War on Terror
Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001,
President George W. Bush promised Americans he would exact
revenge on those who 'dare' attack
Dubya's program of
"Shock and Awe" gave the American public an upfront look at what
the U.S. military was prepared to do to the enemies of "freedom
bombing of Iraq was only the beginning of a larger conflict
that the Bush Administration dubbed "The Global War on Terror."
The War on Terror did not end in the physical battlefield,
however. The U.S. government was determined to root out all
possible terrorist activity and in the process roll back as many
of America's hard-earned liberties as possible.
The Patriot Act
Only 45 days after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Congress passed
the infamous USA PATRIOT Act, known simply as
the Patriot Act.
The full Orwellian
title is the,
"Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
Act of 2001."
The Patriot Act dramatically expanded the U.S. government's
abilities to monitor emails and landline phone calls, and
allowed access to voicemail through a search warrant rather than
through a traditional wiretap order.
For the first time,
US government agencies could legally justify gathering any and
all information on its enemies. In addition, section 215 of the
Patriot Act is used to justify mass surveillance programs by the
National Security Agency.
What we examine the state of civil liberties in America in 2018,
what we see is the advancing tyranny of information gathering
that has come directly from the Patriot Act, and the
security-related bills which preceded and followed it.
The bulk of American
communications are now scanned, monitored, stored in a database,
and analyzed for signs of terrorism.
The NSA has
even built a giant
database in Utah to handle all of this data. Big Brother and
Big sister are listening through an array of devices.
trying to remain unmonitored, this is what you're up against in
We now know
that all of this technology is used to collect data about you at
all times. We know that the surveillance landscape today far
exceeds even the limitations of spying of the original Patriot
The Patriot Act
was the catalyst for the national security tech complex to do
what it does today.
Whether or not
it was the original intent, the Patriot Act paved the way for
the government to gather all of your data without your consent,
constantly, across all devices, whether you are connected to a
so-called 'terrorist' activity or not.
The Patriot Act
is foundational legislation upon which the military industrial
complex has built legal justification for direct cooperation
between government employees, directors of private tech and
intelligence companies, and military officials.
There are many
other steps taken by the U.S. government in their misguided War
on Terror, which erode away at the civil liberties Americans
were once afforded.
Advanced Research Projects Agency, known
as DARPA, is the
government agency responsible for all of the exciting and
terrifying emerging military technologies.
2002, DARPA established the Information Awareness Office (IAO),
an agency with a logo featuring a pyramid with an all seeing eye
looking over the world with the motto "scientia est potentia,"
or "knowledge is power."
The creation of
the IAO brought together several DARPA projects that focused on
using surveillance and data mining to track and monitor
terrorists and other threats to U.S. National Security.
2002, the New York Times reported that DARPA was developing a
classified tracking program called "Total Information
It was intended
to detect terrorists by studying millions of pieces of data.
The program was
designed to create huge databases to gather and store personal
data from emails, social media, credit card records, phone
calls, medical history, and online history, without the need for
a search warrant.
The TIA program
also featured a biometric component that can be seen as a
predecessor to the current FBI biometric database.
Privacy Information Center says
the goal of Total Information Awareness was,
individuals through collecting as much information about
them as possible and using computer algorithms and human
analysis to detect potential activity."
The man behind
TIA was Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the former national
security adviser in the Reagan administration, who was convicted in 1990
for his role in the Iran-contra scandal.
conviction would later be overturned by a federal appeals court
because he was granted immunity in exchange for testifying about
his wrongdoing. Poindexter later argued that the U.S. government
must be granted even more powers than were given in the Patriot
Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at George
Washington University, had to say about Poindexter in
ways, Poindexter is the perfect Orwellian figure for the
perfect Orwellian project.
As a man
convicted of falsifying and destroying information, he will
now be put in charge of gathering information on every
insult to injury, the citizens will fund the very system
that will reduce their lives to a transparent fishbowl."
criticism of the TIA program would grow so loud that Congress
was forced to defund
the Total Information Awareness program and the entire
Information Awareness Office in 2003.
Or so they
defunding, many Americans suspected that the programs were still
being developed, only under different names, using different
This fact would
later be confirmed by Edward Snowden's
surveillance leaks of
paying close attention however, it was known for at least 7
years before the Snowden leaks, that the government was looking
for ways to gather as much data on everyone as possible.
In 2006, the National
Journal obtained documents
which they said proved that the
Total Information Awareness program had been moved from DARPA to
another group which focused on building spying technology for
the National Security Agency.
In 2002, a
consulting firm called Hicks & Associates, reportedly run by
former Defense and military officials, was awarded a nineteen
million dollar contract to build the prototype for TIA.
show a company executive informing his employees of the name
"We will be
describing this new effort as 'Basketball'," he wrote.
reminded the company's staff that,
been terminated and should be referenced in that fashion."
project known as Genoa II was renamed Topsail and moved to
Advanced Research and Development Activity.
focused on pre-empting crime, an early predecessor for pre-crime
technologies now being implemented around the world.
2013, even the magazine Scientific American was forced to
acknowledge that the Total
Information Awareness never ended.
Edward Snowden had made
it perfectly clear by that point that
Americans are living in a
In fact, in an interview
with WIRED, intelligence analyst James Bamford said the
NSA's recently erected $2 billion facility in Utah,
some measure, the realization of the 'total information
awareness' program created during the first term of the Bush
administration - an effort that was killed by Congress in
2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for
invading Americans' privacy."
the Patriot Act and Total Information Awareness were not the
only attempts to strip away Americans' rights in the name of
You might have
never heard the name
Patriot Act 2, but in the years following
the 9/11 attacks the name was synonymous with an attempt by the
Bush Admin to seize tyrannical powers.
Center for Public Integrity
obtained a draft of unreleased
legislation written by the staff of John Ashcroft, who was the
Attorney General at the time.
The draft Act
was known as the Domestic
Security Enhancement Act of 2003, or the Patriot Act
it came to be known.
At the time of
the release of the text, the bill had reportedly only been seen
by a handful of people, although rumors of an update to the
Patriot Act had been swirling around D.C.
obtained by PBS indicated that a copy of the bill was sent to
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Vice President
Dick Cheney on Jan. 10, 2003.
for your review and comment is a draft legislative proposal
entitled the 'Domestic Security Enhancement Act of
2003'," the memo, sent from "OLP" or Office of Legal Policy,
The draft of
the bill was immediately criticized as an expansion of the
already invasive powers granted to the Bush Administration in
the first Patriot Act.
Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author
of Terrorism and the Constitution, told
the Center that the Patriot 2 bill,
radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering
authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over
surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA
database based on unchecked executive 'suspicion,' create
new death penalties, and even seek to take American
citizenship away from persons who belong to or support
disfavored political groups."
Civil Liberties Union outlined
some of the most egregious changes proposed in the draft of
the Patriot 2.
Section 301-306 would have created a "Terrorist Identification
Database," a DNA database for suspected terrorists.
A few of the
other changes proposed by the Domestic Security Enhancement Act
of 2003 include:
The government would no longer be required to disclose
the identity of anyone, even an American citizen,
detained in connection with a terror investigation - until criminal charges are filed, no matter how long
that takes (sec 201).
Current court limits on local police spying on religious
and political activity would be repealed (sec. 312).
The government would be allowed to obtain credit records
and library records without a warrant (secs. 126, 128,
Americans could be extradited, searched and wiretapped
at the behest of foreign nations, whether or not
treaties allow it (sec. 321, 322).
Lawful immigrants would be stripped of the right to a
fair deportation hearing and federal courts would not be
allowed to review immigration rulings (secs. 503, 504).
Now if you are
hearing this and thinking,
surely those are legitimate acts to take against a suspected
terrorist", "I'm not a terrorist, and there's no way they
would use those laws against me".
You have to
remember that the government is the one who defines what
behavior is considered terrorism. Also, if their true aim was to
fight terror, why would they need to hide the measures from the
At the time
The Washington Times noted,
said the strategy was 'to sneak' the elements of the bill
through Congress, without presenting it as the next
installment of the Patriot Act."
So that's what
Instead of trying to pass the act as a standalone
piece of legislation, most of the provisions were snuck into and
attached to other bills that were guaranteed to pass.
National Security Letter's
of the Patriot 2 that was quickly adopted under a different
bill relates to the government's use of a tool known as National
The Patriot Act
vastly increased the use of National Security Letters, a tool
used by the government to force telecommunications companies to
give customer information without the use of a warrant from a
The NSLs are
typically issued by the FBI to gather information from companies
when related to national-security investigations. This
information can include customer names, addresses, phone and
Internet records, and banking and credit statements.
The NSL also
requires employees who have been questioned to be silenced
via a gag order which prevents them from notifying anyone
that the government is invading customers' privacy.
voted in favor of an intelligence bill that included a
provision which expanded the power of NSLs by redefining the
meaning of "financial institution".
the U.S. government to issue National Security Letters (and
subsequent gag orders) to,
the U.S. Postal Service
...and any other business whose,
transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal,
tax or regulatory matters".
provision inserts one of the most controversial aspects of
Patriot 2 into the spending bill," Wired reported at
One of the
darkest elements of the Patriot Act 2 was codified into law in
late 2011, when President
Obama signed the
National Defense Authorization Act.
The NDAA 2012
allowing indefinite detention of Americans without trial or
charge in language very similar to the second Patriot Act.
Indeed, much of the plans of the Patriot Act 2 are now common
activities of local, state, and federal law enforcement.
The bulk of
American communications are now scanned, monitored, stored in a
database, and analyzed for signs of terrorism.
another element of the current surveillance state landscape we
have not explored. The government
is not the only player in this surveillance industry.
companies also produce surveillance technology and sell it to
law enforcement and government agencies, including,
...and so on.
But there is
also another player in this surveillance state: Social Media.
millions of people around the world voluntarily sign away their
privacy and liberty when they download the latest trendy app or
game without reading the terms and conditions of service.
agreements often give these private companies access to your
camera, your contacts, your images, etc.
We must take an
honest assessment and ask ourselves if we truly value privacy
and if we do, does keeping that privacy matter more to you than
downloading that new app or game?
are volunteering their information, including likes, dislikes,
location, relationship status, fears, hopes, frustrations, and
personal secrets by using social media platforms, namely
Facebook and Instagram.
Most concerning is the possibility that Facebook executives may have had close ties to CIA venture
capital firm In-Q-Tel.
James Corbett reports:
"Publicly, In-Q-Tel markets
itself as an innovative way to leverage the power of the
private sector by identifying key emerging technologies and
providing companies with the funding to bring those
technologies to market.
In reality, however, what
In-Q-Tel represents is a dangerous blurring of the lines
between the public and private sectors in a way that makes
it difficult to tell where the American intelligence
community ends and the IT sector begins.
Two of the names that come up
most often in connection with In-Q-Tel, however, need no
introduction: Google and Facebook.
The publicly available record
on the Facebook/In-Q-Tel connection is tenuous. Facebook received
million in venture capital from Accel, whose manager, James
Breyer, now sits on their board.
He was formerly the chairman
of the National Venture Capital Association, whose board
Louie, then the CEO of In-Q-Tel.
The connection is indirect,
but the suggestion of CIA involvement with Facebook, however
tangential, is disturbing in the light of Facebook's history of violating
the privacy of its
around the time Facebook was launched, a similarly themed
was coming to an end.
was a project of the Information Processing Techniques Office of
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) designed,
"to be able
to trace the 'threads' of an individual's life in terms of
events, states, and relationships", with the ability to
"take in all of a subject's experience, from phone numbers
dialed and e-mail messages viewed to every breath taken,
step made and place gone".
and microphones would capture what the user sees or hears;
sensors would record what he or she feels.
positioning satellites would log every movement. Biomedical
sensors would monitor vital signs. E-mails, instant
messages, Web-based transactions, telephone calls and
voicemails would be stored.
faxes would be scanned. Links to every radio and television
broadcast heard and every newspaper, magazine, book, Web
site or database seen would be recorded."
contractors stated that LifeLog's software,
able to find meaningful patterns in the timetable, to infer
the user's routines, habits and relationships with other
people, organizations, places and objects."
program was abandoned amid the same fears that rejected Total
Information Awareness and the Patriot Act 2.
Lifelog's creator Douglas Gage
recently told Motherboard he feels that in many ways
Facebook has accomplished the goals of LifeLog.
that Facebook is the real face of pseudo-LifeLog at this
I generally avoid using Facebook, only occasionally
logging in to see what everyone is up to, and have never
Does this mean
that Facebook was created by the CIA or DARPA?
No, but it does
show the similarity between these applications and should create
a sense of caution in all social media users. And of course,
governments mine social media for data anyway.
In the end, we
the people may very well have already handed the government and
their partners in private industry all the data they need to
study, manipulate, and control the masses.