So much attention lately has been on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012(first S. 1867 in senate, and then it becomes HR1540 in the House), that most people have overlooked many other things that other governing bodies have been doing.
Today’s focus is on the Department of Homeland Security. That’s right – the FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF, and entire US Armed Forces have been so effective, that we ‘needed’ yet another entity to keep ‘us’ ‘safe’.
The head of the DHS is appointed by the president, and cannot be voted out. In addition, they can write laws, make mandates, arrest people without a warrant, and all this without once having to report why to congress. They are charged with Anti-terrorism, Disaster Recovery (including FEMA), and the protection of the nation’s Infrastructure (including the TSA). As such, they hold a tremendous amount of power.
Does anyone else out there find it even remotely disturbing how the DHS has enlisted ‘help’ from the boy scouts, the girl scouts, minor league baseball, Sesame Street, etc to help in disaster situations? In the Citizen Corp (a branch of FEMA, in turn a branch of the DHS), kids, and neighbors – anyone – can join. Having been FEMA certified in several areas in the year of 2007 as was mandated under my guard unit, I am not kidding when I say that FEMA encourages its Citizen Corp to keep tabs and make reports on their surrounding locals – including names, addresses, etc. Yet FEMA has no separate database of its own, and thus falls into the databases at the DHS.
All of this done without ever once consulting congress as the DHS is empowered by the executive branch. Now that you heard the best of it, let me get into its darker side.
[Federal Register: February 1, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 21)]
Title – Department of Homeland Security Office of Operations Coordination and Planning–004 Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational
Awareness Initiative System of Records.
“The NOC and participating components may share this de-identified information with international partners and the private sector where necessary and appropriate for coordination. While this Initiative is not designed to actively collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII), OPS are publishing this System of Records Notice (SORN) because the Initiative may collect PII for certain narrowly tailored categories. For example, in the event of an in extremis situation involving potential life and death, OPS will share certain PII with the responding authority in order for them to take the necessary actions to save a life, such as name and location of a person calling for help buried under rubble, or hiding in a hotel room when the hotel is under attack by terrorists.”
This simply means that even though they do not actively use your information, that they collect it anyway. It continues:
“The NOC will use Internet-based platforms that provide a variety of
ways to follow activity related to monitoring publicly available online
forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. Through the use of
publicly available search engines and content aggregators the NOC will
monitor activities on social media for information that the NOC can use
to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating
picture. The NOC will gather, store, analyze, and disseminate relevant
and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and
foreign governments, and private sector partners authorized to receive
situational awareness and a common operating picture. Under this
initiative, OPS generally will not: (1) Actively seek personally
identifiable information (PII); (2) post any information; (3) actively
seek to connect with other internal/external personal users; (4) accept
other internal/external personal users’ invitations to connect; or (5)
interact on social media sites. However, OPS is permitted to establish
user names and passwords to form profiles and follow relevant
government, media, and subject matter experts on social media sites in
order to use search tools under established criteria and search terms
for monitoring that supports providing situational awareness and
establishing a common operating picture. Furthermore, PII on the
following categories of individuals may be collected when it lends
credibility to the….”
Then entire document is about 5 pages long, but trust me – it gets better as you go on. This document is found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-2198.htm
Most people will justify this sort of nonsense with the old ‘but if it’s to get terrorists, then it’s a good thing!’
The truth is that government never defines terrorism. I remember in 2008 where so many people and government officials alike began to label the young tea party as home-grown terrorists. I remember the MIAC report that was withdrawn due to public outcry. The point is that the government’s definition of ‘terrorism’ is typically anything that threatens it, or its infrastructure.
Due to this lack of definition, we can only go by threats to the infrastructure which the government has published in many occasions. I leave it to the reader to Google what the government counts as infrastructure despite knowing the answer myself. Not because I am not being transparent – but out of freakin self preservation:
“(5)names of anchors, newscasters, or on-scene reporters who are known or identified as reporters in their post or article or who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed;”
are subject to the following information being gathered on them:
FEMA Form 85-3, National Defense Executive Reserve
Personal Qualifications Statement. This Form includes:
Social security number;
Home mailing address;
Home telephone number;
Home e-mail address;
Date of birth;
Employment experience; and
Other personnel and administrative records, skills
Nice huh? And under http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-25944.htm appendix C, the DHS claims exemption from many of its own rules in order to ‘better fulfill its mission’. In the same document it says that the DHS can suspend any normal investigative procedures against a suspect because it may ‘jeopardize the investigation’. In short – it can break its own rules where you cannot.
In addition, you don’t need to be a major news anchor – in the first document listed, one of the categories that allows them to track someone is:
” Names of anchors, newscasters, or on-scene reporters who are known or identified as reporters in their post or article or who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed;”
In other words, if you try to keep your fellow citizens informed of what its government is doing – you too are subject to being monitored.
So what just passed in congress is nothing compared to what is already being done by the good ol DHS. Once again – if you believe that all this will only be used against only terrorists, then why do they get personal information on you for trying to keep your fellow citizens informed? Also, why give all of the power from the people into the hands of a federal entity not answerable to congress who can break its own rules at will?
I am not a conspiracy nut, but one thing is for certain – Hitler would have loved to have this kind of power.