Written by Jason Leopold Friday, 09 September 2011 23:07
Editor's Note: This report was originally published on The Public Record on July 16, 2009. We're reposting it as part of our efforts to highlight a decade of surveillance in the 'homeland.'
Back in 2001, the Defense Department was briefed about a massive data mining system that officials said was aimed at identifying alleged terrorists who lived and communicated with people in the United States.
The new intelligence program granted traditional law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI and the CIA the authority to conduct what was then referred to as “suspicionless surveillance” of American citizens.
“Suspicionless Surveillance” was developed by the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness department, led by Admiral John Poindexter, the former national security adviser who secretly sold weapons to Middle Eastern terrorists in 1980s during the Iran-Contra affair and was convicted of a felony for lying to Congress and destroying evidence. The convictions were later overturned on appeal.
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Thursday, 08 September 2011 16:29
Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the "Homeland" is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.
Surveillance now is everyone's business, as the line between intelligence-gathering and crimefighting rapidly fades and the public is conditioned to play its part.
The work of Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) exemplifies the new surveillance paradigm. The head of the 750-strong counterterrorism force within the LAPD, he is on the hunt for "people who follow al-Qaeda's goals and objectives and mission and ideology." He says his officers collect intelligence and practice the "essence of community policing" by reaching out to Muslims and asking them to "weed out" the "hard-core radicals."
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Tuesday, 06 September 2011 18:59
What a difference a century makes.
One hundred and three years ago, then-attorney general Charles Bonaparte enlisted some private detectives and members of the Treasury Department's Secret Service (set up in the aftermath of the Civil War to ferret out counterfeiting) as special agents in his newly created Bureau of Investigation. At a time when Congress was staunchly against any federal power engaging in political surveillance, its role was initially limited to investigating interstate crime and crimes on federal property.
Written by Jason Leopold Sunday, 28 August 2011 00:58
George W. Bush justified his warrantless wiretapping by relying on Justice Department attorney John Yoo’s theories of unlimited presidential wartime powers, and started the spying operation even before Yoo issued a formal opinion, a government investigation discovered
Essentially, President Bush took it upon himself to ignore the clear requirement of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that all domestic intelligence-related electronic spying must have a warrant from a secret federal court, not just presidential approval. Illegal wiretapping is a felony under federal law.
The July 10 report by the inspectors general of the CIA, National Security Agency, Justice Department and Defense Department also didn’t identify any specific terrorist attack that was thwarted by what was known as the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP), although Bush has claimed publicly that his warrantless wiretapping “helped detect and prevent terrorist attacks on our own country.”
In a 38-page unclassified report, the inspectors general said most U.S. intelligence officials who were interviewed “had difficulty citing specific instances where PSP reporting had directly contributed to counterterrorism successes.”
First, Your Shoes; Next, Your DNA: Elliot Cohen on How Surveillance Is Erasing Freedom and Autonomy, Step by Incremental Step
Written by Alissa Bohling Sunday, 28 August 2011 00:58
Elliot Cohen's reputation for prescient reporting precedes his new book, "Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project." In 2007, years before today's comparatively widespread coverage of the Comcast-NBC merger and other threats to net neutrality, Cohen won the first place Project Censored award for his story about the free speech implications of the 2005 Supreme Court decision cementing the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) position that telecommunications laws could not be applied to cable modem services.
This time, Cohen zeros in on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Total Information Awareness project, a comprehensive surveillance program begun under the Bush administration that continues under Obama and that Cohen characterizes as an "Orwellian nightmare." In the book, Cohen tackles a topic ripe for speculation and paranoia with an approach that is both urgent and measured, tempering the terrifying results of his research with two simple questions – how bad could it get, and what can we do about it?
Written by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford Monday, 22 August 2011 19:52
On August 5, 2002, President George Bush declared, "We're fighting ... to secure freedom in the homeland." Strikingly, he did not use the word "nation," or "republic," but instead adopted a term, with its Germanic overtones of blood, roots and loyalty going back generations, for a country that is not the ancestral home of most of its citizens.
Soon after, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the massive Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an amalgam of 22 agencies and nearly 200,000 employees. The FBI and CIA remained outside the DHS, while the military, in October 2002, established its own Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to defend the "homeland."
In the years since then, the full weight of government has been bent on ensuring "homeland security" - a term rarely heard before the 2001 attacks. Over the decade, the government's powers of surveillance have expanded dramatically. They are directed not just at people suspected of wrongdoing, but at all of us. Our phone calls, our emails and web site visits, our financial records, our travel itineraries, and our digital images captured on powerful surveillance cameras are swelling the mountain of data that is being mined for suspicious patterns and associations.