New York’s Total Snoop Grid Moving Forward
New York’s Total Snoop Grid Moving Forward
Monday, December 24, 2007
NY1 News reports: “New York City police are moving forward on a multimillion-dollar counter-terrorism initiative, installing more than a hundred license plate readers and eventually thousands of cameras in Lower Manhattan.” Cameras will be mounted atop cop cars, photographing license plates, and the results will be sent to a database “to see, for example, if the car is stolen.”
It seems irrational, spending $106 million to catch car thieves. But then the “initiative” is billed as an adventure in “counter-terrorism,” not one to counter car thieves. Of course, there are precious few terrorists of the Osama bin Laden type on Manhattan, or anywhere else outside of the Middle East, but this matters not, as the point is to monitor the masses, not catch mythical terrorists as they exit strip clubs.
“The license plate readers are just the tip of the iceberg in what’s billed as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative,” reports NY1 News. “We’re looking to put in, ultimately, a thousand cameras in public spaces, link it to 2,000 private sector cameras,” says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a former Interpol functionary who was once considered to lead the FBI.
“It’s all modeled on the so-called ring of steel in London, where cameras have helped authorities find terrorism suspects. It’s a first for the US,” but certainly not the last, as the entire country will soon become an electronic panopticon. The Ministry of Homeland Security is chipping in with taxpayer bucks to help New York become more like London, where more than 150,000 CCTV cameras snoop the populace.
You know, “terrorism suspects” such as Mohammed Siddique Khan, the alleged ringleader of the 7/7 London bombings, who worked for the British intelligence agency MI5 as an informant at the time of the attacks, according to Charles Shoebridge, a 12-year veteran detective of the London Metropolitan Police. Indeed, Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, Germaine Lindsay, and Hasib Hussain were photographed on that fateful day, but they did not act like or even fit a terrorist profile, according to a terrorism expert.
“Advocates of extensive deployment of surveillance cameras argue that they are the equivalent of putting a police officer on every corner,” writes Charles V. Peña. “Yet in each of the above instances, the presence of surveillance cameras did not prevent any of the perpetrators from committing their crimes. And despite its comprehensiveness, London’s ring of steel did not prevent the July 7, 2005, subway bombings.” In New York, the cops are more interested in monitoring law-abiding citizens than supposed terrorists. During “the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, police aboard a helicopter used infrared technology to videotape a nighttime demonstration, and part of their surveillance included filming a couple embracing on a rooftop, which was eventually posted on the Internet.”
It’s all about “mission creep,” according to Peña. “While the rationale for installing surveillance cameras is to prevent terrorism, inevitably they will end up being used for purposes unrelated to terrorism. For example, the New York surveillance system will include license plate readers, which will likely be used as part of a yet-to-be-approved program to charge drivers a fee to enter Manhattan below 86th Street (which will undoubtedly help pay for the costs of the system – $25 million for the first phase, $90 million total, and $8 million annual operating costs). But monitoring and enforcing a traffic congestion relief program has nothing to do with preventing terrorism – unless the only people driving cars below 86th Street in New York City without having paid the fee are terrorists.”
But what about the supposed crime aspect?
“Home Office researchers who studied 14 schemes across Britain found that only one had brought a clear fall in the local crime rate,” reported the Evening Standard in 2005. “While there was strong public support for CCTV before it was installed, opinion began to shift when people realized the cameras made little difference.” However, on “the plus side… only one in six people objected to CCTV on civil liberties grounds.” Soon enough, most New Yorkers will likely agree, even though thousands of cameras, photographing each citizen hundreds of times each day, will not stop crime or, for that matter, government sponsored terrorism.
No, the electronic panopticon is not about terrorists or car thieves, it is about fine granularity surveillance of the population at large. The FBI, the Ministry, local police, even the Pentagon, are more interested in snooping on antiwar and other protest organizations than catching car thieves or CIA funded and trained terrorists. “The Pentagon conducting domestic surveillance on peaceful protests and meetings has sent tremors though the country’s anti-war movement,” Democracy Now reported in December, 2005. “Some fear a repeat of the Vietnam War era when it was revealed that the military had conducted investigations on at least 100,000 American citizens.”
Now such “investigations” are shared across the entire electronic grid. As the ACLU revealed in 2006, when the Pentagon snooped on dangerous Quakers and student groups, it did not keep the data to itself but sent it out over the network. “The Pentagon shared the information with other government agencies through the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database… The TALON database was intended to track groups or individuals with links to terrorism, but the documents released today show that the Pentagon gathered information on anti-war protesters using sources from the Department of Homeland Security, local police departments and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.”
As the CIA’s favorite newspaper, the Washington Post, noted in 2005, the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) “is charged with correlating TALON information with all-source intelligence and providing ‘fused’ products. In this regard, fused products are raw law enforcement and FBI reports relating to suspected domestic terrorism, NSA intercepts, and CIA and military intelligence reports that might bear upon domestic security.”
Cornerstone is the new repository for this combined intelligence and TALON threat reporting. It originated in May 2000, when Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre established a requirement to track foreign visitors to DOD installations. Post 9/11, the database came to encompass not intelligence and investigative leads to support foreign visitor tracking, but also “insider threat” information, counter-intelligence, law enforcement support, counter-terrorism, and force protection. Under a new program — Project Voyager — the Cornerstone database is being improved to support coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement.
When one looks at the seven TALON reporting categories, it is clear that what is to be collected is broad enough to encompass virtually anything the military feels is a threat. “Non-specific threats” and “other suspicious activity” can be interpreted to include just about anything…
CIFA not only manages the Cornerstone database, but it also “makes the determination whether to release information about U.S. persons to analysts.” In other words, CIFA as both a “counter-intelligence” and law enforcement arm of the Pentagon bridges between two worlds, and is allowed to obtain and store information about American citizens.
In other words, this system was planned before September 11, 2001, and it has nothing to do with terrorists or even car thieves — it has to do with monitoring the public at large, especially “domestic threats” engaged in “suspicious activity,” for instance exercising the once cherished right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
In 2003, Wired reported that it “was not clear” if TALON collected “data would be shared with other government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security…. The Talon system appears to have grown out of Eagle Eyes, an antiterrorism project developed by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Launched in April 2002, Eagle Eyes is a neighborhood watch-type program that ‘enlists the eyes and ears of Air Force members and citizens in the war on terror,’ according to the OSI website…. Since hijackers crashed an American Airlines jet into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, no reports have been published of terrorist attacks within the United States on military personnel or facilities…. However, the DoD regularly experiences ‘a high volume of probes, casing, and surveillance’ from potential terrorists in the United States, according to [Peter S. Probst, a former Pentagon terrorism expert].”
You know, terrorists like the Quakers and antiwar student groups.
Expect New York’s “multimillion-dollar counter-terrorism initiative,” including its license plate readers, to be plugged into the larger Ministry-Pentagon-NSA snoop grid.
Back in 2003, we were told, after a series of embarrassing news reports, that DARPA’s Total Information Awareness Program was shelved. However, it soon reemerged, renamed the Terrorism Information Awareness Program and was shuffled off to the NSA’s “Crypto City” at Fort Meade, Maryland. Genisys, Genoa and Genoa II, HumanID, and other expensive research projects are now coming together under the aegis of the Information Awareness Office.
It is no mistake the IAO logo is the all-seeing eye, i.e., the “Eye of Providence,” an icon associated with the Freemasons.