Police usage of armored surveillance vehicles becoming more widespread across the United States

(Photo credit: SLMPD/Police Magazine)

Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Recently, the Sun-Sentinel out of Fort Lauderdale, run by the Tribune Company which runs the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, among others, covered how the Fort Lauderdale Police Department has deployed “The Peacemaker,” which is an armored bank truck converted into a surveillance powerhouse.

The police purchased the discontinued armored truck from Brink’s for $10 then retrofitted it with cameras on all of the bullet-proof windows and it now has the ability to stream live panoramic video to the police headquarters for up to 700 hours.

The truck is unmanned and emblazoned with slogans which read, “Warning: You are under video surveillance” and “Whatcha gonna do when we come for you?”

The strategy behind the Peacemaker is simple, almost laughably so. They believe that just leaving it in parked in areas in which there is a crime problem will act to curb criminal activity.

“Make no mistakes about it,” Detective Travis Mandell told the Sun-Sentinel. “We want people to know that we are watching the bad guys.”

It seems that they aren’t under the impression that they’ll actually catch people with the video captured by the Peacemaker, instead hoping that just having it present will act to deter crime in a significant way.

The Ft. Lauderdale police have two of these trucks, the second one being a converted from a former SWAT vehicle.

The police take the trucks to street corners which have problems with crime along with outside the houses of suspected drug dealers, a move which many might consider harassment.

For instance, placing an obvious surveillance van right outside the house of an innocent person very well might attract undue attention, even leading neighbors to think that they are a criminal even before any investigation or prosecution takes place.

This could act to destroy an individual’s reputation or ostracize them from their community by making everyone believe that they are a criminal without so much as a hearing.

One individual who is already feeling the impact this device can have is 60-year-old Tania Ouaknine, a local innkeeper who told the Sun-Sentinel that, “[Police] say I am running a whorehouse,” while she counters, “I run a motel. The only thing that I don’t have is the five stars.”

However, police refuse to say why exactly they chose to park one of the two Peacemakers the department currently has right across from Ouaknine’s Parisian Motel in an abandoned lot just last week.

Even without explicit admission, it is quite obvious they are targeting Ouaknine as the Sun-Sentinel points out that records from the city and police show that Ouaknine and her motel were subjected to an undercover investigation targeting prostitution.

On October 28, Ouaknine was arrested on three counts of renting rooms to prostitutes at the rate of $20 an hour and the case is still pending. I find the fact that prostitution is still illegal absolutely ridiculous because it just acts to drive it further underground making it even more dangerous for all involved, but that is another article entirely.

Ouaknine claims she has done nothing illegal and yet she has still been summoned to appear in court in February for a hearing based on the investigation and has already received a warning letter from the city’s nuisance abatement board.

City records show that it is the second time the city board has chosen to target the motel since 2008 and Ouaknine points out, “They’ve tried everything to shut me down and have failed. Now they bring this truck to intimidate me and my customers.”

Some of the motel’s neighbors characterize the truck’s presence as yet another form of constant police harassment.

Leo Cooper, a 27-year-old, told the Sun-Sentinel that he recently witnessed two undercover police officers get out of an unmarked car near the Peacemaker and began questioning a group of men who were gathered at the nearby corner.

Just minutes later, Cooper says that one of the men bolted and another man present at the scene was charged with loitering.

“This is what happens here every day. We can’t sit outside without being harassed,” Cooper said. “Now we have that truck. Most of us are not doing anything wrong. We can’t be outside?”

I think Cooper’s point is a valid one, however, someone might point out that this is exactly how drug dealers operate on street corners and thus the police had a somewhat reasonable suspicion they were acting upon.

However, the logic used by police is far from compelling as they have already resorted to the tired pro-Big Brother rationale which states, “If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?”

In fact, Detective Mandell said that almost word-for-word in saying, “People who are abiding by the law should have no problems with this. People may feel that their privacy is being infringed on, but when you think about it, every day you walk down the street you are being watched by 20 to 30 cameras from private businesses and homes.”

This logic is so wildly fallacious it would be laughable if it were not so often used by police forces, governments and their apologists.

To be fair, some actually like the Peacemaker, saying, “I wish they had another one out here.”
But the local situation in Ft. Lauderdale and those involved are not nearly as important as the broader trend at work here.

Indeed these surveillance trucks are being deployed across the nation and this situation in Ft. Lauderdale is just a microcosmic example of how they are used, the controversy they create and the wildly divided opinion on how they are used.

Some departments across the country are using converted vehicles like in Ft. Lauderdale but there are companies making vehicles specifically designed for this purpose like Sirchie Finger Print Laboratories’ Vehicle Division out of New Jersey.

Sirchie, just one of many companies engaged in this field, makes a wide variety of vehicles for many specific purposes, and interestingly their section for surveillance vehicles and equipment is marked “Top Secret” with the message: “For Password Access, Call 1-800-545-7375” which I have already done although I doubt they will give someone like me access.

That being said, it appears that converting Brink’s armored trucks is quite popular, as another police department in Peoria, Illinois has also outfitted an old Brink’s truck with surveillance cameras, dubbing it the “Armadillo.”

It has apparently worked so well for them that they, like Ft. Lauderdale, have a second vehicle which they call the “Armadillo Two.” Clearly whoever is naming these isn’t the most creative.

The relatively new police chief of Evansville, Indiana, wants to do a similar thing, in this case calling their vehicle “The Guardian.”

He claims that Evansville has over 100 gang-affiliated individuals, “many” are believed to be responsible for shootings and he plans to “put surveillance video on it and when you have a known area where there’s a gang hanging out or something, you just park it in the street and it basically records everything.”

Local station WFIE reports that they do not know how much one of these trucks is going to cost or even how it would be paid for, but it is quite obvious that the taxpayer will end up footing the bill one way or another as we always do.

Some other instances of these surveillance vehicles, which some might characterize as mobile harassment platforms, include another armored truck outfitted with video surveillance equipment in Green Bay, Wisconsin also dubbed the “Armadillo.”

The Green Bay Police Department calls it a “Nuisance Abatement Video Surveillance Vehicle” which they claim will “restore peace and order to neighborhoods that are experiencing social disorder.”

They say the idea came from the Peoria police department and their project was funded partially through donations including a $1,400 donation from Neighbors Against Drugs and the Navarino Neighborhood Association.

This donation – which I would call a lobbying effort – resulted in the Armadillo’s first deployment being the Navarino Neighborhood in front of a house from which problems have allegedly emanated.

What are these problems that so desperately require an armored surveillance truck? Well, Green Bay police say, “Most of the calls involve disturbances and noise complaints which dramatically affect the quality of life in that neighborhood.”

“Police will continue to utilize the Armadillo to address future nuisance properties and assist neighborhoods in restoring peace and order, or in deterring possible drug activity, or other illegal behaviors,” they say.

I find it incredibly absurd that such a measure is taken to combat nothing other than noise complaints. If this keeps up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see officers armed with assault rifles and full body armor responding to complaints dealing with loud music.

It seems that the Armadillo in Peoria has become a blueprint for other departments across the United States with police in Lafayette, Louisiana deploying a “Crime Suppression Surveillance Vehicle,” also called the Armadillo, in their own city.

This Armadillo is also a refurbished armored truck and will be targeting areas which are supposedly known for their drug activity and other crime problems, according to the Associated Press.

Once again, the truck came from Brink’s, although in this case it was donated and originally used by the Lafayette Police Department’s SWAT team.

Jim Craft, the Lafayette Police Chief says he decided to change the truck from a SWAT vehicle to a surveillance platform after Joey Durel, the City-Parish President, sent him a story about the original Armadillo in Peoria.

Lafayette’s Armadillo is outfitted with surveillance cameras and other equipment which were donated by an unnamed local store.

St. Louis, Missouri’s Metro Police Department has jumped on the bandwagon as well, with the deployment of another armored car outfitted with surveillance equipment.

The vehicle, like so many others, was obtained from Brink’s for the sum of $10, just like Peoria. In addition to all of the high-tech surveillance equipment, the truck is upgraded with “hardening” features like ballistic headlights and is reportedly able to provide 360-degree surveillance of multiple square blocks in real time.

St. Louis Metro PD’s Captain Joseph Speiss says that they plan to use the truck as a so-called Nuisance Abatement Vehicle, not a tactical vehicle, which act as an “in your face” surveillance platform.

Speiss says that it will be mostly used to target “nuisance properties” which “could be a business or it could be a residence. My intention is to look at the properties we’re having the most problems with — the most complaints, calls for service, assault reports, drug activity, and repeated complaints from neighbors.”

He said it is meant to send a clear signal “that we’re aware of the behavior, and we’re not going anywhere.”

However, like I previously mentioned, it also makes it clear to anyone in the vicinity that the business or residence is under constant surveillance and thus makes observers believe that the location is home to criminals and illicit activity, even if it isn’t.

This vehicle allows officers to get around that pesky thing called “probable cause,” as highlighted by Capt. Speiss when he said, “Sometimes you don’t have enough for a search warrant for things like drinking or loud noise, but clearly it’s something nobody wants to live next to.”

Police Magazine makes it clear why these trucks are so popular by writing, “Because officers have yet to establish probable cause to obtain a search warrant, these properties can be troublesome for drug enforcement. The properties are often well known by officers and have been a sore spot with the city’s code-enforcement division that has been documenting neighbor complaints. Once enough documentation has been collected, a cease-and-desist order is filed against the property. If activity continues, the department can issue a summons.”

I find it somewhat troubling that they’re so openly advocating the use of this type of equipment to make an end-run around the legal system, but then again I shouldn’t be surprised in today’s climate where police are treated as somehow above the law and able to murder and brutally assault innocent people with impunity.

These are just a couple brief examples of how this type of technology is becoming a widespread issue across America and coupled with the knowledge of the Pentagon’s 1033 program and the nonsensical deployment of military vehicles to peaceful protests, paints an unpleasant picture of the militarization of domestic law enforcement.

It is quite clear that some companies support this trend, like Brink’s, which has been providing many of the vehicles and other companies which sell them new and seek to profit off of this new law enforcement practice.

Unfortunately, as long as there is money to be made, companies will seek to exploit the market as much as possible and thus I doubt this trend is one which will end any time soon.

Police departments also seem to be taking cues from each other and appear quite happy about their decisions, which further strengthens my suspicion that this is going to become a much more widespread practice.

Once again, I hope that I am wrong and this trend will fizzle out soon without too many of these mobile police harassment platforms plaguing the streets of the United States but unfortunately there are no indications that this is the case. 

This article first appeared at EndtheLie.com

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on Orion Talk Radio from 8 pm — 10 pm Pacific, which you can find HERE.  If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com

Big Brother Internet

Paul Craig Roberts
Infowars.com
January 30, 2012

Dear friends: I am pleased to bring to you Gerald Celente’s assessment of the threats posed to Internet freedom. Celente’s Trends Journal is one of the most insightful publications of our era. PCR

Do you remember the Safe-Cyber instructions they taught you in the mandatory Computer Ed class (operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)? First you fire up your Secured Computing Device (SCD) and its hardware token authenticator.

Then you enter the six-digit algorithmically generated password displayed (a new one flashes every 60 seconds) and are asked to supply your biometric identifier. You place your thumb on the built-in fingerprint pad, click, and wait for the Internet connection to begin. But it doesn’t.

Instead, the screen goes black for a second before the dreaded words appear: “Malware has been detected on this SCD. As mandated by federal law, it has been placed in quarantine.” Then the machine shuts down.

This is not just conjecture, but an imminent scenario. Policies, such as the White House proposed “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” which will transform the character, culture and freedom of the Internet, are already in place. The 20 cybersecurity-related bills introduced in the Senate in 2011, and the dozen introduced in the House of Representatives, have wound their way through committees and, according to Senator Harry Reid, are scheduled to be voted on in the first quarter of 2012. Almost all of them, with the blessing of the White House, would make the Department of Homeland Security the overseer of private-sector networks.

Considering the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from Washington and the ranks of cybersecurity experts – echoed by media reports that portray every picayune data breach as Armageddon – it would appear that the vulnerability of the Internet has been underplayed for many years.

In the Internet’s start-up decades, both industry and government were committed to establishing an atmosphere of trust that would draw the public into conducting more and more digital business. Though data breaches, theft of trade secrets, identity theft and bank robbery have been a fact of Internet life since its beginnings, there were few laws requiring disclosure. Banks and credit card firms ate their losses as a cost of doing business, and the giant corporations kept mum rather than roil the public. Recently, the pendulum has swung in the other direction and a raucous alarm has been sounded regarding the great danger posed by the Internet.

The Nation is at a crossroads. The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as “cyberspace” underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety, and national security. This technology has transformed the global economy and connected people in ways never imagined. Yet, cybersecurity risks pose some of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st century. The digital infrastructure’s architecture was driven more by considerations of interoperability and efficiency than of security. Consequently, a growing array of state and non-state actors are compromising, stealing, changing, or destroying information and could cause critical disruptions to U.S. systems. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)

While there may be other factors behind the current wave of cybersecurity alarmism, we have identified three major forces: The Government, the Cybersecurity-Industrial complex, and the so-called “Hacktivists.”

The Hacktivists LulzSec and Anonymous, the most-publicized of the hacktivists, along with a growing community of ad hoc cyberactors, have had a multi-faceted impact on the cybersecurity environment that goes far beyond the number of hackers at work or the amount of actual damage their exploits have inflicted.

They have skillfully publicized their outsized, headline-ready cyberintrusions. Their attacks, which are something other than the garden variety cybercrime, have compromised the web assets of Sony, the CIA, Fox News, the Church of Scientology, Bank of America and many more. Beyond the financial damage and security breaches, they’ve created a public relations nightmare forcing these major institutions to go public with what they would otherwise go to great lengths to conceal.

As a result, attention has been focused on the inadequacies of Internet security. If organizations as large, powerful and security-conscious as these are vulnerable, who then is safe? Not only have the targets been breached and embarrassed, consumer trust in the Internet has also been shaken.

These high profile, anarchic Internet exploits – compounded by the role of social media in evading and undermining government control of the political and media arena (Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) – have intensified government efforts to clamp down on the Internet … while providing the media with scary cyber-stories to further that agenda.

The Government The US government agenda to control the Internet is at least a decade old. Just three months after the Bush White House created the Department of Homeland Security, it issued “The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.” The document begins:

My Fellow Americans:
The way business is transacted, government operates, and national defense is conducted have changed. These activities now rely on an interdependent network of information technology infrastructures called cyberspace. The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace provides a framework for protecting this infrastructure that is essential to our economy, security, and way of life.

In the past few years, threats in cyberspace have risen dramatically. The policy of the United States is to protect against the debilitating disruption of the operation of information systems for critical infrastructures and, thereby, help to protect the people, economy, and national security of the United States.

Nearly a decade later, the basic message from the White House sounds much the same, if louder and more urgent. But there is a big difference. President Obama, and the rest of the Beltway insiders, have now formally defined cyberspace as a “strategic national asset.”

On the face of it, this appears to be a reasonable approach for a world that has become, in a relatively short time, totally dependent on digital resources. Unfortunately, it is an approach that provides a straight path to the militarization of the Internet and the loss of liberty that will follow. It is an approach that will elevate the most common forms of cybercrime (bank robbery, credit card theft) to the high-alert status of a cyberwar attack.

This government mindset will lead to the same abrogation of individual rights in cyberspace as the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 has codified in “Battlefield America.”

Given the integrated nature of cyberspace, computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption. DoD operations – both at home and abroad – are dependent on this critical infrastructure. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses erode both U.S. military effectiveness and national competitiveness in the global economy. Cyber hygiene must be practiced by everyone at all times; it is just as important for individuals to be focused on protecting themselves as it is to keep security software and operating systems up to date. (Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, July 2011)

Many Internet experts and cybersecurity professionals have deemed 2011 “The Year of the Hack,” in recognition of the unending stream of headlines related to data breaches and thefts. We believe that – aside from any real uptick in cybercrime or cyberwarfare skirmishes – this perception is the result of the government’s determination to soften up the public to meekly accept an upcoming barrage of Internet regulation. It is a digital-age version of the tried and true fear mongering that is always employed to further empower the president and further enrich the military/industrial and Homeland Security complex. The government says it’s not fear mongering, just education.

The national dialogue on cybersecurity must begin today. The government, working with industry, should explain this challenge and discuss what the Nation can do to solve problems in a way that the American people can appreciate the need for action. People cannot value security without first understanding how much is at risk. Therefore, the Federal government should initiate a national public awareness and education campaign informed by previous successful campaigns. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)

The Prominence of the Non-military Aspects of Warfare. Non-military means of warfare, such as cyber, economic, resource, psychological, and information-based forms of conflict will become more prevalent in conflicts over the next two decades. In the future, states and non-state adversaries will engage in “media warfare” to dominate the 24-hour news cycle and manipulate public opinion to advance their own agenda and gain popular support for their cause. (“Global Trends 2025,” National Intelligence Council, 2008)

The Money Card A key point being used to “educate” the public is the putative astronomical monetary loss caused by cybercrime in all its forms. There is, of course, no way to ascertain the validity of these numbers or even to figure out just what kind of losses are included in the estimates, which are generally arrived at by the large cybersecurity corporations. Some loss-figures appear to include the fall in a company’s stock price that usually follows revelation of a major hack (but doesn’t adjust that figure when the stock price climbs back up), as well as adding in an arbitrary sum attributable to time lost in recovery.

The largest global estimate of money lost to cybercrime currently floating around – as totted up by McAfee, the world’s largest cybersecurity company and endorsed by the White House – is $1 trillion a year. Symantec Corp., another cybersecurity giant, calculates the annual toll of global cybercrime to be about $388 billion. For dramatic impact, Symantec notes that figure is greater than the black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. Either of those (wildly divergent) sums is impressive, but do they mean anything? Or are they just part of a government “education campaign modeled on previous successful campaigns,” such as selling the public on the certainty of WMDs in Hussein’s Iraq?

Far from being broadly based estimates of losses across the population, the cyber-crime estimates that we have appear to be largely the answers of a handful of people extrapolated to the whole population. A single individual who claims $50,000 losses, in an N = 1000 person survey, is all it takes to generate a $10 billion loss over the population. One unverified claim of $7,500 in phishing losses translates into $1.5 billion.

Our assessment of the quality of cyber-crime surveys is harsh: they are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings.

There has long been a shortage of hard data about information security failures, as many of the available statistics are not only poor but are collected by parties such as security vendors or law enforcement agencies that have a vested interest in under- or over-reporting. (“Sex, Lies and Cyber-crime Surveys,” Microsoft Research)

The Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex The fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding cyberspace has helped turn cybersecurity into an enormously profitable business, worth between $60 and $100 billion a year, depending on who’s providing the statistics. The sector is expected to grow 10 percent annually for at least the next five years. You don’t have to attribute any ethical lapses in the cybersecurity industry to recognize that it, like the government, has a great interest in “educating” the public in cybersecurity awareness.

Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network that hackers will be unable to penetrate. (Reuters, 27 May 2011)

“I am convinced that every company in every conceivable industry with significant size and valuable intellectual property and trade secrets has been compromised (or will be shortly), with the great majority of the victims rarely discovering the intrusion or its impact …. In fact, I divide the entire set of Fortune Global 2,000 firms into two categories: those that know they’ve been compromised and those that don’t yet know.” – Dmitri Alperovitch, Vice President of Threat Research for McAfee

The military-industrial complex of the Cold War era has morphed into the cybersecurity-military/industrial-Homeland Security complex of the Cyber War era … to which there is no end in sight. With the cybersecurity industry creating the technology required to stem the very cyberattacks they are in charge of discovering and monitoring, we face an endless cyberarms race that will undoubtedly be fed on exaggerations of the virtual menace and our vulnerability to it.

On the heels of the fear and hysteria will come the firm push for strict control and regulation of the Internet. It will be championed by government and industry as the necessary response to cyberwar, cyberterrorism, and cybercrime which, since cyberspace is considered a “strategic national asset,” are essentially all the same.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) for instance, which is scheduled for a vote in 2012, will take a page from the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2012. In order to protect the rights of copyright holders to profit from their intellectual property, SOPA would permit the dissolution of due process and open the door wide to censorship and the denial of the right to free speech. The bill, supporters suggest, is not just about recovering the billions lost to bootlegged movies and music, rather, it’s about protecting the military strength that ultimately depends on economic vitality.

We agree with The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called SOPA the most extreme, anti-Internet, anti-privacy, anti-free speech copyright proposal in US legislative history. It is, however, only one of many legislative proposals likely to be steamrollered through Congress in the coming year.

Computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Labs, envisions the “passportization” of the Internet. In his opinion, to access critical online services, such as banking or electronic voting, “it should be made mandatory to log-on only with the use of a unique personal identifier [for example, a token – a sort of cyber-passport] and establish a secure authoring connection.”

Microsoft has proposed what it calls a “public health model” for the Internet. Cybercitizens would be required to have a “clean bill of health,” make their computers open to inspection, and, if contaminated by a virus or other malware, be prepared for quarantine.

President Obama’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is pushing for development and public adoption of Internet user authentication systems that will function as a driver’s license for the cyberhighway.

Government control of the flow of information will strike a blow against Internet anonymity and the free speech it has made possible. Driver’s license, bill of health, passport, whatever you call it – it’s all about the ability to track and control the individual. Today, traffic in copyrighted digital material is the criminal behavior supposedly under attack; tomorrow, it will be the ability to speak out against corrupt government.

Hello, Big Brother.

Trendpost: The demand for ever-more effective cybersecurity tools to counter the ever-more inventive depredations of cybercriminals and cyberwarriors will be with us far into the foreseeable future. Clearly, this situation will create many jobs, both for the formally educated and the creative hacker. In addition, The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education – established to provide cyber-awareness training to students in Kindergarten through post-graduate programs – will need many specialized teachers.

Somewhat farther along on the timeline, there is a high likelihood that the manufacture of cyber-components will be repatriated to the US. The 2011 Department of Defense’s “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” notes: “The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas. The reliance of DoD on foreign manufacturing and development creates challenges in managing risk at points of design, manufacture, service, distribution, and disposal.”

A high probability exists that 2012 will bring revelations about contamination in the global IT hardware and software supply chain and proof that computer components are providing our “enemies” with entry to critical networks or transmitting sensitive information to them. This will turn the DoD’s security concern into a hot imperative.

Paul Craig Roberts’ article first appeared at his website Institute For Political Economy. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books including The Tyranny of Good Intentions and How the Economy Was Lost.

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JERICHO Ending – Are You Willing To Help “Make History”?

ACTA: The Corporate Usurpation of the Internet

Nile Bowie
Activist Post

In the wake of a public outcry against internet regulation bills such as SOPA and PIPA, representatives of the EU have signed a new and far more threatening legislation yesterday in Tokyo. Spearheaded by the governments of the United States and Japan and constructed largely in the absence of public awareness, the measures of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) dramatically alter current international legal framework, while introducing the first substantial processes of global internet governance. With complete contempt towards the democratic process, the negotiations of the treaty were exclusively held between industry representatives and government officials, while excluding elected representatives and members of the press from their hearings.
Under the guise of protecting intellectual property rights, the treaty introduces measures that would allow the private sector to enforce sweeping central authority over internet content. The ACTA abolishes all legal oversight involving the removal of content and allows copyright holders to force ISPs to remove material from the internet, something that presently requires a court order. ISPs would then be faced with legal liabilities if they chose not to remove content. Theoretically, personal blogs can be removed for using company logos without permission or simply linking to copy written material; users could be criminalized, barred from accessing the internet and even imprisoned for sharing copyrighted material. Ultimately, these implications would be starkly detrimental toward the internet as a medium for free speech.
The Obama Administration subverted the legal necessity of allowing to US Senate to ratify the treaty by unconstitutionally declaring it an “executive agreement” before the President promptly signed it on October 1st, 2011. As a touted constitutional lawyer, Barack Obama is fully aware that Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, mandates Congress in dealing with issues of intellectual property, thus voiding the capacity for the President to issue an executive agreement. The White House refused to even disclose details about the legislation to elected officials and civil libertarians over concern that doing so may incur “damage to the national security.” While some may hang off every word of his sorely insincere speeches and still be fixated by the promises of hope offered by brand-Obama, his administration has trampled the constitution and introduced the most comprehensive authoritarian legislation in America’s history.
In addition to imposing loosely defined criminal sanctions to average web users, the ACTA treaty will also obligate ISPs to disclose personal user information to copyright holders. The measures introduce legislative processes that contradict the legal framework of participant countries and allows immigration authorities to search laptops, external hard drives and Internet-capable devices at airports and border checkpoints. The treaty is not limited solely to internet-related matters, ACTA would prohibit the production of generic pharmaceuticals and outlaw the use of certain seeds for crops through patents, furthering the corporate cartelization of the food and drug supply.
ACTA would allow companies from any participating country (which include EU member states, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Morocco) to shut down websites without any explanation. Hypothetically, nothing could prevent private Singaporean companies from promptly taking down American websites that oppose the Singapore Air Force conducting war games on US soil, such as those conducted in December 2011. By operating outside normal judicial framework, exporting US copyright law to the rest of the world and mandating private corporations to conduct surveillance on their users, all prerequisites of democracy, transparency and self-expression are an afterthought.
Under the sweeping regulations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, individual infringers will be criminalized and sentenced with the same severity as large-scale offenders. Within the United States, the recently announced Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) H.R. 3782 regulation seeks to install policies largely identical to SOPA and PIPA. The Obama administration is also working towards an Internet ID program, which may be mandatory for American citizens and required when renewing passports, obtaining federal licenses, or applying for social security. Spreading these dangerous measures to other countries participating in these treaties would necessitate a binding obligation on the US to retain these policies, averting any chance of reform.
The ACTA will become law once it is formally ratified and cleared by the European Parliament in June. By petitioning members of the European parliament and educating others about the potential dangers imposed by this legislation, there is a chance of the treaty being rejected. Upon closer examination of the human condition with all of its inequalities, food insecurity and dire social issues, our governments have lost their legitimacy for giving such unwarranted priority to fighting copyright infringement on behalf of lobbyists from the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries. The existence of ACTA is a clear statement that surveillance, regulations and securing further corporate centralization dwarfs any constructive shift towards stimulating human innovation and self-sufficient technologies.
When former US National Security Advisor and Trilateral Commission co-founder, Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations in 2010, he warned of a global political awakening beginning to take place. Technology such as file sharing, blogging, and open source software has the potential to undermine the oligarchical governing interests seeking to centrally control our society and enforce the population into being entirely dependent on their commodities. The following excerpt from Brzezinski’s book Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, provides invaluable insight into the world being brought in; “The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.”

Article originally posted here.

Nile Bowie is a freelance writer and photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; please visit and support his personal blog at http://nilebowie.blogspot.com/.

The U.S. Constitution Vs. Law Enforcement Surveillance Technology

A look at the future of  police surveillance and the US Constitution

The Intel Hub
By Michelle Jones
January 26, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that law enforcement could not use GPS technology to track cars or their occupants without a warrant issued by a judge.

This judgement was not expected given the Supreme Courts record on upholding law enforcements actions that trample on the Constitutional rights of the American people.

A similar case, Olmstead V. United States, came before the Supreme Court in 1928. This case involved the use of wire tapping and whether or not it violated the fourth and fifth amendments.

The plaintiffs argued that wire tapping violated Olmsteads fourth and fifth amendment rights guaranteed under the Constitution and that wiretapping was the same as illegal search and seizure and therefore in violation of the Constitutional rights of all United States citizens.

The Supreme Court justices at the time of the ruling did not see it that way, stating:

“By the invention of the telephone fifty years ago and its application for the purpose of extending communications, one can talk with another at a far distant place. The language of the Amendment cannot be extended and expanded to include telephone wires reaching to the whole world from the defendant’s house or office. The intervening wires are not part of his house or office any more than are the highways along which they are stretched….We think, therefore, that the wiretapping here disclosed did not amount to a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. –Chief Justice Taft “

What caught my attention the most in the transcripts of this case were the words of the plaintiffs legal counsel regarding future technology and the governing of law enforcement.

Legal counsel argued that:

” This Court has repeatedly sustained the exercise of power by Congress, under various clauses of that instrument, over objects of which the Fathers could not have dreamed…”

This statement recognizes the burden of the Supreme Court Justices who must expound the words of the Constitution daily, interpreting each amendment and it’s meaning in an evolving technological world. The Supreme Court may have ruled that it was not illegal to wiretap but not all of the presiding judges agreed with the decision of the majority.

Justice Louis Brandeis, a presiding judge on the Olmstead case,  wrote a very strong dissent documenting his differing opinion with the majority.

Brandeis, whose impartial opinions and strong hitting evidence earned him a reputation as a ” Robin Hood ” lawyer that represented the people, often only accepted cases in which he was fighting on the side of the people and the Constitution.

High profile cases that contained infringements on the defendants Constitutional rights to privacy or free speech were often discovered to have been argued by Brandeis. He fought for the rights of the people in cases that involved freedom of speech, right to privacy, and anti trust issues.

Brandeis dissent on the Olmstead case set the tone for many future judicial decisions regarding wiretapping and the Constitutional rights of those the wiretaps are trespassed upon.

You can read the dissent here:
http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/bill_of_rights/case%20materials/olmstead/olmstead_supreme_court_opinion.pdf

Read the whole transcript here:
http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/bill_of_rights/olmstead_materials.htm

Brandeis vision of the possible future of technology spurred his thought provoking dissent on the dangers of allowing wiretapping without a warrant.

Brandeis argued that this decision would open the door for future Constitutional rights violations by law enforcement as technology in surveillance gathering evolved.

Foreseeing gadgets that would be able to spy on citizens and gather intelligence without being in violation of the citizens Constitutional rights were the basis of Brandeis dissent.

Brandeis wrote:

“Time works changes, brings into existence new conditions and purposes. Subtler and more far-reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the Government. Discovery and invention have made it possible for the Government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet ”

The Supreme Court ruling in the Olmstead decision based on the expounding conclusions of the justices in today’s technological world have left a large gap as to where surveillance and the Constitutional rights of the people meet.

For example, GPS tracking used to require the unauthorized tampering of the vehicle being tracked by placement of the GPS monitor on the car. This action would result in a direct violation of the fourth and fifth amendments of the Constitution, based on the argument of the majority’s ruling.

Yet with further technological advancement, GPS tracking has become a grey line based on the same ruling, with companies like OnStar opening the way to tracking systems being built into the vehicles as part of their standard sales package thus eliminating the need to violate the personal property of the suspect in order to track them via GPS and therefore supposedly not violating their Constitutional rights, again based on the majority’s ruling.

With unclear defining lines of previous court rulings we find surveillance of law enforcement and the Constitutional rights of the people on the docket once again.

On the same day that the courts ruled GPS tracking by law enforcement must accompany a warrant, an article appeared in the Homeland Security News Wire that touted new technologies that will improve the safety of the public and law enforcement in the event of a high speed chase.

The article stated that:

“Thanks to OnStar, cars made by General Motors with the security and navigation system installed can be shut down remotely by law enforcement officials….”

Clearly the Supreme Courts ruling will be tested repeatedly as technology of law enforcement advances.

With the newest civilian “spy” gadget already gaining public opposition as an unconstitutional way to gather intelligence on the general public, the future is sure to see numerous more Supreme Court cases involving law enforcements use of drones and their legal legitimacy vs. the rights of the American citizens under the fourth and fifth amendments of the Constitution.

Opening A New Theater of War In The North American Homeland

The Intel Hub
By Saman MohammadiContributing Writer
January 25, 2012

State of Emergency Communique #1: America, Canada, and Mexico are financially and mentally colonized nations. But financial fraud and media propaganda are no longer enough to keep the people down. Due to the political awakening across the continent the need for the boots has come.

“It is clear that there has been a sustained move in the direction of martial law preparations, a trend that has been as continuous as it has been unheralded.” – Professor Peter Dale Scott, “War, Martial Law, and the Economic Crisis,” Global Research, February 23, 2011.

“They take our tax money and then militarize the police, and use the regular military against us.” – Alex Jones, “Military Industrial Complex has declared war on the US,” Russia Today, January 19, 2012.

“It’s not just for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars anymore. The Department of Homeland Security is interested in a camera package that can peek in on almost four square miles of (Constitutionally-protected) American territory for long, long stretches of time.Homeland Security doesn’t have a particular system in mind. Right now, it’s just soliciting “industry feedback” on what a formal call for such a “Wide Area Surveillance System” might look like. But it’s the latest indication of how powerful military surveillance technology, developed to find foreign insurgents and terrorists, is migrating to the home front.” – Spencer Ackerman, “Homeland Security Wants To Spy On 4 Square Miles At Once,” Wired, January 23, 2012.

“There is a genuine, dangerous disconnect between the Washington foreign policy apparat and the broad American people as a whole. And I think you saw evidence of this on February 15 (2003), when there were peace demonstrations in as many as 300 American cities. And I think that there is a real difference between what I call the American oligarchy, which now pretty much controls not only the White House but the Congress and the Supreme Court, and the American democracy.” – Lewis Lapham, “Lewis Lapham’s attack on American plutocracy,” Allan Gregg’s YouTube Channel, January 20, 2011, (Original broadcast: March 2003).

“How low have we sunk, Mr. Obama? You portray yourself as a man of honor and a defender of constitutionalism, but you have opened the gates to lawlessness and authoritarian rule.” – Philip Giraldi, “Creating American Terrorists,” The Council For The National Interest, January 19, 2012.

“A North American Homeland Security perimeter goes well beyond keeping people safe from any perceived threats. It is a means to secure trade, resources, as well as corporate interests and is a pretext for control over the continent.” – Dana Gabriel, “The Pretext for a North American Homeland Security Perimeter,” Be Your Own Leader, December 11, 2011.

“All the power and policy of man cannot continue a system long after its truth has ceased to be acknowledged, or an establishment long after it has ceased to contribute to utility. It is equally vain, as to expect to preserve a tree, whose roots are cut away. It may look as green and flourishing as before for a short time, but its sentence is passed, its principle of life is gone, and death is already within it.” – Anna Letitia Barbauld, Selected Poetry & Prose, pg. 275-276.

The process of global state-building has been going on for a long time. At the mid-way point of the existence of the American republic the U.S. Constitution came under attack and America’s national sovereignty was destroyed by international banks and corporations.

The U.S. Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, but by 1900 it was already coming undone by traitors from within Washington and ambitions bankers from beyond her shores who invaded America with suitcases full of money instead of armies and tanks.

From 1900 to 1912 they engineered various financial crises in order to consolidate financial and political power. The bought off media misdirected public attention away from their criminal actions and towards an anti-capitalism/anti-free market narrative.

Then in 1913 the Federal Reserve Act effectively ended constitutional rule in the United States and recolonized the American people.

Under the Act, the power to create and lend money, which is the greatest power a government can have, was repossessed by the private bankers connected to the British aristocracy who were defeated by the American founding fathers and the American people in America’s First War of Independence.

I say “First” because it is clear that a Second War of Independence needs to be fought in the 21st century against the private bankers and the fascist multinational corporations connected to them that have robbed America blind and destroyed its social fabric.

But this time the pawns with the guns drawn are not foreign imperial troops, nor are they gentlemanly soldiers in red coats. The pawns in the 21st century American police state are ruthless and arrogant scum who have been trained to smash in faces and pull out eyeballs.

Police officers pepper sprayed university students in the face on a bright sunny day when everything seemed relatively peaceful and orderly. Imagine what these lawless goons in uniform will do to ordinary citizens and protesters when martial law is declared, order in the streets is gone, and mobs roam through stores like wild dogs.

When Martial Law is declared and social order breaks down, North America will become the battlefield that the military and civilian planners in Washington intended it to be all along. Indefinite detention centers will come into use. Also, the war on the Internet and free press will turn very real and very deadly.

I expect that Middle Eastern war zones will look pretty tame by comparison to some of the war zones on the North American continent. After all, the land of the gun can only be pacified by the gun.

All the police state laws since the false flag 9/11 attacks have contributed to the process of global state-building and the establishment of a universal slave grid system.

The unstated objective of this new international system is permanent bondage of the people. The criminal and Satanic elite want to gain complete control of the planet and human destiny. According to historian Webster Tarpley, radio host Alex Jones, and others, large pockets of the middle class and the underclass will be exterminated under this system of mass death.

This is where Homeland Security comes in. It has been set up as an extrajudicial killing and spying machine. But its undercover anti-democratic and eugenicist operations are being concealed behind false narratives like the war on terror and false aims like domestic security.

Homeland Security’s tyrannical reach also extends into Canada. The usurpation of Canada’s national sovereignty by political and corporate elites means Canada, like America, is a wilderness without laws and institutions.

We are witnessing the re-colonization of the North American continent. This time around, however, the colonizers do not speak a foreign language.); ?–> We are witnessing the re-colonization of the North American continent. This time around, however, the colonizers do not speak a foreign language.

Dana Gabriel highlighted the consolidation of political power and natural resources by the plutocrats in North America on December 11, 2011, in an article called, “The Pretext for a North American Homeland Security Perimeter”:

On December 7, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. The new deal focuses on addressing security threats early, facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs, integrating cross-border law enforcement, as well as improving infrastructure and cyber-security.

While the perimeter agreement is being sold as vital to the safety and prosperity of Canadians and Americans alike, there is little doubt that it will mean a tradeoff between sovereignty and security. Any deal which gives the Department of Homeland Security more personal information poses a serious risk to privacy rights. As both countries move forward, perimeter security will be further defined and dominated by American interests. This could force Canada to comply with any new U.S. security measures, regardless of the dangers they may pose to civil liberties. A North American Homeland Security perimeter goes well beyond keeping people safe from any perceived threats. It is a means to secure trade, resources, as well as corporate interests and is a pretext for control over the continent.

Things will get messy once the people in America and Canada wake up and discover that both countries have been colonized by international banks and corporations behind their backs.

In a state of martial law, dissidents, bloggers, fact-based journalists, anti-war activists, gun owners, Occupy Wall Street activists, and Tea Party activists will all be deemed “domestic terrorists” and taken away into secret dungeons by the brainwashed pawns of the global corporatist state.

Tom Burghardt wrote on October 11, 2008, in his article, “Militarizing the “Homeland” in Response to the Economic and Political Crisis”:

Wholesale spying on activists by the Pentagon’s now defunct Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), as well as revelations that State police agencies in Maryland routinely spied on antiwar organizers, shared this information with the National Security Agency and classified them as “terrorists” in government-run databases, are viewed as exemplary means to “keep the rabble in line”–and under wraps, if necessary.

A highly-disturbing report by Christopher Ketchum in the May/June 2008 issue of Radar Magazine, outlined how the top secret Main Core database linked to Continuity of Government contingency planning, “includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protesters, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.”

Reporting in July for Salon, investigative journalist Tim Shorrock was told by a source that Main Core is “‘an emergency internal security database system’ designed for use by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law. Its name … is derived from the fact that it contains ‘copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community’.”

Those who still believe that the criminal hijackers of our governments, “won’t order the military and police to shoot to kill dissidents and protesters,” are stuck in la la land.

They can’t see that North America is already being treated by the elites and government authorities as a theater of war. They can’t see that the mouse traps have been laid and that the maze of slavery has been designed to the last detail.

Staying blind doesn’t make the political crisis go away or the reality of war and tyranny disappear into the background of life.

A reckoning is coming. There is no sense in remaining blind to it.

Saman Mohammadi in an indepdent journalist and frequent Intel Hub Contributor, he also writes on his own blog, The Excavator.