Posts Tagged ‘Government spying’

h/t Brittius
The FBI says this program is not secret, but the planes are registered to fictitious companies. The planes also can capture information from cell phones in the area.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods. The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights since late April orbiting both major cities and rural areas.

One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side. A federal budget document from 2010 mentioned at least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, in the FBI’s surveillance fleet.

The FBI also occasionally helps local police with aerial support, such as during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.

The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.

Details about the flights come as the Justice Department seeks to navigate privacy concerns arising from aerial surveillance by unmanned aircrafts, or drones. President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance, and has called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified programs.

“These are not your grandparents’ surveillance aircraft,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, calling the flights significant “if the federal government is maintaining a fleet of aircraft whose purpose is to circle over American cities, especially with the technology we know can be attached to those aircraft.”

During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI’s fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia, most with Cessna 182T Skylane aircraft. These included parts of Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Southern California.

Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a “cell-site simulator” — or Stingray, to use one of the product’s brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.

Officials say cellphone surveillance is rare, although the AP found in recent weeks FBI flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

After The Washington Post revealed flights by two planes circling over Baltimore in early May, the AP began analyzing detailed flight data and aircraft-ownership registrations that shared similar addresses and flight patterns. That review found some FBI missions circled above at least 40,000 residents during a single flight over Anaheim, California, in late May, according to Census data and records provided by the website FlightRadar24.com.

Most flight patterns occurred in counter-clockwise orbits up to several miles wide and roughly one mile above the ground at slow speeds. A 2003 newsletter from the company FLIR Systems Inc., which makes camera technology such as seen on the planes, described flying slowly in left-handed patterns.

“Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams,” the FBI said in 2009 when it asked Congress for $5.1 million for the program.

Recently, independent journalists and websites have cited companies traced to post office boxes in Virginia, including one shared with the Justice Department. The AP analyzed similar data since early May, while also drawing upon aircraft registration documents, business records and interviews with U.S. officials to understand the scope of the operations.

The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government’s involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI’s request because the companies’ names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.

At least 13 front companies that AP identified being actively used by the FBI are registered to post office boxes in Bristow, Virginia, which is near a regional airport used for private and charter flights. Only one of them appears in state business records.

Included on most aircraft registrations is a mysterious name, Robert Lindley. He is listed as chief executive and has at least three distinct signatures among the companies. Two documents include a signature for Robert Taylor, which is strikingly similar to one of Lindley’s three handwriting patterns.

The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a U.S. government employee. The AP unsuccessfully tried to reach Lindley at phone numbers registered to people of the same name in the Washington area since Monday.

Law enforcement officials said Justice Department lawyers approved the decision to create fictitious companies to protect the flights’ operational security and that the Federal Aviation Administration was aware of the practice. One of the Lindley-headed companies shares a post office box openly used by the Justice Department.

Such elusive practices have endured for decades. A 1990 report by the then-General Accounting Office noted that, in July 1988, the FBI had moved its “headquarters-operated” aircraft into a company thathttps://wordpress.com/post/71052805/new/ wasn’t publicly linked to the bureau.

The FBI does not generally obtain warrants to record video from its planes of people moving outside in the open, but it also said that under a new policy it has recently begun obtaining court orders to use cell-site simulators. The Obama administration had until recently been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices, even encouraging prosecutors to drop cases rather than disclose the technology’s use in open court.

A Justice Department memo last month also expressly barred its component law enforcement agencies from using unmanned drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment” and said they are to be used only in connection with authorized investigations and activities. A department spokeswoman said the policy applied only to unmanned aircraft systems rather than piloted airplanes.

According to a Federal Business Opportunities report posted today, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to solicit proposals for a “license place commercial data reader service” later this month.

An official DHS statement says that the Department is not attempting to set up its own database, but to instead query existing data held in commercially available license plate reader databases.

That statement continues, saying:  https://readfomag.com/2015/04/runaround-dhs-to-purchases-access-to-license-plate-databases/

If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina, before sending the case back to that state’s high court. The Court’s short but unanimous opinions helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government.

“It doesn’t matter what the context is, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a car or a person. Putting that tracking device on a car or a person is a search,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).

In this case, that context was punishment. Grady was twice convicted as a sex offender. In 2013, North Carolina ordered that, as a recidivist, he had to wear a GPS monitor at all times so that his location could be monitored. He challenged the court, saying that the tracking device qualified as an unreasonable search.

North Carolina’s highest court at first ruled that the tracker was no search at all. It’s that decision that the Supreme Court took aim at today, quoting the state’s rationale and snarking:

The only theory we discern […] is that the State’s system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court’s precedents.

Then it lists a series of Supreme Court precedents.

And there are a few, as the Court has considered the Fourth Amendment quite a bit recently. In 2012, it ruled that placing a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, without a warrant, counted as an unreasonable search. The following year, it said that using drug-sniffing dogs around a suspect’s front porch—without a warrant and without their consent—was also unreasonable, as it trespassed onto a person’s property to gain information about them.

Both of those cases involved suspects, but the ruling Monday made clear that it extends to those convicted of crimes, too.

But much remains unclear about how the Fourth Amendment interacts with digital technology. The Court so far has only ruled on cases where location information was collected by a GPS tracker. But countless devices today collect geographic information. Smartphones often contain their own GPS monitors and can triangulate their location from nearby cell towers; electronic toll-collection systems like E-ZPass register, by default, a car’s location and when it passed through a toll road.

Lynch, the EFF attorney, said that the justices seem to know that they’ll soon to rule on whether this kind of geo-locational information is protected.

She also said that those questions are more fraught for the Court than ones just involving GPS tracker data. Some members of the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, argue the Fourth Amendment turns on whether the government has trespassed on someone’s private property. Other members—represented in arguments by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito—say that people have a reasonable expectation to the privacy of their location data.

For now, Monday’s ruling will force lower courts to consider whether attaching a GPS tracker to someone or something is a reasonable search, Lynch said. “It makes very clear to state courts and lower courts considering this issue that at least they have to get to that point,” she told me.

North Carolina isn’t alone in requiring past sex offenders to wear a GPS tracking device. Wisconsin also forces convicted sex offenders to wear location monitors for the rest of their lives, and Lynch said the EFF is looking at similar cases in other states. In her opinion, lifelong GPS tracking does constitute an unreasonable search. Her thinking: By the time they’re monitored, convicts have served their time and have theoretically repaid society for their crimes.

“They should have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and not be under a state of government surveillance for the rest of their lives, and that’s what a GPS tracker constitutes,” Lynch said. “Sex offenders—it’s the easiest class of people to place these kinds of punishments on, but I worry that we start with sex offenders and then we go down the line to people who’ve committed misdemeanors.”

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-supreme-court-youre-being-220522445.html

Photo by:  Jonathan McIntosh

Around Thanksgiving of 2014, a US Postal Service customer noticed something odd: surveillance cameras outside a local Golden, Colorado post office that were aimed to capture vehicle license plates and the faces of customers exiting the building.

Just recently, a Denver Fox TV affiliate confirmed the presence of these surveillance cameras in an investigative report. Although the US Postal Inspection Service claimed that they were for law enforcement and security, there were no surveillance cameras that captured activities at the employee entrance or loading dock at the building.

Pamela Durkee, a U.S. Postal Inspector explained in an email to FOX31, “(We) do not engage in routine or random surveillance. Cameras are deployed for law enforcement or security purposes, which may include the security of our facilities, the safety of our customers and employees, or for criminal investigations. Employees of the Postal Inspection Service are sworn to uphold the United States Constitution, including protecting the privacy of the American public.”

But according to Lee Tian, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, these cameras violate the spirit of the Constitution.  “Part of being a responsible, constitutional government is explaining why it is doing surveillance on its citizens,” Tian said. “The government should not be collecting this kind of sensitive information. And it is sensitive! It’s about your relationships, your associations with other people, which can be friendship or political or religious. The idea that we give up that privacy simply because we use the U.S. mail is, I think, a silly idea.”

Tian continues: “The idea that they [law enforcement] would be able to keep that information forever and search through it whenever they want to – that seems very, very wrong to us because it means you’ll be able to accumulate over time a lot of innocent peoples’ information and then use it in the kinds of ways that would not be overseen by any kind of court or independent third party.”

ACTION ALERT! —————————–

Want to help a Forward Observer project?  Then we need photos and locations of these types of surveillance cameras at post offices around you.  Help us create a map of known locations where surveillance cameras capture the license plates and/or faces of innocent post office customers.  Send in your information to: USPS (at) readfomag (dot) com!

Las Cruces Air

The Justice Department’s newest electronic dragnet–plane-mounted “dirtboxes” that can slurp thousands of cellular phone ID’s from the air — was originally developed by the CIA to hunt terrorists in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reports. Now however, it’s being used domestically to track American citizens. That’s not good.

According to a new report from the WSJ, the US Marshals Service, with assistance from both the CIA and Boeing, developed these Cessna-mounted devices. They are electronic sniffers that mimic cellular tower signals to incite any cellular telephone within range to broadcast its identifying registration information. It’s essentially an aerial man-in-the-middle attack and one that has cost US taxpayers more than $100 million to create. With this information, US Marshals can effectively locate, identify, and lock on to specific cell phones — out of a sample population of thousands or even tens of thousands of devices — to within an accuracy of just three yards. What’s more, once the suspect phone is found, Marshals can then listen in on any calls originating from it. According to the WSJ, these devices have been in operation since 2007, mounted on Cessna aircraft flying out of five metropolitan airfields throughout the US and can access a majority of the US population.

This isn’t the first time that this technology has been put to use by US officials, mind you. Dirtbox technology first debuted in the Middle East where it was utilized in the hunt for terrorists in both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, this new program marks a troubling collaboration between domestic law enforcement and the nation spy agency that blurs a very important operational distinction between the two agencies.

That is, the CIA is an outward-looking agency; its purpose is to gather information from abroad regarding external threats to national security. The US Marshals (and the DOJ in general), instead is tasked with enforcing federal law here in the States. To provide the DOJ with more than a million dollars worth of equipment designed specifically to hunt people that aren’t protected by the Constitution and then allow federal officials to listen in on calls may conform to the letter of the law — as both the CIA and DOJ have asserted to the WSJ — but it certainly doesn’t conform to the spirit. And it could very well lead to further and more aggressive domestic surveillance efforts in the future.

Both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have already filed FOIA requests regarding the program and have requested “additional information about the Department of Justice’s and Department of Homeland Security’s acquisition, possession, and use of cell site simulators deployed on aircraft” ahead of any further legal action.

We’ve already seen that the Feds have very few qualms about utilizing digital dragnets like PRISM. This Dirtbox technology appears to signal a newfound readiness to apply these overreaching information gathering practices to not just our online lives but to our mobile devices as well.

Source  http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/10/the-cia-is-giving-its-surveillance-tech-to-us-law-enforcement/

 

Orwell’s Big Brother on ‘roids

Moreover, despite the insistence by government agents that DNA is infallible, New York Times reporter Andrew Pollack makes a clear and convincing case that DNA evidence can, in fact, be fabricated. Israeli scientists “fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva,” stated Pollack. “They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.” The danger, warns scientist Dan Frumkin, is that crime scenes can be engineered with fabricated DNA.

Now if you happen to be the kind of person who trusts the government implicitly and refuses to believe it would ever do anything illegal or immoral, then the prospect of government officials—police, especially—using fake DNA samples to influence the outcome of a case might seem outlandish. But for those who know their history, the probability of our government acting in a way that is not only illegal but immoral becomes less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”

STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

Big Brother is collecting your DNA. From John Whitehead, at theburningplatform.com:

“The year is 2025. The population is 325 million, and the FBI has the DNA profiles of all of them. Unlike fingerprints, these profiles reveal vital medical information. The universal database arrived surreptitiously. First, the Department of Defense’s repository of DNA samples from all military personnel, established to identify remains of soldiers missing from action, was given to the FBI. Then local police across the country shadowed individuals, collecting shed DNA for the databank. On the way, thousands of innocent people were imprisoned because they had the misfortune to have race-based crime genes in their DNA samples. Sadly, it did not have to be this way. If only we had passed laws against collecting and using shed DNA….”—Professor David H. Kaye

Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta…

View original post 377 more words

The trustworthiness of a web page might help it rise up Google’s rankings if the search giant starts to measure quality by facts, not just links

THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.

Google’s search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team (arxiv.org/abs/1502.03519v1). The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score.

The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

There are already lots of apps that try to help internet users unearth the truth. LazyTruth is a browser extension that skims inboxes to weed out the fake or hoax emails that do the rounds. Emergent, a project from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, New York, pulls in rumours from trashy sites, then verifies or rebuts them by cross-referencing to other sources.

LazyTruth developer Matt Stempeck, now the director of civic media at Microsoft New York, wants to develop software that exports the knowledge found in fact-checking services such as Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org so that everyone has easy access to them. He says tools like LazyTruth are useful online, but challenging the erroneous beliefs underpinning that information is harder. “How do you correct people’s misconceptions? People get very defensive,” Stempeck says. “If they’re searching for the answer on Google they might be in a much more receptive state.”

This article appeared in print under the headline “Nothing but the truth”

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530102.600-google-wants-to-rank-websites-based-on-facts-not-links.html#.VPWbMOFMKJc

 The biggest problem with this idea is the use of Politifact,Snopes,and Fact Check.org-all three are politically biased sites-don’t believe me-look up gun control-then show me a single pro-gun “fact” from any of the three “sources of truth”. Or look up climate change,and try to find a single dissenting article that is the truth-called the truth. Look up hunting being the single most effective wildlife management tool-a fact almost every wildlife biologist agrees with-or the fact that hunters fund well over 90% of all wildlife management in the U.S.

  The only thing this will do is make all the alternate news sources on the ‘net  go from independent news sources-to exact copies of the mainstream media-any story that does not agree with the  “official” narrative of .gov inc. will be ten pages of results down in search results-or not show up at all. Anyone reporting on shady stuff being done by .gov inc. will have their reporting labeled as “lies” because it doesn’t agree with what Google and .gov inc.’s Ministry of Truth/propaganda agency-abcnnbcbs,the WaPo,NY Times,and La Times,and MSLSD and HuffPO claim is the “truth”.

When it’s not making us take our shoes off, it’s trampling our civil liberties and ‘building’ centers that don’t exist. Enough already.
Are you nervous, America?

If nothing happens before Friday, the mighty Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—every bit as much a WTF legacy of George W. Bush as those surreal White House Christmas videos that featured Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson talking to Barney “the First Dog” like the Son of Sam killer—will lose its funding due to a budget fight between congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama.

And when DHS funding ends, then…well, nothing much, actually, it turns out.

Without funding, about 30,000 “non-essential” DHS employees will be told not to show up for work. The other 210,000 or so workers who are considered “essential” and “exempt” will still have to punch the clock, although most of them won’t get paid until after the budget stalemate is ended. Not optimal, but not the worst outcome, either.

DHS oversees almost two dozen agencies and groups, including the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), immigration processing and enforcement, the Secret Service, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the brave folks responsible for an endless series of junk-touching, drug-stealing, and kiddie-porn scandals.

Given all those fearsome responsibilities, you’d figure Barack Obama would be sweating gravy over even a partial shutdown of DHS. Instead, last week he stressed not the “security” part of the department’s functioning, but all the dollars its workers spend in a congressional district near you. After noting that most DHS employees would be working for IOUs during a funding freeze, he said: “These are folks, who if they don’t have a paycheck, are not going to be able to spend that money in your states. It will have a direct impact on your economy.” That’s about as open an admission that federal employment is essentially a form of workfare as you’re likely to hear. Only later in his comments did Obama get around to the idea that these same workers also, you know, keep us safe from the odd underwear bomber and all those undocumented Mexicans we hire to cook our food and clean our houses.

Unsurprisingly, Obama didn’t mention the Secret Service, which is supposed to protect the president but has lately been way too busy opening White House doors for knife-wielding psychos and cheating whores down South America way to focus on its core businesses.

My God, where have our priorities as a nation gone? Come Friday, Pocatello is a sitting duck.

Even Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, couldn’t muster much in the way of if-then fearmongering. Earlier this month, Johnson trotted out a parade of horribles that was about as scary as a late-night rerun of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Without uninterrupted funding, warned the secretary, some of the “government activities vital to homeland security and public safety” that might be affected included “new communications equipment for over 80 public safety agencies in the Los Angeles area to replace aging and incompatible radio systems,” “fifteen mobile command centers for possible catastrophic incidents in the state of Kentucky,” and “bomb squads in the state of Idaho.” My God, where have our priorities as a nation gone? Come Friday, Pocatello is a sitting duck.

The current funding situation is the product of an impasse stemming from Obama’s executive action, issued last November, temporarily expanding the number of illegal immigrants protected from deportation proceedings. The Migration Policy Institute figures about 3.7 million illegals (out of a total of around 11 million) would be protected by the action. That move didn’t sit well with Republicans in Congress, who passed a continuing resolution that pointedly left out full funding for DHS until this year, when they would control majorities in the House and the Senate.

How any of this will play out is anybody’s guess, especially since a federal judge in Texas has at least temporarily blocked Obama’s plan and it’s far from clear that the administration’s legal appeals will prove successful.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has tried his damnedest to force reluctant Democrats to vote yes or no on the president’s immigration action before any sort of DHS funding bill hits the floor. Perhaps mindful of those “fifteen mobile command centers” for Kentucky hanging in the balance, it seems as if McConnell has “thrown in the towel” on the cause even if House Republicans are ready to hang tough.

Such hijinks may well be smart—or dumb—politics, but they distract from a far more important and serious question: Why do we even have a Department of Homeland Security in the first place?

Created in 2002 in the mad crush of panic, paranoia, and patriotic pants-wetting after the 9/11 attacks, DHS has always been a stupid idea. Even at the time, creating a new cabinet-level department responsible for 22 different agencies and services was suspect. Exactly how was adding a new layer of bureaucracy supposed to make us safer (and that’s leaving aside the question of just what the hell “homeland security” actually means)? DHS leaders answer to no fewer than 90 congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee the department’s various functions. Good luck with all that.

But don’t feel sorry for the shmoes running DHS. Over the last decade, the budget for DHS has doubled (to $54 billion in 2014) even as its reputation for general mismanagement, wasteful spending, and civil liberties abuses flourishes. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) routinely lists DHS on its “high risk” list of badly run outfits and surveys of federal workers have concluded “that DHS is the worst department to work for in the government,” writes Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute. He also notes, a “Washington Post investigation found that many DHS employees say they have ‘a dysfunctional work environment’ with ‘abysmal morale.’” Somewhere, the Postmaster General is pumping his fist.

It only gets worse when you look at the sheer amount of junk DHS spends money on. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), for instance, built 21 homes for agents in a remote part of Arizona. The price tag was $680,000 per house in a part of the country where the average home sold for less than $90,000. When the TSA isn’t hiring defrocked, child-molesting priests, Edwards notes that it is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars on radiation detectors for cargo containers that don’t work and full-body airport scanners without bothering to “perform a cost-benefit analysis…before rolling them out nationwide.”

And while the spooks at the National Security Agency and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies get most of the ink when it comes to imperiling civil liberties, DHS is more than holding its own. It administers “fusion centers,” which pull together all sorts of legal, semi-legal, and flatly illegal surveillance methods of citizens by state and local police.

A 2012 investigation by the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs found that fusion centers trafficked in “oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely [information, while] sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections.” The material collected was “more often than not unrelated to terrorism.” On the upside, as my Reason colleague Jesse Walker noted, the report found “some of the fusion centers touted by the Department of Homeland Security do not, in fact, exist.”

With all this in mind, it would be better for Congress and the president to focus less on two-bit political wrangling over this or that part of DHS funding and more on heaving the whole department into the dustbin. From a politician’s point of view, that might indeed mean fewer dollars being spent in your state right now, but you’d also be repaid in full with votes of grateful citizens from all over the place.

By Michael Snyder

Are you a conservative, a libertarian, a Christian or a gun owner?  Are you opposed to abortion, globalism, Communism, illegal immigration, the United Nations or the New World Order?  Do you believe in conspiracy theories, do you believe that we are living in the “end times” or do you ever visit alternative news websites (such as this one)?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are a “potential terrorist” according to official U.S. government documents.

At one time, the term “terrorist” was used very narrowly.  The government applied that label to people like Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists.  But now the Obama administration is removing all references to Islam from terror training materials, and instead the term “terrorist” is being applied to large groups of American citizens.

And if you are a “terrorist”, that means that you have no rights and the government can treat you just like it treats the terrorists that are being held at Guantanamo Bay.  So if you belong to a group of people that is now being referred to as “potential terrorists”, please don’t take it as a joke.  The first step to persecuting any group of people is to demonize them.  And right now large groups of peaceful, law-abiding citizens are being ruthlessly demonized.

Below is a list of 72 types of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” and “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents.  To see the original source document for each point, just click on the link.  As you can see, this list covers most of the country…

1. Those that talk about “individual liberties”
2. Those that advocate for states’ rights
3. Those that want “to make the world a better place”
4. “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule”
5. Those that are interested in “defeating the Communists”
6. Those that believe “that the interests of one’s own nation are separate from the interests of other nations or the common interest of all nations”
7. Anyone that holds a “political ideology that considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful,or undesirable”
8. Anyone that possesses an “intolerance toward other religions”
9. Those that “take action to fight against the exploitation of the environment and/or animals”
10. “Anti-Gay”
11. “Anti-Immigrant”
12. “Anti-Muslim”
13. “The Patriot Movement”
14. “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians”
15. Members of the Family Research Council
16. Members of the American Family Association
17. Those that believe that Mexico, Canada and the United States “are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity that will be known as the ‘North American Union’”
18. Members of the American Border Patrol/American Patrol
19. Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform
20. Members of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition
21. Members of the Christian Action Network
22. Anyone that is “opposed to the New World Order”
23. Anyone that is engaged in “conspiracy theorizing”
24. Anyone that is opposed to Agenda 21
25. Anyone that is concerned about FEMA camps
26. Anyone that “fears impending gun control or weapons confiscations”
27. The militia movement
28. The sovereign citizen movement
29. Those that “don’t think they should have to pay taxes”
30. Anyone that “complains about bias”
31. Anyone that “believes in government conspiracies to the point of paranoia”
32. Anyone that “is frustrated with mainstream ideologies”
33. Anyone that “visits extremist websites/blogs”
34. Anyone that “establishes website/blog to display extremist views”
35. Anyone that “attends rallies for extremist causes”
36. Anyone that “exhibits extreme religious intolerance”
37. Anyone that “is personally connected with a grievance”
38. Anyone that “suddenly acquires weapons”
39. Anyone that “organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology”
40. “Militia or unorganized militia”
41. “General right-wing extremist”
42. Citizens that have “bumper stickers” that are patriotic or anti-U.N.
43. Those that refer to an “Army of God”
44. Those that are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”
45. Those that are “anti-global”
46. Those that are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”
47. Those that are “reverent of individual liberty”
48. Those that “believe in conspiracy theories”
49. Those that have “a belief that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack”
50. Those that possess “a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism”
51. Those that would “impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”
52. Those that would “insert religion into the political sphere”
53. Anyone that would “seek to politicize religion”
54. Those that have “supported political movements for autonomy”
55. Anyone that is “anti-abortion”
56. Anyone that is “anti-Catholic”
57. Anyone that is “anti-nuclear”
58. “Rightwing extremists”
59. “Returning veterans”
60. Those concerned about “illegal immigration”
61. Those that “believe in the right to bear arms”
62. Anyone that is engaged in “ammunition stockpiling”
63. Anyone that exhibits “fear of Communist regimes”
64. “Anti-abortion activists”
65. Those that are against illegal immigration
66. Those that talk about “the New World Order” in a “derogatory” manner
67. Those that have a negative view of the United Nations
68. Those that are opposed “to the collection of federal income taxes”
69. Those that supported former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr
70. Those that display the Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”)
71. Those that believe in “end times” prophecies
72. Evangelical Christians

The groups of people in the list above are considered “problems” that need to be dealt with.  In some of the documents referenced above, members of the military are specifically warned not to have anything to do with such groups.

We are moving into a very dangerous time in American history.  You can now be considered a “potential terrorist” just because of your religious or political beliefs.  Free speech is becoming a thing of the past, and we are rapidly becoming an Orwellian society that is the exact opposite of what our founding fathers intended.

Please pray for the United States of America.  We definitely need it.

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