An Analysis of Warrantless Wiretapping-Part II

Parental Controls on Everyone

IshmaelLogoIn Part one of my piece, I attempted to explain the nature and scope of the US Warrantless Wiretap Program and the growing Surveillance Regime being built in this country. In Part 2, I will compare and contrast the growth and structure of the aforementioned Surveillance Regimes with other countries’ corresponding Systems of surveillance and control. I will also spotlight the International Surveillance Industry and its efforts to market its products by offering this technology to governmental power centers around the world.

Back in 1992, I was living in Vallejo, Ca, a working-class/Navy town in the northeastern San Francisco Bay Area. At that time, there was a local news story about a local drug dealer facing his third-strike conviction under California’s Three-Strikes law who had a brilliant idea. If I blow up the police evidence room and destroy my incriminating evidence, they can’t convict me. He knew the local police evidence storage wasn’t in the Police station, but at the local library of all places. He also knew that if he blew up just the library, sooner or later, the police would get around to him as a suspect. So he hired two other guys he knew who actually managed to find and steal enough explosives to construct three bombs. They planted the first bomb outside the local Solano County government office which detonated late at night doing little damage. The second bomb they planted against the outside wall of the evidence storage room at the library, but a local kid discovered it and the police were able to successfully defuse the bomb. So the two guys planted the third bomb next to the ATM at the local Wells Fargo branch, which also detonated with little damage, as another diversion. Unfortunately, for all concerned, the ATM camera had captured perfect pictures of the two men and police were able to solve the case in short order.

I offer the preceding story to illustrate a point. Had those 2 men just left town in 1992, taken a powder, gone to Buffalo, chances are they would have probably gotten away with it as the surveillance technology had not become so advanced, ingrained and integrated into society. Had those guys attempted the same crime today, their first bomb placement would have been recorded by surveillance cameras surrounding the government building, their facial features subjected to facial recognition software and their identities established from police and prison records, their fingerprints correlated to evidence from the explosives theft site, and their movements tracked from RFID chips embedded in their new “Real ID” driver’s licenses  thus apprehending them before they had a chance to place their second bomb.

I had my first personal experience in Biometric Access in 2000 at Level 3. I had been administratively transferred from the Outside Plant Department on the Central Coast of California to the LA Metro office as I had responsibilities for their fiber routes out to San Bernardino and up to Santa Barbara. Level 3 had installed fingerprint scanners at all access points into their equipment rooms and my prints had to be inputted into the system. I also saw the installations of workplace cameras throughout the facility, where the main long haul fibers terminated into my equipment and then branched off to two floors full of Cisco routers. Since Level 3 was marketing itself as “The Carriers’ Carrier” and selling off a lot of dark fiber to other firms, I took note.

I had been following Britain’s efforts to beef up its internal security systems using lessons learned from dealing with the IRA. I was also familiar with China’s telecommunications architecture and it’s conversion to a DWDM fiber optic-based system, ending any effective NSA electronic eavesdropping on the Chinese government’s communications. So, after Klein’s revelations, I started seeing stories like This in trade magazines. I had been familiar with the growth of the security industry after the Atlanta Olympic Bombing and 9/11.

Then, last year, Naomi Klein’s article on China appeared in Rolling Stone in advance of the Beijing Olympics. Her analysis of the convergence of governmental and corporate power in the surveillance and control of China’s minorities and populations was very insightful. I began seeing similarities between the Communications Security infrastructures. The methods the Chinese government used in their news reports of the Tibetan unrest prior to the Olympics as well as the recent Uigher uprisings controlled information flow out of those areas to images favorable to the government. The rapidly growing surveillance camera networks integration into first local and then regional network control centers allowed Chinese authorities to track and identify strikers and demonstrators while utilizing images of violent demonstrators juxtaposed with police showing restraint. The facts that most of this technology was supplied by Western Corporations and the true scope of the international security business was staggering.

I watched the methods of security control for both the Denver and St. Paul conventions in 2008 with the police’s use of biometric and DNA information gathering and pre-event detentions of political activists at St. Paul and Denver as National Special Security Event and started to see the convergence of architecture and methodology of these geographically diverse systems with the drumbeat of system integration as the war cry.

Despite all this doom and gloom of what appears to be shaping up as a global security regime, there are datum of hope that crop up here and there. The Chinese government’s efforts to channel civic discontent into existing governmental institutions and it’s immediate reactions to the devastating quakes there stand in stark contrast to FEMA’s woeful performance in the wake of Katrina. The use of alternate web hosting to facilitate the demonstrations in Iran after last year’s election was another possible bright spot. They show that mass action is still possible and can be effective using the Internet and Telecomm systems as political organizing tools. But it also spotlights the need for greater dialogue and cooperation among dissident populations across the globe to counterbalance corporate influence on government to ensure some semblance of control by the governed. At the same time, these same efforts show a strategy to channel popular discontent and unrest into approved channels without effecting any real change to the overall state structure. It also shows how little difference there is in the main goals of all these surveillance regimes. Witness the Latest Frontier of data mining being used by

Iran, Britain and the US. The last article linked also illustrates how Police and Security entities have used their systems to identify and arrest dissidents and perceived enemies of the regime..

In conclusion, the Global Authoritarian Capitalist Security State I see being established will be a two-class system. If you’re one with a skill or with capital to offer to it, you’ll be thoroughly vetted before being allowed into your job, or school. You’re movements will be tracked to and from work, on the job and at any recreational activity. You’re banking and spending habits will be scrutinized along with every other form of electronic communications activity. Your associations and friends will be catalogued and, as long as you represent no threat to authority, you will live in a new, worldwide Pax Corporatica with the freedom to indulge in any form of material consumption. If you’re poor or marginalized, you will live outside that world with the full panoply of state and corporate power utilized against you to keep you from becoming an organized threat to the Pax Corporatica.

Forty-seven years ago, Marshall MacLuhan wrote in “The Guttenberg Galaxy”, addressing what he termed “The Global Village”:

“Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library, the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence. [...] Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time. [...] In our long striving to recover for the Western World a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture.”

Are we conforming to that vision, something darker or a hybrid of the two? What Village do YOU want to live in?

Be Seeing You. 

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  1. This stuff scares the living daylights out of me!

  2. @PJ: Same here. As you know I went through that hell with my google-blogger site. All it took: a few enemies reporting my site as spam, and bam! Google shut it down. And the timing: two days before my public deposition in Krikorian case…

    Gould & Fitzgerald are following up with Verizon. It’d be interesting to find out more. Boiling Frogs Post has been raising many eyebrows, as you know;-))

  3. Right now, Verizon is my mobile carrier. And if they have nothing better to do than to monitor all of my calls, emails, etc., that’s sad :).

  4. Your “conclusion” reminds me very much of the world envisioned by John Twelve Hawks in his Fourth Realm Trilogy. That is scary – but we will have to find ways to deal with it.


  5. Back in 2001, before 9/11, I was getting annoying phone calls.
    Typical calls most of us have had. Someone calls says nothing.

    After a few Months of these calls I decided I’d say more than Hello, Hello?

    I asked if they would like me to report them to the police…They hung up.
    So, there was somebody on the other end of the line – silently listening for background or something.

    On it went, Hello? Nothing. These people would call 20 or more times a day. Sometimes 20 times in 30 minutes.

    Finally I put a call trace on the line from the phone company. When I had the required amount of calls and the times they were made, I contacted/mailed the phone company and they gave the offenders name and phone number to the local police department. Then I could have the criminals prosecuted.

    Well the police report states the offenders as ATT. The detective gave me the number where the calls originated, somewhere in the MT. time zone. I called the number and got a voice mail with no identifying information.

    What ATT’s message was – ‘if you know the partys extention you may dail it now’. Period.

    Of course I couldn’t prosecute a corporation per Ma Bells rules.

    If this would have happened AFTER 9/11 I’d have thought it was related to the the ILLEGAL wiretapping of INNOCENT American citizens, but EVERYBODY KNOWS the ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING didn’t begin until after 9/11.

    any thoughts?

    I wonder if Bush thought I had State Secrets…

  6. oh my smirk didn’t show up. I put it here: EVERYBODY KNOWS the ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING didn’t begin until after 9/11. SMIRK.

  7. Kingfisher says:

    “If this would have happened AFTER 9/11 I’d have thought it was related to the the ILLEGAL wiretapping of INNOCENT American citizens, but EVERYBODY KNOWS the ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING didn’t begin until after 9/11.

    any thoughts?”

    I highly doubt it was related to wiretapping. Further, how could the NSA be both a sinisterly pervasive force AND idiotic enough to call you 20 to 30 times a day and breath heavily into the phone at the same time?

    “I wonder if Bush thought I had State Secrets…”

    Have you ever held any form of government security clearance? If not, then I doubt it.

  8. I never said breathe heavily Kingfisher and your doubt means not much to me, but thanks for your thoughts and expertise.

  9. Everyone is going to have to get used to speaking on the phone or in email as some of us have to when we call family in Turkey. You have to learn to say things without saying things. Forget about fictitious rights of privacy or free expression; they don’t exist.

    The practical question is how much of this monitored communication is listend to “live” and how much is simply stored? How much of the stored information is going to be accessed immediately? How much is going to be stored and listened to at a later date and how much later will that be?

    The entire bogus War on Terror, Inc., is simply an excuse to allow so-called security types to plunder. If your eyes don’t roll every time the word “terrorism” is trotted out, then there is something wrong with you.

    I have noticed, too, that there hasn’t been as much discussion of illegal wiretapping in the MSM recently, not as much as there was for a short period of time under the Bush regime. Change you can believe in!

    Short of revolution, I don’t see how this kind of thing will be solved. THEY need to fear more than they try to make us fear.

  10. Anawashte, Kolas.

    Thank you for all your kind comments. I talked to Sibel last night and she told me this site has over 40,000 hits in the 3 weeks it’s been up, including visits by the DOJ and DHS and closing in on 50,000. Good. I’m happy. John Trudell, my favorite Santee Sioux poet and shaman, talks of the need for clear, coherent thought and action to combat the Predator Society. this site is part of that coherency. The fact that we’re now becoming a target of the Liars provides ample testimony to me that we are on the right path. The truth is being uncovered and laid bare for all to see. The predators seek to instill fear in us because their own lives are filled with it.

    Remember, bureacratic inefficiency will always trump effective action by them. As George Bush proved, The World is run by “C” students. So let the attacks come. We hold the Truth here and it IS self-evident. In their attempts to save, collate and track our information, they become overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it. Also remember the insidious effects of Truth. How many of the watchers are listening and thinking,

    “Hey! These guys may just be on to something here.”

    So I leave you all with one of my favorite inspirational videos by Trudell, who speaks with the voice of 11,000 years.

    Trying to isolate us in a dimension called Loneliness.
    Leading us into the trap
    Believe in their power, but not in ourselves.
    Piling us with guilt, always taking the blame.
    Greed chasing out the balance.
    Trying to isolate us in a dimension called Loneliness.

    Economic Deities seizing power.
    Through illusions created, armies are justified,
    Class systems are Democracy,
    God listens to War Mongers’ prayers.
    Tyranny is here. Divide and conquer.
    Trying to isolate us in a dimension called Loneliness.

    Greed a parent, Insecurity the happiest companion,
    Genocide conceived in sophistocation,
    Techno-logic material civilization a rationalization,
    Replacing a way to live.
    Trying to isolate us in a dimension called Loneliness.

    Yatta Hey!

  11. Here’s a link to a newly-leaked plan to establish Universal ID numbers in India, providing ID and biometric data on 1.2 billion people:

  12. Love that Trudell, Ishmael. Saw him with Quilt in the early 90’s next to Bonnie Raitt for a No Nukes concert in Minneapolis. One of my favorite tunes off of the Johnny Damas album is Sacrifice “…and the thieves got away”

    BTW, I think yatta hey isn’t Lakota, but maybe “hello” in Navajo?

    Zica (Zee-cha)
    Happy Z-Day coming up…

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