Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote! --Benjamin FranklinGeorge Bush's Democracy is two wolves (in sheep's clothing) attacking a lamb, throwing the lamb in a hole and keeping him prisoner indefinitely (for the safety of the wolves) while borrowing money from all the lambs in the neighborhood (to create a world safe for wolves) and using the lamb's wool as collateral (for the benefit of the lending wolves). If this makes no sense, read no further. It's not going to get any better than this.
This convoluted type reasoning is what makes the world of mass surveillance turn upon the axis of American government rationalization. This is the type reasoning that government shysters use to confuse any politician or entity brave enough, lucky enough or stupid enough to blunder upon their hidden world of mass surveillance programs for all the inhabitants of the planet. This is the reasoning that allows our government to continually expand their nefarious programs using well-hidden and bottomless budgets and answer only occasionally to over-zealous and misguided civil rights activists.
The power of present-day programs of mass surveillance is truly futuristic, beyond comprehension and beyond oversight and control. But even this does not properly portray their danger to the "American way of life". Their true power and danger comes in examining the programs in connection with the resumes of those who have been empowered by the Bush Administration to guide, control (and of course expand) these programs.
John Negroponte - United States National Intelligence Director:
"Intelligence czar John Negroponte . . . (worked in) the CIA's Phoenix program, which assassinated some 40,000 Vietnamese "subversives." Negroponte was the officer-in-charge for Vietnam at the National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger, having worked as a "political affairs officer" (read: CIA) at the US Embassy in Saigon starting as early as 196. In 1981 Reagan appointed Negroponte as Ambassador to Honduras. That appointment gave Reagan a base from which to assist the Contras in Nicaragua. Negroponte became good friends with General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, infamous for his participation in Battalion 3-16 death squad human rights abuses and who was conducting a reign of terror in Honduras at that time".
Michael Chertoff - Secretary United States Homeland Security:
Chertoff, as an aggressive proponent of the USA PATRIOT Act, helped set up the newly authorized surveillance networks that need not rely on a targeted individual being suspected of any crime.
Chertoff's record is one of having shredded the constitution and its protection of civil liberties, but his unquestioned fealty to the president, seems to be his primary qualification for the post of Homeland Security Czar. Virtually every aspect of the War On Terror now features someone who has been promoted for his or her misdeeds. No bad deed goes unrewarded. Chertoff's round up of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians after 9-11 was not only a civil liberty atrocity it was wholly ineffective. None of the detainees, held incommunicado and without bond until proven innocent, was ever charged -- let alone convicted -- of any terrorism-related crime. Few if any held any useful intelligence value".
Alberto Gonzalez - United States Attorney General:
"George W. Bush's pick for Attorney General, advised the President and the Pentagon that Bush was above the law concerning torture. This sicko actually said that the President is not just above international law (the Geneva Convention), but that Bush is even above Federal law).
Gonzalez's memo, which told Bush that the nature of the war on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions of the Geneva Conventions on torture did not apply to "unlawful combatants" captured during the war on terror."
His (Gonzalez's) office also played a role in an August 2002 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel advising that torturing alleged Al-Qaida terrorists in captivity abroad "may be justified" and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in the U.S. war on terrorism. At least five and up to 28 confirmed deaths of detainees are believed by the Pentagon to have been caused by aggressive policies Gonzales did not define as torture".
We Americans through our inertia, apathy and negligence have allowed our elected representatives to put these criminals in their present positions. Imagine going into a maximum security prison, selecting the most hardened and dangerous criminals in the facility and putting them in a position to monitor and control your present, your future and that of your children under laws that have been made in secret. Our neglect of our government is an ingredient of future horror and unimaginable suffering for our country and ourselves.
The ADVISE Program:
This is a relatively new Department of Homeland Security data-mining program that is designed to collect a vast array of corporate and public online information - from financial records to CNN news stories - and cross-reference it against US intelligence and law-enforcement records. The system would then store it as "entities" - linking data about people, places, things, organizations, and events. If there is anything new about the program it is the sheer size of the program as defined by its data storage requirements. The storage requirements are huge - enough to retain information on about 1 quadrillion entities. If each entity were a penny, they would collectively form a cube a half-mile high - roughly double the height of the Empire State Building.
Remember, the information being gathered is all-inclusive. It is the record of the way we live our lives - the way we buy toothbrushes, the schools we attend, the amount and type of food we purchase, where and how much gasoline we buy. In the eyes of our freshly minted totalitarian system, this is the "beauty" of the system. Who can object to having a record made of what kind of toothpaste he uses? If one objects to having his dental habits monitored, he must really have something to hide. Perhaps "Big Brother" should dig deeper into the way you live your life. Perhaps "Big" should monitor your e-mail (coming and going). Perhaps there is a law-enforcement link between people who buy lots of size 9 shoes and those who buy lots of toothpaste. Possibly we are watching an outbreak of "hoof and mouth disease" - or, maybe it's "chicken flu". This rationalization sounds implausible and facetious, but it points to the fact that the systems link worldwide law-enforcement, anti-terrorist and spy agencies. This network coupled with the fact that computers are drawing the conclusions about ones toothpaste usage and someone else's shoe buying habits should be a reason for grave concern when made available to some foreign government agency.
Questions about the innocuous things that constitute our daily lives and their value engender some other rather closely related questions. If the innocuous data of our lives is so important in protecting us, one might wonder why the following "data" didn't trigger some pre-9/11 life-saving actions. Why did the following "trends" go unnoticed - especially when these type trends are specifically what surveillance experts look for in trying to recognize such impending events as 9/11?
"A jump in UAL (United Airlines) put options 90 times (not 90 percent) above normal between September 6 and September 10, and 285 times higher than average on the Thursday before the attack. -- CBS News, September 26 A jump in American Airlines put options 60 times (not 60 percent) above norm al on the day before the attacks. -- CBS News, September 26 No similar trading occurred on any other airlines -- Bloomberg Business Report, the Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT), Herzliyya, Israel [citing data from the CBOE] 3 Morgan Stanley saw, between September 7 and September 10, an increase of 27 times (not 27 percent) in the purchase of put options on its shares. Merrill-Lynch saw a jump of more than 12 times the normal level of put opinions in the four trading days before the attacks".
The answer: These "anomalies" did not go unnoticed. They were duly noted in the SEC's post 9/11 and investigation. The SEC, after a period of silence, undertook the unprecedented action of deputizing hundreds of private officials in its investigation. The result of these deputizations was the silencing of these officials BECAUSE THEIR DEPUTIZATION MEANT THEY COULD NOT COMMENT ON A CASE UNDER INVESTIGATION TO ANYONE OUTSIDE THE CASE.
(You see, the sheep and the wolves' connection make more sense than this one). What you still may not see is why the government needs information on what toothpaste we buy and then take steps to silence information on such an important event as 9/11. It should also be remembered that 4 years after 9/11, 120,000 hours of FBI intercepted telephone conversations had still not been translated or transcribed - pointing to the urgency with which our government views such "critical information".
Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) Program:
Because of the inherent secrecy concerning every aspect of the government's many faceted spy system, it is not clear whether the ADVISE program and the HSIN program are one and the same or whether they even connected. However, the descriptions of the two programs show a lot of commonality. They are both data mining type programs and they both look at, in Comrade Chertoff's words: . . . "the thousands and thousands of routine, everyday observations and activities (of which intelligence is made). Surveillances, interactions - each of which may be taken in isolation as not a particularly meaningful piece of information, but when fused together, gives us a sense of the patterns and the flow that really is at the core of what intelligence analysis is really about. We have many interactions every day, every hour, at the border, on airplanes, with the Coast Guard. And what we need to do is to vacuum all those up and get them fused and analyzed so we can not only take appropriate action ourselves, but so we can share it with our state and local partners."
Perhaps the difference between the programs, if there is one, comes from the agencies with whom the information is shared. Comrade Chertoff explains that the HSIN objective is that of making a blanket US network linking all intelligence (sic) agencies and law enforcement departments across the United States to form a hybrid spy network with the ability for all to operate as if the participants were in the same room with a common operating picture.  This is an impending disaster straight from Orwell.
The good news is that the Department of Homeland Security has proven itself to be so criminally inefficient and negligent in overcoming the effects of a natural disaster like Katrina that the possibility of its achieving its surveillance goals in the near future is rather slim. However, we know that little things like money, patriotism or the Constitution will never stand in the way of our "Pyongyang on the Potomac" and its attempts to overcome that "goddamn piece of paper" called our Constitution. The bad news is that with criminals like Negroponte, Chertoff and Gonzalez running the asylum there is a good chance that unimagined numbers of Americans will suffer loss of freedoms, loss of a way of life and/or a loss of life. Americans will be able to get rid of Bush in November of 2008; however, they will not be so lucky in getting rid of Chertoff and Negroponte. Alberto will probably go back to "shystering" somewhere within the Bush Empire - possibly building firewalls and ironclad alibis for the Carlyle Group after November of 2008.
The ECHELON program has been with for us more that four decades. In that time the program has been refined and expanded to truly alarming proportions. The ADVISE and HSIN programs will undergo the same metamorphoses as time passes unless they are monitored and controlled for the safety of American civil liberties. Losing our liberties to our own government is no less frightening than losing them to some foreign terrorist organization. For those who doubt this basic truth, it would be well for them to examine the modern history of Russia, Germany, Cambodia and Viet Nam. Iraq's present "history in the making" should show any rational person the dangers of a government with an agenda. A government with an agenda, unlimited resources and no oversight by its people is a guaranteed formula for disaster. Creeping totalitarianism doesn't really describe the disaster(s) being created for us. However, 385 million dollar Halliburton/KBR "detention centers" being created for us do.
 portland imc - 2006.02.04 - Halliburton gets $385 Million for "Detention Centers" for "NEW PROGRAMS"
Nolan K. Anderson is a retired engineer and a veteran of Korea who was once a "conservative" until he found there was nothing left to conserve and as a veteran hates to see a tour in Korea go to waste. (He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).