Breaking Down the Hedge (#3)

It’s a few days late, but it’s finally here! The THIRD edition of the weekly newsletter, Breaking Down the Hedges! What’s in store for us this week? I have to mention that some of my favorite people on earth still to this day do not see any reason to be concerned about the level of public (and personal) monitoring/surveillance that is going on all around us. I hope they read this first section.

Image: Wikipedia.

Surveillance

1. Maryland Police Are Deploying Cameras To Watch Other Cameras (Business Insider, via InfoWars)

Read the article here.

Quote:

…local people had started targeting the speed cameras police put up in intersections, as well as surveillance cameras. The police said that since April, six people have been involved in camera damaging activities.

He said he didn’t get too worried until the fire. Yes, one of the cameras incinerated.

Liberati, who’s the commander of the Automated Enforcement Section, in other words “speed cameras,” says each camera can cost up to $30,000. They needed to do something to deter the camera saboteurs. Liberati thought cameras to watch the cameras was a good solution.

Liberati said that speed cameras, under Maryland state law, can only be used to track speeding violations, so the station ordered separate surveillance cameras.

My Take

It is interesting to me that the police, who are ostensibly “serving the people,” are not taking a hint from the violent reaction of the people, and are instead deploying the stupid cameras-to-watch-cameras. In the end, monitoring the populace is profitable to various government agencies, and it will never go away. The local police pad their coffers with tickets and fines, and what do the Feds get? Read on…

2. Judge Napolitano: Bipartisan Senate Panel Report Finds DHS Intelligence Effort Had ‘Nothing to Do With National Security’ (Fox News Insider)

Read the article here.

Quote:

According to the bipartisan investigation, the program found no potential terrorist activity and often spied on innocent Americans.

The Senate panel wrote in its report, “The subcommittee investigation found that the fusion centers often produce irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever.”

Judge Napolitano said the program is costly, but the DHS doesn’t know the exact price tag. It could cost anywhere between $300 million and $1 billion dollars. The Senate committee says that more than $1.4 billion has been spent and even counted a different number of fusion centers than the DHS claims to have.

My Take:

So, the federal government is paying an unknown amount to fund an unknown number of “fusion centers” that are not helping the Department of Homeland Security accomplish its supposed task of keeping us safe from terrorists, and instead are “[spying] on innocent Americans.” Is that clear? No worries, though. You can trust Big Brother. And you were wondering what this one had to do with surveillance!

3. ACLU of Michigan exposes police surveillance cameras being used in residential neighborhoods (End the Lie)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan recently put out a fascinating report (PDF) on the use of surveillance cameras in residential Lansing, Michigan which seems to be congruent with the ongoing rise of the use of surveillance cameras and associated technologies.

The growth in the use of surveillance cameras coincides with the increasingly common use of armored surveillance vehicles as well as expansion of the American surveillance state as a whole.

Some of the placements are nothing short of disturbing with one camera boasting a 360-degree field of view of an area up to 500 feet with zoom capability placed immediately outside of a home.

The cameras placed by the Lansing Police Department run around the clock and leverage high-definition color, night vision and focus features that allow the camera to “resolve minute detail in even the most severe environmental conditions,” according to the report.

“This means that the Lansing cameras give police the ability to read words on a piece of paper in someone’s hand within 50 feet, clearly discern a license plate that is 300 feet away, or recognize a face at 400 feet,” the ACLU of Michigan writes.

My Take:

Well, once again, I fail to see what the problem is here. When a terrorist decides to drive up to your home in a severe thunderstorm to steal your mail, the local police will have all the necessary camera footage to prosecute that sucker! I’m feeling safer already! Now, if only I could get them to come out when my vehicles get stolen…

4. Intensified Warrantless Spying in America (Global Research)

Read the article here.

Quote

Newly released ACLU Justice Department documents and Kurt Eichenwald‘s just published book titled “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars” provide new information on lawless spying in America.

Eichenwald described “the most dramatic expansion of NSA’s power and authority in the agency’s 49 year history.” It was devised days after 9/11, he said. In fact, it began much earlier.

In December 2000, the NSA said:

“The volumes and routing of data make finding and processing nuggets of intelligence information more difficult. To perform both its offensive and defensive mission, NSA must ‘live on the network.’ “

Its mission “demand(s) a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the ‘protected’ communications of Americans as well as the targeted communications of adversaries.

Who knows when this began. Bet on long before 9/11. That incident made it easier. Doing so disregards Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provisions.

Obama officials claim they trump rule of law accountability. Incontrovertible evidence doesn’t matter. Based on their say alone,they claim a divine right to operate unconstitutionally ad nauseam.

They want Supreme Court approval. Most people have no idea what’s going on. Unless the High Court slaps them down, they and succeeding administrations will operate unconstitutionally without interference.

My Take:

Okay, let me get this one straight: the NSA had a plan back in 2000 to monitor “the ‘protected’ communications of Americans,” they implemented these acts after 9/11, blaming it on the necessity of protecting us from supposed terrorists that did not exist as a threat 11 years prior, and they have been violating both the Foreign Surveillance Act and the Constitution to do it all along. Nope, nothing to see here.

5. House Approves Sweeping, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers (Wired)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which is expiring at year’s end, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

The government has also interpreted the law to mean that as long as the real target is al-Qaida, the government can wiretap purely domestic e-mails and phone calls without getting a warrant from a judge. That’s according to David Kris, a former top anti-terrorism attorney at the Justice Department.

The government does not have to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.

The vote was 301-118 in favor of passage, with 111 Democrats and seven Republicans voting no.

Smith, while imploring the House to pass the measure, said the FISA Amendments Act “is one of the most important votes we cast in this Congress.” Terrorists, he added, “are committed to the destruction of our country.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) countered during a more than hour debate on the floor, urging the House to defeat the measure. “I think the government needs to comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution all the time,” she said. “We can be safe while still complying with the Constitution of the United States.”

My Take:

Number One thing to remember here is that “terrorists” are an intentionally nebulous group, to which anyone can allegedly belong, thus providing the perfect setup for what the NDAA established: anyone can be arrested for any reason, and detained anywhere for any length of time, up to and including forever. The military-industrialist complex profits from war. The selected target du jour loses. The Federal government gains power from war. The American people lose. The hardest thing about keeping this cycle running in the past was continually finding, and fomenting hatred against, a new enemy, every time an old one disappeared. Now, we have “terrorism,” the eternal, invisible, chameleon enemy.

Did you notice how the rights of Americans mean absolutely nothing, let alone the Constitution? Think about that for a minute: they are ignoring the Constitution, the one document upon which our entire country and form of government is supposedly based!!! Does that lead you to feel safer? Perhaps it does, I suppose. But, doesn’t it make you feel just a wee bit more of a slave, now that the government has usurped your freedoms?

6. City To Be Watched By Permanent Eye In The Sky (PrisonPlanet)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The Californian city of Lancaster will be the first to experience a “new era in law enforcement surveillance” with residents set to be watched by a permanent eye in the sky which will beam constant video footage back to police headquarters including crimes in progress as well as “scenes of mundane day-to-day life.”

My Take:

If you thought monitoring your phone calls, emails, and the front of your house was bad enough, how about everything you do in public?!? Well, yes, there will be fewer crimes when Big Brother can see what everyone is doing every minute of the day!

7. Whistleblower: NSA Analyzing Conversations In Real Time (PrisonPlanet)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The National Security Agency is storing all electronic communications and analyzing them in real time, according to former NSA employee turned whistleblower William Binney, who warns that the federal agency has a Google-style capability to search all conversations for keywords.

Since 2008, the NSA has had the legal power to intercept all phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens without probable cause. However, although long suspected, the agency has never admitted that it is analyzing the content of such messages, conceding only that persons, dates and locations are part of the snooping process.

However, in a recent sworn declaration to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, divulges that the federal agency, “has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email.”

Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, “The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.”

My Take:

Have you ever said anything you later regretted? Do you know anyone, perhaps a family member, who brings up past conversations and holds them against you like they were words you had used just today? Well, now the United Stated government has the capability of doing the same thing, only they have the aforementioned powers of the NDAA behind them, to throw you in jail forever over anything they dig up, basically. Reminds me of a scripture I once read in Isaiah 29:

20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cutoff:

 21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

Satan is called “The Accuser” for a reason. (See Rev. 12:10.)

This quote from the article mentions “data intercept centers.” What could those be? In fact, they are the very same “fusion centers” mentioned in the opening article. We’ll get to them soon.

8. Speak up: US law enforcement to use Russian software to store millions of voices (RT)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The US government has already proven its intent to see all evil, with the use of Orwellian programs like TrapWire. But it can now hear all evil too, as law enforcement agencies implement a tool able to store, analyze and identify voices in seconds.

‘Voice Grid Nation’ is a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. Brought to the US by Russia’s Speech Technology Center, it claims to be capable of allowing police, federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices.

When authorities intercept a call they’ve deemed ‘hinky’, the recording is entered into the VoiceGrid program, which (probably) buzzes and whirrs and spits out a match. In five seconds, the program can scan through 10,000 voices, and it only needs 3 seconds for speech analysis. All that, combined with 100 simultaneous searches and the storage capacity of 2 million samples, gives SpeechPro, as the company is known in the US, the right to claim a 90% success rate.

According to Slate.com’s Ryan Gallagher, who spoke with SpeechPro president Aleksey Khitrov, the software is already being used in many different countries and for ‘noble causes’ only – like in Mexico, where Voice Grid helped identify and apprehend kidnappers during a ransom call, thus saving their victim’s life.

Both the FBI and the NSA have expressed interest in the program, which is also expected to be used at 911 call centers and police precincts. And sample lists would, of course, contain ‘persons of interest’ – known criminals, terror suspects or people on a watch list.

Or would it?

The definition of ‘suspect’ has been known to be loosely interpreted by US law enforcement agencies in the past. What with the FBI branding people as ‘terrorist suspects’ for buying waterproof matches or flashlights, and the Department of Homeland Security urging hotel staff to notify authorities immediately if a person has tried to use cash and/or hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on their door, it’s easy to see why many are spooked by the idea that not only can the government see you at all times, it can also hear you.

In fact, combined with the capabilities of TrapWire, this would give law enforcement agencies an unprecedented ability to effectively dismiss both the country’s founding documents and any notion of privacy you may have had.

My Take:

No more fingerprint, mister smartypants! Now, we have your voice recorded, analyzed, and stored in our database to detect your verbal involvement in criminal activity. Gotcha! Oh, and the involvement of Russia should in no way concern you. (I should mention here that Russia Today is not an entirely trustworthy source, as it has ties to the KGB. However, since this news story has been reported on in other sources, it was safe to use.)

9. Philippines gags internet with ‘draconian’ cyber crime law (RT)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The Philippines has approved measures to prosecute users that post “defamatory” comments on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. They will be liable for a fine of 1 million pesos (US$24,000) or face up to 12 years in prison.

Websites that publish the material may also be shut down.

My Take:

Remember that stuff I said earlier about “making a man an offender for a word,” and so forth? Yeah, it’s like that.

10. Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away (Gizmodo)

Read the article here.

Quote:

Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.

And without you knowing it.

The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded “in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress.” According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.

Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States.

My Take:

This is one article you will want to read all the way through. Notice the “bridging” of agencies. This ties into the fusion centers and “privately owned corporations” mentioned in #1 below. Notice also the direct involvement of both the CIA and Congress to create and implement this technology.

Image: Wikipedia.

Fusion Centers

Fusion centers are designed to “fuse” data, bringing together data from a plethora of sources – Facebook, Google, email, texts, phone calls, surveillance cameras, fingerprints, etc. – and making them available as a complete package for use by government agencies. In other words, fusion centers create files on American citizens for the government, whether they are law-abiding or not. While they claim to be used to fight terrorism, the only notable information to come from fusion centers in recent years has been in reports issued to warn of the “terrorist threat” of anti-abortion advocates, Christians, Constitutionalists, and Ron Paul supporters.

I shared an excellent article from Wired Magazine about fusion centers in Breaking Down the Hedge (#1), that explains the sheer enormity of the data storage capabilities just one fusion center will have, which is understandable considering they plan on capturing everything everyone has ever said/written/done, for the rest of their existence.

1. The 72 Threat Fusion Centers Were Designed To Threaten You (InfoWars)

Read the article here.

Quote:

There are 72 Threat Fusion Centers. 50 state based and 22 urban centers set up during the Bush presidency in cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. They collect information from all 16 US intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI, the military, state and local police agencies and privately owned corporations and organizations like the ADL and SPLC which some say should be registered as agents of a foreign power Israel.

A lot of their information comes from contractors. So just how many contractors does DHS employ? Senator McCaskill said DHS doesn’t even know how many contractors there are working for them. Some estimate at one time there was as many as 200,000. If you understand bureaucracies and contractors, you will realize that these people need to justify their paychecks by finding terrorists. And that probably already includes you because you are on the Internet and have opinions.

My Take:

Article #7 above mentions “as many as twenty data intercept centers.” Mm-hmm. And, as always, Alex Jones tells it like it is. The involvement of the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) is disconcerting, as they tend to mislabel and misidentify organizations that are anything but “progressive” or otherwise left-leaning.

2. The Risks Homeland Security Fusion Centers Pose to Americans’ Civil Liberties (The Dissenter)

Read the article here.

Quote:

The investigation found state and local agencies had used federal grant money to purchase “hidden ‘shirt button’ cameras, cell phone tracking devices, and other surveillance equipment unrelated to the analytical mission of a fusion center.”

A grant was awarded to the Arizona Department of Public Safety in 2009. Money went to the fusion center in Arizona, the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), which purchased “equipment for a surveillance monitoring room.” A new laptop, software, two monitors and two 42” flat screen televisions were bought. This occurred despite guidelines that do not consider surveillance a part of fusion center operations.

The Office of General Counsel reminded Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) employees in April 2008 that DHS personnel “are prohibited from collecting or maintaining information on US persons solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the US Constitution, such as the First Amendment protected freedoms of religion, speech, press, and peaceful assembly and protest.”

It is also noted in the report, “The Privacy Act prohibits agencies from storing information on U.S. persons’ First Amendment-protected activities if they have no valid reason to do so…”

Also, the subcommittee noted the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) put out a report in February 2009, which led to “public outrage.” Purporting to provide analysis of the “modern militia movement,” it was “poorly researched and written” and alleged “militia members most commonly associate with third party political groups,” like the Libertarian Party. It stated these violent militias are typically composed of people who support Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and/or Bob Barr. It said these people might display signs, cartoons or bumper stickers with “anti-government rhetoric.” They might display the Gadsden flag or “anti-immigration and anti-abortion” messages.

…The findings are not abnormal. They reflect the fact that these fusion centers have often been used for neo-COINTELPRO operations.

What the subcommittee looked at were drafts not released. The ACLU has previously called attention to public reports released, which are similar to ones the subcommittee discovered were canceled:

  • A Texas fusion center released an intelligence bulletin that described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department and hip hop bands to spread Sharia law in the U.S.
  • The same month, but on the other side of the political spectrum, a Missouri Fusion Center released a report on “the modern militia movement” that claimed militia members are “usually supporters” of third-party presidential candidates like Ron Paul and Bob Barr.
  • In March 2008 the Virginia Fusion Center issued a terrorism threat assessment that described the state’s universities and colleges as “nodes for radicalization” and characterized the “diversity” surrounding a Virginia military base and the state’s “historically black” colleges as possible threats.
  • A DHS analyst at a Wisconsin fusion center prepared a report about protesters on both sides of the abortion debate, despite the fact that no violence was expected.

Like the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wrote in a “spotlight on surveillance” report in June 2007, “A national network of state fusion centers, working with the federal government, comes perilously close to a domestic surveillance agency, which has been rejected by the public and law enforcement officials.” There has been documented abuse:

In December 2003, just nine months after the Department of Homeland Security had been created, an officer from the DeKalb County, Georgia, Division of Homeland Security observed and photographed vegans who were peacefully protesting outside a Honey Baked Ham store. When two protesters noticed they were being photographed, they wrote down the license plate of the man’s unmarked government. After they refused to turn over the paper with the license plate number, the Homeland Security officer arrested them. In 2004, two plainclothes Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies identified themselves as Homeland Security agents while monitoring a protest by striking Safeway workers.

In February 2006, two Montgomery County, Md., Homeland Security agents walked into a suburban Bethesda library, demanded the attention of all the patrons, and told patrons that viewing Internet pornography was illegal. It is not illegal to view pornography in a public library, and Montgomery County simply “asks customers to be considerate of others when viewing Web sites.” The Washington Post said, “After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened . . . [and later a] police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.” The men were later reassigned, but the incident raised questions about why exactly Maryland Homeland Security agents thought it part of their Homeland Security duties to enter a public library, survey the patrons, and then incorrectly tell patrons that their legal viewing habits were illegal acts.

In conclusion, the subcommittee report affirms the worst fears or concerns shared by civil liberties organizations. Indeed, its officials engage in operations similar to operations FBI agents engaged in during the days of COINTELPRO.

My Take:

This report is being painted as proving that fusion centers are just a bunch of idiots bungling their simple job of analyzing data, while in reality they are doing exactly what they were designed and intended to do. According to Wikipedia, “COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counterintelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.” Enough said.

Interestingly, the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most connected non-elected globalist agencies ever to influence the United States government, has a fluff piece on fusion centers on their official website. If you know anything about the CFR, this alone ought to raise an eyebrow.

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