Big Brother Surveillance Threat, Part 1: Government Closing the Loop
This is Part One, of a series that Urban Survival Skills is calling "Big Brother Surveillance Threat" and is publishing, that are excerpts from a huge article titled "You Are a Criminal In a Mass Surveillance World – Here’s How Not To Get Caught", but David Montgomery and posted on Prepared Gun Owners.com
A Noose Around Our NecksMass surveillance equals perpetual uncertainty. No matter how honest and benevolent you consider the current American government, no one knows what laws a future regime will impose. Otto Frank never would have disclosed his family’s religion had he known it would lead to the murder of his loved ones a decade later. His family would have fled Germany and attempted to illegally immigrate elsewhere, as millions have done throughout history.
Living under mass surveillance is living with a noose around your neck. You can’t know what circumstances will cause you to hang. History is loaded with never-saw-that-coming catastrophes. The 20th century alone is an inconceivable horror – 262 million corpses engulfed in various government wars and genocides. That’s equivalent to every single adult living in America today suddenly perishing.
All the nightmare regimes of the past that kids study in school predate the era of computerized mass surveillance. The ability to lock down people’s lives instantly… to track them, analyze them, trap them, financially paralyze them, impersonate them, frame them, and apprehend them is unprecedented. Governments always seek to control the governed, but mass surveillance is the most powerful weapon of control ever devised. Because of its novelty, invisibility, and deep complexity, many people can’t comprehend its implications and therefore don’t defend against it.
Why You’re a CriminalWe unknowingly commit crimes, including felonies, in our day to day lives. The fact that we haven’t been caught is a matter of detection – namely, surveillance. As mass surveillance expands, the government’s crime detection capabilities increase exponentially.
“There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.” This warning is from John Baker, a retired law professor who tried in vain to count new federal crimes created in just the past few years. The same message comes from attorney Harvey Silverglate in his book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.
Because politicians have made us criminals, what the government knows about you can cost you your freedom. Understanding that is so important that you shouldn’t take anybody’s word for it. See for yourself.
Into the AbyssMost federal law is aggregated into the United States Code (USC) and theCode of Federal Regulations (CFR). Let’s start with the CFR. Go here, select a year from the menu, and click Go. A list of 50 Titles will appear (2015 is incomplete). Click on the Text link for any Title and start reading. You’ll see that some Titles have several volumes. For example, here’s Volume 1 of the 2014 Banks & Banking code, the first of ten volumes for that year alone.
If you’re anything like me, after a few minutes your brain will attempt to revolt. Push on and do your best to even vaguely understand what Congress – the lawmakers – demand of Americans. You’re up against literally hundreds of thousands of pages of legalese. Much may not apply to anything you’re currently doing in your life, but finding out what applies to you now and has applied to you in the past is, quite literally, impossible. And with thousands of new rules being created every year, you won’t know when you break new laws in the future either.
Need a breather? Have a laugh with me at the sinister humor of the CFR web site’s slogan: “Keeping America Informed.” How many Americans have even heard of the CFR, much less read a single sentence of its laws? What could possibly better illustrate the essence of propaganda double-talk than this slogan? When you tap out on the CFR, give the USC a browse.
But wait, there’s more. Thousands of pages more. The IRS Code is over 7,500 pages and 3.4 million words. When the IRS decides you’ve done something wrong, you are presumed guilty unless you manage to prove yourself innocent. Anyone who’s dealt with the IRS knows that the process is its own punishment. Now that tax forms are filed electronically, artificial intelligence and data mining increase the power to detect non-compliance exponentially.
You’ve seen it first-hand. The law is truly unknowable to the governed. Being a law-abiding citizen is a myth.Of course this is just federal law. Any adult can be prosecuted for a federal crime, but what about state crimes? State law is another incomprehensible morass – tens of thousands of pages of legalese per state. Cross an invisible line and the same act may no longer be a crime – or it may have twice the penalty. Wade into California’s legal code for a sample, or look up your own state and see for yourself. The abyss goes even deeper. There are thousands of county and municipal laws too.
Catch-22This demonstration wasn’t meant to depress you. Truth just sucks sometimes. In this case ignorance is anything but bliss.
Every single day ignorance of the law costs people their savings and their freedom. And here’s the awful Catch-22: Ignorance of the law is no defense, even though it’s literally impossible to comprehend what the government demands from us.
Good people everywhere have been turned into peaceful outlaws by politicians.We live our lives trapped in a ubiquitous but invisible scaffolding of rules. There is literally no aspect of our lives not subject to politicians’ orders.Everything that’s not forbidden requires government permission. What kind of society is this?
Crime Detection Is the Killer AppAs criminals we already have a noose around our necks. Crime detection is the terrorizing question that hangs over us. That millions of Americans are behind bars makes one thing clear: The government is zealous about enforcement. New prisons are being built every day. Prosecution isn’t a constraint either since only a handful of cases see a trial.
Crime detection is law enforcement’s biggest bottleneck, and that’s where Collect-It-All surveillance changes everything. Police already track you bywide-area surveillance, thousands of networked street-level cameras, auto-scanning license plates, drones, and spy planes, but that is primitive compared to what’s coming.
Computerized face recognition is already extremely accurate and fast. You can be matched against a nationwide database instantly. This technology will be integrated with the body cameras police now wear. You will be cataloged and tracked by your Universal Control Number (UCN). Yes, that’s really what it’s called. A friend of mine is an Auschwitz survivor. You can still read the “control number” tattooed on his arm.
Military contractor Lockheed Martin has for years been designing biometric surveillance systems to track us by our hand prints, face, voice, and walking gait. Their use for crime detection is unlimited. Anything that can be electronically measured can be the basis for automated crime detection. For example fingerprints can now reveal drug use.
Going forward mass surveillance will be combined with robotics to create law enforcers who will automatically scan and crime check you. The military-industrial complex is leading robotics development. As with bug-sized drones and MRAPs, the technology and equipment will cross-pollinate with domestic law enforcement.
Hopefully this glimpse of what’s coming makes it clear. Mass surveillance isn’t about having nothing to hide. It’s about hiding whatever we can.
Mass Surveillance CheerleadersThe highest profile shills for mass surveillance are the usual suspects: politicians and mega-corporation execs who have the most to gain. Former U.S. Senate majority leader Trent Lott: “What are people worried about? What is the problem? Are you doing something you’re not supposed to?”
Google chief hypocrite Eric Schmidt defines privacy as an excuse to hide wrongdoing: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
Google employs many brilliant people who no doubt mean well, but the simple truth is this: Google’s business is, literally, mass surveillance. Snowden revealed the NSA has direct access to Google’s servers. Google’s vast offering of services equals the world’s biggest surveillance roach motel. There’s a reason the room and board are free. You’re the product, not the customer.
The Death Star Is in UtahMass surveillance is not only Collect-It-All recording of your life. The totalitarian power of mass surveillance comes into focus when one sees how years of data can be summoned in the future for purposes you can’t predict. Five or ten years from now your surveillance records could be used as the basis for advanced interrogation, criminal prosecution, bail-ins, property confiscation, blackmail, stalking, humiliation, horrific medical procedures,internment camp, deportation, and yes, even execution. None of these is without historical precedent.
The technology enabling Collect-It-All surveillance perhaps seems vague since we don’t have any practical reference for what it takes to implement. Here’s a glimpse.
Snowden’s revelation of the Collect-It-All blueprint was the prelude to the completion of a 1.5 million square foot complex called the Utah Data Center. The original name of the complex – Massive Data Repository – is more ominously instructive.
Imagine a stadium-sized complex filled with the world’s fastest super computers and endless racks of digital storage space so vast that you literally can’t comprehend how much information can be stored. The power and cooling required for the complex is staggering. It consumes 1.7 million gallons of water daily to operate. This is the mass surveillance equivalent of the Death Star. Last year it went fully operational.
The difference between filing cabinets and the space-age technology of the Utah Data Center is almost impossible to describe. In terms of speed, it’s like comparing a tricycle with a supersonic jet. In terms of search power, it’s like a magnifying glass versus the Hubble telescope. In terms of data storage, it’s like a hot tub versus Lake Michigan. And yet, it’s worse.
Weaponized Data MiningThere simply is no comparison to be made in the pre-digital era when it comes to data mining – using the power of computers to find patterns across vast quantities of data. The Utah Data Center is weaponized data mining.
Collect-It-All surveillance means that if the government wants to target you, it can comb back through years of your life in minute detail. As we’ll see shortly, coming up with a crime in order to prosecute you is easy. There are so many laws in existence today that legal experts agree that anybody can be prosecuted for crimes they aren’t aware they’ve committed.
Even if you didn’t commit the crime you’re being prosecuted for, mass surveillance guarantees that innocents will be targeted because data mining can’t tell whether a pattern is intentional or coincidental. Say there’s an enemy of the government being tracked by the feds. You coincidentally are on the same flight sitting next to him, use the same car service, stay in an adjacent room at the same hotel, eat at the same restaurant, and then take the same flight the next day to another city. Now you too are a target. If you happen to also be Muslim (1% of the U.S. population), good luck.
U.S. law is clear on what might happen next. Perhaps men show up and interrogate you. Or they secretly tear apart your life down to the smallest detail looking for any charge to pin on you. Maybe they destroy your reputation and monitor how you respond. Or maybe you get disappeared. Under the NDAA, American citizens can legally be kidnapped, imprisoned in secret without charges or access to a lawyer (indefinite detention), andsubjected to torture programs developed by doctors.
The Torture TriumvirateTo design the US government’s torture program taxpayers paid over $81 million to Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen and another $31 million to Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman is a man who achieved fame by repeatedly shocking dogs until they completely gave up trying to avoid the shock, even when presented with the opportunity to do so. This state of hopeless surrender is what he coined “learned helplessness.”
These three were not paid $112 million to suggest sleep deprivation or waterboarding (both of which have been used for centuries.) The public has no clue what the real torture program is. But given the government’s history of using drugs to torment people, I suspect drugs are the holy grail of modern torture as they break no bones and leave no scars. Imagine being inflicted with a drug-induced migraine and then getting locked in a cell withblasting heavy metal and flashing strobe lights. What would you say to make it stop? Centuries ago you’d confess to being a witch.
Death From the Sky? Legal.If being kidnapped, caged and tortured without trial isn’t sufficient for the government’s purposes, the president also claims legal authority to summarily execute US citizens. Four Americans, including a 16-year old boy, have already been executed by drone strike – no charges levied, no trials, no evidence presented, no opportunity for defense. Just sudden death from the sky.
If you think “kill lists” are only about Muslims and therefore don’t affect you, count yourself among Germans in the early years of the Nazi regime who said these laws are unfortunate but only affect a few Jews. By the time the general public felt things were really getting out of hand, to speak out was to risk your own life. So let me repeat: The government has granted itself legal authority to summarily execute American citizens. Just because you’re not a target, don’t delude yourself. This is turnkey tyranny.
The data mining power of the Utah Data Center will find all sorts of extremely unlikely coincidences which will be used to cage or kill innocent people. The old way to do that was to torture people into making false confessions, frame them with planted evidence, or convict them based onfaked forensic science. With weaponized data mining, no fabrication will be required to put innocent people away.
Much like the IRS process of finding you guilty unless you can prove your innocence, you’ll be in the crosshairs trying to explain an extraordinarily unlikely coincidence. A one-in-a-million coincidence is common when the world’s fastest supercomputers are searching for patterns among quadrillions (that’s thousands of trillions) of pieces of data. Trying to establish your innocence will be like trying to prove a negative.
Mass surveillance is ushering in a brave new world of crime detection. The vast majority of crimes in the past have gone undetected. A Collect-It-All mass surveillance apparatus is an all-seeing eye which untethers crime detection from manpower constraints.
Law Is Codified HypocrisyMy definition of a bad guy is a person who purposely harms or threatens to harm others or their property. I used to think of crime as the stuff that bad guys do. Bad guys are criminals, and criminals are bad guys. Makes sense, right? After all murder is a crime. Theft is a crime. Assault is a crime.
Cartoons, TV shows, and movies I’ve seen from childhood have reinforced the only-bad-guys-do-crime message. And my teachers were explicit: Good people obey the law. Be a law-abiding citizen.
Yet millions of Americans who are not bad guys have criminal records.
My day in the Secret Annex taught me that it’s a trap to equate crime with morality. While I think it’s always preferable not to harm people or their property, neither my nor your preferences should be conflated with laws. That’s because most laws have nothing to do with actually harming others or or their property. Sure there are plenty of bad guys who are criminals, but there are also millions of Americans who have been convicted of victimless crimes. They simply broke a politician’s rule, often unknowingly.
Meanwhile many bad guys aren’t criminals because the law doesn’t apply to them. Every day peaceful people and their property are harmed by government employees acting in a fully legal capacity. That’s because those who govern us are permitted to do the very things the governed are forbidden from doing.
If you are carrying out government orders:
•Legally maiming and killing thousands of people who haven’t harmed anyone isn’t mass murder. It’s collateral damage.
•Legally caging a person for inhaling something the government doesn’t approve of isn’t kidnapping. It’s corrections.
•Legally siphoning all the money out of someone’s account isn’t theft. It’s asset forfeiture.
Legally blockading a country from receiving desperately needed goods and services isn’t economic warfare. It’s foreign policy. (Don’t forget, the dead children are collateral damage.)
•Legally using insider information to rack up stock market profits isn’t insider trading. It’s Congressional investing.
•Legally transferring hundreds of billions to Federal Reserve banking cartel cronies isn’t fascist economics. It’s quantitative easing for your financial security.
•Legally forcing interest rates to zero so that savers lose purchasing power and banks clean up isn’t price fixing. It’s monetary policy.
•Legally spending trillions to create the most militarized society in history isn’t totalitarian insanity. It’s defense.
•Legally demanding your money under threat of imprisonment to pay for all these things isn’t extortion. It’s taxation.
What is criminal for the governed is legal for the government.
(If you’re a government employee or contractor, thank you for being open-minded enough to read this. When one’s salary depends on believing something, considering other perspectives is as difficult as it is rare.)