Tags: DHS

License Plate Readers Stir Controversy in California as the NYPD Prepares to Use Drones

One of the many civil liberties related themes I have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.

I’m no luddite saying that these technologies should be banned. In fact, I can certainly see reasonable uses for both within a broad range of society. However, I am saying that unless we have an engaged citizenry holding public officials’ feet to the fire, these technologies will certainly be abused and before you know it you’ll find yourself in Room 101 staring down at a ravenous rat army wishing you had said something earlier.

The biggest challenge we face is that the general public has become so dumbed down, distracted and confused when it comes to the most existential issues we face as a society. Rather than focusing on key issues that really matter, the mainstream media largely blows up and obsesses over immaterial, yet emotionally charged events that don’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.

License plate readers and drones are two great examples of this dilemma. Both have been advancing into our lives in an increasing manner and most people don’t have the slightest clue. How can people have informed opinions on such keys issues when they have no idea what is happening around them.

Let’s start with the license plate scanners. Before reading further, I suggest going back and checking out my post from earlier this year: How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America.

Now that you are sufficiently disturbed about the extent to which your privacy is being violated day in and day out, let’s focus on some good news. The fact that there is now a bill in the California state legislature that will attempt to put some boundaries around this technology.

We learn from CBS News that:

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The Department of Agriculture Launches Proposal to Purchase Submachine Guns

The following solicitation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture almost defies belief. We’ve seen this type of bizarre behavior before, but it has mostly originated from the American Gestapo, aka the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I highlighted this trend early last year in my post: Department of Homeland Security to Purchase 7,000 “Assault Weapons”.

Here’s a screenshot of the solicitation from the Department of Agriculture (click on the image to get to the source page):

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 11.05.18 AM

What is so important to understand about the current war/civil unrest cycle that the world has now entered into is that it will affect different regions and nations differently. It appears tensions in the Ukraine/Russia region and Asia/Pacific may rather quickly erupt into a war amongst nation-states. This could ultimately lead to a world war. For the United States region, I predict more of a rebellion and civil unrest scenario that consists of the status quo versus the people. I also think it’s obvious the status quo knows this, which is why they are stealing everything in sight and setting up a total surveillance state. Things are going to get dicey, but the status quo is in the wrong and they will need to be tossed aside peacefully.

The solicitation can be found here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger.

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Department of Homeland Security Moves to Install National License Plate Tracking System

*I have just been informed of some really great news. The DHS has canceled the plan due to outrage. This is what we can achieve if we are informed and keep the pressure on. I expect them to be back at it in the future, so stay vigilant. Article on the cancelation can be found here. I have left my original post intact below.

Earlier today, I highlighted a program planned by the FCC named the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed “government researchers” into media organizations in order to make sure they are doing their job properly. This insane anti-free press measure is extraordinarily disturbing and now we find out that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has plans to outsource the creation of a gigantic, comprehensive nationwide license plate database to a private corporation.

The status quo is now overtly doubling down on surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations rather than reigning them in. Game is on folks. Things are getting very serious.

From the Washington Post:

The Department of Homeland Security wants a private company to provide a national license-plate tracking system that would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers, according to a government proposal that does not specify what privacy safeguards would be put in place.

The national license-plate recognition database, which would draw data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, would help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the database could easily contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

It’s for the children! How can you object to saving the children!

“It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” she said.

Yeah, because that makes me feel so much better…

But civil liberties groups are not assuaged. “Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.”

The agency said the length of time the data is retained would be up to the winning vendor.Vigilant Solutions, for instance, one of the leading providers of tag-reader data, keeps its records indefinitely.

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Video of the Day: The Police State Arrives in Syracuse

In the off chance that you still think you are a free human being as opposed to a pig in a pen, look no further than what the TSA has just installed at the Syracuse airport. Apparently, it is no longer good enough to be screened as you enter the airport via either a naked body scanner or an invasive pat-down. No, that’s just not gonna cut it in the “war on terror.” Now you need to go through “exit pods” just to leave the airport.

If you don’t think this is ridiculous, you will put up with anything. Meanwhile. the pods were part of a $60 million renovation of the airport. Just more wealth extraction and waste from the opportunists in Washington D.C. Check out this clip from NBC describing these absolutely degrading and humiliating devices.

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What Happens in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas – New Street Lights Can Record Audio and Video

The Intellistreets system has finally come to the corridors of Las Vegas. So what is Intellistreets?

On its website, the system is described as “the only wireless information and control network for sustainability, security and entertainment.” Even more amusing, the company that owns the Intellistreets system is rather appropriately called Illuminating Concepts. The best part is that city officials claim “right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording device.”

This is far from the first time we have learned about the installation of devices that can record audio and video being surreptitiously put in public places. I covered this late last year with regard to how the Department of Homeland Security was using grants to fund the placement of such devices on buses in my piece: Public Buses Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations. 

Now from CNET:

Las Vegas, you see, has invested in Intellistreets. These aren’t streets that carry you along, so that you don’t have to put one foot in front of the other.

Instead, this is a lighting system that, as MyNews3 reported, enjoys “all sorts of fancy features.”

These lights can broadcast messages and play music. Which sounds very Vegas.

However, they have other aspects: they can shoot video and record sound.

This being Vegas, you will understand the words of Neil Rohleder of the city’s Public Works Department: “We want to develop an experience for the people who come downtown.”

But what kind of experience are they truly developing? The company behind Intellistreets, Illuminating Concepts has as its motto: “Assisting in the Creation of Memorable Environments since 1981.” The word “memorable” might interest some.

Las Vegas public works Director Jorge Cervantes told MyNews3 that this was all entirely innocent: “Right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording device. It’s just to provide output out there, not to get any feed or video feed coming back.”

Indeed, the explanatory video of how the system works spends most of its time presenting a compelling case for its excellence.

Near the end, however, there is this phrase: “Intellistreets also enables a myriad of homeland security features.”

This is what they look like.

Enjoy Big Brother Vegas.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States by Niels Gerson Lohman

I have been cursed at a Chinese border. In Dubai, my passport was studied by three veiled women for over an hour and my suitcase completely dismembered. In the Philippines I had to bribe someone in order to get my visa extended for a few days. Borders, they can be tough, especially in countries known for corruption.

But never, ever, will I return to the United States of America.

– Excerpt from a must read article by Niels Gerson Lohman

Recently, one of my best friends from college had a horrific experience at the Canadian border. He told me he would write about his experience and allow me to post it on this site, so I hope to have that up in the near future. In the meantime, please take the time to read the story of Niels Gerson Lohman, a Dutch writer, designer and musician who had such a horrific experience at the border he has vowed to never return to these United States. This is an utter embarrassment and reminds me a lot of one of the more popular posts ever on this site:  Why I’m Leaving America by Michael Fielding.

From the Huffington Post:

After a year of traveling, I had planned a last, short trip. I was going to take the train from Montreal to New Orleans. The travels I had been undertaking earlier this year had brought me to places that were meant to form the background of my second novel.

This trip, however, was for my dad. He, a trumpet player, loved New Orleans and had died a year ago. It felt like the first sensible trip I undertook this year. I had been searching for ways to forget about the last hours at his deathbed. He had been ill for 15 years and his body just would not give up. It was a violent sight. I had decided the trip to New Orleans would put an end to those memories.

The customs officer walked by and asked everybody on the train a few questions. Where they were from, where they were heading. The usual stuff. Everybody who was not a U.S. or Canadian citizen was to head for the dining car to fill in an additional green form.

I had not finished my novel yet, but my passport was complete. It was filled with pretty stamps. He did not like the stamps.

First, he saw my Sri Lankan stamp. The customs officer raised his eyebrows.

“Sri Lanka, what were you doing over there?”

“Surfing. Traveling. My best friend lives there. He is an architect.”

The officer flipped on, seemingly satisfied. Secondly, he found my stamps from Singapore and Malaysia.

“What were you doing over there? Singapore and Malaysia? Aren’t those countries Islamic?”

Looking over my shoulder, his eyes searched for his colleague’s confirmation.

“Malaysia, I think so, yeah. But not Singapore. It’s a melting pot. A very futuristic city. Airconditioned to the ceiling. To Singapore I went mostly for the food, to be honest.”

“Sure.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Nothing. And how about Malaysia?”

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TSA Air Marshal Arrested for Taking Photos Up Passengers’ Skirts

Let’s look at the latest scorecard in the so-called “war on terror.” We recently discovered that contrary to earlier estimates of 54 thwarted terror attacks, the NSA has actually only stopped “one or perhaps two” attacks. Furthermore, while it somehow couldn’t prevent the Boston attack, the FBI had no qualms with assassinating a friend of one of the suspects under highly suspicious circumstances. A bizarre situation to which we still have no answers.

It’s not just the NSA though. The kind folks at the TSA, you know the people who pat you down at the airport, apparently have a pervert employee problem (shocker). Specifically, a federal air marshal was arrested today in Nashville for taking photos up women’s skirts. While on duty.

From WKRN-TV in Nashville:

A federal air marshal was arrested on Thursday after he allegedly took cell phone photographs up passengers’ skirts.

According to a police affidavit, a witness grabbed Adam Bartsch’s cell phone after seeing him take the inappropriate photos and notified a flight attendant. 

Bartsch, who was on duty at the time, was removed from Southwest flight number 3132 and taken into police custody after admitting to taking 10 to 12 pictures underneath women’s skirts. 

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Meet “BOSS”: The Department of Homeland Security’s Facial Scanning Program

Ever heard of BOSS? Didn’t think so.

BOSS stands for Biometric Optical Surveillance System, and it is a crowd-scanning program that has been in development by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for almost three years now.

Did you catch that? This is the DHS, the ridiculously dangerous, cancerous, gargantuan waste of money our “leaders” foolishly created after 9/11 to prevent “terrorism.” Whereas in the beginning most people actually believed the DHS was there to stop cave dwellers with terroristic tendencies, it is now completely clear that its primary mission is to protect the oligarchs and political criminals from domestic dissent. For example, the New York Times notes that:

In a sign of how the use of such technologies can be developed for one use but then expanded to another, the BOSS research began as an effort to help the military detect potential suicide bombers and other terrorists overseas at “outdoor polling places in Afghanistan and Iraq,” among other sites, the documents show. But in 2010, the effort was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security to be developed for use instead by the police in the United States.

It now should be abundantly clear to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that the DHS has one mission and one mission only. Bring the degenerate activities we consistently engage in abroad back home for use on “we the people.” You know, to protect us. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

I’m sure the secret FISA court is all over it.

The automated matching of close-up photographs has improved greatly in recent years, and companies like Facebook have experimented with it using still pictures.

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Retired Marine Colonel to New Hampshire City Council: “We’re Building a Domestic Army”

We’re building a domestic army and we’re shrinking the military, because the government is afraid of its own citizens. The last time more than 10 terrorists were in the same place at one time was September 11th, and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it, nor would it have helped anybody. So I don’t know where we are going to use this many vehicles and this many troops…We’re building an army over here and I can’t believe people aren’t seeing it. Is everybody blind?

– Retired Marine Colonel Peter Martino

The above quote is taken from a powerful 4 minute video taken at a Concord, NH council meeting to discuss whether or not the city should proceed with a request to obtain a BearCat G3 armored vehicle. I reported on the controversy behind this vehicle request earlier in the week, after the city’s application was made public and showed officials explained it was needed to deal with “domestic terrorists,” which included libertarians and Occupy New Hampshire.

Colonel Martino warns us that the gear being worn by domestic law enforcement is the same combat gear that they wore in Iraq, except with a slightly different color. He receives a well deserved raucous applause at the end, and finishes with:

“There’s always free cheese in the mouse trap.”

Indeed.

 

IRS Agents are Training with AR-15 “Assault Weapons”

Another day, another headline that must surely be “conspiracy theory,” but unfortunately for us all turns out to be conspiracy fact.  While Obama was rolling out intense anti-gun propaganda and demonizing “assault weapons” such as the AR-15, his Administration seems to have no problem with the political group targeting, corrupt beyond belief IRS using them in training.  It’s simply mind-boggling to think about this bureaucracy being armed with such weapons, and totally exposes what I wrote at length about earlier this year:  The Gun Control Hypocrite.  From Politico:

As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said.

While Duncan acknowledges that the IRS has an enforcement division, he questions if that level of firepower is appropriate when they could coordinate operations with other agencies, like the FBI, especially in a time of austerity.

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