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  Has America become..'SNITCH' Central.? (Page 1)

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Topic:   Has America become..'SNITCH' Central.?

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 09-23-2002 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

As horrible as the black and white surveilance camera images showing the mother who beat her child inside of her vehicle, what disturbs me EVEN MORE is the fact that this is proving once again that we blindly accept spying on our own people in this country through surveilance and spying but also crucifying that person as well and completely rip apart their lives.Granted child abuse is a horrible problem but will we all soon be subject to "the camera eye" and the ones who promote their usage?

If that is so, we sure as hell don't live in a democracy anymore.Now more than ever, thanks to T.I.P.S.

This is only one example, please post your findings if you find any others.


[Edited 9 times, lastly by Mech on 11-06-2002]

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Chemspiracy Realist

East Central Florida
706 posts, Apr 2001

posted 09-24-2002 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FLKook     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Mech, Here is the link to the original thread regarding TIPS

You're not the only one this upsets. I agree that the camera's are not only too accepted now but we are conditioned to believe what we see on them as truth. I am not talking about the wacko beating her child, or the police beating taken out of context...I just mean in general we are being set up to believe what we see on tape or still pics as gospel truth. Holdmywood directors FX artists have been able to fool us for years, Wag the what?

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 09-24-2002 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's one of the reasons why I haven't owned a television in over 8 years. Everytime I look at what's on most of the news channels immediately I get the sense that they don't think they are insulting peoples intelligence.

Then again, most (90% or more) of all the news media we read on TV, magazines, radio, newspapers, even school textbook are owned by under 6 large corporations. Talk about UNBALANCED coverage!
Even old timers like Walter Cronkite are absolutely disgusted at what pases for news these days. I'm 31 now, but even as far back as I could tell when I was 13, even then there seemed to be a bit more truth in reporting than what we have now. It's a disgrace.

I suppose it's better off that we function more like livestock and eliminate the "danger" of independent thought, as they get ready to "shear the sheep".

[Edited 3 times, lastly by Mech on 09-25-2002]

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Senior Member

Marietta Ohio USA
407 posts, Sep 2000

posted 09-25-2002 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for roman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Mech those little cameras are everywhere . Schools,stores ,even where you work.I even look around the locker room these days before I change my clothes because they have the camera,s just about everywhere else.roman...

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151 posts, Jul 2002

posted 09-25-2002 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GAS_MASK     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spy camera found inside Marriot hotel bathroom light fixture:,1406,KNS_347_1438232,00.html

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 09-25-2002 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is so SICK!

" "In Mr. Brewer's case, he has become paranoid," Herston indicated. "He hates to travel now and that has caused tension at work since his job requires so much travel. When he does travel, he spends a lot of time going over every inch of his hotel room to make sure it is safe.

"This has really affected his career and well-being."

Well gee duh!!!!! I rented the movie "1984' based on George Orwell's book in the ninth grade and it shook me pretty deeply, but I never expected things to get this bad!Talk about hopeless.

Embrace the Red, White and Blue Reich....seig heil


[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 09-25-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 09-27-2002 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Adults...and now KIDS are serving hard time for smaller and smaller offenses...

Mother in shock over teen's sentence
Authorities had recommended lighter sentences for the teenager, but a judge says 10 years. ''It's always somebody else's fault other than their own,'' the judge said.

St. Petersburg Times

INVERNESS -- Earlier this year, 16-year-old Adam Bollenback swiped a six-pack of beer from a refrigerator in a woman's garage and got caught by Citrus County sheriff's deputies.

The situation went from bad to worse when Bollenback slithered out of a patrol car while the deputy wasn't watching, leaving behind only his shoes.

He was caught and accused of burglary, petty theft and escape. Prosecutors charged him in the adult system, a move that was within their discretion.

After Bollenback was tried and convicted of the crimes, the state Department of Corrections recommended the boy, now 17, wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet for two years. The Department of Juvenile Justice thought a stay in a high-level youth facility would be more appropriate.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Ric A. Howard discarded those suggestions and sentenced Bollenback to a 10-year prison term.

"You're well on your way to a lifetime of prison and I don't want to see that happen," Howard said before handing down the punishment. "This sentence is going to break your spirit right now."

Bollenback's mother, Cheryl, was stunned by the judge's decision.

"What? What did he say?" she asked, glancing around the courtroom in confusion. "Ten years? Is that right?"

Bollenback's lawyer, Jim Cummins, immediately asked the judge for permission to keep the youth at the Citrus County jail for 10 days so he could file motions protesting the sentence. Howard denied the request.

Then Cummins asked that his client, still technically a juvenile, be segregated from the adult inmate population. The motion also was rejected.

"He's an adult and he's going to be treated as an adult," Howard said.

Bollenback smiled and flashed a peace symbol at his mother as he was led out of the courtroom in shackles.

"Adam, I love you," Cheryl Bollenback called out. "Don't worry about a thing."

Adam Bollenback has a history of trouble with the law. Assistant State Attorney David Porter said the teen had been convicted of battery on a detention facility staff member, aggravated assault and battery on school staff.

But Cheryl Bollenback told the judge before sentencing the convictions sounded worse than they actually were. She said the detention facility employee was dismissed after the fight with her son because he had a history of being physically violent.

The aggravated assault charge came after her son threw a stick in her direction during a quarrel. Cheryl Bollenback said she never expected her son to be charged with a crime.

"I thought I could call for help to calm him down," she said.

Her son received the school-related charge when a staff member tried to break up a fight between him and another student. "It's not like he punched a school employee," she said.

Cheryl Bollenback also told the judge her son was taking several medications to help him with mental problems, including bipolar disorder. She said most of his offenses have happened when he refused to take his medicine.

But Porter said the explanations illustrated an inability to accept blame.

"It's always somebody else's fault other than their own," he said.

Porter also noted Adam Bollenback had a history of substance abuse, including alcohol, codeine and marijuana.

Cummins said he plans to file a flurry of motions to keep his client out of prison. But that task may become significantly more difficult in the next day: Once Adam Bollenback is put into adult prison, he is no longer eligible for a juvenile sentence, Cummins said.

Although Bollenback was tried as an adult, he was sentenced during juvenile court. Cummins said he believes the judge was trying to make an example of his client.

"There's no place for that when you're sentencing an individual," he said. "Especially in the sentencing of a juvenile."

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 10-13-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-12-2002 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Court Hears Argument in Warrant Service Procedure Case

The Eighth Circuit held oral arguments yesterday in United States v. Bach, a case involving how the Fourth Amendment protects stored e-mails and other files held by an ISP. The issue raised is whether a police officer's presence is required during service of a warrant on an ISP. EPIC filed an amicus brief in the Eighth Circuit arguing that police officer presence is required because U.S. search and seizure law has mandated officer presence at the service of a warrant since the 1700s.

United States v. Bach

"Communication in cyberspace must be protected to the same extent as is more traditional communication if our advancing communication technology is to achieve its full potential without the sacrifice of any of the free speech or privacy that we enjoy today."

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has published a report indicating that roughly 111 million Americans have gone online. The report provided evidence that Americans are living significant portions of their lives online, stating 23% of people with internet access have banked online and 61% have looked for health or medical information. While new digital forms of communication now offer a broad range of conveniences, they have also yielded new opportunities for abuse - both by private citizens and by law enforcement.
Case History

In October of 2000, police officers in Minnesota began investigating Dale Robert Bach for potential child pornography crimes. As part of the investigation, an officer obtained a search warrant to be served upon Yahoo, an internet service provider (ISP) in California. Minnesota requires that an officer be present at the service of a search warrant. Rather than adhering to the requirements provided by Minnesota law, the officer investigating Mr. Bach served the search warrant to Yahoo by fax. Upon receiving the fax, Yahoo employees retrieved all data from Mr. Bach's account, including deleted email messages. Yahoo then mailed the disk to Minnesota, where the data became evidence in the federal criminal prosecution of Mr. Bach.

At trial, Mr. Bach moved to have the evidence suppressed, citing both violations of the Minnesota statute, as well as violations of a federal statute. The district court held that the evidence should be suppressed as the search was illegal under both federal and state laws. The government appealed to the circuit court.


[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 10-13-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-12-2002 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Memo Reveals FBI Wiretap Violations
A recently disclosed FBI memo reveals that agents illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, recorded the wrong phone conversations, and allowed electronic surveillance operations to run beyond their legal deadline, during sensitive terrorism investigations. The mistakes referenced in the internal memo are different than those delineated and criticized in May by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The existence of the memo was first revealed in documents EPIC obtained in a FOIA lawsuit.


The USA-PATRIOT Act, passed a month after September 11 to provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to combat the war against terrorism, contained several provisions enhancing the government's surveillance authority under FISA.

Lower Surveillance Standard

As originally passed, any FISA investigation must have had the collection of Foreign Intelligence Information as its sole or "primary purpose." The USA-PATRIOT Act expanded the application of FISA to those situations where foreign intelligence gathering is merely "a significant" purpose of the investigation. "Significant" is NOT DEFINED, which vagueness will lead to inconsistent determinations and potential overuse of the FISA standards. The more lenient standards that the government must meet under FISA (as opposed to the stringent requirements of Title III) are justified by the fact that FISA's provisions facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information, not criminal evidence. This traditional justification is eliminated where the lax FISA provisions are applicable to the interception of information relating to a domestic criminal investigation. The change is a serious alteration to the delicate constitutional balance reflected in the prior legal regime governing electronic surveillance.

Multi-Point ("Roving Wiretap") Authority

The USA-PATRIOT Act further expanded FISA to permit "roving wiretap" authority, which allows the interception of any communications made to or by an intelligence target without specifying the particular telephone line, computer or other facility to be monitored. Prior law required third parties (such as common carriers and others) "specified in court-ordered surveillance" to provide assistance necessary to accomplish the surveillance--under the new law, that obligation has been extended to unnamed and unspecified third parties.

Such "generic" orders could have a significant impact on the privacy rights of large numbers of innocent users, particularly those who access the Internet through public facilities such as libraries, university computer labs and cybercafes. Upon the suspicion that an intelligence target might use such a facility, the FBI can now monitor ALL COMMUNICATIONS transmitted at the facility. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the recipient of the assistance order (for instance, a library) would be prohibited from disclosing the fact that monitoring is occurring.

The "generic" roving wiretap orders raise significant constitutional issues, as they do not comport with the Fourth Amendment's requirement that any search warrant "particularly describe the place to be searched." That deficiency becomes even more significant when where the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally.
Liberalized Use of Pen Register/Trap and Trace Devices

Finally, the USA-PATRIOT Act removed the pre-existing statutory requirement that the government PROVE the surveillance target is "an agent of a foreign power" before obtaining a pen register/trap and trace order under the FISA. (A pen register collects the outgoing phone numbers placed from a specific telephone line, a trap and trace device captures the incoming numbers placed to a specific phone line. For example, a caller-id box is a trap and trace device.) The government can now obtain a pen register/trap and trace device "for ANY investigation to gather foreign intelligence information," without a showing that the device has, is or will be used by a foreign agent or by an individual engaged in international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. This amendment significantly eviscerates the constitutional rationale for the relatively lax requirements that apply to foreign intelligence surveillance. That laxity is premised on the assumption that Congress and the courts should not unduly restrain the Executive Branch, in pursuit of its national security responsibilities to monitor the activities of foreign powers and their agents. The removal of the "foreign power" predicate for pen register/trap and trace surveillance upsets that delicate balance.

However, USA-PATRIOT Act includes a provision prohibiting use of FISA pen register surveillance under any circumstances against a United States citizen where the investigation is conducted "solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment." This exemption limits to some extent the potential overreach of this expanded authority.

Government Appeal

In March 2002, the Attorney General submitted a memorandum to the FISC, requesting approval of newly created information sharing (minimization procedures) and other proposals, to be implemented upon approval at the Department of Justice. The Attorney General's proposed minimization procedures significantly curtailed the information screening walls. In a May 17 opinion, the FISC granted some of the Administration's newly requested powers, but refused to grant the Justice Department heightened information sharing powers proposed by the Attorney General.

According to the court, "in approving minimization procedures the Court is to ensure that the intrusiveness of foreign intelligence surveillances and searches on the privacy of U.S. persons is 'consistent' with the need of the United States to collect foreign intelligence information from foreign powers and their agents." The opinion states that the Justice Department and FBI supplied erroneous information to the FISC in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by then-FBI director Louis Freeh. Authorities also improperly shared intelligence information with investigators and prosecutors handling criminal cases on at least four occasions. These abuses were discovered by the Justice Department and reported to the FISC in 2000. In one case, the FISC was so angered by inaccuracies in affidavits submitted to the court that the judges barred the agent responsible from ever appearing again before the FISC. In rejecting the new minimization procedures, the FISC stated that "[i]n virtually every instance, the government's misstatements and omissions in FISA applications and violations of the Court's orders involved information sharing and unauthorized disseminations to criminal investigators and prosecutors."

Because of the Administration's history of misuse of FISA authority, the FISC decided that the new procedures proposed by Ashcroft in March would give prosecutors too much control over intelligence investigations, and would allow the government to "end-run" the more stringent Title III wiretap requirements by obtaining information for criminal investigations under the lower FISA standards. "The 2002 procedures appear to be designed to amend the law and substitute the FISA for Title III electronic surveillance and Rule 41 searches." The opinion further illustrates the FISC's perturbation with the lack of response from the Justice Department, which has yet to explain how the misrepresentations and abuses occurred. The Department is still conducting an internal investigation.

Under the operative standards, the Justice Department must seek explicit FISC approval before sharing information obtained in a FISA investigation with a criminal investigator or prosecutor. The March memorandum proposed that criminal prosecutors be given routine access to such information, and that they be allowed to direct intelligence investigations when appropriate.

Ashcroft filed a formal appeal to the FISC's opinion on August 22, which constitutes the first formal challenge to the FISC in its 23-year history. Until this incident, the FISC has approved all but one FISA application sought by the government since the court's inception. The Court of Review heard the Justice Department's oral argument on September 9.

In the wake of the FISC opinion, Congress has begun to show signs of willingness to enact some FISA reforms. The first hearings discussing the need for such reform were held by the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 31, and the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 10,2002


[Edited 3 times, lastly by Mech on 11-07-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-13-2002 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Freedom of Information Act on the ropes
Ashcroft's new rules restrict access and threaten the public's right to know

The Bush Administration is no friend of the Freedom of Information Act. In October 2001, with few but hard-core right-to-know advocates paying attention, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued his required memorandum regarding FOIA policy. In preparation before September 11, the memo "reflects a movement back to the policy of the Reagan administration," commented Access Reports, an organization tracking access to government information for more than 25 years.

Ashcroft's new policy "supersedes the 1993 memo issued by then Attorney General Janet Reno, replaces Reno's 'foreseeable harm' test emphasizing disclosure, with a 'sound legal basis' test that emphasizes withholding records," reports Access' newsletter.

While these changes may seem like legalese blather -- more subtle than substantive -- it does represent a significant change in policy.

As columnist and political organizer Jim Hightower pointed out in a late July column posted at Alternet, "Secrecy… is now the prevailing ethos of the White House: There's the secret government that Bush established; the constant refusal to release public records…; Bush's attempts to hide his father's presidential records and his own gubernatorial papers from public view; the secret war on terrorism, complete with secret arrests and closed military tribunals; the decision to hide the results of the Pentagon's Star Wars missile tests; the refusal to make public the SEC investigative files on Bush's slippery stock deal with Harken Energy Inc."

Attempting to gut the Freedom of Information Act could be added to the list.

The Freedom of Information Act "has been hailed as one of our greatest democratic reforms... allow[ing] ordinary citizens to hold the government accountable by requesting and scrutinizing public documents and records," points out Ruth Rosen in a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. "This act allowed greater access to FBI records; access that had been previously severely proscribed. Without it, journalists, newspapers, historians and watchdog groups would never be able to keep the government honest," she added.

A refresher: The Freedom of Information Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. But it wasn't until seven years later when Congress, in the aftermath of the Nixon White House's Watergate scandal, overrode President Ford's veto and passed the Privacy Act of 1974. Ruth Rosen calls the FOAI "our post-Watergate reward… [and] our national sunshine law, legislation that forces agencies to disclose their public records and documents."

Although succeeding Attorneys General have issued memos reversing or modifying the policies of their predecessor, "there is no substantial empirical evidence that any of these memos worked a significant influence on implementation," Access Reports notes. However, "they do set a tone by which the administration will be known."

Ashcroft's retooled FOIA

In his October memo, Attorney General Ashcroft recognizes "it is only through a well-informed citizenry that the leaders of our nation remain accountable to the governed and the American people can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed." Then he talks about "other fundamental values" including "safeguarding our national security, enhancing the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies, protecting sensitive business information, and not the least, preserving personal privacy." In instructing agencies dealing with FOIA requests, Ashcroft pointed out that "any discretionary decision... to disclose information protected under the FOIA should be made only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial and personal privacy interests that could be implicated by disclosure of the information."

Ashcroft assured agencies that should they decide to withhold information, they will be fully supported by the Department of Justice "unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk on the ability of other agencies to protect important records."

At a mid-March conference in Philadelphia on computer-assisted reporting sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors, some journalists reported that the number of FOIA request refusals is on the rise, along with the time it takes to hear from the government. In a report in the March/April 2002 issue of Columbia Journalism Review, John Giuffo writes that "It's not just access to sensitive data about infrastructure and water supplies... that is being blocked." Barbara Fought, a Freedom of Information law officer at Syracuse University, during one of four panels convened to discuss the impact of the Ashcroft memo said that "We're beginning to hear about a few problems, which I think signal a different tone with the Bush administration and the Attorney General."

Several panelists felt that the Ashcroft FOIA memorandum was symptomatic of the Bush Administration general bend toward greater secrecy. "The larger problem with the Bush administration is its attitude toward secrecy," said panelist William Ferroggiaro, director of the Freedom of Information Project of the National Security Archive. Giuffo writes that Ferroggiaro "pointed to a number of recent actions by President Bush -- his sealing of Ronald Reagan's presidential records and the White House's battle with the General Accounting Office, for example -- as proof of a restrictive view of access to government information."

Journalists and good-government activists aren't the only people concerned with access. "Congress has begun to signal its concern about the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, the March 25 issue of Access Reports pointed out. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) asked the General Accounting Office "to study FOIA implementation with an eye to assessing how Attorney General John Ashcroft's October memo on FOIA implementation may have adversely affected the disclosure of records." In the House, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) "used the occasion of the re-issuing of the 'Citizen's Guide,' the congressional guide to FOIA and the Privacy Act, to indicate that the Ashcroft memo was contrary to the spirit of the law."

Down by the river

In Michael Greenbaum's case, the commercial outfitters took his FOIA request and launched a preemptive strike against future requests. Since he began writing the "Uncle Mikey" column for The Confluence - his organization's newsletter - a few years ago, he has been down the road of delayed responses from the government but he never had been denied information he had been previously receiving. He told me, "When I get on to something, I try to check it out as thoroughly as possible. One of the best ways of confirming a tip is through a FOIA request. If the federal government starts denying or limiting my ability to have access to public information, then we're all up the river without the proverbial paddle."

Based upon the partial denial of his FOIA request, Greenbaum has initiated an administrative appeal. As of this writing, he has received no response from the USFS headquarters in Washington regarding the appeal.

Greenbaum has been on the river-watch for the better part of two decades. And despite a recent accident that put a crimp in his research efforts, he fully intends to keep on with what he's doing. Will the U.S. Forest Service capitulate to the outfitter's request? Right now, there is every indication that they will, Greenbaum said. And if they do, it's certain to slow down his research, but it won't temper his resolve. "There aren't any river runners doing deep research," he said. "But as long as I'm around, you can bet the federal river managers are going to hear from me."

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-18-2002 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

John Poindexter to Head New Domestic Espionage Office:
Is The Government Monitoring Our Every Communication Already?

On February 13, 2002 the Bush Administration quietly announced that John Poindexter, previously convicted for obstructing official inquiries and lying to Congress will now head the Government's newest operation for massive domestic spying, the Information Awareness Office. Poindexter, and his partner Oliver North, got their convictions overturned by an appellate court on the grounds that their testimony before Congress was immunized.

This new office received scant coverage in the U.S. domestic press, but was highlighted in an article in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper entltitled, "No more Mr. Scrupulous Guy: How one of the two brains behind the Iran-Contra scandal this week became one of America's most powerful men."

The Information Awareness Office is a component of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which some may recognize as the Agency that developed the government network backbone that became the Internet.

The mission of the Information Awareness Office, according to the DARPA web site, is to achieve " total information awareness."

What does total information awareness mean? The Guardian explains, "Think, Big Brother is Watching You. IAO will supply federal officials with 'instant' analysis on what is being written on email and said on phones all over the US. Domestic espionage."
For years, the United States' National Security Agency has maintained a satellite surveillance network called Echelon which intercepts almost all European satellite, microwave, fax, telex, cellular, cable and fiber optic (primarily as it emerges to microwave towers) communications traffic. Echelon scans European voice and data communications against dictionaries containing all the names, places, codewords, or subjects that might be of interest. Messages acquired at any of the listening posts containing requested keywords are then automatically passed on to the intelligence organization requesting those keywords. Long suspected, the existence and capabilities of the Echelon system was publicly confirmed in a 1997 report issued by the European Parliament's committee on civil rights.

The only way for the Information Awareness Office to achieve its goal of total information awareness is to deploy Echelon technology to comprehensively intercept all domestic voice, Internet, fax, cellular and other communication.

We know of no legal authority that would allow the U.S. government to engage in wholesale interception and collection of domestic communications, not even the expansive invasive USA-PATRIOT Act.

Perhaps the Ashcroft Justice Department will assert a claim of inherent national security authority, and argue that the executive branch and intelligence agencies are therefore authorized to read every e-mail and listen to every one of our telephone calls.

In being selected to head up this domestic spying operation, Mr. Poindexter joins a growing list of recycled Reagan/Bush officials who had their hands in that administration's contra scandal who are now finding a home in the George W. Bush administration, including Otto Reich, Elliott Abrams and John Negroponte.

There are many questions about this operation that the U.S. public is entitled to have answers to now. If this massive unconstitutional intrusion is allowed to proceed now with acquiescence, we will likely learn decades after-the-fact (like the Europeans) that the U.S. Government has been listening in on our every communication and spoken thought.

[Edited 2 times, lastly by Mech on 10-21-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-18-2002 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Domestic and foreign spying to be enhanced by micro aircraft.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 18, 2002

The WASP micro air vehicle used multifunctional structure/power materials to set an endurance
flight record during tests this summer. The WASP flew for one hour 47 minutes, more than three times
the previous micro air vehicle endurance record of 30 minutes set two years ago.
The WASP design replaces separate battery and wing structure components with a
multifunctional structure/battery material system that supplies electrical energy for propulsion while
carrying mechanical and aerodynamic wing loads. The WASP is the first in a series of developmental
micro air vehicles designed to demonstrate performance enhancement through the use of these unique
multifunctional materials.
The WASP is being developed under DARPA’s Synthetic Multifunctional Materials program,
which is exploring materials that combine the function of structure with another critical system function
such as power, repair, or ballistic protection. The combination is expected to optimize system
performance and realize improved or new capabilities for military systems.
The WASP is a radio-controlled vehicle with a “flying-wing” design. The wingspan is 13 inches
and the combined wing structure/battery pack weighs 120 grams. The total weight of the vehicle is 170
grams (six ounces). The vehicle uses off-the-shelf components and lithium-ion batteries, which produce
the highest energy density among all rechargeable battery systems. The energy density of the battery
structure was 143 watts per kilogram, with an average output power of over nine watts during the flight.
The aircraft is stable and simple to fly using manually operated ground control of the aircraft’s
throttle, rudder, and elevator surfaces. The next generation of WASP will incorporate a simple autopilot
and carry a color video camera payload.

The aircraft design, fabrication, and flight test were performed by AeroVironment Inc., Simi
Valley, Calif. Telcordia Technologies, Red Bank, N.J., contributed to the conceptual design of the wing
structure-battery and supplied the custom-designed, plastic lithium-ion battery materials that were
incorporated into the WASP wing. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., contributed to the
conceptual design of the wing structure-battery and helped to coordinate the prototype development.

DARPA Milnews 2002

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 10-18-2002]

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Commitees of Correspondence

The Minuteman State
5995 posts, Jun 2001

posted 10-18-2002 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Echelon is an attempt to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications worldwide, including communications to and from the United States. U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) computers then use sophisticated filtering technology to sort through e-mails, faxes and phone conversations in search of certain keywords or other "flags." Other intelligence agencies apparently ask the NSA to flag specific words, phrases, organizations or people for surveillance purposes.

One report to the European Parliament charged that the United Kingdom used the Echelon project to spy on Amnesty International and the charity Christian Aid. (We should remember that George Orwell's novel 1984 depicted a totalitarian society in England, or "Oceana," not the Soviet Union.)

"Echelon can no longer be dismissed as an X-Files fantasy. The reports to the European Parliament make it quite clear that Echelon exists and that its operation raises profound civil liberties issues," said Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU.

So far, the NSA--a.k.a. "No Such Agency"--has refused to share with Congress the legal guidelines for the Echelon project, strangely citing "attorney-client privileges" for their silence. Within the next few months, the U.S. House Government and Oversight Committee plans to hold hearings on Echelon. More important is the oversight of the mysterious and powerful NSA.

The 1948 UK-USA Agreement combined under a single umbrella group the SIGINT (signal intelligence) organizations of the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. government under operation "Shamrock" began monitoring all international telegraph traffic during World War II, with no controls over what was inspected and what was not. During the Cold War, the Truman administration established the NSA to continue this function.

The NSA's birth at 12:01 a.m. on November 4, 1952, came without a public announcement. Born from a seven-page presidential memorandum signed by President Truman, the NSA is the largest, wealthiest, most powerful and least known secret agency in our government. The agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, is the second largest building in the U.S., eclipsed only by the Pentagon. In 1959, Congress passed a law forbidding the NSA to disclose any information about its activities, organization or names of employees. Ten years later, an investigative reporter estimated the NSA had 95,000 employees.

We do know in 1957 that the NSA initiated a five-year computer research program called Project Lightning. Out of this research came the Cray supercomputer. By 1977, reports surfaced that the NSA had the world's biggest collection of computers. The agency's in-house secret classification system goes one step higher than "top secret," with a classification titled "handle via comint channels only."

In 1967, David Kahn, a Newsday reporter and amateur code-breaker, wrote the book The Code-breakers that included a chapter on the NSA. This got Kahn's name placed on the NSA's notorious "watch list," enabling the agency to sweep all of Kahn's electronic communications. In his 1977 book, Clearing the Air, Daniel Schorr called the NSA "one of the deepest secrets" of our government. In 1982, James Bamford published a ground-breaking expose titled The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency.

Reportedly, any journalist who dared write about the agency ended up on the watch list. To keep track of this small fraternity of investigators, NSA's in-house secret police agency M5 set up a special file called "Nonaffiliates of NSA Who Publish Writings Concerning the Agency," according to Bamford.

Bamford and other investigative reporters claim that the NSA began domestic espionage during the civil rights movement which carried over to Vietnam War protesters in the '60s and '70s. President Nixon signed an addendum to the NSA's secret charter that sanctioned this previously unauthorized domestic surveillance, but President Jimmy Carter made a heroic attempt to restrict NSA activities. The last Congressional investigation of the NSA by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1978 noted that "the NSA's potential to violate the privacy of American citizens is unmatched by any other intelligence agency." The Congressional inquiry led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

The microelectronic revolution that's brought us cell phones and the Internet requires renewed scrutiny of the NSA. As Gregory T. Nojeim, the ACLU's legislative counsel, complained, "It appears that the U.S. government is once again spying on American's private communication. Congress must determine if Echelon is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported, and most importantly, it must ensure that Americans' conversations are not intercepted without a court order."

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 10-18-2002]

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posted 10-20-2002 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


A long running performance just closed in the Senate. It was masquerading as a debate over creating a Department of Homeland Security. The question for the audience is whether to laugh or cry.

The case for laughing is this: a Homeland Security Department was a political gimmick from the get-go, a gigantic bureaucratic reshuffling intended to provide voters with the appearance that something real was happening to fight terrorism. Now both Republicans and Democrats alike come off as insincere and incompetent as they squabble over their own invented ploy. Just desserts. Hoisted by their own plucky petards.

But go ahead and cry if you ever thought a new Department of Homeland Security would make America safer, if you ever felt you could soon enjoy the protection of a lean, mean, Cabinet-level, evil-fighting machine.

I don’t imagine many tears are being shed, except the crocodile tears of professional Democrats and Republicans.

So enjoy the giggles of stupid politician tricks.

Homeland security is dead in the pre-election Congress. There’s a slim chance that it could be resurrected in a lame-duck session after the November elections.

The irresolvable issue has little to do with public security and more to do with job security for government workers.

President Bush wanted to have broad powers to fire, hire and reassign the 170,000 workers that were to be transferred into the new department from 22 existing public safety agencies -- powers presidents don’t have now and wouldn’t have in other agencies.

President Bush and Team GOP claim this is necessary to ensure that the new D. of H.S. doesn’t become just another Washington watering hole for fat and happy civil leeches.

Democrats refuse. They say the President is not only trying to strip civil rights from government employees, but also trying to dismantle protections that stop presidents from filling agencies with hacks, ideologues and patronage pals.

Republicans say the Democrats are simply toadying to the public employees unions that give them tons of reliable dollars and votes. In the always-subtle words of the near-departed Sen. Phil Gramm, the Democrats “love public employee unions more than homeland security.”

Out-going foot and mouth-meister Dick Armey has a more colorful take, "America sits and wonders why is it that al Qaeda, this rag tag bunch of terrorists scattered all over the globe, can reorganize themselves ... and the United States government cannot reorganize itself."

"Well, I guess the difference is al Qaeda doesn't have a Senate,” analyzed Armey.

Thus flows the eulogy of the Department of Homeland Security.

And as we pause to pay our respects, let me step out of character for a moment and praise the Senators who bound and gagged this legislation: If they really believed this new agency would increase world safety, there would be a new agency. But they don’t. They never did.

An agency for “homeland security” was and is an ersatz-issue that is all about generating October campaign ads that shout, “I was for it” or “you were against it.” And now the airwaves are full of them.

But there is a silver lining, and it reflects an ancient political truism: Good things often happen for bad reasons.

I think the invisible hand of political markets kept something from happening that was dumb at best, expensive and risky at worst.

If a Democratic administration had proposed a domestic security mega-agency, Republicans would have gone nuts screaming about bloated government. And they would be right.

Yet Republicans proposed it because it was, they said, vital to our safety. If that’s the case, then safety is more important than bureaucratic management issues or breaking federal unions. Why draw the line in the sand on this “vital” issue? It doesn’t make much sense.

The FBI and CIA were never included in this "reinventing government" plan. That itself tells us that this was tinkering.

Still, the idea was that somehow central management would improve functions now scattered in two-dozen separate agencies. Could be.

But it reminds me of the line we were fed a decade ago, the one about how bringing a swarm of MBA’s into the world of medicine would deliver unto us better, cheaper "managed care." I’m wary, to put it mildly.

Here’s the bottom line: I object to this project on purely etymological grounds. The words "homeland security" evoke a Deutschland uber alles mood that is creepy and un-American. Good riddance and auf wiedersehen.




[Edited 2 times, lastly by Mech on 11-06-2002]

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posted 10-21-2002 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Ashcroft cites national security in whistleblower suit

By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (October 21, 7:27 p.m. PDT) - Citing national security concerns, Attorney General John Ashcroft is seeking to withhold sensitive information in response to a whistle-blower's allegations of security lapses in the FBI's translator program.

In papers filed Friday, Ashcroft asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to throw out a lawsuit against the Justice Department brought by Sibel Edmonds, a former contract linguist for the FBI.

The Justice Department's inspector general is investigating whether the FBI retaliated against Edmonds, who was fired last spring and subjected to a security review after she raised allegations of security lapses. The bureau cited performance issues for the dismissal.

The Associated Press reported in June that the whistle-blower's allegations range from shoddy transcriptions by unqualified translators to suggestions one interpreter with a relative who works at a foreign embassy may have compromised national security.

The translator program has played a significant role in interpreting interviews and intercepts of Osama bin Laden's network since Sept. 11.

In his filing Friday, Ashcroft said he was applying the state secrets privilege in order "to protect the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States."

Ashcroft's assertion was made at the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The litigation creates substantial risks of disclosing classified and sensitive national security information that could cause serious damage to the country's security, Barbara Comstock, a Justice spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The state secrets privilege has been recognized by U.S. courts since the 19th century, allowing for the executive branch to safeguard vital information regarding the nation's security or diplomatic relations, Comstock noted.

FBI officials have said they believe the agency's translator program is solid and secure. There have been some minor problems as a large number of translators, many of them Arabic speaking, were brought aboard after the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said.

The FBI has been using a mentoring program that pairs newcomers with experienced translators to address some of those issues.

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posted 10-21-2002 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Someone is watching you.

For years, the electronic eyes of surveillance cameras have stared from banks, traffic intersections, stores and countless other perches.

But as the watchers have increased in recent years, with an estimated two million video surveillance systems in the U.S., according to the surveillance industry, investigators are turning more and more to the footage for helpful glimpses of crime.

"There is so much more video out there and investigators are seeing that and looking and thinking about video more than they did in the past," said Detective Eric Kumjian, a robbery detective and video analyst with the Miami Dade Police Department.

In a case that has high stakes, investigators in Maryland, Virginia and in Washington are hoping that surveillance tape may be used as a tool to find the elusive sniper who has killed nine and wounded two since October 2. Did the tapes capture a glimpse of a car, a license plate or an image of the suspect himself?

Criminals being caught red-handed is nothing new. Videotaped footage proved invaluable in capturing the last fleeting images of September 11 hijackers, and most recently, the scene of an Indiana mother caught beating her daughter.

In Washington, police at every shooting scene are looking for a camera that may have caught something, but so far their searches have only yielded some of the common frustrations in dealing with video footage.

One of the security cameras at the Exxon station where 53-year-old Kenneth Bridges was gunned down on October 11 was pointed toward the interior of the store and not at the pumps where he was gunned down.

The gas station where Dean Meyers, also 53, was felled by a single shot two days earlier also had a security system but it remained uninstalled in the box when the sharpshooter struck.

Even when a security camera does catch critical footage, it usually takes a lot of work for investigators to harvest usable images, experts say. The growing field of video forensics enables police to scrutinize video feeds for precious clues. Through computer wizardry, analysts are often able to convert fuzzy blobs into images of suspects.

"Even if the information is degraded and the camera angles are bad it still gives us something and maybe we can clarify some of that information," said Det. Kumjian, who has been doing video forensics for four years. Last year, his unit worked on scouring ATM videotapes for clues about Sept. 11 hijacking suspects who lived in South Florida.

Surveillance technology has improved greatly since the 1960's when federally mandated bank cameras could not even capture the movements of people. The first documented instance of police surveillance was in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1966. After five years, the system was credited with only two arrests and was dismantled.

The advent of digital technologies in the 1990s has improved picture quality and made offsite monitoring through the Internet much easier. Still, analysts are most often called upon to work with more primitive analog tape footage.

One of the most common problems video forensic analysts say they confront is overuse of tapes. When a tape is used more than a dozen or so times, the image begins to literally drop off the tape due to chemical deterioration, resulting in grainy footage.

Camera angles can also be troubling as most privately operated cameras are poised to capture cash register theft or shoplifting and not necessarily incidents on other parts of the premises. Sometimes, though, the police get lucky.

Last month in Indiana, Madelyne Toogood shoved her 4-year-old daughter into the back seat of her SUV, scanned the Kohl's parking lot to see if anyone was looking, and then started hitting the girl. The entire incident was caught by a video camera used to deter shoplifting and car theft. The footage was broadcast around the world and Toogood eventually surrendered to police to face child battery charges.

There are few studies that have tracked the effects of surveillance video on police investigations but anecdotal evidence, like the Toogood case, suggests that investigators are increasingly relying on private footage from stores to help in their investigations.

"If we have a major crime in an area we go to stores and gas stations," said Lt. Marty Parker, who started the Everett, Wash., surveillance camera project five years ago.

Lt. Parker recalled a particular case where a young man was killed in a botched drug deal in the middle of a deserted football field. There were no witnesses and no suspects until police went to area stores and found gas station footage with clear shots of the victim and two suspects shopping shortly before the time of death.

More than 200 local and state law enforcement agencies use some form of surveillance technology, according to the International Association of Police Chiefs. But despite suggestions of the growing importance of surveillance footage to police investigations, the bulk of police operated cameras are actually being turned on the cops themselves in places like squad cars and station houses.

"The most increasing use of surveillance cameras in police areas are to protect against liability suits and to fend off any complaints of patterns of abuse and discrimination," said Marcus Nieto, a researcher at the California Research Bureau who studies surveillance.

He predicts that law enforcement agencies are not likely to increase the number of cameras they operate with respect to crime prevention and investigations. Instead, Nieto anticipates efforts to improve the quality of surveillance through increased cooperation between law enforcement and businesses.

And while advocates may point to caught-in-the-act evidence and falling crime rates, opponents of surveillance inevitably cite rising Orwellian fears of Big Brother watching.

"Surveillance with no particular purpose, where information can be recorded and stored and there is no oversight and accountability, is clearly a problem," said Mihir Kshirsagar, a policy analyst for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which is currently lobbying for increased surveillance camera guidelines in Washington D.C.

"It's reasonable for people to ask what these images are being taken for and that is what the Big Brother aspect of it is," Kshirsagar said. "It's not a paranoia."

In a report on public video surveillance, the ACLU warns that human prejudice can always influence the way technology is employed by law enforcement.

"Surveillance systems present law enforcement 'bad apples' with a tempting opportunity for criminal misuse," the report states, citing a 1997 incident in which a Washington D.C. police lieutenant was charged with using a police license plate database in an extortion plot against patrons at a gay club.

Camera-shy individuals would be well advised to steer clear of England, the world leader in surveillance. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the British government has installed 1.5 million cameras and the average Londoner is taped more than 300 times a day.

CNN.COM 2002

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posted 10-25-2002 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Here is George Orwells 1984 nightmare come to life


[Edited 1 times, lastly by Mech on 11-07-2002]

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posted 10-28-2002 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cobalt_of_castro   Visit cobalt_of_castro's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Mech:

Here is George Orwells 1984 nightmare come to life


damn strait this is messed up **** as sure as i could have played tim currie's part in rocky. dear me the president and his team is an affront to everything this country is supposed to stand for

cobalt of castro

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posted 10-30-2002 10:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Report: Gov't Shares Personal Data
Wed Oct 30, 5:39 PM ET

By D. IAN HOPPER, AP Technology Writer

Student aid applicants, check the fine print. That information you put on your application to the U.S. Department of Education (news - web sites) is being shared with the Pentagon, Justice Department and other agencies — even private companies like debt collectors.

A report released Wednesday by congressional investigators found government agencies frequently share information gleaned from various federal applications — sometimes without the applicant's knowledge of where it might go. And it's legal.

"People are generally unaware of all of the sharing," said Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties organization based in Washington.

The information sharing ranges from passport application data — which can be shared with foreign governments — to details on farm loan applications. The law requires that agencies that receive the applicant's form must disclose how they use the information.

Education Department spokeswoman Stephanie Babyak said applicants are told in detail on the paper and electronic forms of their applications that information will be shared. They list some, but not all federal agencies that will receive information, and they don't always specify what outside companies might also see it.

She said such sharing of information is needed to process the application.

"Sharing with the other agencies is necessary in order to confirm a student's eligibility," Babyak said.

The General Accounting Office Congress' investigative arm — checked four often-used government forms to see how the agencies collected and shared information both inside and outside of government. The report listed all the ways agencies share personal data, some of which are not explicitly listed on the form itself.

Much of the sharing is due to "computer matching agreements," a way to automate routine checks.

They give this information for example to:

_The Justice Department to see if they have been convicted of a drug-related offense.

_The Department of Veteran's Affairs to check a veteran's eligibility status for student aid.

_The Selective Service System to make sure a male applicant has registered for the draft.

_The Immigration and Naturalization Department to see if an applicant is eligible for federal benefits.

If an applicant is delinquent on a federal loan, application information goes to a private collection bureau. The Education Department also sends the student's personal financial information to state agencies to coordinate student aid.

Federal information-sharing agreements and the convenience of sharing computer data make swapping Americans' most sensitive personal information easy to do.

Investigators found the agencies largely complied with federal information sharing and privacy regulations.

"These four agencies' handling of personal information varied greatly — including the types and amount collected — and a wide range of personnel had access to the information," investigators wrote. "We did, however, note isolated instances of forms that were not accurate or current, and other forms that did not contain the proper privacy notices."

The four forms were the Education Department's student aid request, Agriculture's standard loan form for farmers, Labor's federal worker's compensation form and a passport application from the State Department.

The sharing is allowed under an exception in the Privacy Act, which protects a person's information from sharing without prior consent. Called the "routine use exception," agencies must make a public statement in the Federal Register every time they want to share data in a new way.

But Schwartz said the disclosure doesn't make it much easier for applicants to figure out.

"There's one every day, they're very difficult to read, and they're listed vaguely," Schwartz said. "It's the easiest place to claim an exemption."

Legislation proposed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman , D-Conn., who requested the GAO report, would require more detailed privacy impact statements on such databases. The Senate has passed the bill and the House is expected to take it up after the election recess.

Even though the agencies must tell applicants how their information will be used, they are usually left with a Hobson's choice: Either provide the information and watch it shared throughout the government and elsewhere, or don't apply and forego the student aid, passport or other service.

The GAO also found that many federal employees at the individual agencies can see that information. Up to 13 different types of State Department workers — from civil service clerks and foreign workers at U.S. embassies to employees at Mellon Bank, which handles some passport renewals — have access to passport application data.

Schwartz said privacy concerns are likely to increase as the government relies more on digital forms.

"We need to make sure that the Privacy Act is kept up to date and still relevant," he said.


On the Net:

General Accounting Office:

Center for Democracy and Technology:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman:

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posted 10-30-2002 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Candidly, cameras everywhere no smiling matter

"We have gotten so used to the idea of a security camera peering at us that we no longer question it. How many little brothers add up to a big one"?

From time to time, my husband and I ask each other a humbling question about the human condition: How would you like to see your 10 worst moments on videotape?

This is the fate that befell Madelyne Toogood 2 months ago when she was captured on a security camera in a department store parking lot. The mother was taped slapping around her 4-year-old daughter as they got into their SUV.

Toogood got to see this moment -- which we sincerely hope was one of her 10 worst -- again and again and again. The police saw it. The entire nation saw it.

Toogood's tape has become the Rodney King tape of child abuse. A debate ensued about parenting and "spanking," about the line between discipline and abuse. The mother's only defense after seeing her self-portrait was to swear, "I'm not a monster." That too was debated.

In fact, the public air was full of heated opinions and judgments about everything . . . except the videotape itself. No one seemed too concerned about the image or its trail from Kohl's to CNN.

We have gotten so used to the idea of a security camera peering at us out of every ATM and parking lot, every airport and school, every department store and public square, that we no longer question it. When the booty of a department store's private eye is open to the public eye, we don't flinch. We just watch.

Indeed, the only story alarming enough to raise privacy hackles these days came from Washington state, where two men were arrested for taking pictures up women's skirts. But these men were acquitted of voyeurism by the state Supreme Court because the pictures were taken in public places where, the justices ruled, people don't have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

It seems that the old expectation of privacy in public has become unreasonable. There are now video cameras in the remote part of a national forest for the stated purpose of catching people growing marijuana. There are at least 2,397 surveillance cameras on the streets of Manhattan.

We've become a nation of surveillance with remarkably little discussion. Few of us are asking the questions offered by David Sobel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center: "What becomes of any tapes created by such systems, who has access to them and how might they be used?" Nor are we asking what it means for a nanny or a student or a shopper to be on permanent candid camera.

It sounds old-fashioned to fuss about being watched. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham once described the perfect prison as a "panopticon" where prisoners were under complete surveillance and yet could not see the watcher. But that was in the 18th century.

In "1984," the inevitable textbook of Big Brotherhood, George Orwell wrote: "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. ...You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." But he wrote that in 1949.

Today people audition to go on "Big Brother 3." A woman gives birth on the Web. Since Jennifer Ringley "jennicammed" her way to fame, many others have chosen to live in the public eye, 24/7.

If the threshold of privacy has been lowered, the threshold of anxiety has been heightened. So we accept scrutiny as the price of security.

In this process, we don't always recognize when the camera has become the voyeur. Ads for Web cams pop up over the Internet featuring shadowy images of couples in bed. William Staples, sociologist and author of "Everyday Surveillance," notes that "the sell is security but the hook is voyeurism." Meanwhile, one security camera picks up Madelyne Toogood in a "moment." But another may tape a couple necking in the car or a customer tripping over her feet. Next thing you know your image is out there on the Internet, says Staples.

Frankly, I am comforted by a security camera in a parking garage late at night. And I know that videotapes are useful for police investigations ... after the crime. But if security is overrated, intrusion may be underrated.

The Toogood reality show ended with a mother in court and a child in foster care and a second debate about whether this did more harm than good. Surely we should spend some of the same energy debating the collective life of the videocammed American? How many little brothers add up to a big one?

Look up there. Is that a security guard watching? Or is it a Peeping Tom?

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posted 11-06-2002 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

November 6, 2002 -- The way a person walks may soon be used as positive identification.

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are developing a security system to recognize people by their walk.

They bounce radar signals off a moving body, which define a set of unique characteristics.

In early tests, researchers correctly identified 80 to 95 percent of volunteers from their walk.

2002 NYPost

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Graphic depicting human recognition from a distance

Program Objective:

The goal of the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program is to develop automated biometric identification technologies to detect, recognize and identify humans at great distances. These technologies will provide critical early warning support for force protection and homeland defense against terrorist, criminal, and other human-based threats, and will prevent or decrease the success rate of such attacks against DoD operational facilities and installations. Methods for fusing biometric technologies into advanced human identification systems will be developed to enable faster, more accurate and unconstrained identification of humans at significant standoff distances.

Program Strategy:

HumanID program has developed a pilot force protection system for standoff human identification in outdoor operational DoD settings, and has performed preliminary assessments of current and future technologies. HumanID will determine the critical factors that affect performance of biometric components, and identify the limits of range, accuracy, and reliability. The program will also conduct multi-modal fusion experiments and performance evaluations, and will demonstrate advanced human recognition capabilities in multiple force protection and/or homeland defense environments.

Planned Accomplishments:

IAO FY 02 Accomplishments:

* Designed and administered the Face Recognition Vendor Test 2002. Results will be used to direct face recognition research and provide input to the design of the United States Border Entry/Exit System.
* Performed an operational evaluation of a long range (25-150 feet) face recognition system developed under the HumanID Program.
* Developed a multi-spectral infrared and visible face recognition system.

Developed a low power millimeter wave radar system for wide field of view detection and narrow field of view gait classification.
* Characterized gait performance from video for human identification at a distance.

IAO FY 03 Plans:

* Develop multi-model fusion algorithms for human identification.

Develop algorithms for locating and acquiring subjects out to 150 meters (500 ft) in range.

Continue the development of the most promising biometric technologies based upon experimental evaluation performance.

IAO FY 04 Plans:

* Develop and demonstrate a human identification system that operates out to 150 meters (500 ft.) using visible imagery.

Fuse face and gait recognition into a 24/7 human identification system.

Perform an operational evaluation of a multi-model human identification system. 2002


[Edited 2 times, lastly by Mech on 11-10-2002]

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posted 11-10-2002 12:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mech   Visit Mech's Homepage!   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans

The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States.

As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant.

Historically, military and intelligence agencies have not been permitted to spy on Americans without extraordinary legal authorization. But Admiral Poindexter, th

e former national security adviser in the Reagan administration, has argued that the government needs broad new powers to process, store and mine billions of minute details of electronic life in the United States.

Admiral Poindexter, who has described the plan in public documents and speeches but declined to be interviewed, has said that the government needs to "break down the stovepipes" that separate commercial and government databases, allowing teams of intelligence agency analysts to hunt for hidden patterns of activity with powerful computers.

"We must become much more efficient and more clever in the ways we find new sources of data, mine information from the new and old, generate information, make it available for analysis, convert it to knowledge, and create actionable options," he said in a speech in California earlier this year.

Admiral Poindexter quietly returned to the government in January to take charge of the Office of Information Awareness at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as Darpa. The office is responsible for developing new surveillance technologies in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In order to deploy such a system, known as Total Information Awareness, new legislation would be needed, some of which has been proposed by the BUSH ADMINISTRATION in the HOMELAND SECURITY ACT that is now before Congress. That legislation would amend the Privacy Act of 1974, which was intended to limit what government agencies could do with private information.

The possibility that the system might be deployed domestically to let intelligence officials look into commercial transactions worries civil liberties proponents.

"This could be the perfect storm for civil liberties in America," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington "The vehicle is the Homeland Security Act, the technology is Darpa and the agency is the F.B.I. The outcome is a system of national surveillance of the American public."

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has been briefed on the project by Admiral Poindexter and the two had a lunch to discuss it, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

"As part of our development process, we hope to coordinate with a variety of organizations, to include the law enforcement community," a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

An F.B.I. official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said the bureau had had preliminary discussions with the Pentagon about the project but that no final decision had been made about what information the F.B.I. might add to the system.

A spokesman for the White House Office of Homeland Security, Gordon Johndroe, said officials in the office were not familiar with the computer project and he declined to discuss concerns raised by the project's critics without knowing more about it.

Some members of a panel of computer scientists and policy experts who were asked by the Pentagon to review the privacy implications this summer said terrorists might find ways to avoid detection and that the system might be easily abused.

"A lot of my colleagues are uncomfortable about this and worry about the potential uses that this technology might be put, if not by this administration then by a future one," said Barbara Simon, a computer scientist who is past president of the Association of Computing Machinery. "Once you've got it in place you can't control it."

Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans

Other technology policy experts dispute that assessment and support Admiral Poindexter's position that linking of databases is necessary to track potential enemies operating inside the United States.

"They're conceptualizing the problem in the way we've suggested it needs to be understood," said Philip Zelikow, a historian who is executive director of the Markle Foundation task force on National Security in the Information Age. "They have a pretty good vision of the need to make the tradeoffs in favor of more sharing and openness."

On Wednesday morning, the panel reported its findings to Dr. Tony Tether, the director of the defense research agency, urging development of technologies to protect privacy as well as surveillance, according to several people who attended the meeting.

If deployed, civil libertarians argue, the computer system would rapidly bring a police state. They assert that potential terrorists would soon learn how to avoid detection in any case.

The new system will rely on a set of computer-based pattern recognition techniques known as "data mining," a set of statistical techniques used by scientists as well as by marketers searching for potential customers.

The system would permit a team of intelligence analysts to gather and view information from databases, pursue links between individuals and groups, respond to automatic alerts, and share information efficiently, all from their individual computers.

The project calls for the development of a prototype based on test data that would be deployed at the Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. Officials would not say when the system would be put into operation.

The system is one of a number of projects now under way inside the government to lash together both commercial and government data to hunt for patterns of terrorist activities.

"What we are doing is developing technologies and a prototype system to revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists, and decipher their plans, and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully pre-empt and defeat terrorist acts," said Jan Walker, the spokeswoman for the defense research agency.

Before taking the position at the Pentagon, Admiral Poindexter, who was convicted in 1990 for his role in the Iran-contra affair, had worked as a contractor on one of the projects he now controls. Admiral Poindexter's conviction was reversed in 1991 by a federal appeals court because he had been granted immunity for his testimony before Congress about the case.




[Edited 2 times, lastly by Mech on 11-10-2002]

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