an app on your hot new phone!
Join now, defeat evil! See your community as nobody else knows!
Spy on everybody you see, upload in real time onto our all-seeing maps!

Photo: Flickr/Jonathan MacIntosh; BAE Systems via Ares

An unidentified Customs and Border Protection officer scans a car dashboard with a density meter in San Luis, Arizona on Feb. 16, 2012. Photo: Customs and Border Protection

A Federal Protective Service vehicle outside Building A of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in Washington on December 25, 2008. Photo: OZinOH/Flickr

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano tours a Tennessee fusion center. Photo: TN.gov

Austin Police Department's own Jason Mistric seen monitoring local Facebook accounts.



2012-10-04 "Senators: DHS 'data centers' terrorize citizens; Subcommittee 'could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat'"
by Bob Unruh [http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/senators-dhs-data-centers-terrorize-citizens]:
A new congressional investigation reveals that the nation’s vast network of anti-terrorism ”fusion centers,” set up in recent years by the federal government to join local, state and federal investigative efforts to prevent terrorism, probably have violated Americans’ privacy, have issued reports that were outdated by the time they were released and have wasted taxpayer money on expenses such as SUVs, which were later given away.
The new report is being highlighted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center [http://epic.org/2012/10/senate-report-finds-fusion-cen.html], which long has monitored the work of the fusion centers.
The units have made headlines several times in recent months, including when one, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, issued a report that linked conservative groups to domestic terrorism and warned law enforcement to watch for vehicles with bumper stickers promoting Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin [http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=93067]. It also warned police to watch out for individuals with “radical” ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.
Ultimately, Chief James Keathley of the Missouri State Patrol said the release of the report caused him to review the procedures through which the report was released.
“My review of the procedures used by the MIAC in the three years since its inception indicates that the mechanism in place for oversight of reports needs improvement,” he said at the time. “Until two weeks ago, the process for release of reports from the MIAC to law enforcement officers around the state required no review by leaders of the Missouri State Highway Patrol or the Department of Public Safety.”
He said the report warning about those who hold Christian views was “created by a MIAC employee, reviewed by the MIAC director, and sent immediately to law enforcement agencies across Missouri.”
In a second high-profile situation, a Colorado center confirmed that federal agents were distributing brochures to farm supply stories, gun shops, military surplus stores and even hotels and motels. The agents asked proprietors, clerks and others to watch out for “potential indicators” of terrorism, including “paying with cash,” having a “missing hand/fingers,” making “extreme religious statements coupled with comments that are violent or appear to condone violence” and making bulk purchases of “Meals Ready to Eat” or “night flashlights.”
EPIC said the new report found that fusion centers, run by the Department of Homeland Security, “often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence” and stored records on Americans “possibly in violation of the Privacy Act.”
The report comes from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the U.S. Senate and is titled “Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers.”
It was released by Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and ranking minority member Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
It said the goal of the fusion centers, which have cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, was to share terrorism-related information to try to prevent future terror attacks.
However, the effort “has not produced useful intelligence to support federal counterterrorism efforts,” the report said.
“The subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded ‘intelligence’ of uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”
The report further said the members of Congress found “that DHS officials’ public claims about fusion centers were not always accurate.”
The report said more than 70 of the fusion centers have been created or expanded at the expense of American taxpayers, since 2003.
“Despite reviewing 13 months’ worth of reporting originating from fusion centers from April 1, 2009, to April 30, 2010, the subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,” the Senate report said.
What was discovered, the report said, was that:
* Nearly one-third of all reports, 188 of 610, never were published for use, often because they “lacked any useful information” or they violated privacy rights of Americans.
* An effort to address privacy procedures and concerns “slowed reporting down by months, and DHS continued to store troubling intelligence reports … possibly in violation of the Privacy Act.”
* There was a “significant backlog.” “At some points, hundreds of draft intelligence reports sat for months before DHS officials made a decision about whether to release them to the intelligence community.” Some were “obsolete” by the time they were released.
* Most reporting addressed crime, such as drug smuggling, but “was not about terrorists or possible terrorist plots.”
* Some of the “intelligence” was based on no more than “older news releases or media accounts.”

The Senate report also noted some of the failures uncovered, including a decision to dispatch agents to offices with only a week of training on intelligence issues, and those who wrote “useless or potentially illegal fusion center intelligence reports faced no sanction.”
The estimate, because exact figures could not be produced by DHS, suggested up to $1.4 billion in tax money has been allocated to the projects.
But some purchases did include “dozens of flat-screen TVs” as well as “sport utility vehicles they then gave away to other local agencies.”
Also purchased were hidden “shirt button” cameras and cell phone tracking devices –even though they were unusable for the mission of the centers – to analyze information relating to terrorism.
Further, the report revealed that information in the DHS fusion center system would go through a four-office review process and spend “weeks or months” before being released.
“However, as the subcommittee learned from DHS’ senior representative at NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center], the very same data in those reports likely made it to the center within a day of the incident via an FBI-run process.”
The errors associated with the centers were alarming. The report documented a 2011 report from the Illinois Statewide Terrorism & Intelligence fusion center about a Russian hacker who broke into a sensitive utility control system and used that information to send commands to a water district’s control system and burn out a water pump.
“In truth, there was no intrusion, and DHS investigators eventually concluded as much. The so-called ‘intrusion’ from Russia was actually an incident of legitimate remote computer access by a U.S. network technician who was working while on a family vacation. … The contractor had logged on from Russia in June, five months before the pump broke; and although the access had been under his username and password, no one from the fusion center, the water utility or DHS had contacted him to find out if he had logged on from Russia.”
The report cites the Missouri fiasco.
The Missouri report “was poorly researched and written. It attempted to show connections between certain constitutionally protected, non-violent political activity and a tendency toward violent extremism,” the congressional report said.
The investigation found the Missouri report “caused an avalanche of criticism.”
“One former state government official said the report ‘looks like a Missouri State University fraternity brother wrote something and put it on state letterhead,” the congressional report said.
“Unfortunately, despite a significant investment of resources and time, fusion centers today appear to be largely ineffective participants in the federal counterterrorism mission. Much of the blame lies with DHS, which has failed to adequately implement a fusion center program that would produce the results it promised.”
Should federal officials want results in the counterterrorism fight, DHS should consider how to protect the civil liberties of Americans, keep track of funding, monitor performance and results and train its employees, the report said.
DHS also recently announced its “Operations Collection, Planning, Coordination, Reporting, Analysis and Fusion System of Records,” which includes “electronic and paper records,” was being exempted from requirements for public access.
DHS said the exemption is “justified” because releasing information could “alert the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of that investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS.”
In a statement submitted to DHS during its rule-adoption process, EPIC noted that the information DHS “seeks to incorporate into this system of records” includes name, date and place of birth, Society Security number, citizenship, contact information, address, physical description, distinguishing marks, automobile registration information, watch list information, medical records, financial information, results of intelligence analysis and reporting, ongoing law enforcement investigative information, historical law enforcement information, information systems security analysis and reporting, public source data, intelligence information including links to terrorism or law enforcement, information from federal and other agencies, other information provided by “individuals” and other categories of data.
Moreover, EPIC documents that the federal agency declares its own permission to share information with “both public and private parties,” ranging from the Department of Justice and any congressional office to any “agency … for the purpose of performing audit or oversight operations,” as well as contractors, state and local agencies, foreign government intelligence agencies and even the news media.
The concept “contravenes the purpose and intent of the Federal Privacy Act,” EPIC wrote. “When it enacted the Privacy Act in 1974, Congress sought to restrict the amount of personal data that federal agencies could collect and requires government agencies to limit the collection, sharing, and use of individuals’ personal information.”


2012-05-05 "Americans, Everything You Do Is Monitored" by Mac Slavo
[http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/americans-everything-you-do-is-monitored_05052011]
When President Obama talked about a transparent administration during the run up to the 2008 election most Americans assumed he was talking about openness in government dealings. Obviously, this is not the case, as evidenced by the administration’s handling of the universal health care legislation which was passed without a single American having had a chance to read it for 72 hours before a vote as the President promised would be the case with all legislation, refusal to release photographic evidence of the Osama Bin Laden raid, the President’s own birth certificate which has taken two years to be made public, and the many secret meetings held with Congressional members behind closed doors.
It should be clear by now that Big Government’s domestic surveillance policies under Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are being furthered expanded by Mr. Obama. Transparency, it seems, had nothing to do with making government more visible. It did, however, have everything to do with making your life more transparent.
Before we itemize the many ways in which you’re being watch, surveyed, monitored and aggregated, this latest report by Alex Thomas of The Intel Hub reiterates, yet again, that digital surveillance capabilities are not just isolated to intelligence agencies [http://theintelhub.com/2011/05/04/police-state-rent-to-buy-company-aarons-spies-on-pc-users/]:
[begin excerpt]
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Aaron’s, a huge furniture rent to buy company, used software and a special device on their computers that enabled them to spy on PC renters.
According to the lawsuit, the company is able to track keystrokes and snap webcam pictures in the home of their customers.
Brian and Crystal Byrd, the couple who filed the lawsuit, claim that they were never told about these intrusive spying measures.
While computer privacy experts agree that Aaron’s has the right to install devices that enable them to shut down the computers remotely, customers must be told that they are being monitored.
The couple only found out about the spying after an Aaron’s employee showed them a picture of Brian Byrd that was taken remotely while the Byrds were in their home.
“After they showed us the picture, I, of course, felt violated,” Crystal Byrd said in an interview Monday. “There are many times I sat in front of that computer with barely nothing on. So I didn’t know if they had taken lots of pictures of us or what,” reported the Wyoming Tribune.
Brian Byrd also reported that he thinks the picture was shown to him in order to intimidate him into an easy repossession.
[end excerpt]
While we often hear protests from privacy advocates about government intrusion into the lives of Americans, what many fail to understand is that it’s not just the government. Private businesses like Aaron’s, as well as large corporate conglomerates, are themselves engaging in the surveillance of Americans with the development of products and services specifically for this purpose – and often without the consent of their customers, or, through terms of services agreements that include dozens of pages of unintelligible fine print.
As modern technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, just as the merger of the corporations and the state are occurring within political circles, so to are they becoming more prevalent in the intelligence sphere.
Fellow Americans, everything you do is being monitored.
With respect to the government, it’s not by choice. However, when dealing with private businesses, we have readily accepted our own fate by accepting into our lives the very technologies that make it all possible.
What You Do Online Is No Secret: As you sit in the perceived privacy of your own home reading this article, a log of your surfing habits and preferred reading or video viewing subjects is being created. Your IP address, that unique identifier the points specifically to the broadband line connected to your home modem, is time stamped with every web site you visit. Everything you watch at video web sites, everything you download online, and even your search queries are logged. You don’t even have to have an account with a major online service provider – your IP is sufficient – but that user account you create is used to further improve your personal profile and characteristics.

We can see you. We can hear you.
Not only are your actions logged, but if you were deemed a person of interest for whatever reason, that little camera staring back at you on top of your monitor or that microphone built directly into your PC can be flipped on for remote surveillance at any time. While Aaron’s furniture or the local school district may need to install special software to remotely view what you’re doing in your bedroom, public sector intelligence groups operating on equipment that is technologically advanced compared to the consumer products of today is perfectly capable of entering your ‘secure’ home network and turning on those video and audio features – and you’d have absolutely no clue it’s going on.

Your cell phone is a mobile monitoring device.
Much like your computer, all modern day cell phones come with cameras. And they all have a microphone. It is no secret that law enforcement agencies have the ability to easily tap these devices and listen and watch anything that’s going on. This capability is essentially hard-wired right into the phone. In fact, it has been reported that even if your cell phone is turned completely off, the microphone can still be remotely activated. The only known solution is to remove the battery if you want to ensure complete privacy. Sounds pretty far-fetched doesn’t it? Up until two weeks ago, so did the notion that Apple and Android phones could track and log everywhere you go. We now know that this is exactly what’s happening, and literally, every movement you make is tracked within inches of your location. A log of everywhere you have been has been logged if your cell phone was in your pocket.

Phone Conversation and Email Analysis.
If you haven’t guessed yet, phones can be dangerous to your personal privacy. In the 1990′s, the few alternative media web sites on the internet often discussed a little know operation in Europe called Echelon. It was hard core tin foil conspiracy type stuff. You know, the kind where intelligence agencies were plugged into the entire phone, fax and email grids and had computers analyzing conversations in multiple languages looking for keywords and keyword strings. If you said a specific word, your conversation was immediately red-flagged and distributed to appropriate intel desks. As sci-fi as this may sound, it turns out that the ‘conspiracy theorists’ were 100% correct about Echelon. Its existence has been confirmed by the US government. Of course, no such system could possibly exist here domestically.

Your pictures are not private.
When you snap those photos of the kids in the front yard and subsequently post those pictures on your favorite social network, guess what? That’s right, an inquiring viewer on your social networking account can track exactly where that picture was taken. Remember that location logging thing with your cell phone? It turns out that every single picture you take with most newer model cell phones will be tagged with specific GPS coordinates. When you upload that picture anywhere online, that location information becomes publicly available. So anyone who wants to know can now track down exactly where it is your kids were when the picture was taken, or, where exactly you were if you happened to engage in an activity that may be deemed illegal.

The social network.
For many, it’s fun to spend every waking hour updating the rest of the world on what we’re doing. We publish our thoughts. We upload our pictures. We even click a like button at the end of articles like this one to let people know what we’re into and what they should be reading. As social networking becomes bigger, connecting hundreds of millions of people across the world, so to does the profiling of members of these networks. Have you agreed with what a certain person has said in a recent post? If they’re a person-of-interest for whatever reason, then guess what? You’ve just become one too. Did your friend recently take a picture of you at a party getting rowdy? Once that hits the social network, facial recognition technology will identify you and publish your name for all the world to see, including current or future employers. It’s a social network, and its purpose is to learn everything about you. Perhaps this is why key U.S. intelligence agencies made no effort to hide their $5 billion investment in the largest network in the world recently. Social networking is a critical tool in the struggle to categorize every person on earth.

Toll tags and license plates.
Even if you’ve given up the cell phone and prefer to go without for privacy reasons, when you drive around town you may have noticed those little intersection cameras – at least four of them – on every major (or more regularly now, minor) intersection. While most of them may not be tied to the computer processing systems yet, some, and especially those in sensitive areas and toll booths can automatically read your license plate. Like your cell phone, your position can be logged on a regular basis with either your toll tag or simply, your license plate. Impossible? Not really. Especially when you consider that the information required to track your personal movements are nothing but a few data bytes. All anyone really needs to keep extensive records is a bigger hard drive.

We know your underwear size.
Admittedly, we sometimes have a hard time remembering what size pants or shirts we need to purchase. But while our memory may be failing, private data aggregators have plenty of it, and the processing power to boot. Everything you have ever bought with a credit card or membership club card is sent off for processing and aggregation to centralized data centers. While you may use a Visa card at one store, a Mastercard at another, and pay cash with a grocery membership card somewhere else, it’s as easy as finding your name and cross referencing that on your cards – and your entire shopping profile can be created. The purpose, we’re told, is to better improve our shopping experience and provide market data to companies so that they can improve their advertising. We can only guess at who else has access to this information, which happens to be very easily accessible and widely available for a small fee.

Radio Frequency Identification.
Say you’ve decided to scrap cell phones, internet surfing and electronic payment or membership cards. And, you choose to walk everywhere you go. Not a problem for enterprising surveillance technologists. Large retail distributors have already begun implementing RFID technologies into every major product on store shelves. For now, most of the RFID tracking is limited to transportation and inventory control and is designed to track products on the pallet level. Tracking capabilities are improving, however, and are quickly being implemented on the individual product level. That means when you buy a soda at your local grocery store, an RFID monitoring station will be capable of tracking that soda across the entire city, with the goal eventually being whether or not you put that aluminum can in a trashcan or a recycle bin once you were finished drinking it. One day, you may be issued a ticket by a law enforcement computer autmatically for failing to dispose of your trash properly. Again, it’s simply an issue of hard drive space and processing power – and technology will soon get over that hurdle. All electronics, clothing, food packaging, and just about everything else will soon contain a passive RFID chip.

Ripping Data Off Your Private, Secure, chip-enhanced personal identification cards.
Passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, cell phones – they all store data. Personal data like banking information, birth date, social security numbers, pictures, phone books – basically everything you’ve ever wanted to keep private. As storage technology further integrates into our daily lives, and everything from our passports to our health insurance cards contains a digital chip that stores our private information, it will become much easier to rip that data from your purse or wallet without ever touching you. A recent report indicated that local law enforcement officials now have devices that, when you’re pulled over, can remotely pull all of the data on your cell phone. This demonstrates how simple it is for anyone, be it law enforcement or criminals, to gain access to everything about you – including you personal travel habits.

Eye in the sky.
We’ve previously reported about domestic drone programs in Houston and Miami. Local and state law enforcement agencies are increasingly adding Federal and military technologies to their surveillance arsenals. Drones have the capability of flying quietly and at high altitude, while monitoring multiple targets simultaneously. It’s been reported that domestic drones can not only monitor in the visible light spectrum, but night vision and infrared. That means they can ‘see’ what you’re doing in your home behind closed doors. Incidentally, there have been reports of roaming ground patrols with similar infrared technology, capable of seeing right through your walls. This is not science fiction – this is reality right now. Combine this with real-time spy agency satellites and interested parties have the ability to see and hear you, even when you’re locked indoors with computers and cell phones disabled.

Security cameras.
We’ve already discussed traffic cams. But cameras are not limited to just the government. Residences, retailers and even day cares are now interconnecting camera security systems with online web browsing. And, as we pointed out earlier, these are easily subject to unauthorized access. Certain cities in the US are now allowing residents to register their personal or business camera systems with the city to allow for local police monitoring. The government doesn’t need to push the technology on us. The people willingly accept the technology en masse in exchange for a sense of being more secure.

I See Something!
When all else fails, the last bastion of surveillance is human intel. It’s been used by oppressive regimes for millennia. The Nazis used it. The Communists used it (and do to this day). It was very effective. And now, we’re using it. Remember, if you See Something, Say Something. Even if what someone sees is not accurately represented because of mis-perception, you can be assured that when they say something rapid response units will be on the scene to diffuse the situation.

Fusing It All Together -
What is the purpose ? It depends who you ask.
Local law enforcement will tell you it’s to protect the safety of the public. Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies say it’s to prevent terrorism. Apple and Android tells us it’s so that they can produce better mobile products and services. Retailers want more customer data so they can improve advertising and marketing.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that almost everything we do, whether it’s in the privacy of our own homes or on public streets, can be tracked, monitored, and logged.
As technology improves and the internet interconnects even more nodes, the information collected by the public, private and personal sectors will be further aggregrated, cross referenced and analyzed. Your personal profile will become more detailed, including your shopping habits, hobbies, likes, dislikes, political affiliation, reading preferences, friends, and potentially your psychological and emotional status.
All of this information will eventually be fused into one large database. In fact, the government has already setup well over fifty fusion centers around the nation. What goes on in these centers is kept strictly confidential, and there doesn’t seem to be any agency in charge of them, but we know they exist, and we know that their purpose is to acquire, aggregate and act on whatever information they have available to them. These are fairly new, appearing just over the last several years. But be assured that as processing power and software technology improves, so too will the surveillance capabilities of fusion like facilities, whether they belong to government, private industry or criminal industry.
History has shown what tends to happen in surveillance societies. Often times, that surveillance is forced upon the people by tyranical government. We won’t argue that this is not the case today, as governments the world over are not hiding the fact that they want to know what everyone is doing. The odd thing is, we the people don’t seem to care a whole lot. What we’re seeing is that the surveillance state is expanding in concert with the definitions for what is criminal or terrorist-like activity – and that’s scary. Every year, more people are finding themselves on no-fly lists, no-work lists, or other terrorist watch lists. We’ve facetiously noted in a previous commentary that at this rate, the terrorist watch list will exceed the U.S. population by 2019. While we were, for the most part, trying to put a humorous spin on an otherwise very important issue, the fact is, that as surveillance expands, more and more people will become enemies of the state or persons-of-interest. That’s just how these things tend to work with these types of things.
In today’s world, the private sector is ready and willing to help government achieve these goals of total control and involvement in our personal lives. In fact, it is at times becoming difficult to distinguish between government and private industry.
But if we are to lay blame on anyone here, it must be ourselves. We need only take a look into the mirror and we’ll see who makes these technologies possible. It’s the American consumer who willingly adopts the technologies into his or her daily life, often standing in lines a quarter mile long to acquire the latest in digital monitoring.
While our votes at the ballot box account for something, how we vote with our pocket books will ultimately determine the direction of our country. We have empowered the corporation to lobby Congress and further erode our own freedoms, whether it’s with the surveillance technologies we choose to integrate into our lives, the food we buy, the cheap Chinese goods we’ll stampede children over, or the gas we pump into our vehicles.
The problem is not government. It’s us. We’ve let it go this far. It can only change when the individual does.


2012-06-04 "The Government’s Boots on the Ground When It Hits the Fan May Be Your Neighbors"
by the Prepared Pastor from Single Focus Church [http://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/the-governments-boots-on-the-ground-when-it-hits-the-fan-may-be-your-neighbors_06042012]:
About Prepared Pastor: Before entering the ministry, I was a firefighter, HAZMAT, confined space, and rope rescue technician. I also taught wilderness survival and shooting sports for the BSA. An experienced author and speaker, I have spoken on emergency preparedness at churches and secular conferences. Website:[http://www.SingleFocusChurch.com]
---
It had been several years since I left my positions on the city fire department and county HAZMAT team to move to the mountain state to teach wilderness survival and firearms, but I still missed being an emergency responder.  Especially after moving to town when I got married and started a family. When a friend asked me to join him at a CERT training session, all I knew was that it was an acronym for Community Emergency Response Team.  A rational person would think that meant it was about becoming part of a team within my community that responded to emergencies.  A rational person would be mistaken.  Sure, the training covered the basics of first aid, emergency preparedness, fire safety, light search and rescue, etc., but lacked the depth of a boy scout merit badge on those topics. I could not help wondering why FEMA would spend so many of our tax dollars to duplicate duties that, in my professional experience, the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations provide for free.
I left the first day of training thinking that CERT, like many other government bureaucracies was just another hole the federal government pours money into hoping it will leach into productivity.  I was tempted not to complete the training, but not being a quitter and already halfway to earning a really neat emergency response kit to add to the plethora of gear collected over a lifetime in emergency services, I resigned myself to spending another beautiful Saturday in a folding metal chair or aiming an electronic fire extinguisher at digital flames (we actually did this).
I was surprised to find that this particular CERT team had never actually responded to an emergency. They were put on alert once which the commander was quite excited to talk about.  He told us one day CERT volunteers could be paired with uniformed emergency responders when an incident required additional manpower.  Another surprise was the speaker they brought in from the U.S. Department of Justice on the final day. The first words out of his mouth were a question, “Are there any militia members or white supremacists here?” While we sat there in stunned silence he continued to explain there was nothing wrong with belonging to a militia or being a white supremest as long as one did not did so within the confines of the law. “If men want to dress up and run around in the woods practicing their First Amendment right, I have no problem with that” he said.  He then spent the next couple hours describing the types of behavior he did have a problem with and how militias and other organizations had been infiltrated, enticed to engage in illegal activities, and prosecuted for thinking they had done so.  After several engaging tales of covert operations it was time for the real purpose of his lecture for which he prepared his only hand-out, Homeland Security Terrorist Indicators.  It provided contact information for the USDOJ and FBI offices serving our area and instructed us to call them anytime we saw ‘suspicious activity’ which included, but was not limited to:
* Individual’s residence contains little or no furniture
* Photographing or videotaping in public places such as malls
* Ownership of police manuals, military training manuals, flight manuals, radio scanners, or other communications equipment
* Presence of weapons such as knives, pistols, rifles, etc. in a residence.
Attached to the extensive list was a reminder that these were just a few possible indicators and if it doesn’t feel right, report it! BUT do not disclose to anyone that you did.  During his talk, he verbally added to the list several common items including 100# propane cylinders.  When I indicated that I had a couple of those lying in my yard until I could get them filled and returned to my cabin, he replied that my neighbors had probably called the FBI on me and that they investigate every report.  If my neighbors did report my ‘suspicious behavior’ (which I doubt) then I either have an FBI file or an addition to my existing file.
In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at Secretary Janet Napolitano’s direction, launched a national “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign –a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper state and local law enforcement authorities.  While CERT teams predate this campaign by 25 years, the evidence is overwhelming that  the program has been realigned to confirm to that mantra. Other than public relations/recruiting activities, the only service opportunity presented since I joined was entering surveillance data during a large community event.
If you are concerned about the federal government spending your tax dollars to train your neighbors to spy on you, the shadow army they are building through their Incident Command System should keep you up at night.  It includes 428,500 men and women trained (as per the 2012 National Preparedness Report) and organized into local units.  Units which have established call-out procedures for emergency response that will work just as well when the emergency is you. Sure, there are those who will refuse to respond (I will be at my retreat), but many will submit to the National Defense Resource Preparedness executive order signed by Barak Obama on March 16, 2012 which redefined authority expanded under the 2009 re-authorization of The Defense Production Act of 1950.  The executive order makes it crystal clear that any labor deemed necessary in a state of emergency may be conscripted at the discretion of the government.
In summary:
* Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are trained and instructed to identify and report ‘suspicious behavior’ to the FBI and other authorities.
* CERT volunteers are being actively used in covert surveillance activities.
* CERT volunteers are organized to work with local and federal law enforcement agencies.
* CERT volunteers may be forced into service in the event of a national emergency.
It is not the purpose of this article to tell you whether or not to join a CERT Team.  The training is beneficial to newbies.  The free meals and emergency kit are quite nice.  At least with our team it is acceptable to get trained and equipped and not go through the credentialing process to be called out during emergencies. It could not hurt to have a county ID and CERT uniform (helmet and vest) if caught on the road WTSHTF.  However, their threat to your personal privacy today and, in a worst case scenario, your personal liberty tomorrow must be disclosed.  Those who question how authorities would know where to confiscate unregistered guns under martial law can expect their neighbors to rat them out and quite possibly accompany law enforcement to their homes.


2012-06-05 "FBI Increases Activist Repression"[https://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/fbi-increses-oppression-of-activists/]
  Newly released FBI “Domestic Terrorism” training materials unveil the misinformation circulating within the government against resistance groups such as anarchists, animal rights activists, environmentalists, and “black separatists.”
The FBI have broadened the rhetoric used against even non-violent groups, citing them as “domestic terrorists” and the definitions continue to broaden. For instance, as highlighted in a recent article found on Green is the New Red [http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/fbi-domestic-terrorism-training-anarchists-eco/6199/], the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was drafted to target anyone who causes the “loss of profits” of an animal enterprise. The FBI acknowledges this shift in “terrorism” investigations in a slide that says the new law “alleviates the use of force or violence criteria.”
“The domestic terrorism training materials were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU. They offer additional insight into a disturbing pattern of FBI activity misrepresenting political activists as “terrorists” and manufacturing “domestic terrorism threats” where none exist, akin to the notorious COINTELPRO program of J. Edgar Hoover.”
During these trainings, the FBI have particularly focused on information gathering and what it calls a “public relations war” by activist groups. In a bout of irony, the FBI turns the script on activists: “Media is sometimes slanted in favor of activists,” the FBI says. “Activists spin the truth.”
Activists spin the truth? Interesting concept coming from a government organization. In a country that lives in the shadow of corporate media lies that protect the corporations killing our planet, livelihoods, and communities, the need for independent journalism is more important than ever.
As we make preparations to celebrate the International Day of Solidarity for Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and other political prisoners on June 11 [http://supportmariemason.org/], it is within a climate of increasing violence toward resistance culture. As a movement of social and environmental justice activists, it is imperative that we continue to grow, create more allies, continue to do outreach, circulate information, support our prisoners and support each other. Our greatest defense in the war against terrorist allegations is an impenetrable movement. The Earth First! Journal is currently accepting responses from the movement on increased government oppression on environmental and animal rights activists for the next issue due out in the Fall.


"Wired.com" tags their stories about the mighty DHS as "Categories: Crime and Homeland
Security, Spies, Secrecy and Surveillance"

2012-10-02 "DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions" by Robert O’Harrow Jr. from "Washington Post" news journal
[http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/dhs-fusion-centers-portrayed-as-pools-of-ineptitude-and-civil-liberties-intrusions/2012/10/02/10014440-0cb1-11e2-bd1a-b868e65d57eb_story_1.html]:
An initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators.
The nationwide network of offices known as “fusion centers” was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not sharing information effectively about potential terrorist threats.
But after nine years — and regular praise from officials at the Department of Homeland Security — the 77 fusion centers have become pools of ineptitude, waste and civil liberties intrusions, according to a scathing 141-page report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations.
The creation and operation of the fusion centers were promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush and later the Obama administration as essential weapons in the fight to build a nationwide network that would keep the country safe from terrorism. The idea was to promote increased collaboration and cooperation among all levels of law enforcement across the country.
But the report documents spending on items that did little to help share intelligence, including gadgets such as “shirt button” cameras, $6,000 laptops and big-screen televisions. One fusion center spent $45,000 on a decked-out SUV that a city official used for commuting.
“In reality, the Subcommittee investigation found that the fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever,” the report said.
The bipartisan report, released by subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking minority member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), portrays the fusion center system as ineffective and criticizes the Department of Homeland Security for poor supervision.
In a response Tuesday, the department condemned the report and defended the fusion centers, saying the Senate investigators relied on out-of-date data. The Senate investigators examined fusion center reports in 2009 and 2010 and looked at activity, training and policies over nine years, according to the report.
The statement also said the Senate investigators misunderstood the role of fusion centers, “which is to provide state and local law enforcement analytic support in furtherance of their day-to-day efforts to protect local communities from violence, including that associated with terrorism.”
The DHS statement also said that all of the questioned expenses were allowable under the rules.
Department officials have defended the fusion centers in the face of past criticism from the news media and internal reviews. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other senior officials have praised the centers as centerpieces of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, an advocacy organization, called the report unfair. Sena, who manages the center in the San Francisco Bay area, said fusion centers have processed more than 22,000 “suspicious activity reports” that have triggered 1,000 federal inquiries or investigations. He said they also have shared with the Terrorist Screening Center some 200 “pieces of data” that provided “actionable intelligence.”
The Senate report challenged the value of the training and much of the information produced by the centers. It said that DHS analysts assigned to the fusion centers received just five days of basic training for intelligence reporting. Sena said they received an array of other training as well.
Some analysts at the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which received the fusion center reports, were found to be so unproductive that supervisors imposed quotas for reports, knowing those quotas would diminish the quality of the intelligence, according to the Senate report. Many of those analysts at the DHS intelligence office were contractors.
Investigators found instances in which the analysts used intelligence about U.S. citizens that may have been gathered illegally. In one case, a fusion center in California wrote a report on a notorious gang, the Mongols Motorcycle Club, that had distributed leaflets telling its members to behave when they got stopped by police. The leaflet said members should be courteous, control their emotions and, if drinking, have a designated driver.
“There is nothing illegal or even remotely objectionable [described] in this report,” one supervisor wrote about the draft before killing it. “The advice given to the groups’ members is protected by the First Amendment.”
Financial questions were pervasive, with the report saying oversight has been so lax that department officials do not know exactly how much has been spent on the centers. The official estimates varied between $289 million and $1.4 billion.
A DHS official, who insisted on not being identified because he was not authorized to talk to the news media, acknowledged that the department does not closely track the money but said it conducts audits of the fusion spending. The official said that just under half of the fusion centers’ budgets comes from the department.

In the statement, the department said its Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the grants, provides “wide latitude” for states to decide how to spend the money.
“All of the expenditures questioned in the report are allowable under the grant program guidance, whether or not they are connected with a fusion center,” the statement said.
The Senate report said local and state officials entrusted with the fusion center grants sometimes spent lavishly. More than $2 million was spent on a center for Philadelphia that never opened. In Ohio, officials used the money to buy rugged laptop computers and then gave them to a local morgue. San Diego officials bought 55 flat-screen televisions to help them collect “open-source intelligence” — better known as cable television news.
Senate investigators repeatedly questioned the quality of the intelligence reports. A third or more of the reports intended for officials in Washington were discarded because they lacked useful information, had been drawn from media accounts or involved potentially illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to the Senate report.


2012-10-02 "DHS Counterterror Centers Produce ‘a Bunch of Crap,’ Senate Finds" by Spencer Ackerman from "Wired.com"
[http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/fusion-centers/]:
They’re supposed to be “one of the centerpieces of our counterterrorism strategy,” according to Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In practice, not so much.
The Senate’s bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found no evidence that DHS’ 70-plus fusion centers — places where state, local and federal law enforcement analyze and share information – uncovered a single terrorist threat between April 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010. Terrorism is thankfully rare within the United States. But during that time, the FBI discovered would-be New York subway attacker Najibullah Zazi; U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane; and, in early May 2010, Faisal Shahzad attempted to detonate an SUV in Times Square. DHS has praised the fusion centers’ work in helping on the Zazi and Shahzad cases. The Senate found fusion centers played little, if any, role in either case.
“Nor,” the Senate panel writes in its just-released report, analyzing more than 80,000 fusion center documents, “could [the inquiry] identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.” Unnamed DHS officials told the panel the fusion centers produce “predominantly useless information” and “a bunch of crap.” An internal 2010 assessment, which DHS did not share with Congress, found that a third of all fusion centers don’t have defined procedures for sharing intelligence — “one of the prime reasons for their existence.” At least four fusion centers identified by DHS “do not exist,” the Senate found.
As civil libertarian groups have long warned (http://www.constitutionproject.org/pdf/fusioncenterreport.pdf), those that do are hives of incompetence, bureaucracy, mission creep and possible civil-liberties abuses. Despite instituting privacy protections in 2009, the Senate report discloses, “DHS continued to store troubling intelligence reports from fusion centers on U.S. persons, possibly in violation of the Privacy Act.” A third of reviewed fusion center intelligence reports either “lacked any useful information” on terrorism or potentially violated civil liberties. Other reports sat for months, until their information was “obsolete” by the time DHS published it. Instead of focusing on terrorism, “most information” from the centers was about ordinary crime, such as “drug, cash or human smuggling.”
What’s more, fusion centers are only supposed to analyze and spread information, not collect it. But along the way, they scooped up items like a leaflet for the Mongols motorcycle club in California telling bikers to be “courteous” to police. Oh, and a notation that a U.S. citizen was speaking at a mosque — without any derogatory information about either the citizen or the mosque.
Five centers the Senate studied spent their federal terrorism grant money on “hidden ‘shirt button’ cameras,” cellphone tracking systems and other surveillance tools. They also spent their cash on things like “dozens of flat-screen TVs” and SUVs — sometimes claiming that Chevrolet Tahoes were intended to help “respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) incidents.” Others used fusion-center money to purchase equipment for medical examiners.
The Department of Homeland Security compiled and disseminated the following information as part of a post-9/11 partnership with state and local law enforcement to prevent terrorism: DHS doesn’t appear to care how it spends its cash. The Senate inquiry determined that DHS was “unable to produce a complete and accurate tally of the expense of its support for fusion centers.” Its estimates range between $289 million and $1.4 billion. In other words, DHS doesn’t even know how much money it’s spent on what it calls a centerpiece of its counterterrorism strategy.
And the fusion centers, in the Senate’s telling, have a hard time balancing civil liberties and rapid analysis. After DHS analyst Daryl Johnson’s 2009 report about right-wing extremism caused a popular backlash [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/dhs/], Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute ordered that fusion-center intelligence products had to go through a bureaucratic, multi-agency review for potential civil-liberties violations. For the past three years, the review has “radically slowed down the reporting process” — which might be problematic, if the fusion centers were actually uncovering terrorist plots.
But they’re not. The Senate reviewed 610 draft reports from fusion centers between April 2009 and April 2010. The vast majority of them came from three states: Texas, California and Arizona. Nearly a third of them, 188, were “cancelled,” either because they lacked “useful information” or “for running afoul of departmental guidelines meant to guard against civil liberties or Privacy Act protections.” Only 94 were in any way related to terrorism.
“Of those 94 reports,” the Senate found, “most were published months after they were received; more than a quarter appeared to duplicate a faster intelligence-sharing process administered by the FBI; and some were based on information drawn from publicly available websites or dated public reports.” One such report, in November 2009, reported that al-Qaida propagandist Anwar Awlaki praised the Fort Hood attacks — four days after the Los Angeles Times reported that. “Surprisingly,” the Senate found, “a subsequent performance review for the [report's] author cited this report as a signature accomplishment.”
Some fusion centers simply don’t care about terrorism. A Senate survey of 62 fusion centers in 2010 found that more than one-third of them, 25, didn’t even “mention terrorism in their mission statements.” Instead, they take federal anti-terrorism money and use it to supplement local law-enforcement priorities like fighting drugs, under the pretext that terrorists “would commit precursor crimes before an attack.”
Others get in the way of law-enforcement efforts. One of these cases, involving an alleged Russian “cyberattack” in Illinois, is covered by my Wired colleague Kim Zetter at Threat Level. (Quick preview: DHS doesn’t exactly come out looking like a coven of geniuses. [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/10/dhs-false-water-pump-hack/]) Another involved the Arizona fusion center, which mistakenly reported in January 2011 that the would-be assassin of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was connected to an “anti-Semitic, anti-government group” called American Renaissance. The “group” in question is actually a newsletter, and the fusion center’s director had to publicly state the analysis shouldn’t have been released. A third, released by the Missouri fusion center, tied libertarians and supporters of Ron Paul to “the Modern Militia Movement,” strongly suggesting they were violent anti-government extremists.
The Senate report stops far short of recommending that the fusion centers be abolished. It argues instead for stricter oversight and sharper clarifications of the fusion centers’ counterterrorism mission. But it’s worth considering what the director of the northern California fusion center told a Senate panel in 2011.
The director, Ronald Brooks, mentioned that there isn’t any transnational terrorism in Oakland. But Oakland did have 740 recent shootings, and so he defended spending federal terrorism grants solving those crimes. “That’s terror right there in our own community,” Brooks said. “And that kind of terror is one that’s experienced in big cities and small towns across the country.”
Brooks probably meant to be a good cop. But even good cops can go bad when they’re handed lots of cash to chase rare threats to national security.


2012-03-02 "Angry Birds, Meet Jailbirds: New App Helps You Snitch on Your Friends" by Spencer Ackerman from "Wired.com"[http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/app-homeland-security]:

In less time than it takes to play a turn in Words With Friends, smartphone users can report a “suspicious person” to the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
The domestic counterterrorism agency’s West Virginia branch, in association with the West Virginia governor’s office, unveiled a new mobile app called the Suspicious Activity Reporting Application this week. “With the assistance of our citizens, important information can quickly get into the hands of our law enforcement community allowing them to provide better protection,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement [http://www.wv.gov/news/Pages/GovernorAnnouncesNewMobileAppEnablesWestVirginiastoReportSuspiciousActivity.aspx].
The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Android Market.
I downloaded it onto my phone. The interface is simple. After informing you that you should dial 911 for an actual emergency and asking if you want to submit your geolocation information, the app is fundamentally a camera function. You can annotate the image you capture with date and location (if you didn’t enable the auto-geolocation function); additional details like a “Subject’s” name, gender, eye color, “hair style” and more; and vehicle information if applicable. And you can submit your own information, allowing the authorities to contact you, or choose to submit it anonymously.
Once you click the green “Submit Report” bar, the picture you’ve snapped and the information you’ve recorded goes to the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, a partnership between state law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. “The longer you wait the less accurate eyewitness information becomes and evidence fades,” the fusion center’s director, Thom Kirk, said in the statement.
This isn’t the first time that law enforcement has branched out into mobile applications. Kentucky’s state homeland security division launched “Eyes and Ears on Kentucky” for the iPhone last year. Its interface is different, but its functionality is the same [http://publicintelligence.net/kentucky-homeland-security-releases-iphone-app-for-suspicious-activity-reporting/].
On its face, there’s nothing about the app that protects either the civil liberties of citizens or the busy schedules of West Virginia homeland security operatives. You don’t have to affirm that you have evidence of a crime, or even a suspected crime, to send information to the Fusion Center. Nor is it clear how long the Fusion Center can keep information on U.S. citizens or persons sent to it through the app. (More broadly, the guidelines for the nationwide network of homeland security Fusion Centers don’t spell out so-called “minimization” procedures for any of the information they collect. [http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/ise/guidelines.pdf])
In other words, there’s nothing in the app to stop you from snapping a picture of your annoying neighbor and sending it to the attention of federal and state counterterrorism agents in West Virginia, who can keep information on your neighbor’s face, body and perhaps his vehicle for an unspecified period of time.
It’s also unclear why West Virginia thinks its citizens need app-based suspicious activity reporting. A February study from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University found that not a single plot or alleged plot involving Muslim-American terrorism occurred in the state in 2011 [http://sanford.duke.edu/centers/tcths/documents/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Terrorism_in_the_Decade_Since_9_11.pdf]. 
A Washington Post investigative project in 2010 found that West Virginia was one of only 15 states that has no terrorism convictions in state or federal courts since 9/11 and ranked 36th in states receiving federal homeland-security cash in 2009 [http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/states/west-virginia/].
“We’re currently looking at our other services to see what else makes sense to move to the mobile platform,” the state’s homeland security director, Jimmy Gianato, said in the statement. It might not be long before the Department of Homeland Security — which has been exploring new spy tools derived from the military — follows suit on a national level [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/app-homeland-security/www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/homeland-security-surveillance/].


2012-07-25 "Homeland Security Blew Millions, Still Can’t Protect Its Buildings" by Robert Beckhusen from "Wired.com"
[http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/mist/]:
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the government realized it had a problem. There were no minimum security standards or an inspection regime for the thousands of federal facilities sprawled across the country. So it developed a plan, accelerated after 9/11, to test federal buildings and other sites for potential vulnerabilities. To carry out the tests, the government deployed a web-enabled software program that cost millions and failed to work. Now the program’s replacement may be even worse.
According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland Security’s police and security agency is preparing to adopt a new software tool for inspections, but one that can’t accurately measure security risks. The Federal Protective Service (FPS) also doesn’t know the extent of its inspection backlog because its data is unreliable. There are federal facilities that seemingly haven’t been inspected in years. The FPS “continues to face challenges in overseeing its approximately 12,500 contract guards,” according to the report [http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592885.pdf]. And before the agency adopts the new tool, it’s using a temporary program that can hardly inspect at all.
The new tool is called the Modified Infrastructure Survey Tool, or Mist [http://www.hstoday.us/focused-topics/infrastructure-security/single-article-page/is-there-a-future-for-fps.html]. Inspectors are currently being trained with the software, which guides inspectors through tests designed to expose security risks while examining federal buildings. A test could be as simple as checking the windows. If the windows are not made of blast-resistant glass designed to lessen the impact of an improvised explosive device, Mist takes note of it and provides recommendations. After running through a series of similar tests, inspectors upload the test data over the web into a centralized database. The FPS hopes to begin using it in actual inspections by September, after developing it at a cost of $5 million.
Mist seems to work well enough on a single building. But according to the report, Mist has a major vulnerability: It isn’t designed to compare security risks between federal facilities.
Instead, all facilities within the same security level (there are four levels, corresponding to size and number of employees) “are assumed to have the same security risk, regardless of their location.” Mist might notice the windows, but will see a vulnerable federal building in Washington as no more vulnerable than a remote facility of comparable size somewhere out in the boonies. This, according to the report, “provides limited assurance that the most critical risks at federal facilities across the country are being prioritized and mitigated.”
Mist also doesn’t factor the potential consequences of an “adverse event” like a terrorist attack. Without factoring consequences, the report says, the agency cannot effectively figure out the security risks. Or, rather, what to do about them. Mist may be able to determine some potential vulnerabilities, but without analyzing what might happen if those vulnerabilities are exploited in an attack, tenants “may not be able to make fully informed decisions” about where to put their resources.
It’s not intended to be permanent, though. Mist is actually an interim tool after the government’s previous tool also failed to work.
The failed system, called the Risk Assessment and Management Program (or Ramp), was supposed to be simple — albeit with an inflated $35 million price tag over the $21 million originally planned [http://www.businessinsider.com/homeland-security-wastes-57-million-dollars-2012-7]. Like Mist, Ramp was designed to be the primary software used to test federal buildings for vulnerabilities. List Mist, it also guided inspectors through the a series of tests before uploading the results into a database. But Ramp was, erm, unreliable [http://www.hstoday.us/focused-topics/counternarcotics-terrorism-intelligence/single-article-page/fps-lacks-plan-to-preserve-federal-building-risk-data-ig-warns/7fd4347ccf153208a27258e2b4b741bf.html].
Recorded inspections of guard posts “disappeared” from Ramp’s database “without explanation.” The software couldn’t connect to Ramp’s servers when operated in remote areas. Inspectors had no way of verifying if training and certification information from contractors was legit. At least one guard post, the report notes, duplicated paperwork for previous tests in order to spoof inspectors. The agency dumped Ramp last month [http://fcw.com/articles/2012/04/05/fps-ramp-contract.aspx]. In the meantime, the FPS is using another interim system before it adopts Mist. You heard that correctly. The FPS is using an interim system before it adopts another interim system. And this one does zippo.
Currently, the interim system “will not allow FPS to generate post inspection reports, and does not include a way for FPS inspectors to check guard training and certification data during a post inspection,” according to the report. Thus, “it is now more difficult for FPS to verify that guards on post are trained and certified and that inspectors are conducting guard post inspections as required.” This follows security lapses including a bag of explosives mistakenly placed in the lost and found at a federal building in Detroit, 22 guns stolen from a federal building in Atlanta by a contract guard [http://articles.cnn.com/2008-03-14/us/federal.security_1_parking-deck-federal-building-fps?_s=PM:US] and a dead body discovered at a facility in Kansas City months after the person died .
Mist seems to fix the problems of inspecting contractors, which is an improvement. It’s certainly better than the stop-gap that stop nothing. But if it can’t prioritize where risks should be reduced, then it’s no better — possibly worse — than Ramp. But what this really means is that nearly 11 years after 9/11, and more than 17 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, the federal government still can’t figure out how to protect its buildings.


2008-03-14 "Lawmaker: U.S. security agency faltering" by Jeanne Meserve and Jim Spellman from "CNN"[http://articles.cnn.com/2008-03-14/us/federal.security_1_parking-deck-federal-building-fps?_s=PM:US]:
An FBI trailer full of surveillance equipment was stolen from the garage of this building.
A series of embarrassing incidents on federal property across the country, including the theft of a trailer of surveillance equipment from an FBI parking deck, is being blamed on budget cuts at the agency charged with securing federal grounds.
"We're seeing the near collapse of the Federal Protective Service," said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-District of Columbia, who leads the congressional subcommittee that oversees federal buildings.
The service's budget and staff have been cut since it became part of the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.
"I think that FPS is less able to do its job than ... in the past, primarily because of budgetary restrictions that have occurred, and that has forced them to slash their workforce" GAO investigator Mark Goldstein said.
"There are 756 uniformed federal officers to oversee the 8,800 buildings" under the agency's watch, he said.
A preliminary GAO report contained these findings:
• A man died at a vacant federal complex in Kansas City, Missouri, and his body was not found for three months. Watch scene of body's discovery
• Twenty-two guns were stolen from a federal building in Atlanta, Georgia. A private security guard employed at the building was convicted of participating in the theft.
• A surveillance trailer with $400,000 worth of high-tech equipment was stolen from the parking garage of a federal building in Los Angeles, California.
CNN has learned the trailer was stolen from the Los Angeles FBI field office in May. Contract guards watched the theft on surveillance cameras but did nothing to intervene and did not report the incident for three days, according to an incident report confirmed by the FBI and Norton.
The trailer was recovered with some of the equipment intact. The FBI investigation is still open.
In Kansas City, Eric L. Howell, 27, who had been homeless from time to time, died in a vacant government building sometime in summer 2007. His body was found months later by a government real estate agent showing the property to a prospective buyer. The cause of death could not be determined.
FPS director Gary W. Schenkel defended his agency, telling CNN the incidents cited by the GAO were "taken out of context."
"FPS does not refute that these incidents took place, but I do believe that additional background information shows that FPS and its contract guards acted according to the established mission guidelines and standards," Schenkel said.


2012-08-22 Child Porn, Coke Smuggling: Hundreds of DHS Employees Arrested Last Year" by Robert Beckhusen from "Wired.com"
[http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/employees/]:
Border Patrol agents smuggling weed and coke. Immigration agents forging documents and robbing drug dealers. TSA employees caught with child porn. Those are just a few of the crimes perpetrated by Department of Homeland Security employees in just the past year.
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security nearly a decade ago, the agency’s inspector general has been tasked with uncovering corruption, waste and criminality within its own ranks. The IG has had his hands full.
According to a newly released DHS inspector general’s summary of its significant investigations, 318 DHS employees and contractors were arrested in 2011 [http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIG_12-108_Aug12.pdf]. That’s about one arrest per weekday of the men and women who are supposed to be keeping the country safe. The report lets us not only see how corrupt some agents tasked with protecting the homeland can be, it also gives us a scale of the problem. In short: There are a lot of dirty immigration and border officers.
That might send the wrong impression. DHS is a massive agency of more than 225,000 employees. Within DHS, sub-agency Customs and Border Protection has more than doubled in recent years to nearly 59,000 employees [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/article_836254a0-34aa-5298-985e-9d421c4d3587.html]. Maybe it’s not so surprising an organization of that size has a few bad apples. There’s also some good news. The number of arrests is going down: there were 519 arrests in 2010, compared to the 318 last year. Still, within that number includes some serious crimes.
“Border corruption may take the form of cash bribes, sexual favors, and other gratuities in return for allowing contraband or undocumented aliens through primary inspection lanes or even protecting and escorting border crossings; leaking sensitive law enforcement information to persons under investigation and selling law enforcement intelligence to smugglers; and providing needed documents such as immigration papers,” Charles Edwards, the acting inspector general for DHS, told Congress earlier this month [http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Edwards-Testimony.pdf].
According to the report, a Border Patrol agent from Tucson named Yamilkar Fierros was given 20 months in prison for providing “sensor location maps, trail maps, and communications technology” to cartel members in exchange for more than $5,000 in bribes. Another incident involved an 8-year veteran CBP agent who conspired with cocaine traffickers to let drugs past his border inspection post. The agent, whose name and former location are undisclosed in the report, was sentenced to 110 months in federal prison.
Other corruption cases read like a list of bad career decisions, some appalling; others involve petty greed. The appalling includes at least two employees — one from CBP and another from the TSA — who were caught in possession of child pornography. A Border Patrol agent in Arizona “punched a fellow agent and threatened him with his service-issued weapon after the fellow agent joked about the excessive amount of tactical gear the [Border Patrol] routinely wore,” according to the report.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent named Valentino Johnson was sentenced to 120 months in prison for working an off-duty job robbing drug dealers, according to the report. Johnson, who was busted after attempting to steal a load of fake cocaine, worked with a stick-up crew who saw him as a means to portray a sense of legitimacy to their robberies.
A Border Patrol agent in Arizona named Michael Atondo was convicted for attempting to distribute marijuana. The agent, according to the report, using his patrol vehicle to bypass checkpoints and smuggle more than 100 kilos of marijuana. Among ICE agents, many cases involve forging fake immigration documents for bribes. A CBP agent posted to Logan International Airport in Boston even reportedly stole astronaut Neil Armstrong’s customs declaration form and attempted to sell it on the internet.
The corruption investigations have also netted contractors. At least one contractor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency was convicted of defrauding the agency of more than one million dollars. A company employee for security contractor MVM was discovered to have falsified training documents to the Federal Protective Service, which oversees security at government buildings.
There’s also a caveat. While the numbers of arrests have fallen this year, the long-term trend of cases against CBP agents, at least, has been on a rise since 2004, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of cases doubled [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/article_836254a0-34aa-5298-985e-9d421c4d3587.html]. Former Border Patrol agent Lee Morgan told the Daily Star the increase was due to the agency expanding its ranks so quickly. “This is just such a tarnish on the badge of the U.S. Border Patrol,” he told the paper.
Homeland Security’s inspectors are also overloaded, and are now framing out more criminal cases to sub-agencies [http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/dhs-ig-struggles-keep-border-corruption-cases/2012-08-02]. The CBP, meanwhile, is boosting its own internal affairs staff, and is implementing lie-detector tests starting in January.
“While the number of corrupt individuals within our ranks who have betrayed the trust of the American public and their peers is a fraction of one percent of our workforce, we continue to focus our efforts on rooting out this unacceptable and deplorable behavior,” CBP acting commissioner David Aguilar told Congress [http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Aguilar-Testimony.pdf].
The director’s testimony came at a bad time. On Friday, in one of the most high-profile cases of agency corruption in recent years, two former Border Patrol agents were found guilty of smuggling hundreds of people in their vehicles in exchange for cash [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-08-10/border-corruption/56957138/1?csp=34news]. They could face up to 50 years in prison. Perhaps they’ll meet up with some old colleagues, if they’re put behind bars.


2012-01-23 "Homeland Security Wants to Spy on 4 Square Miles at Once" by Spencer Ackerman from "Wired.com"
[http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/homeland-security-surveillance/]:
 It’s not just for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars anymore. The Department of Homeland Security is interested in a camera package that can peek in on almost four square miles of (constitutionally protected) American territory for long, long stretches of time.
Homeland Security doesn’t have a particular system in mind. Right now, it’s just soliciting “industry feedback” on what a formal call for such a “Wide Area Surveillance System” might look like. But it’s the latest indication of how powerful military surveillance technology, developed to find foreign insurgents and terrorists, is migrating to the home front.
The Department of Homeland Security says it’s interested in a system that can see between five to 10 square kilometers — that’s between two and four square miles, roughly the size of Brooklyn, New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood — in its “persistent mode.” By “persistent,” it means the cameras should stare at the area in question for an unspecified number of hours to collect what the military likes to call “pattern of life” data — that is, what “normal” activity looks like for a given area. Persistence typically depends on how long the vehicle carrying the camera suite can stay aloft; DHS wants something that can fit into a manned P-3 Orion spy plane or a Predator drone — of which it has a couple [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/11/dhs-unwanted-drones/]. When not in “persistent mode,” the cameras ought to be able to see much, much further: “long linear areas, tens to hundreds of kilometers in extent, such as open, remote borders.”
If it’s starting to sound reminiscent of the spy tools the military has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, it should. Homeland Security wants the video collected by the system to beam down in “near real time” — 12 seconds or quicker — to a “control room (T) or to a control room and beyond line of sight (BLOS) ruggedized mobile receiver on the ground,” just as military spy gear does. The camera should shift to infrared mode for nighttime snooping, and contain “automated, real time, motion detection capability that cues a spotter imager for target identification.” Tests for the system will take place in Nogales, Arizona.
The range of this system isn’t as vast as the newest, latest cameras that the military either has or is developing. The Army’s super-powerful ARGUS camera, heading to Afghanistan, can look out at 36 square miles at a time [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/army-helicopter-cross-eyed/]; the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare looks out on an entire city at once. On deck are the military’s fleet of spy blimps, which will will generate 274 terabytes of information every hour [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/all-seeing-blimp]. Compared to that, the Department of Homeland Security is positively myopic.
But. Those systems are used against insurgents, who are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions on unreasonable searches. Even if the wide-area surveillance DHS is after is just used at borders or airports, those are still places where Americans go about their business, under the presumption that they’re not living in a government panopticon.
It’s also ironic: the Department of Homeland Security actually isn’t so hot on its own drone fleet. When Danger Room asked an official at the department’s science directorate about using spy drones to spot bombs inside the U.S., she replied, “A case has to be made that they’re economically feasible, not intrusive and acceptable to the public.” [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/spy-drones-over-america-dhs-would-rather-not/]
Still, what’s military technology one day is law-enforcement tech the next. As I reported for Playboy last month, more and more cop shops are buying spy drones, and increasingly, the Federal Aviation Administration is approving their use for domestic flights [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/11/ows-drones/] [http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/01/11/the-faas-secrecy-around-drones-sparks-lawsuit/].
That also means that federal and local police can expect to replicate some of the military’s more frustrating aspects of persistent spying — namely, the constant, massive backlog of real-time video they’ll need to analyze. It’s gotten so bad that the Pentagon’s mad scientist shop, Darpa, is trying to automate cameras so human analysts aren’t constantly drinking from a fire hose of spy data [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/beyond-surveillance-darpa-wants-a-thinking-camera/].
Still, privacy advocates might soon have a whole new tech-driven battle with the Department of Homeland Security on their hands. It’s hardly clear from the pre-solicitation that the department only expects to operate the cameras after getting a court order — or if it thinks it needs one in the first place. And even if the department isn’t necessarily after the uber-powerful ARGUS or Gorgon Stare cameras, that might only be a matter of time. The wars will end; the spy tech won’t. And it might be keeping tabs on your neighborhood next.


2012-10-02 "DHS Issued False ‘Water Pump Hack’ Report; Called It a ‘Success’" by Kim Zetter from "Wired.com"
[http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/10/dhs-false-water-pump-hack/]:
When an Illinois fusion center distributed a report last year stating that hackers from Russia had broken into a water district’s SCADA system and sabotaged a water pump, the Department of Homeland Security stepped in publicly to denounce the report as false, blaming the regional fusion center for spreading unsubstantiated claims and sowing panic in the industrial control system community.
But while DHS was busy pointing a finger at the fusion center, its own Office of Intelligence and Analysis had been irresponsibly spreading the same false information privately in a report to Congress and the intelligence community, according to a Senate subcommittee investigation released late Tuesday. The DHS report was issued five days after the fusion center report was issued.
Even after the FBI and other investigators concluded a few days later that there was no merit to the hacking claims and that the reports were false, the DHS intelligence unit did not issue a correction to its report or notify Congress or the intelligence community that the information it spread was incorrect [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/scada-hack-report-wrong/].
Officials behind the false claims told Senate investigators that such reports weren’t meant to be “finished intelligence” and that despite their report’s inaccuracies and sloppy wording they considered it to be a “success.”
“[It did] exactly what it’s supposed to do – generate interest,” DHS officials told Senate investigators.
The revelation is buried in a lengthy report released by the Senate’s bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which examines the many failings of state fusion centers, which were set up in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an effort to improve intelligence collection and dissemination for state, local and federal law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies [http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/fusion-centers/].
The water pump hack report spawned dozens of sensational news stories when it was leaked to reporters in November 2011. The fusion center report, which was titled “Public Water District Cyber Intrusion,” was distributed by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center on Nov. 10 and given to state and federal law enforcement agencies, utilities and other groups.
The report, which was meant to be confidential, claimed that attackers from Russia had hacked into the network of a software vendor that made the SCADA system used by a water district in Illinois and stolen usernames and passwords that the vendor maintained for its customers [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/hackers-destroy-water-pump/]. The hackers then supposedly used the credentials to gain remote access to the utility’s network and cause a water pump to burn out. The report was leaked to the media by an industrial control systems expert who had gained access to it.
The report was significant at the time because it represented the first known attack of this kind involving hackers breaking into an industrial control system in the U.S. and sabotaging equipment. As the Senate investigators point out in their report, earlier that year Defense Department officials had stated that the U.S. would treat such attacks on critical infrastructure systems as an act of war if they caused widespread casualties.
But none of the information was true, and the authors of the fusion center report could have easily discovered this had they bothered to investigate the matter even a little.
Someone did access the water district’s SCADA system from Russia, but it was a water district contractor who was asked to access the system by water district employees, as Wired first reported [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/water-pump-hack-mystery-solved/]. They had called him to seek his opinion on something while he was on vacation in Russia, and he had logged into the system remotely to check on some data for them.
When the pump broke five months later and someone examined the network logs to determine the cause, they found an IP address from Russia listed in the logs next to the username and password of the contractor. No one ever bothered to call the contractor to see if he had logged in from Russia; they just assumed someone in Russia had stolen his credentials.
The assertion by the fusion center that the pump was sabotaged by intruders from Russia was all the more perplexing since the contractor had logged in from Russia five months before the pump broke, the Senate investigators point out.
Nonetheless, five days after the fusion center issued its report on Nov. 10, officials from DHS’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis issued their own report, inexplicably repeating the same claims that the fusion center had made.
“Like the fusion center report, DHS stated the allegations as fact, not as theory, claim or hunch,” the Senate report says, noting that DHS guidelines forbid the department from reporting on information if it’s just a theory, claim or hunch.
The author of the DHS report, a senior reports officer in the Intelligence and Analysis branch, claimed in his report that the information was based on “first and secondhand knowledge of information” that was “deemed reliable.” The report never indicated that the information was based on conjecture.
A slide that the I&A office prepared for an intelligence briefing stated emphatically that the Illinois water district’s SCADA system had “experienced a network intrusion from a Russian IP address” and said that the perpetrator hijacked an “authorized user account” and that “system controls were manipulated resulting in a pump burnout.” The information was included in a daily intelligence briefing that went to Congress and the intelligence community.
A week after the DHS intelligence report was released, investigators from DHS’s Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) arrived in Illinois to investigate the apparent intrusion. They quickly determined, after speaking with the contractor whose name had shown up in the logs, that the fusion center and the DHS intelligence reports were wrong and that the failed pump was not the result of a hack attack at all.
“Almost no part of the initial reports of the incident had been accurate – not the fusion center report, or DHS’s own intelligence report, or its intelligence briefing,” write the Senate investigators in their report. “The only fact that they got right was that a water pump in a small illinois water district had burned out.”
On Nov. 22, the DHS released a statement saying that there was no evidence to back the fusion center claims that the utility had suffered a cyber intrusion, that credentials were stolen or that any malicious activity was behind the failed water pump.
On Nov. 30, after Wired published a story identifying the contractor who had logged into the system from Russia and revealed the true facts behind the “cyber intrusion”, DHS pointed the finger at the fusion center for releasing information that had not been verified [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/water-pump-hack-mystery-solved/].
A spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police, which is responsible for the fusion center, pointed the finger at local representatives of DHS, FBI and other agencies who she said were responsible for compiling information that gets released by the fusion center.
And then DHS pointed another finger back at the fusion center, saying if the report had been DHS-approved, six different offices would have had to sign off on it.
“Because this was an Illinois [fusion center] product, it did not undergo such a review,” a DHS official told Wired at the time.
But according to the Senate report, DHS had indeed released its own separate report that restated the same false claims that the fusion center report had stated.
When Senate investigators asked officials from the I&A office about their report, the officials acknowledged that they had not included caveats in the report to indicate that the information was uncorroborated and based on hypotheses, but they defended their hurried reporting by saying there was “a premium for getting [intelligence reports] out.”
And despite the fact that their office is called the Office of Intelligence & Analysis, they told investigators that “analytical judgements are saved” – that is, analysis is not included in such reports.


2012-04-26 "THE GLOBAL SPY APPARATUS: You Are All Suspects Now. What Are You Going To Do About It?"
by John Pilger from "Global Research" [http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-global-spy-apparatus-you-are-all-suspects-now-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it/30544]:
You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda”, but “exercise”, “drill”, “wave”, “initiative” and “organisation”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming western democracy.
What are you going to do about it?

In Britain, on instructions from the CIA, secret courts are to deal with “terror suspects”. Habeas Corpus is dying. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five men, including three British citizens, can be extradited to the US even though none except one has been charged with a crime. All have been imprisoned for years under the 2003 US/UK Extradition Treaty which was signed one month after the criminal invasion of Iraq. The European Court had condemned the treaty as likely to lead to “cruel and unusual punishment”. One of the men, Babar Ahmad, was awarded 63,000 pounds compensation for 73 recorded injuries he sustained in the custody of the Metropolitan Police. Sexual abuse, the signature of fascism, was high on the list. Another man is a schizophrenic who has suffered a complete mental collapse and is in Broadmoor secure hospital; another is a suicide risk. To the Land of the Free, they go — along with young Richard O’Dwyer, who faces 10 years in shackles and an orange jump suit because he allegedly infringed US copyright on the internet.
As the law is politicised and Americanised, these travesties are not untypical. In upholding the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating “terrorism” on the internet, Appeal Court judges in London ruled that “acts… against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes” were now crimes. Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.
What are you going to do about it?

The prognosis is clear now: the malignancy that Norman Mailer called “pre fascist” has metastasized. The US attorney-general, Eric Holder, defends the “right” of his government to assassinate American citizens. Israel, the protege, is allowed to aim its nukes at nukeless Iran. In this looking glass world, the lying is panoramic. The massacre of 17 Afghan civilians on 11 March, including at least nine children and four women, is attributed to a “rogue” American soldier. The “authenticity” of this is vouched by President Obama himself, who had “seen a video” and regards it as “conclusive proof”. An independent Afghan parliamentary investigation produces eyewitnesses who give detailed evidence of as many as 20 soldiers, aided by a helicopter, ravaging their villages, killing and raping: a standard, if marginally more murderous US special forces “night raid”.
Take away the videogame technology of killing – America’s contribution to modernity – and the behaviour is traditional. Immersed in comic-book righteousness, poorly or brutally trained, frequently racist, obese and led by a corrupt officer class, American forces transfer the homicide of home to faraway places whose impoverished struggles they cannot comprehend. A nation founded on the genocide of the native population never quite kicks the habit. Vietnam was “Indian country” and its “slits” and “gooks” were to be “blown away.
The blowing away of hundreds of mostly women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968 was also a “rogue” incident and, profanely, an “American tragedy” (the cover headline of Newsweek). Only one of 26 men prosecuted was convicted and he was let go by President Richard Nixon. My Lai is in Quang Ngai province where, as I learned as a reporter, an estimated 50,000 people were killed by American troops, mostly in what they called “free fire zones”. This was the model of modern warfare: industrial murder.
Like Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan is a theme park for the beneficiaries of America’s new permanent war: Nato, the armaments and hi-tech companies, the media and a “security” industry whose lucrative contamination is a contagion on everyday life. The conquest or “pacification” of territory is unimportant. What matters is the pacification of you, the cultivation of your indifference.
What are you going to do about it?

The descent into totalitarianism has landmarks. Any day now, the Supreme Court in London will decide whether the WikiLeaks editor, Julian Assange, is to be extradited to Sweden. Should this final appeal fail, the facilitator of truth-telling on an epic scale, who is charged with no crime, faces solitary confinement and interrogation on ludicrous sex allegations. Thanks to a secret deal between the US and Sweden, he can be “rendered” to the American gulag at any time. In his own country, Australia, prime minister Julia Gillard has conspired with those in Washington she calls her “true mates” to ensure her innocent fellow citizen is fitted for his orange jump suit just in case he should make it home. In February, her government wrote a “WikiLeaks Amendment” to the extradition treaty between Australia and the US that makes it easier for her “mates” to get their hands on him. She has even given them the power of approval over Freedom of Information searches – so that the world outside can be lied to, as is customary.
What are you going to do about it?

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