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NSA Snoop Program: Greasing the Skids of the Police State
by Kurt Nimmo    Another Day in the Empire
Entered into the database on Friday, January 13th, 2006 @ 15:52:44 MST


Untitled Document

In Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, Big Brother only surveilled Inner and Outer Party members. Since the proles were not considered a threat, they did not have telescreens in their homes, although on occasion the Thought Police would track down and eliminate a few proles who demonstrated the capacity to think for themselves. In Bushzarro world, the state snoop apparatus—monitoring all voice and data communication with the connivance of the telecoms—indiscriminately surveils everybody and then uses sophisticated computer algorithms (called “artificial intelligence”) to ferret thought crimes out of the massive amount of captured data.

“Since 9/11, the expansion of efforts to gather and analyze information on U.S. citizens is nothing short of staggering,” writes Laura K. Donohue for the Los Angeles Times. “The government collects vast troves of data, including consumer credit histories and medical and travel records. Databases track Americans’ networks of friends, family and associates, not just to identify who is a terrorist but to try to predict who might become one.” Of course, since there is a very small number of people in America who would entertain joining “al-Qaeda” (only CIA vetted patsies and dim bulbs are allowed to join), this massive snoop effort has nothing to do with terrorism, unless of course you consider disagreement with the Straussian neocons terrorism (and they do). It should be obvious the NSA has long poked through personal communication in order to detect thought crime, not stop “al-Qaeda.”

In addition to detecting inappropriate thoughts—for instance, that it is morally repugnant and criminal to invade small defenseless countries and kill more than a hundred thousand people—one idea behind the NSA effort, at the behest of the Straussian neocons, is to spread a pervasive sense of fear and paranoia. As Donohue admits, under the neocon snoop program “privacy” (or more accurately our once constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties) “certainly suffers, but as individuals begin to feel inhibited in what they say and do, free speech and freedom of assembly also erode.” In other words, the neocons are sending a message to the proles of America—if you engage in unorthodox thought (Orwell called this “crimethink”) and transmit this subversive thought by way of cell phone or email, the government will know and you may suffer the consequences.

As Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue notes, the current interpretation of Orwell’s all-pervasive snoop and detention state had its beginnings in the Reagan administration under the reign of the Iran-Contra criminals, most notably the convicted felon Oliver North. The Straussian neocons, kissing cousins of the Iran-Contra coterie, have installed ready-made Reagan era “national security initiatives” that were “hatched in 1982 by controversial Marine Colonel Oliver North, later one of the key players in the Iran-Contra Scandal [and] charged the Federal Emergency Management Agency with administering executive orders that allowed suspension of the Constitution, implementation of martial law, establishment of internment camps, and the turning the government over to the President.”

Peter Dale Scott writes for AlterNet that “there are reasons to suspect that the illegal eavesdropping, and the related program of illegal detentions of U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals, began earlier. Both may be part of what Vice President Dick Cheney has called the Bush administration’s restoration of ‘the legitimate authority of the presidency’—practices exercised by Nixon that were outlawed after Watergate.” It is worth quoting Scott at length:

In the 1980s Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld discussed just such emergency surveillance and detention powers in a super-secret program that planned for what was euphemistically called “Continuity of Government” (COG) in the event of a nuclear disaster.

At the time, Cheney was a Wyoming congressman, while Rumsfeld, who had been defense secretary under President Ford, was a businessman and CEO of the drug company G.D. Searle. Overall responsibility for the program had been assigned to Vice President George H.W. Bush, “with Lt. Col. Oliver North…as the National Security Council action officer,” according to James Bamford in his book, “A Pretext for War.”

These men planned for suspension of the Constitution, not just after nuclear attack, but for any “national security emergency,” which they defined in Executive Order 12656 of 1988 as: “Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” Clearly 9/11 would meet this definition.

As developed in the mid-1980s by Oliver North in the White House, the plans called for not just the surveillance but the potential detention of large numbers of American citizens. During the Iran-Contra hearings, North was asked about his work on “a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution.” The chairman, Democratic Senator Inouye, ruled that this was a “highly sensitive and classified” matter, not to be dealt with in an open hearing.

Cheney would eventually get his way. In May of 2001, a few scant months before nine eleven, “President George W. Bush appointed Cheney to head a terrorism task force and created a new office within FEMA to assist him. In effect, Bush was authorizing a resumption of the kind of planning that Cheney and FEMA had conducted under the heading of COG.” Moreover,

Many actions of the Bush presidency resemble not only what Nixon did in the 1970s, but what Cheney and Rumsfeld had planned to restore under COG in the 1980s in the case of an attack. Prominent among these have been the detention of so-called ‘enemy combatants,’ including U.S. citizens, and placing them in special camps. Now as before, a policy of detentions outside the Constitution has been accompanied by a program of extra-constitutional surveillance to determine who will be detained.”

None of this is new and in fact predates the Bush administration. “If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there’s a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country’s largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it’s run by the National Security Agency and four English-speaking allies: Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The mission is to eavesdrop on enemies of the state: foreign countries, terrorist groups and drug cartels. But in the process, Echelon’s computers capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world,” Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes reported in 2000, before the Straussian neocons captured the White House and Pentagon. Of course, as the history of COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS (to name but two) reveals, the government is more concerned with domestic political opposition to its policies than preventing terrorism and putting drug cartels out of business (and it can be persuasively argued that the U.S. government has more than a little bit to do with drug cartels and terrorist groups; after all the CIA is not called the “Cocaine Importing Agency” for nothing and there is sufficient evidence the CIA and others created “al-Qaeda” for various reasons).

“John Brinkerhoff, deputy director of FEMA, developed the martial law implementation plan, following a template originally developed by former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida to battle a ‘national uprising of black militants.’ Gifuffrida’s implementation of martial law called for jailing at least 21 million African Americans in ‘relocation camps.’ Brinkerhoff later admitted in an interview with the Miami Herald that President Reagan signed off on the initiatives and they remained in place, dormant, until George W. Bush took office,” writes Doug Thompson.

Brinkerhoff moved on the Anser Institute for Homeland Security and, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provided the Bush White House and the Pentagon with talking points supporting revised “national security initiatives” that would could allow imposition of martial law and suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1978, the law that is supposed to forbid use of troops for domestic law enforcement.

In addition to sending a message that Big Brother is watching, the NSA is capturing massive amounts of data in order “to determine who will be detained” by FEMA and its private sector contractors “in the case of an attack” engineered by the Straussian neocons. “Bush used parts of the plan to send troops into the streets of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In addition, FEMA hired former special forces personnel from the mercenary firm Blackwater USA to ‘enforce security,’” Thompson continues.

The Department of Homeland Security established the “Northern Command for National Defense” [NORTHCOM], a wide-ranging program that includes FEMA, the Pentagon, the FBI and the National Security Agency. Executive orders already signed by Bush allow the Northern Command to send troops into American streets, seize control of radio and television stations and networks and impose martial law “in times of national emergency.”

It should be remembered that NORTHCOM flexed its muscles last September when it conducted the highly classified Granite Shadow “demonstration” In Washington. “Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control,” William Arkin reported at the time. Of course, as the NSA revealed when it snooped on the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker peace group, nonviolent dissent is considered a “weapon of mass destruction” and will be treated accordingly.

As I noted earlier this week, the NSA spied on Pledge of Resistance in July of 2004. In documents released by NSA under an FOIA request, it was discovered that the NSA kept a log “of reports filed every 15 minutes of the group’s activities. The details include everything from license plates to the number of balloons used,” reports ShortNews. “The documents also show that for a later protest by the group, the NSA would have video surveillance, K9 patrols, officers armed with shotguns, as well as a WMD response team.”

Arkin continues:

Granite Shadow posits domestic military operations, including intelligence collection and surveillance, unique rules of engagement regarding the use of lethal force, the use of experimental non-lethal weapons, and federal and military control of incident locations that are highly controversial and might border on the illegal…. Both plans [Granite Shadow and a complimentary plan, CONPLAN 0400] seem to live behind a veil of extraordinary secrecy because military forces operating under them have already been given a series of ‘’special authorities'’ by the President and the secretary of defense. These special authorities include, presumably, military roles in civilian law enforcement and abrogation of State’s powers in a declared or perceived emergency.

“The authority to declare what is or is not a national emergency rests entirely with Bush who does not have to either consult or seek the approval of Congress for permission to assume absolute control over the government of the United States,” writes Thompson.

The White House press office would neither confirm nor deny existence of Bush’s executive orders or the existence of the Northern Command for National Defense. Neither would the Department of Homeland Security.

But my sources within the White House and DHS tell me the plans are in place, ready for implementation when the command comes from the man who keeps telling the American public that he is a “war time president” who will “do anything in my power” to impose his will on the people of the United States.

And as we know, Bush’s “will”—or rather the will of the neocons—is to foment total war, beginning in the Middle East, and the American people, or rather a small number of Americans who vocally oppose this draconian master plan of mass murder and incalculable suffering, will not be allowed to intervene. If need be, they will be rounded up en masse by way of “extra-legal powers” (that is, illegal and unconstitutional powers) using “emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control,” likely after the next engineered terrorist even that our rulers repeatedly promise.