Sunday, June 27, 2010

Through the Wormhole: The Secret State's Mad Scheme to Control the Internet

Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote that "war is the continuation of politics by other means." A century later, radical French philosopher Michel Foucault turned Clausewitz on his head and declared that "politics is the continuation of war by other means."

In our topsy-turvy world where truth and lies coexist equally and sociopathic business elites reign supreme, it would hardly be a stretch to theorize that cyber war is the continuation of parapolitical crime by other means.

Through the Wormhole

In Speed and Politics, cultural theorist Paul Virilio argued that "history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems." With electronic communications now blanketing the globe, it was only a matter of time before our political masters, (temporarily) outflanked by the subversive uses to which new media lend themselves, would deploy what Virilio called the "integral accident" (9/11 being one of many examples) and gin-up entirely new categories of threats, "Cyber Pearl Harbor" comes to mind, from which of course, they would "save us."

That the revolving door connecting the military and the corporations who service war making is a highly-profitable redoubt for those involved, has been analyzed here at great length. With new moves to tighten the screws on the immediate horizon, and as "Change" reveals itself for what it always was, an Orwellian exercise in public diplomacy, hitting the "kill switch" serves as an apt descriptor for the new, repressive growth sector that links technophilic fantasies of "net-centric" warfare to the burgeoning "homeland security" market.

Back in March, Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel wrote that the "biggest threat to the open internet" isn't "Chinese hackers" or "greedy ISPs" but corporatist warriors like former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

Having retreated to his old haunt as a senior vice president with the ultra-spooky firm Booz Allen Hamilton (a post he held for a decade before joining the Bush administration), McConnell stands to make millions as Booz Allen's parent company, the secretive private equity powerhouse, The Carlyle Group, plans to take the firm public and sell some $300 million worth of shares, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

"With its deep ties to the defense establishment" the Journal notes, "Booz Allen has become embedded in a range of military operations such as planning war games and intelligence initiatives." That Carlyle Group investors have made out like proverbial bandits during the endless "War on Terror" goes without saying. With "relatively low debt levels for a leveraged buyout," the investment "has been a successful one for Carlyle, which has benefited from the U.S. government's increasing reliance on outsourcing in defense."

And with 15,000 employees in the Washington area, most with coveted top secret and above security clearances, Booz Allen's clients include a panoply of secret state agencies such as the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, NSA and the U.S. Air Force. With tentacles enlacing virtually all facets of the secretive world of outsourced intelligence, the firm has emerged as one of the major players in the cybersecurity niche market.

While McConnell and his minions may not know much about "SQL injection hacks," Singel points out that what makes this spook's spook dangerous (after all, he was NSA Director under Clinton) "is that he knows about social engineering. ... And now he says we need to re-engineer the internet."

Accordingly, Washington Technology reported in April, that under McConnell's watchful eye, the firm landed a $14.4 million contract to build a new bunker for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Chump change by Pentagon standards perhaps, but the spigot is open and salad days are surely ahead.

Now that CYBERCOM has come on-line as a "subordinate unified command" of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), it's dual-hatted Director, Air Force General Keith B. Alexander confirmed by the Senate and with a fourth, gleaming star firmly affixed on his epaulettes, the real fun can begin.

A denizen of the shadows with a résumé to match, Alexander is also Director of the National Security Agency (hence the appellation "dual-hatted"), the Pentagon satrapy responsible for everything from battlefield signals- and electronic intelligence (SIGINT and ELINT), commercial and industrial espionage (ECHELON) to illegal driftnet spying programs targeting U.S. citizens.

Spooky résumé aside, what should concern us here is what Alexander will actually do at the Pentagon's new cyberwar shop.

A Fact Sheet posted by STRATCOM informs us that CYBERCOM "plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, CYBERCOM's offensive nature is underlined by the role it will play as STRATCOM's operational cyber wing. The training of thousands of qualified airmen, as The Register revealed last month, will form the nucleus of an "elite corps of cyberwarfare operatives," underscoring the command's signal importance to the secret state and the corporations they so lovingly serve.

Cybersecurity: The New Corporatist "Sweet Spot"

Fueling administration moves to "beef up," i.e. tighten state controls over the free flow of information is cash, lots of it. The Washington Post reported June 22 that "Cybersecurity, fast becoming Washington's growth industry of choice, appears to be in line for a multibillion-dollar injection of federal research dollars, according to a senior intelligence official."

"Delivering the keynote address at a recent cybersecurity summit sponsored by Defense Daily," veteran Post reporter and CIA media asset, Walter Pincus, informs us that "Dawn Meyerriecks, deputy director of national intelligence for acquisition and technology, said that along with the White House Office of Science and Technology, her office is going to sponsor major research 'where the government's about to spend multiple billions of dollars'."


According to a Defense Daily profile, before her appointment by Obama's recently fired Director of National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, Meyerriecks was the chief technology officer with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), described on DISA's web site as a "combat support agency" that "engineers and provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations."

During Defense Daily's June 11 confab at the Marriott Hotel in Washington (generously sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and The Analysis Group), Meyerriecks emphasized although "tons of products" have been commercially developed promising enhanced security, "there's not an answer Band-Aid that is going to come with this."

All the more reason then, to shower billions of taxpayer dollars on impoverished defense and security corps, while preaching "fiscal austerity" to "greedy" workers and homeowners facing a new wave of foreclosures at the hands of cash strapped banks.

"We're starting to question whether or not the fundamental precepts are right," Meyerriecks said, "and that's really what, at least initially, this [new research] will be aimed at."

Presumably, the billions about to feed the "new security paradigm," all in the interest of "keeping us safe" of course, means "we need to be really innovative, because I think we're going to run out of runway on our current approach," she said.

Washington Technology reported Meyerriecks as saying "We don't have any fixed ideas about what the answers are." Therefore, "we're looking for traditional and nontraditional partnering in sourcing."

Amongst the "innovative research" fields which the ODNI, the Department of Homeland Security and one can assume, NSA/CYBERCOM, will soon be exploring are what Washington Technology describe as: "Multiple security levels for government and non-government organizations. Security systems that change constantly to create 'moving targets' for hackers," and more ominously for privacy rights, coercive "methods to motivate individuals to improve their cybersecurity practices."

The Secret State's Internet Control Bill

Since major policy moves by administration flacks always come in waves, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy June 18, that in order to fight "homegrown terrorism" the monitoring of internet communications "is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security," the Associated Press reported.

While the Obama regime has stepped-up attacks on policy critics who have disclosed vital information concealed from the American people, prosecuting whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake, who spilled the beans on corrupt NSA shenanigans with grifting defense and security corps, and wages a low-level war against WikiLeaks, Cryptome, Public Intelligence and other secret spilling web sites, it continues to shield those who oversaw high crimes and misdemeanors during the previous and current regimes.

In this light, Napolitano's statement that "we can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances," is a rank mendacity.

With enough airspace to fly a drone through, the Home Sec boss told the gathering "at the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable." What those "situations" are or what "trade-offs" were being contemplated by the administration was not specified by Napolitano; arch neocon Joe Lieberman however, graciously obliged.

As "Cyber War" joins the (failed) "War on Drugs" and the equally murderous "War on Terror" as America's latest bête noire and panic all rolled into one reeking mass of disinformation, Senators Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 in the Senate.

The bill empowers the Director of a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC), to be housed in the Department of Homeland Security, to develop a "process" whereby owners and operators of "critical infrastructure" will develop "response plans" for what the legislation calls "a national cybersecurity emergency."

This particularly pernicious piece of legislative flotsam would hand the President the power to declare a "national cyber-emergency" at his discretion and would force private companies, internet service providers and search engines to "comply with the new risk-based security requirements." Accordingly, "in coordination with the private sector ... the President [can] authorize emergency measures to protect the nation's most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited."

Under terms of the bill, such "emergency measures" can force ISPs to "take action" if so directed by the President, to limit, or even to sever their connections to the internet for up to 30 days.

While the administration, so far, has not explicitly endorsed Lieberman's bill, DHS Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger told reporters that he "agreed" with the thrust of the legislation and that the Executive Branch "may need to take extraordinary measures" in the event of a "crisis."

Under the 1934 Communications Act, the World Socialist Web Site points out, "the president may, under 'threat of war,' seize control of any 'facilities or stations for wire communications'."

"Though dated," socialist critic Mike Ingram avers, "that definition would clearly apply to broadband providers or Web sites. Anyone disobeying a presidential order can be imprisoned for one year. In addition to making explicit the inclusion of Internet providers, a central component of the Lieberman bill is a promise of immunity from financial claims for any private company which carries through an order from the federal government."

Under terms of the legislation, the president requires no advance notification to Congress in order to hit the internet "kill switch," and his authority to reign supreme over the free speech rights of Americans can be extended for up to six months after the "state of war" has expired.

While the bill's supporters, which include the secret state lobby shop, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) claim the Lieberman-Collins-Carper legislation is intended to create a "shield" to defend the U.S. and its largest corporate benefactors from the "looming threat" of a "Cyber 9/11," one cannot discount the billions of dollars in plum government contracts that will fall into the laps of the largest defense and security corps, the primary beneficiaries of this legislation; thus the bill's immunity provisions.

Indeed, current INSA Chairwoman, Frances Fragos Townsend, the former Bushist Homeland Security Adviser, was appointed in 2007 as National Continuity Coordinator under the auspices of National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) and was assigned responsibility for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity of government (COG) policies. As readers of Antifascist Calling are aware, plans include contingencies for a declaration of martial law in the event of a "catastrophic emergency." Whether or not a "national cybersecurity emergency" would fall under the penumbral cone of silence envisaged by NSPD-51 to "maintain order" is anyone's guess.

However, in a June 23 letter to Lieberman-Collins-Carper, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and 23 other privacy and civil liberties groups, insisted that "changes are needed to ensure that cybersecurity measures do not unnecessarily infringe on free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties interests."

CDT states that while "the bill makes it clear that it does not authorize electronic surveillance beyond that authorized in current law, we are concerned that the emergency actions that could be compelled could include shutting down or limiting Internet communications that might be carried over covered critical infrastructure systems."

Additionally, CDT avers that the bill "requires CCI owners to share cybersecurity 'incident' information with DHS, which will share some of that information with law enforcement and intelligence personnel." While Lieberman-Collins-Carper claim that "incident reporting" doesn't authorize "any federal entity" to compel disclosure "or conduct surveillance," the bill does not indicate what might be included in an 'incident report' and we are concerned that personally-identifiable information will be included." Count on it!

In a press release, INSA's chairwoman declared that the legislation is important in "establishing a public-private partnership to promote national cyber security priorities, strengthen and clarify authorities regarding the protection of federal civilian systems, and improve national cyber security defenses."

Amongst the heavy-hitters who will profit financially from developing a "public-private partnership to promote national cyber security priorities," include INSA "Founding Members" BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSC, General Dynamics, HP, Lockheed Martin, ManTech International, Microsoft, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Talk about one hand washing the other! A casual glance at Washington Technology's 2010 list of the Top 100 Federal Government Contractors provides a telling definition of the term "stakeholder"!

Blanket Surveillance Made Easy: Einstein 3's Roll-Out

During a recent Cyberspace Symposium staged by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), an industry lobby group chock-a-block with defense and security corps, a series of video presentations set the tone, and the agenda, for CYBERCOM and the secret state's new push for heimat cybersecurity.

During a question and answer session "with a small group of reporters" in sync with the alarmist twaddle peddled by AFCEA and STRATCOM, Defense Systems' Amber Corrin informed us that "one possibility" floated by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynne III to "keep us safe," is the deployment of the privacy-killing Einstein 2 and Einstein 3 intrusion detection and prevention systems on civilian networks.

"To support such a move" Defense Systems reported, "a task force comprising industry and government information technology and defense interests ... has been forged to examine issues surrounding critical infrastructure network security."

As Antifascist Calling reported last July, Einstein 3 is based on technology developed by NSA under its Tutelage program, a subordinate project of NSA's larger and more pervasive privacy-killing Stellar Wind surveillance operation.

Einstein 3's deep-packet inspection technology can read the content of email messages and other private electronic communications. Those deemed "threats" to national security networks can then be forwarded to analysts and "attack signatures" (or suspect political messages) are then stored in a massive NSA-controlled database for future reference.

Federal Computer Week disclosed in March that the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) "plans to partner with a commercial Internet Service Provider and another government agency to pilot technology developed by the National Security Agency to automate the process of detecting cyber intrusions into civilian agencies' systems."

"The exercise," according to reporter Ben Bain "aims to demonstrate the ability of an ISP to select and redirect Internet traffic from a participating government agency using the new technology. The exercise would also be used demonstrate the ability for U.S. CERT to apply intrusion detection and prevention to that traffic and to generate automated alerts about selected cyber threats."

That testing is currently underway and has been undertaken under authority of National Security Presidential Directive 54, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 in the waning days of his administration. While the vast majority of NSPD-54 is classified top secret, hints of its privacy-killing capabilities were revealed in the sanitized version of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) released by the Obama White House in March.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the government in federal court after their Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency was rejected by securocrats. The agency refused to release NSPD-54, since incorporated into Obama's CNCI, stating that they "have been withheld in their entirety" because they are "exempt from release" on grounds of "national security."

In a follow-up piece earlier this month, Federal Computer Week disclosed that the exercise "will also allow the Homeland Security Department, which runs the Einstein program, to share monitored information with the National Security Agency, though that data is not supposed to include message content."

"The recent combination of those three elements--reading e-mail messages, asking companies to participate in the monitoring program, and getting the NSA in the loop--has set off alarm bells about future uses of Einstein 3," FCW's John Zyskowski disclosed.

Those bells have been ringing for decades, tolling the death of our democratic republic. As military-style command and control systems proliferate, supporting everything from "zero-tolerance" policing and urban surveillance, the deployment of packet-sniffing technologies will soon join CCTV cameras, license plate readers and "watchlists," thus setting the stage for the next phase of the secret state's securitization of daily life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New "Homeland Security" Toys Lower Boom on Privacy, Grease Usual Palms

As "gee-whiz" high-tech wonders seamlessly morph into "your papers, please!," more often than not in "new normal" America science and technological innovation are little more than deranged handmaids serving corporate crime and political power.

In the interest of "keeping us safe," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a spiffy new surveillance cam "that puts others to shame," CNET breezily reported last week.

The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) is a hemispherical group of cameras roughly the size of a basketball that, if one believes giddy accolades by enthusiasts touting the system, will lovingly wrap us in a "high-res video quilt," a DHS press release gushes.

The ultra-wide camera undergoing field-tests since December at Boston's Logan International Airport, streams distortion free, real-time stitched video and has a resolution capacity of approximately 100 megapixels which our guardians say is "as detailed as 50 full-HDTV movies playing at once, with optical detail to spare. You can zoom in close...and closer...without losing clarity."

But with an abundance of acronyms, and a decided lack of imagination from a gaggle of secret state agencies, one shouldn't confuse Homeland Security's ISIS with one incubating beneath the dark wings of the Pentagon's "blue sky" office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

That program, Integrated Sensor Is Structure, also known as ISIS, is being shepherded along by Lockheed Martin, America's No. 1 defense corp. DARPA's ISIS promises to build an autonomous airship powered by solar fuel cells for American warfighters, one capable of staying aloft for a decade above 70,000 feet, well out of the way of an adversary's surface to air missiles.

According to the description on the Strategic Technology Office's web site, their ISIS "will develop the technologies that enable extremely large lightweight phased-array radar antennas to be integrated into an airship platform." This would enable ground commanders "to track the most advanced cruise missiles at 600 km and dismounted enemy combatants at 300 km."

Pentagon gurus and the corporations they so lovingly serve, recently awarded Lockheed Martin and subcontracting Raytheon Corporation, a $400 million dollar contract for Phase III work on the radar system, Defense Systems reported in April. DARPAcrats claim the high-flying airship will provide "theatre-wide, persistent area surveillance and tracking capabilities" to America's Borg Army of resource grabbers.

And with The New York Times reporting June 14 that the "United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself," it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that sometime soon the corrupt Karzai regime, the Taliban, their ISI paymasters and their American overlords will cozy up and play "let's make a deal"!

Nor should either project be confused with the failed "secure border" scheme known as the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System or ISIS (there it is again!) or its successor, America's Shield Initiative. No, that corporatist boondoggle which cost taxpayers some $439 million between 1997 and 2006, eventually morphed into the equally useless Secure Border Initiative or SBInet.

Fully in keeping with the tenor of the times, to wit, that government should get "out of the way" and let business work its magic, DHS's own Inspector General described the troubled history of the project in critical testimony to Congress. The IG criticized lax practices that led the Department to allow the contractors, led by Boeing Corporation, decide what the system would look like and what technology would be used to build it.

Needless to say, that didn't work out well! Just this week Washington Technology reported that Boeing "could see its lucrative, but troubled Secure Border Initiative contract scaled back as Homeland Security Department officials consider stopping future construction of the 'virtual-fence' security systems along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Like predecessor ISIS, the $800 million program has suffered from delays, technical glitches and "changes" in direction. In March, Home Sec Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the program was "being re-evaluated as part of an ongoing reassessment." No matter, with cash in hand Boeing, and a string of disappointed subcontractors, can afford to "move on."

But I digress...

No dear readers, the Heimat Security project I'm describing is close to earth, perhaps only a few feet above the congested street where you trod, oblivious to the legion of minders busily stripping you of your rights; above all, the right to be left alone. Ah, but there's the rub. Why should any of Oceania's proud citizens have anything to fear? After all, only evil-doers have something to hide, don't they? Why wouldn't you leap with joy at the prospect of being enwrapped in a vid-quilt cocoon lovingly designed by America's finest minds?

"Traditional surveillance cameras can be of great assistance to law enforcement officers for a range of scenarios," DHS flacks croon. "Canvassing a crowd for criminal activity during a Fourth of July celebration, searching for who left a suitcase bomb beneath a bench, or trying to pick out a terrorist who has fled the scene and blended into a teeming throng in the subway."

Who'd oppose that?

But why stop there? Surely there are other applications for the privacy-killing gizmo. Where did that political malcontent go after handing out "subversive" leaflets at the mall? And that flash mob of miscreants protesting an oil firm's board meeting or, heavens forbid!, bum-rushing grifting merchants of death at an industry trade show; where'd they scram to? Multitasking is the name of the game and DHS has got it covered!

A joint project of the Science and Technology Directorate's Infrastructure and Geophysical Division, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, ISIS was built with off-the-shelf cameras, image processors and readily-available commercial software. No need to reinvent the wheel here in these tough economic times!

The innocent-looking array points in all directions and captured images are "stitched" together, creating a creepy "god's eye" view that allow CCTV operators to easily track people back and forth through the HD "quilt" files without losing a single suspect, I mean American, as they pass from one field to the next.

"Other neat tricks" enthusiasts effervesce, "will be provided by a suite of software applications called video analytics. One app can define a sacrosanct 'exclusion zone,' for which ISIS provides an alert the moment it's breached. Another lets the operator pick a target--a person, a package, or a pickup truck--and the detailed viewing window will tag it and follow it, automatically panning and tilting as needed." (emphasis in original)

We're told that "video analytics at high resolution across a 360-degree field of view, coupled with the ability to follow objects against a cluttered background, will provide"--wait!--"enhanced situational awareness as an incident unfolds."

"We've seen that terrorists are determined to do us harm," Dr. John Fortune, the I&G's head honcho told contractors lining up to get a slice of the vid-quilt pie. "ISIS is a great example of one way we can improve our security by leveraging our strengths."

And should things, pardon the pun, pan out, "ISIS creators already have their eyes on a new and improved second generation model, complete with custom sensors and video boards, longer range cameras, higher resolution, a more efficient video format."

"Eventually," we're told, "the Department plans to develop a version of ISIS that will use infrared cameras to detect events that occur at night."

South of the Border ... Bring On the Drones!

Meanwhile, as Homeland Security unveiled their chic new spy-cam and exiled SBINet to the Isle of Lost Corporatist Dreams, The Hill reported that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began flying "Predator B aerial drones, which have proved successful fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, were deployed this week along the border between Texas and Mexico."

CBP, a DHS satrapy plagued by endemic corruption engendered by deep state management of the multibillion dollar drug trade, was accused last week of murdering an unarmed 15-year-old who had the temerity to throw rocks at border agents from the Mexican side of the border.

Democracy Now! disclosed June 10, that U.S. authorities said that "Sergio Adrian Hernandez Güereca was part of a group of boys throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents who were trying to detain two people at the border crossing."

While intrepid agents claimed they feared for their lives, "a cell-phone video obtained by the Spanish language network Univision shows otherwise," Amy Goodman reports. "The grainy footage shows the Border Patrol agent detaining one man at gunpoint. While he has the man on the ground, he points his gun toward a second person on the Mexican side of the border. The video shows that person running away as the agent fires several shots. The video then shows a body next to a column under the bridge."

In other words, there's nothing to see here, move along!

This latest border killing follows closely on the heels of "change" President Obama's pledge to station 1,200 National Guard troops along the border to stem the flow of economic migrants hammered by continued depredations resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the highly-lucrative drugs trade.

According to Narco News, "a special operations task force under the command of the Pentagon is currently in place south of the border providing advice and training to the Mexican Army in gathering intelligence, infiltrating and, as needed, taking direct action against narco-trafficking organizations," investigative journalist Bill Conroy reported June 12.

The deployment of deep cover Special Forces assets are part of the Obama regime's Mérida Initiative, a "security arrangement" between the U.S. secret state and their Mexican and Central American counterparts.

The alleged aim of the initiative is to stamp out national security threats posed by drug traffickers, transnational criminal syndicates and money laundering by "dirty" banks. To aid the venture, Congress generously allocated some $1.6 billion for training, equipment and intelligence to regional security forces. Undoubtedly, such operations would be greatly enhanced by flying unmanned drones over suspected drug smuggling routes as an assist to our allies.

Last Saturday however, the National Post reported that "an investigation conducted by The Montreal Gazette, CBC Radio and the U.S.'s National Public Radio (NPR) has found powerful elements within the Mexican government and army have no intention of ending the narcotics trade."

But wait, hasn't a Special Forces contingent dubbed Task Force 7 by Conroy's source, been providing expertise for more than a year to the Mexican Army to root out corruption and slay evil-doers, the same Army that has "no intention" of ending the grisly trade responsible for deaths of thousands?

The National Post disclosed that "senior government and military officials are helping the Sinaloa cartel and its leader become the dominant drug-trafficking organization in Mexico. This means the cartel will likely become the most powerful organized crime group on the continent."

True enough as far as it goes, but I'd offer one slight edit: the Sinaloa cartel would perhaps "become the most powerful organized crime group on the continent," only were we to ignore the key role played by North American, specifically U.S. banks, in laundering billions of dollars in blood money, a minor, though pertinent detail, omitted by the National Post, the Gazette, NPR and the CBC.

After all as Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime told The Observer in December, "the proceeds of organised crime were 'the only liquid investment capital' available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year." Indeed, Costa claimed that "drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the [2008] global crisis."

All the more reason then, to bring on the drones!

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), a close political ally of former President George W. Bush (no slouch when it came to protecting Afghan drug rackets), praised Obama's move to fly Predators along the border. The good Senator told The Hill, "the beginning of UAV flights over the west-Texas portion of our border with Mexico marks an important advancement for border security in our state."

The Bushist crony continued: "We are working hard to make round-the-clock aerial surveillance the standard for all 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and I hope this development is the first of many steps to bring our border detection and security efforts into the 21st century."

Not to be outdone by a political "rival" across the aisle, Rep. Henry Cuellar, a south Texas Democrat, praised CBP's drone deployment and said, "By putting eyes in the sky along the Rio Grande, we will gather real-time intelligence on the ground to augment the good work of federal, state and local law enforcement on the border."

Or provide those shipping multi-ton loads of cocaine and other illicit drugs northward adequate warning! Indeed, Narco News disclosed in May that "a law enforcement task force in New Mexico that is supposed to target drug-trafficking criminals is instead awash in charges that it is using its nearly $600,000 taxpayer-subsidized budget to fund its own corrupt practices."

Although an investigation by an internal affairs unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed "a disturbing trail of bookkeeping irregularities and multiple mysterious bank accounts," the indefatigable Bill Conroy revealed that "nothing of consequence happened to the task force or its operations, and it continues to operate under the same leadership to this day."

A minor detail perhaps, but then who cares! Certainly not our intrepid "watchdog" Washington press corps led by CNN's White House correspondent Ed Henry, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and others, who recently cavorted with the Vice President at a "beach party" at Joe Biden's mansion, Salon's Glenn Greenwald disclosed!

For the "people who matter" however, unleashing a drone fleet along the border will be music to the ears of General Atomics, the manufacturer of the Predator B. What, with saturation coverage of the Iraq and "Afpak" theatres by the CIA and Pentagon's armada of killer robots, the $10-12 million dollar price tag per drone is a surefire win-win all around.

Is this a great country or what!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Director of National Intelligence: Overseeing Aggression Abroad, Repression at Home

Yesterday, President Barack Obama selected retired Air Force Lt. General James R. Clapper Jr. as his nominee as the secret state's new Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Obama heaped copious praise on the general in a Rose Garden appearance Saturday. "Jim is one of our nation's most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals," Obama said. "He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisers: a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know even if it's not what we want to hear," according to a White House transcript of the president's remarks.

Clapper, who faces a tough confirmation fight in the Senate, would direct the 16-agency U.S. "Intelligence Community." From his perch in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Clapper would coordinate America's formidable spy apparatus as it wages a global shadow war to control other people's resources and secure geostrategic advantage over their imperialist rivals.

The position of DNI was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the Director has neither operational control nor budgetary authority over any of the agencies he oversees as the nation's top spymaster. Bureaucratic in-fighting and turf battles within the security apparat, particularly with the CIA under Leon Panetta, but also with insiders such as White House counterterrorism adviser, the former CIA torture-enabler, John Brennan, have fueled internecine feuds amongst the various players.

If confirmed by the Senate, Clapper would replace retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair, who was pressured to resign by the Obama regime May 28, over so-called "intelligence failures," resulting from the aborted Christmas Day attempted bombing aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit and the failed May 1 Times Square car bombing.

As Antifascist Calling revealed in a series of articles earlier this year, far from being a failure to "connect the dots," as with the 9/11 provocation itself, the American secret state possessed sufficient information that should have prevented alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding that plane and placing the lives of nearly 300 air passengers at risk.

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), an ODNI fiefdom, was cited for "lapses" and faulted for its failure to collate information in their possession. But as I reported, during January 20 testimony to the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, NCTC head honcho Michael E. Leiter told the panel: "I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another."

Under Secretary of State for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee January 27, that the State Department did not revoke the would-be bomber's passport at the specific request of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Kennedy claimed that "revocation action would've disclosed what they were doing." The Undersecretary said that allowing the alleged terrorist to keep his visa would have "helped" federal investigators take down the entire network "rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort."

While the would-be suicide fanbois kept his passport, one "reform" that the "change" administration implemented was a directive by President Obama authorizing the assassination of American citizens accused of terrorism. Death sentences would be carried out without any legal recourse whatsoever, simply on the basis of unsubstantiated Executive Branch allegations.

Clapper, 69, is a close ally of current Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a former CIA Director under Poppy Bush and an architect of the Iran-Contra coverup. Currently the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Clapper replaced Stephen A. Cambone in 2007, a crony of former Secretary of Defense, the unindicted war criminal Donald Rumsfeld.

Like many retired military officials who leverage national "service" as entrée to the lucrative world of outsourced corporate spying, Clapper was the Chief Operating Officer for Detica DFI, a British intelligence and security firm that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the scandal-tainted BAE Systems.

According to a blurb on the firm's web site, "Detica specialises in collecting, managing and exploiting information to reveal actionable intelligence." Doubtless, Clapper found himself right at home.

Last October, the British high-tech news magazine The Register, revealed that Detica and Lockheed Martin had secured a multi-billion pound contract with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the U.K.'s National Security Agency for work on a domestic snooping project called "Mastering the Internet." That top secret program is currently developing systems and methods for extracting intelligence from huge volumes of surveillance data generated by online services.

Similar programs are currently underway here in the heimat, many of which are linked to the secretive Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI). Last month's stand-up of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) found top Pentagon officials and the defense contractors whom they so loyally serve, floating the idea "that the Defense Department might start a protective program for civilian networks, based on a deeply controversial effort to keep hackers out of the government's pipes," Wired reported.

"A 356-page classified plan" journalist Noah Shachtman disclosed, "outlining CYBERCOM's rise is being put into action." According to Wired, "procedures are now being worked out for CYBERCOM to help the Department of Homeland Security defend government and civilian networks."

Wired reported last week that "Joe Lieberman wants to give the federal government the power to take over civilian networks' security, if there’s an 'imminent cyber threat.' It's part of a draft bill, co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Susan Collins, that provides the Department of Homeland Security broad authority to ensure that 'critical infrastructure' stays up and running in the face of a looming hack attack."

Two of the agencies that would fall under Clapper's brief are DHS and NSA, both of which are charged with "protecting" critical network infrastructure in the unlikely event of a massive cyber attack.

Prior to his current position as Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, between 2001-2006 Clapper was the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), a DOD combat support agency charged with developing "imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety of navigation."

Accordingly, NGA "provides timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives" gathered by America's super-secret fleet of spy satellites flown by its "sister" organization, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) as well as imagery and geospatial information derived from drones or other air based U.S. assets.

One can be fairly certain that NGA's "map-based intelligence solutions" for homeland security have been deployed for domestic repression. As Antifascist Calling reported in 2008, according to a planning document released by the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks, in the run-up to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, NGA was in the thick of things as a gaggle of federal and state law enforcement agencies targeted activists and journalists for preemptive arrest.

Before leading NGA, Clapper was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the principal producer and manager of military intelligence for the Pentagon. Investigative journalist Tim Shorrock revealed in his essential book, Spies For Hire, that with an annual estimated budget of $1 billion, DIA employs some 11,000 military and civilian personnel, "35 percent of whom are contractors."

According to Shorrock's analysis for CorpWatch, principal security corps doing yeoman's work for DIA include BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, Inc. CACI International, Inc. and L-3 Communications Inc.

In reporting Clapper's selection as DNI, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have emphasized the general's "decades of experience" in getting America's sprawling secret state under Executive Branch control.

According to the Times, Clapper's announcement amounts "to pushing the reset button for the president," as Obama tries to "recalibrate" an intelligence and security apparatus that has "undergone continued revamping since the debacle leading up to the Iraq war," one that "still lacks the cohesion necessary in an evolving war with terrorists."

The Journal, on the other hand, has stressed that despite "resistance" by Democratic and Republican party grifters on Capitol Hill, Clapper "has significant backing among intelligence professionals, who also note that he is the most experienced individual willing to take the job."

The Journal reports that one of Clapper's "earliest moves was to shut a Pentagon database, called TALON, that was supposed to track terrorist threats to military bases but was found to also contain information on antiwar protesters."

TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) was a spying database that was under the operational control of the U.S. Air Force. It was authorized by neocon warmonger and serial intelligence fabricator, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz in 2002. By 2004 however, TALON became the "property" of the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a secretive and heavily-outsourced Pentagon satrapy run by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen A. Cambone.

Following media revelations of the program, in 2007 The National Security Archive published a series of documents outlining CIFA's illegal domestic operations; surveillance that continues today under new Pentagon programs authorized by Obama's discredited "change" regime, as revealed last summer by Democracy Now!.

While the Journal is technically correct that the TALON database was removed from CIFA's control by Clapper, the TALON system itself was offloaded, as I previously reported back in 2008, to the FBI and now reside in a Bureau database known as Guardian and e-Guardian.

Even though CIFA has since been supplanted by the DIA's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), SourceWatch revealed that "in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements," DOD "will maintain a record copy of the collected data," including data illegally collected on antiwar activists, continues to exist somewhere deep in the bowels of the Pentagon for future reference.

Whether or not Clapper is confirmed by the Senate, illegal wars of aggression will continue; drones will still rain death and destruction upon unarmed civilians; America's pit bull in the Middle East, Israel, will carry out international acts of piracy and murder on the high seas with impunity as Gaza starves; and the Executive Branch will complete the destruction of the Constitution and the rule of law at home to "keep us safe."