The All-Seeing Eye
You just bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul. One-way because you're planning on hopping from Turkey across to Asia. You've heard about teaching opportunities in China, so you investigate the visa regulations. Maybe you'll pass through India. You check the schedules, memorize half a dozen local currencies, buy a phrasebook or two. You visit your doctor for a hepatitis shot and some antibiotics. You consolidate your bank accounts and sell your car.
These are the normal actions of someone about to hit the road for some hard travel. They are mundane and private decisions. Yet when considered as an aggregate, they may bring you to the "evidence threshold," prompting the newly created U.S. Information Awareness Office to provide a "focused warning" to the Department of Defense. One hour after the "triggering event occurs" or the "evidence threshold is passed" you've been labeled as a potential terrorist threat. You're now an active file under the Total Information Awareness program, which aims to control the most comprehensive, inescapable and intrusive database in the world.
According to retired Admiral John Poindexter, monitoring and documenting every American's activities will help the U.S. win the war on terrorism. Last week, with the passing of the Homeland Security Act, Poindexter's vision for the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was given the congressional green light. The Information Awareness Office will soon begin developing TIA for the Dept. of Defense.
Thirteen years ago, Adm. Poindexter then President Reagan's national security advisor and Oliver North were two of the key figures in the Iran-Contra scandal; they sold missiles to Iran and used the proceeds to illegally fund guerilla death-squads in Nicaragua. In 1990, Poindexter was found guilty of five felony counts of misleading Congress and making false statements under oath. The convictions were later overturned, but not because he didn't lie he'd been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.
This is the man who will oversee the construction of the largest database in the history of mankind. This is the man who will help define the "evidence threshold." This is the man whose agency will provide the "focused warnings" that can send federal officials to your front door.
Six weeks after the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., Congress approved the Patriot Act, officially known as USAPATRIOT ("Uniting and Strength-ening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"). It was approved by the Senate 99-1, with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold casting the only dissenting vote. At the time, Feingold stated that "there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists ... But that wouldn't be a country in which we would want to live."
Zoia Horn didn't think so either. In 1972, the 54-year old became the first librarian in the U.S. to suffer imprisonment in defense of her patrons' right to privacy. She was jailed for 20 days for refusing to testify at the trial of the Harrisburg Seven, who were accused of plotting to set off explosives underneath Washington, D.C., and kidnap Henry Kissinger in protest against U.S. military action in Southeast Asia. The charges were dropped when the prosecution's key witness was proven to be inconsistent and unreliable. Horn was released.
Thirty years ago, Horn had a case. There was no law allowing the government to seize library records. Now, under Section 507 of the Patriot Act, librarians are specifically compelled to produce borrowing and internet data at the request of the Justice Department. In response, in the August issue of American Libraries magazine, the Ame-rican Library Association decla-red that "we will need librarians brave enough to speak out, even if it means going to jail."
Zoia Horn could become the Rosa Parks of book-lenders, assuming that any librarians are "brave enough." Yale, Columbia and Princeton are among the many universities that have already agreed to comply with these non-consensual subpoenas, as non-compliance would jeopardize their ability to host international students. According to a survey by the University of Illinois, the FBI has already conducted searches at nearly 10% of U.S. libraries since Sep-tember 11, 2001.
The Patriot Act also extends to booksellers. Section 215 requires every American bookstore to provide records of customer purchases upon request. Some independently owned shops responded by no longer connecting the list of items with the customer's credit card information, essentially severing the tie between item and individual.
Ominously, the new government powers are shrouded in sanctioned secrecy. Administered as a tangent to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Patriot Act allows for warrants to be issued by a secret federal court established twenty years ago. The Justice Department refuses to discuss how this new power is being used with anyone including Congress.
In contradiction of Americans' Constitu-tional right to a presumption of innocence, these warrants do not require evidence of wrongdoing only what the Justice Dept. determines to be suspicious behavior. The Attorney General's Office need only assert that the target is part of an ongoing investigation that protects the U.S. "against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." The librarian or bookstore owner is also prevented from telling anyone that a request has been made.
And that's just the beginning.
The United States has entered into what in international relations jargon is called an "asymmetric combat environment." The traditional model of war involves entities that are roughly equal in size or power. Nation against nation, army against army. The "War on Terror" is asymmetrical, which denotes a drastic imbalance between the two combatants.
In asymmetrical conflict, losses are usually seen to be the fault of intelligence-gathering agencies, not the military. Not surprisingly, September 11 triggered some drastic proposals for over-hauling the nation's internal security apparatus.
Earlier this year, Attorney Gene-ral John Ashcroft announced the Terrorism Information and Prevention Sys-tem (Ope-ration TIPS) as part of the Homeland Security Act. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Citizen Corps website, TIPS would become "a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity." Ordinary citizens who are "in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears of law enforcement" would be trained "to look out for suspicious and potentially terrorist-related activity."
Thirteen years after the end of the Cold War, the United States Attorney General proposed that American citizens be trained and encouraged to inform on each other.
This past summer, law enforcement accountability activist Ritt Goldstein forecasted that TIPS could potentially recruit one in 24 Americans. "The U.S.," he wrote, "[would then] have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police."
Under pressure from civil liberty groups and other watchdog organizations, House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey led the charge to strike the program from the then-pending Homeland Security Act.
In the place of this drastic proposal rose another, even more drastic proposal.
They call it data mining: sifting through the monstrous electronic haystacks looking for needles.
Ten years ago, a telemarketing firm might have purchased a year's worth of shopping receipts from the local supermarket in order to extrapolate family sizes, income brackets and buying tendencies. These days, companies pay search engines to show their banner advertisements alongside the results of relevant queries. Like prized recipes, some of the most highly guarded secrets at internet companies are the algorithms used to determine relevance between user requests and advertisers.
Data mining is neither new nor novel, nor has it ever been particularly threatening. Even wary tech-libertarian types dismissed corporate data mining by clinging to the implausibility of application. The most fiendish use of targeted marketing, they'd say, was junk mail and maybe a few automated phone calls from mayoral candidates before election day. As an unavoidable fact of modern life, da-ta mining was never an issue worthy of mass mobilization beyond the Wired set.
Similarly, the thought that the American government would spy on its own population is neither new nor novel. Both the FBI and CIA have over the years fulfil-led their missions to protect America by monitoring its citizens under such well-documented Cold War programs as COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS.
Or consider the 40-year-old Natio-nal Security Agency, the largest of the U.S. intelligence organizations, the existence of which was kept hidden until the 1967 publication of David Kahn's The Codebreakers. With the start of Operation Minaret in 1969, the NSA established a "watch list" of American anti-war and civil-rights activists. According to Christian W. Erickson's essay "Securing Cyber-space," the NSA intercepted messages between American citizens and groups "in compliance with requests by the FBI, CIA, the Secret Service and other agencies." Previously, Operation Shamrock had been responsible for intercepting all telephone and telegraph transmissions handled by Western Union, ITT and RCA.
None of this ended with the Cold War. The FBI's Carnivore program can collect the "to:" and "from:" fields from emails in the same way that a traditional "trap and trace" telephone tap can record incoming and dialed numbers. The NSA's Project Echelon run in partnership with the British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand governments continues to trawl through a good portion of all civilian telephone communications around the globe.
Most citizens sleep at night believing that their elected officials are doing their best to ensure the nation's safety, and that the sacrifices they might make knowingly or not contribute to this effort. They assuage their fears of intrusion and impropriety by trusting their government to stick to its mandate to pursue criminals.
With the arrival of the Infor-mation Awareness Office, it may be time to once again reconsider this trust.
The United States Senate approved the Homeland Security Act of 2002 by a overwhelming majority on November 19. The House of Representatives passed it in July. Once signed by the president, the bill will esta-blish the Depart-ment of Home-land Security by bringing together 22 existing agencies employing some 170,000 government workers; its expected annual budget is $35.5 billion. This is the largest government reorganization since the Dept. of Defense was created in the 1940s by merging the departments of War and Navy.
The original Homeland Security Act, as introduced to Congress, was under 40 pages in length. The bill, as passed, has 484 pages. Few senators or their advisers had enough time to digest its contents and acquaint themselves with its provisions. In the words of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, it is a "monstrous piece of legislation" and "one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation" he'd ever seen.
Byrd was one of only nine senators to vote against the bill. His statement before his peers was firm: "To tell the American people they are going to be safer when we pass this is to hoax. We ought to tell people the truth. They are not going to be any safer."
Tucked inside Byrd's monstrous "hoax" was Adm. Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program, set to run with a $200 million annual budget as a project of the Information Awareness Office, an office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is the research and development arm of the Dept. of Defense and has been responsible for such revolutionary technologies as the internet and the stealth bomber.
With the founding of the Information Awareness Office (IAO) program, large-scale data mining and government surveillance will be joined under one massive umbrella organization. The Dept. of Defense intends to record and analyze every single transaction conducted by its citizens that shows up on any computer, anywhere. The U.S. federal government will also begin to officially monitor its citizens' interstate travel, as documented by the automatic toll systems that are already in place on the nation's highways.
The IAO will then draw connections and conclusions between seemingly disparate actions: a large cash withdrawal as related to the legal purchase of a firearm as related to, say, a one-way ticket to a country that borders a Middle East nation. Within one hour, the IAO can make vague and groundless suspicion a matter of permanent record, and perhaps grounds for subpoena.
Some are still tempted to accept and defend the IAO as a reasonable national security measure, from which the average American has nothing to fear. On September 5, Wall Street Journal reporter Stephanie Miles quoted Harvard Law School professor Jonathon Zittrain as suggesting that, "if you're not up to no good, then it's unlikely that [the new powers] are coming after you."
Pity Professor Zittrain if he finds himself on the IAO list of suspicious persons.
The Information Awareness Office is only one among several offices at DARPA. There's also the Tactical Technology Office, the Defense Sciences Office, the Advanced Technology Office and the Information Exploitation Office, the logo of which proclaims its mission: "Sense, Exploit, Execute and Plan."
The IAO is by far the most technologically frightening of these. Its programs are the stuff of cautionary science-fiction tales:
Bio-Surveillance. Detects biological pathogens sooner than is possible by traditional methods. By monitoring such "non-traditional data sources" as "pre-diagnostic medical data" and "animal sentinels" sending canaries into the combat coal mine Phase IV will introduce a "prototype bio-surveillance system ... constructed for a citywide area of military interest and demonstrated in a series of field experiments by injecting simulated biological event data into the real-time data streams of the testbed system."
Human ID at a Distance. Develops "automated biometric information technologies to detect, recognize and identify humans at great distances." Using "multi-spectral infrared and visible face recognition system[s]" in conjunction with planned "gait recognition" technology, HumanID will "enable faster, more accurate and unconstrained identification of humans at significant standoff distances."
Genoa. A surveillance program originally developed by Syntek Techno-logies while Adm. Poindexter was its vice president, will "augment human cognitive processes and aid understanding of complex arguments." Genoa II will "allow humans and machines to 'think together' in real-time about complicated problems" using "intelligent agents, cognitive machine intelligence, associative memory, neural networks, pattern matching ... and biologically inspired algorithms."
Critics worry that the IAO will strive to integrate these various programs the world's largest database, the world's most effective human identification system, the world's most advanced human-machine communication protocols to yield an all-powerful, all-seeing beast that even the most alarmist futurists never imagined.
Are they paranoid? Or is reality about to catch up with dystopian science-fiction?
Historically, wars provide governments with the opportunity to expand their powers of surveillance. Weary and battle-scarred populaces often demand it, or, at the very least, tolerate it in the interest of national security. WWI led to the strengthening of the FBI. WWII planted the seeds of the CIA. The Cold War gave us the NSA and its Echelon.
The current war looks set to further concentrate federal power and introduce new and far-reaching tools for civilian eavesdropping.
Two years ago, Applied Digital Solutions announced that they had crossed into an "exciting new frontier in the digital revolution." They were prepared to market Digital Angel, a line of syringe-injectable, biologically stable microchips that would, among other things, allow humans to be tracked in real time using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. In a demonstration on October 30, 2000, a moving test subject's location, pulse and body temperature were relayed to the internet and displayed for a group of excited Wall Street analysts, members of the military and government officials, including Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta.
Word of the new product hit the wire services and caused a minor uproar among civil liberty groups wary of an implanted microchip that would be "virtually impossible to remove." The company toned down the language surrounding "implants" and instead shifted their focus to wearable technology.
Less than one year later, one week after Septem-ber 11, Applied Digital offered wristwatch versions of Digital Angel to New York City's fire department and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, suggesting that the GPS-enabled devices could help search and recovery efforts.
Perhaps buoyed by good publicity, they soon re-introduced the implan-table microchip. This time, they called it VeriChip.
The new device is the size of a grain of rice and is coated with a polymer sheath patented as BioBond that prevents it from slipping around inside the body, generally the forearm. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that it would not regulate the device so long as it wasn't used to diagnose medical conditions.
Last month, a non-profit think-tank based in Washington D.C., hosted a roundtable to discuss the use of VeriChip inthe implementation of a compulsory national identification system.
Twenty years ago, compulsory fingerprinting of children was eagerly accepted during the child-abduction scares of the early '80s; parents held their kids' hands against the inkpad. Applied Digital Solutions CEO Richard Sullivan has been quoted suggesting that VeriChip could help find missing children. With several million cats and dogs even birds and lizards already chipped for identification purposes, how far are we from frightened parents offering up their kids' forearms?
It seems outlandish that anyone would allow someone to inject a microchip into his or her body. And yet, at least 20 people have already volunteered, including the Jacobs family in Florida who were implanted six months ago. The VeriChips in their arms provide links to their medical histories. According to a CBS Evening News report, these "medical pioneers" believe that the chips can save their lives in an emergency situation.
And this isn't just happening in America. A November 17 report in The Observer revealed that the British government is considering implanting microchips in convicted pedophiles. The chips would not only register the subject's location, but also his or her state of nervousness and fear, in an effort to prevent future attacks. Rumors have also long circulated among conspiracist types that Prince William was chipped when he was 12 years old.
Eight Latin American countries have expressed official interest in VeriChip, as has the government of China. According to WorldNetDaily, Applied Digital Solutions has already opened up a research and development facility in Shen Zhen, an economic zone outside of Hong Kong. Its partnership with a Chinese technology firm will provide, in the words of Sullivan, "the main facility, equipment and working capital to manufacture, promote and distribute [our] products in the three northeastern Chinese provinces."
It isn't surprising that Applied Digital Solutions is salivating at the possibility of 1.3 billion chipped Chinese. It's hard to think of a larger or more promising market.
Seen on their own, none of these developments are all that groundbreaking. Corporations have been monitoring your purchases and targeting their advertising for 50 years. The government has been spying on us since before the NSA built its first supercomputer, and they've had access to your email since before the word "dot-com" existed.
The difference is that before the Information Awareness Office was approved by Congress, the government's next action has always been to ignore us. The IAO represents permanent and mandatory cradle-to-the-grave observation and tracking.
The time may have come to start taking the warnings of the so-called paranoid fringe a little more seriously. One chip-watch website urges visitors to not "let anyone, for any reasons, inject a chip in your right hand or forehead!" The author proceeds to explain how microchips will eventually be used to catalog and track every human on the planet.
Not so long ago, these people were crackpots. Fifteen months into the "war on terror," they're starting to look more like prophets.
What was the IAO thinking?
Deep-right, fundamentalist Christians already know that President George W. Bush is a card-carrying member of the Illuminati, the elite organization that they claim is responsible for not only implementing the New World Order, but also spreading Satan-worshiping by way of mass consumerism/slavery. They know the ground plan for Washington D.C. is a giant Masonic symbol. They know that at least 20 multinational corporations, including Disney, Procter & Gamble and Texaco, are controlled by Freemasons.
Conspiracy-theory types already know that the Illuminati have been controlling world affairs since their secret society was formed on May 1, 1776. The arrival of the Freemason and Rosicrucian symbol of the All-Seeing Eye -- also known as the Eye of Horus, among other names -- on the dollar bill was an announcement that the U.S. was prepared to usher in what archetypical modern occultist Aleister Crowley called the Age of Horus. The All-Seeing Eye was suggested to President Franklin D. Roosevelt by his Secretary of Agriculture, 32nd-degree Freemason Henry Wallace.
Adherents from both camps have produced hundreds of books and thousands of web pages dedicated to dissecting the Illuminati's role in creating a New World Order, one that will enslave the world's population for the purpose of ... well, for whatever purpose they may have in mind.
Corporations regularly spend millions of dollars researching their new products and logos. What the hell was the Information Awareness Office thinking? Using the All-Seeing Eye in the logo of what is destined to become the largest, most comprehensive database of individual affairs the world has ever seen?
Maybe the idea of a worldwide totalitarian government isn't so far-fetched anymore. Maybe we should be wary of a government that employs such a loaded symbol in a $200 million surveillance program, Illuminati or not.
By the way, "IAO" is the name of Aleister Crowley's essential formula used in magickal initiations and is often referenced in source material alongside both the Eye of Horus and the Age of Horus.
Truth Maintenance
From the Information Awareness Office website:
The IAO Vision:
- Foreign language machine translation and speech recognition
- Biometric signatures of humans
- Real-time learning, pattern matching and anomalous pattern detection
- Human network analysis and behavior model building engines
- Event prediction and capability development model building engines
- Structured argumentation and evidential reasoning
- Story telling, change detection, and truth maintenance
- Biologically inspired algorithms for agent control"
- Planned Accomplishments [of the Total Information Awareness program]: To Be Announced"