Technocracy IV: The Technocrats Tap in (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“…As far as intelligence goes the NSA’s far, far superior to [the CIA]—far in advance in the ‘black arts.’…The CIA gets blamed for what NSA does. NSA is far more vicious and far more accomplished in their operations.”

Operation Mind Control (1978) By Walter Bowart, Interview conducted with a confirmed government assassin.


cctv1The average British person has the dubious honour of being part of a population that is the most intensely monitored on the planet. In just one week, a British individual will have over 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, which is then held for years on a variety of databases, or in some instances indefinitely. Where you shop, how frequently, what you buy, how often you use your credit card and where; you’re most common website searches and favourite sites as well as the details of your emails and keyword analysis therein. An average of 50 websites is visited and 32 emails sent per person in Britain every day. That’s a lot of data. And the internet service providers (ISPs) log everything which is then happily handed over to advertisers representing perhaps the most “benign” use of your private data. (Stay tuned).

The dividing line between the corporate sector and government has never been more blurred when it comes to sharing data about customer’s habits. Phone companies already retain enormous amounts of data about British people and presently give it to over 650 public bodies on request. A recent finding by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper revealed that plans to grant local authorities and other public bodies access to the email and internet records of millions has already gone ahead, despite the well-publicised loss of data by government departments, including an incident where HM Revenue and Customs mislaid computer disks containing the personal details of 25 million people. [1]

Microsoft continues to track users of the new Windows phones which has a unique ID that interacts with Wi-Fi locations and GPS to know anyone’s longitude and latitude. Customer privacy isn’t a big issue for Microsoft and any of the big internet companies. Mobile phones are now effectively little tracking devices courtesy of a network of phone masts which allow name, time, location and direction of travel to be catalogued via a unique identifying signal that is pulsed out at regular intervals, even when you are not using the phone. Police and public authorities can access this information at any time, ostensibly for investigating crimes. [2]

intellistreetsIt seems that one company “Illuminating Concepts” is quite open about the spread of surveillance and even seems to celebrate it. Closely associated with Homeland Security, the firm is already rolling out its SMART street lighting under brand name “intellistreets” in various cities throughout the USA. However, on the intellistreets website it reveals the lighting system has: “Homeland Security features … embedded in the system.” What does that mean exactly? Well, they have provided sensors for: “Mass notification, emergency evacuation routing, emergency call stations, CBRNE attack notification, visual analysis and digital signage. And further, team have helpfully created: “… systems processors [that] provide background music, public announcements, and digital messaging.” Although in an earlier report  the description included “voice stress analyzers,” this seems to have been scrubbed from their updated version, although you can be sure it remains in the package, all made possible via an ocean of wi-fi waves…And since they also act as surveillance cameras then there is no reason to fear …

intellistreets2

Intelligent Street Lighting in Las Vegas. They are fitted with a range of sensors designed to assist Homeland Security…(screen-shot from intellistreets demo)

Back in the United Kingdom, aside from intelligent transport and street lighting, there is still the matter of a central nexus of surveillance care of CCTV or closed-circuit television where well over 4.2 million cameras are crammed into this tiny island. Network Rail, London Underground, government and corporate buildings are all littered with the critters, recording an average of over 300+ appearances on camera for the ordinary Brit. The tapes can be kept however long it is deemed necessary. The fact that CCTV surveillance has proven by the police’s own crime statistics to have made virtually no reduction or prevention of crime, the SMART city future continues to attract the technocratic faithful, nonetheless.[3]And if you are thinking of high-tailing your way out of the UK in search of real privacy, automatic number plate recognition systems can always track your speeding car…

That is, if airborne drones don’t do it first.

Produced by yet another delighted arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) better known as “drones,” and controversially deployed in Afghanistan are now being used for the routine and covert monitoring of the UK and US public. In the United States police, universities, state transportation departments and federal agencies already have some form of drone device monitoring the public. Some of these are anything from small, remote-controlled model “aeroplanes” to large predator drones seen in the military. A consortium of government agencies and law enforcement authorities are falling over themselves to deploy the drones in an attempt to “greatly extend the government’s surveillance capacity and ‘revolutionise policing.’” According to a 2010 Guardian report: “The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft.” Despite this, the government and their weapons manufacturers are confident that the widespread deployment of drones will take off… in just a few years. [4] 

The Federal Administration Authority (FAA) has estimated 10,000 drones could be flitting about our skies by 2020. With a September 2015 deadline from Congress to open the nation’s airspace to drone traffic, the investment alone will ensure such a deadline remains on course. [5] Indeed, early 2015 has already seen drones operating on behalf of amazon, pizza delivery, as waiters in Japan and even drones whizzing around at the Superbowl (until the FAA became jittery and banned them).

Overall surveillance is marching to the tempo of intel agencies and the creation of so-called “threat assessments.” CCTV photography is entered into a facial recognition database which can then be used to create a 3D model of your face which is distributed across a vast database surveillance network. The United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been busy developing the AWARE-2 gigapixel camera which is capable of creating images with 50,000 megapixels. The machine will be used for military surveillance, which means if not being used against suspecting civilians or “insurgents” in foreign lands it will probably mean protesters and law abiding citizens like you and me. The AWARE camera is part of a whole industry rolling out new hardware to meet the demands of a global populace that is becoming more aware.

Governments have been spying on their own people since the end of the Second World War as a consequence of gathering enemy intelligence and code cracking. Codes and encryption technology led to coordinated signal intelligence (SIGINT) which obtained a fresh burst of state support from the pressure of the Cold War. The computer innovations that would follow led to the creation of the ECHELON global spying system, a vast network of digital spy stations carefully maintained by the US, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Originally named “Project P415” with the involvement of a broad network of international intelligence agencies on board, it has continued to grow in size and scope thanks to successive Prime Ministers and Presidents signing off billions of pounds and dollars without congressional approval. By the 1980s, the Anglo-American plan for an expansion of ECHELON was set in motion. It was to be fully operational by the 21st century and its ambitions included the monitoring, collection and analysis of the civilian population overseen by the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham, England. This is the coordinating centre for Europe, Africa and Russia, West of the Ural Mountains, while the NSA is responsible for the rest of Russia and the Americas. The NSA’s monitoring of the South Pacific, and South East Asia is sourced from a base in Australia. The still secret UKUSA (UK-USA) monitoring agreement splits the work into several sections assigned to the relevant agency where the global population’s private lives are intercepted from mobiles, land line telephones, fax transmissions and emails and fed through NSA departments where personnel pore over keywords in the hope of isolating phantom suspects’ intent on blowing up the White House.[6]

A 1998 European Parliament sponsored research study entitled: ‘An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control,’ gave credence to journalists’ insistence that a UK-US spy surveillance network was in operation. The Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) committee of the European Parliament compiled the report and gave cast iron evidence that not only did it exist but showed the NSA was routinely carrying out illegal and sophisticated surveillance experiments on Europeans with UK support.

In the 1980s, Margaret Newsham worked for arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin and had been stationed at the NSA’s Menwith Hill listening post in Yorkshire, England. This is the central clearing house for information that is vacuumed up and dissected by the NSA at fort Meade and other locations. Newsham became a whistleblower and testified to a Congressional committee after realising that the NSA was illegally spying on Americans and Europeans. Their report was never published but investigative journalist Duncan Campbell took an interest and verified her story in a 1988 report of his own, blowing the lid off ECHELON secrecy in the process.

gchq-nsaAmerica’s NSA Headquarters (top) and UK’s ECHELON surveillance system and GCHQ

Patrick S. Poole, a lecturer in government and economics at Bannockburn College in Franklin, Tennessee compiled a data base on the nature and history of ECHELON. In an extensive series from 1999 and 2000 he outlined some of the surveillance operation code names unveiled over the years mostly by determined investigative journalists which include the following sourced from the Menwith Hill data hub:

STEEPLEBUSH – Completed in 1984, this $160 million system expanded the satellite surveillance capability

RUNWAY –receives signals from the second-generation geosynchronous Vortex satellites, and gathers miscellaneous communications traffic from Europe, Asia and the former Soviet Union. The information is then forwarded to the Menwith Hill computer systems for processing.

PUSHER – An HFDF system that covers the HF frequency range between 3 MHz and 30 MHz (radio transmissions from CB radios, walkie-talkies, and other radio devices). Military, embassy, maritime and air flight communications are the main targets.

MOONPENNYthis system is targeted at the communication relay satellites belonging to other countries, as well as the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Intelsat satellites.

KNOBSTICKS I and II – The purpose of these antennae arrays are unknown, but they probably target military and diplomatic traffic throughout Europe.

GT-6 – A new system installed at the end of 1996, GT-6 is believed to be the receiver for the third generation of geosynchronous satellites termed Advanced Orion or Advanced Vortex. A new polar orbit satellite called Advanced Jumpseat may be monitored from here as well.

STEEPLEBUSH II – An expansion of the 1984 STEEPLEBUSH system, this computer system processes information collected from the RUNWAY receivers gathering traffic from the Vortex satellites.

SILKWORTH – Constructed by Lockheed Corporation, the main computer system for Menwith Hill processes most of the information received by the various reception systems.

Additional systems (TROUTMAN, ULTRAPURE, TOTALISER, SILVERWEED, RUCKUS, et. al.) complete the monumental SIGINT collection efforts at Menwith Hill. [7]

Unfortunately, while disputing the strength of such a system and the danger it poses for ordinary citizens Mr. Poole also buys into the propaganda of “us and them” terrorism and hails the “successes” that such a framework has yielded, citing a selection of terrorist atrocities that unbeknownst to him, had the sticky hand of state-sponsorship all over of them. Like many journalists and academics he has yet to grasp that the building of extremism is part of the Terror Industry in turn, connected to the “justifications” rallied by the mainstream press to support the World State-surveillance apparatus. In conjunction with long-time utilisation of PROMIS software – and now thanks to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on Internet surveillance programs such as PRISM, XKeyscore, Tempora, and the interception of US and European telephone metadata, remote viewing of any computer in real time is possible, as well as the creation of “back door snooping” in most public systems such as Microsoft.

Unsurprisingly, the Middle East, that bastion of US-NATO interference, has come under extensive surveillance activities at the turn of the millennium.  The online tech journalThe Register revealed in June 2014 that British intelligence had created a secret spy base responsible for tapping undersea cables at Seeb on the coast of Oman. This is only one of a three sites as part of the GCHQ network in Oman codenamed “TIMPANI”, “GUITAR” and “CLARINET”. Iraq and Yemen are the targets of this spying. According to leaked cables by Edward Snowden, it seems telecommunication companies are making a mint by allowing intel operatives to plug in to their networks and stay silent. (This symbiotic relationship reflects the dominance of Israeli spy networks within telecommunications in the United States).

…the intelligence agency annually pays selected companies tens of millions of pounds to run secret teams which install hidden connections which copy customers’ data and messages to the spooks’ processing centres. The GCHQ-contracted companies also install optical fibre taps or “probes” into equipment belonging to other companies without their knowledge or consent. Within GCHQ, each company has a special section called a “Sensitive Relationship Team” or SRT.

BT and Vodafone/C&W also operate extensive long distance optical fibre communications networks throughout the UK, installed and paid for by GCHQ, NSA, or by a third and little known UK intelligence support organization called the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC).

Snowden’s leaks reveal that every time GCHQ wanted to tap a new international optical fibre cable, engineers from “REMEDY” (BT) would usually be called in to plan where the taps or “probe” would physically be connected to incoming optical fibre cables, and to agree how much BT should be paid. The spooks’ secret UK access network feeds Internet data from more than 18 submarine cables coming into different parts of Britain either direct to GCHQ in Cheltenham or to its remote processing station at Bude in Cornwall. [8]

oman-1From The Register: “GCHQ’s submarine cable tapping centre for the TEMPORA project at Seeb in Oman, codename “CIRCUIT”.   It was built alongside a commercial satellite interception station, codename “SNICK”, according to documents revealed by Edward Snowden.”

As the tawdry tale of US-NATO led destabilisation policy continues in the Middle East, directly connected to the crisis in the Ukraine and Baltic states you can be sure more spy centres will be cropping up as surveillance sophistication grows.

The NSA’s warrantless surveillance or “wire-tapping” authorised by George W. Bush’s executive order expanded the monitoring of phone calls, emails, Internet history, text messaging, and any form of communication in or outside US jurisdiction. The search warrant became a thing of the past. Violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution continue to be ignored because what’s left of the Bill of rights and the Constitution itself has been so diluted that intelligence agencies and their law-makers take advantage of the myriad loopholes and executive order mandates. The Obama Administration has continued where Bush left off and extended the financing and capability of the surveillance methods. [9]

As a result of its illegal spying programs the NSA still hasn’t foiled a single terrorist plot, including all the copious amounts of suspicious activity prior to 9/11. Once we realise that the War on Terror is at root a hoax, designed to facilitate geo-strategic control, suppress domestic dissent and create leverage for political blackmail, we may see that surveillance becomes much more than a protective measure, as former workers and whistleblowers have cautioned. As Duncan Campbell observed: “The targeting of US political figures would not occur by accident, but was designed into the system from the start.” [10]

Since the recent furore of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World scandal in which journalists were found to have listened in to calls and monitored computer files, one can imagine the capability available to the NSA and GCHQ in the context “deep black” intelligence operations. Satellite systems have become integral to this global project with a network of monitoring stations in Britain and Europe tapping into domestic communications circuits, and analysing every email, text, mobile phone call and just about any data signal that is readable – which is everything. Telecommunications companies in the UK such as BT and Vodafone have made this easier by collaborating with the spy agency and passing on details of their customers’ phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries. As reported in several June 2013 reports at various news outlets, fibre optic cables have been tapped by the NSA – with the blessing of the government.

Leaked documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden has shown that illegal surveillance in the UK is pretty much a carbon-copy of what goes on in the United States, though with even more ubiquitous surveillance devices positioned in everyone’s direction. From overhead satellite systems extremely precise location can be secured along with a raft of data about a company or individual. International communications was said to be its original concern at the US satellite and communications base at Menwith Hill but US national security in the wake of the War on Terror has given “justification” for monitoring all and everything, ostensibly to sift for Al-Qaeda/ ISIL gold.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just a rough scan of large quantities data. According to former NSA analysts and whistle-blowers Judy Woodruff, William Binney, Russell and now Snowden, they have all confirmed that the NSA is scanning every email, recording every word of every phone call made within the United States – digitised and archived. This includes files on relevant persons deemed a domestic threat. If we take a look at the extraordinary advances in telecommunications and applications in the public domain then we must also consider the likelihood that the advances in the military-intelligence sector is decades ahead. In the context of ECHELON surveillance, Homeland Security, the SMART Grid, and the delights of technocratic automation of every conceivable suburban amenity, you can gain an understanding of what this may mean if you are one of those that don’t take to this kind of regimentation.

In the 2008 May/June issue of Radar Magazine an article written by investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham entitled: “The Last Roundup” reveals the high probability that the U.S. Government had established a database and tracking system called MAIN CORE used primarily for over eight million Americans who have been designated as threats to national security. Taking its cue from the from the global equivalent that is ECHELON, it uses the same sources of data such as internet activity, mobile, telephone, health records, marketing and financial information but extends that capability to a cross-network with undisclosed black programs. Need to check out a suspicious individual because he looked funny on a subway camera? The keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards are all archived on government supercomputers and according to Ketcham and others’ sources, also fed into the MAIN CORE database.

It also has another more immediate purpose.

With the program’s inception going back to at least the 1980s and with help from the Defence Intelligence Agency, MAIN CORE is run under the highly classified and controversial Continuity of Government (COG) operations. The COG is the principle of establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event. President George W. Bush, tasked with eviscerating the constitution, included in his raft of executive legislation the National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20 which served to outline the federal government’s plan for maintaining continuity in the face of such a “catastrophic emergency.” The latter is defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.” Constitutional government is effectively bypassed granting Police State powers to the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) and Homeland Security (DHS).

gty_nsa_surveillance_kb_131029_16x9_992Source: abcnews.go.com

If you think that gives a government the licence to impose Martial Law based on virtually any scenario it chooses, then you’d be correct. Such a state of affairs would be lamentable for the public but a bundle of laughs for those in power, many whom would be gagging for such an opportunity. According to Ketcham’s article, it alleges that Americans listed in the MAIN CORE database, “Could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.” [11] A senior government official who had high level clearance gives a chilling observation:

“There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” [12]

This didn’t extend to the assigned terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden it seems.

What about this hypothetical attack – Another 911? We saw how the US and the world changed radically after that event. This time, the scenario may not be Al-Qaeda/ISIL bogeyman but the American citizens themselves who would be targeted. Indeed, this is exactly what’s happening.

Ketcham describes how events might play out:

“With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.” [13]

If we factor in Pre-Crime software, it is obvious that this will play an integral part in the coming SMART revolution, as a former military operative explains: >

“… the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations with ‘social network analysis’ and artificial intelligence modeling tools…. “The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help,” he says. “Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets.” An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that “it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time.” [14]

Homeland Security’s homage to Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report is already up and running with their version of an airport based Pre-Crime. Using an algorithmic “prototype screening facility” designed “to detect cues indicative of mal-intent” based on ground-breaking factors of ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate” we can expect great things from those fearless protectors. Combine that still further with the FBI’s nationwide new facial recognition service and we have reason to feel that we are not so much “protected” as invasively monitored. [15]

The Terrorist Watch List garners over 200,000 new unaware individuals every year from housewives to school boys, businessmen to political commentators and ordinary citizens. As of writing, the list is well over the 1 million mark and rising exponentially. A former NSA officer discloses: “… that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, using an electronic-funds transfer surveillance program, also contributes data to MAIN CORE, as does a Pentagon program that was created in 2002 to monitor anti-war protestors and environmental activists such as Greenpeace.” [16] In the MAIN CORE data base even these definitions are too restrictive.

We can easily arrive at the logical conclusion that if we have voiced an opinion that is contrary to the prevailing “wisdom” of government authorities then you can be rest assured there is a pretty little file just for you.

If supermarkets have a marketing profile of your purchasing patterns then imagine what your own governments have?

In 2007, online revelations concerning the NSA’s IP intercept operations and there ubiquitous presence on the internet gave us a level of surveillance that surpassed most people’s wildest imaginations. AT&T telecommunications engineer Mark Klein who participated in building the secret NSA infrastructure blew the whistle on the real designs behind his boss’s wishes. The NSA and AT&T tried their best to prevent disclosure. After a class-action lawsuit against AT&T allowing secret government surveillance of Internet traffic, a refreshingly rare instance of democracy was at work when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released unredacted court documents related to the AT&T/NSA intercept case. This provided – in astonishing detail – the capability of surveillance software run by intelligence agencies on service providers’ networks. [17] A company called Narus developed a custom-built network surveillance system named “NarusInsight Intercept Suite” with the capable of real-time analysis of all the data passing through the most advanced and largest network nodes currently in existence.

According to the Narus website:

These capabilities include playback of streaming media (i.e. VoIP), rendering of web pages, examination of e-mail and the ability to analyze the payload/attachments of e-mail or file transfer protocols. Narus partner products offer the ability to quickly analyze information collected by the Directed Analysis or Lawful Intercept modules. When Narus partners’ powerful analytic tools are combined with the surgical targeting and real-time collection capabilities of Directed Analysis and Lawful Intercept modules, analysts or law enforcement agents are provided capabilities that have been unavailable thus far. 

This is what you might call the tip of a particularly large and hidden iceberg…

 


Notes

[1] How Big Brother watches your every move’ by Richard Gray, The Telegraph, August 2008.
[2] Ibid.
[3] ‘CCTV cameras: If they do not stop crime or catch criminals, what are they for?’ The Telegraph, 24 Aug 2009. | ‘CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police’ by Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 6 May 2008.
[4] ‘CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones’ by Paul Lewis, The Guardian, 23 January 2010.
[5] ‘Drones Are Taking to the Skies in the U.S.’ Los Angeles Times February 18th, 2013.
[6]‘The National Security Agency and Global Electronic Surveillance’ by Duncan Campbell, New Statesman August 12, 1988.
[7] ‘ECHELON: America’s Global Surveillance Network’ by Patrick S. Poole 1999/2000.
[8] ‘Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal’. By Charlie Savage, James Risen, The New York Times, March 31, 2010.
[9] ‘GCHQ’s Middle East cable tap centre revealed’,The Register 3rd June, 2014.
[10] op. cit. Campbell.
[11] ‘The Last Roundup’ By Christopher Ketcham, Radar Magazine, April 29, 2008.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] ‘Homeland Security Moves Forward with ‘Pre-Crime’ Detection’CNET, October 8th, 2011. | ‘FBI to Launch Nationwide Facial Recognition Service’ Nextgov. October 8th, 2011.
[16] Ibid.
[17] https://www.eff.org/nsa/faq/

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