Gaius Publius: IRS is Using NSA Data Too. Who in Town Isn’t?

By Gaius Pubius, a professional writer living on the West Coast. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius. Cross posted from AmericaBlog

This is no longer an NSA data, or DEA data story. It’s a federal, state and local government data-trafficking story. Your Google-collected, Verizon-collected data seems to very broadly available. How broadly? Way more than you thought. Read on for the grizzly details.

We recently reported, along with others, on how the DEA has been getting data from the NSA to aid in their “war on drugs” — then getting prosecutors and cops (DEA and otherwise) to cover up the source of their tips to protect their ability to prosecute.

As bad as the original Snowden-Greenwald NSA story actually is — and if true, it’s very bad indeed — this is worse. After all, what’s the DEA (and half the cops and prosecutors in the country) doing with all that NSA data at their disposal?

Unlike others, though, we think the NSA-DEA connection as not just a point-to-point story — as in, NSA data–to–DEA database for drug cop use. It’s actually a many-points–to–many-points story, with the special unit within the DEA that keeps the data acting as a convenient one-stop collection place for both data sources and receivers.

The real DEA story, prior to the most recent revelation, is that the DEA acts as a clearinghouse for these data sources:

▪ NSA (including Google and Apple and friends)
▪ IRS (meaning all your financial data)
▪ Homeland Security
▪ At least 19 other agencies

And it passes the collected data to these receivers:

▪ “About 10,000” federal, state and local law enforcement agents
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends not on the list
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends’ non-cop friends

That’s what we used to think. Now we know more.

Now we know that one of the receivers of NSA (etc.) data is the IRS. (More on that below.) What this means is that, in all likelihood, all of the providers of DEA-collected data are also receivers of DEA-collected data.

Think I’m wrong? What are the odds?

What’s the Real Picture of Data-Trafficking at the DEA?

If I’m right, the real picture of data management by the DEA is thus more likely this:

Data sources

▪ NSA (again, Google and Apple)
▪ Homeland Security
▪ At least 19 other agencies

One central collection and distribution point

▪ The Special Operations Division (SOD) within the DEA
▪ DEA-maintained DICE database

Likely data receivers and users

▪ FBI?
▪ CIA?
▪ NSA?
IRS (verified)
▪ Homeland Security?
▪ At least 19 other agencies?

Plus known recipients and “friends who have friends”:
▪ “About 10,000” federal, state and local law enforcement agents
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends not on the list
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends’ non-cop friends


Google seems to like these guys.
Wonder what they’re getting in return?

Again, this is not a DEA story, nor even just an NSA story. It’s a very broad data collection and dissemination story. We now know that the IRS can see what Google collects, if it’s passed to the DEA. Which means that the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security (and all of their friends, and many of their friends’ friends) probably have access to Google, Apple, Verizon data, if it gets into the DEA database as well. Is there IRS data in that database? We’ve been told that there is, and why wouldn’t there be? I can manufacture a justification just sitting here (hint: drugs and money laundering). Can the CIA, FBI and Homeland Security see the IRS data?

And who are those “19 other agencies” with a seat at the data-trafficking table? Anyone we should know about? The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, right? Does that mean anyone high enough in the DoJ can ask the FBI to query the database too?

How about those servants of business in the Dept of Commerce? Can they use the DICE database to get Google or IRS dirt on labor organizers and pass it to their friends at, say, Walmart — or to whatever other company the DC revolving door might land them at?

It’s time Reuters found out (or revealed) those 19 name, don’t you think?

Don’t Forget the DC Revolving Door — Take Care of Your Friends and They’ll Take Care of You

And then there’s the corruption angle. The revolving door is a lifeline to the next overpaid job for almost all higher-up federal employees. If I were conscienceless, I’d use that DEA-collected data to make sure the revolving door treated me well. In fact, I’d use it to make sure the revolving door treated me very well.

Cabaret money

Money makes the world go around

After all, what better job application than to hand, say, McDonalds the online search and download preferences of their top 20 troublesome labor organizers — the behind-the-scenes people they can’t fire who are helping organize the low-wage people they can fire. Would that get you a spot on someone’s board of directors, or an office labeled “VP of Where Can We Golf?”

Could it get their corporate name (and donations) into your client list if you open your own “consulting” shop on Thank You Street (“K Street” to the rubes).

And that’s just the start of the corruption I can imagine. If I were political director for a conscienceless president, I’d make certain that certain reporters knew their habits were known. And I sure could chase a lot of pesky competition from a lot of state-wide no-name political races with a fistful of their google searches and private preferences.

Got more corrupt ideas than these? Post them in the comments. I’d love to see what the bright folks here — were they conscienceless — could come up with. I’ve also got a dozen ways to engage in personal vendettas running in my brain right now. The possibilities multiply themselves.

As I said, folks, this is not a DEA or NSA story. It’s a data-trafficking story. The only thing missing from the data collection are investment records (or is that where the IRS comes in?) and medical histories. With power like this, the world is the oyster of anyone who can get at it, and those who can — bet on it — are mainly corrupt. The least of their sins is being relentless careerist. If you want to find most of the predators, look where the prey — or everything known about them — is gathered.

Now the IRS Story — Reuters Says They’re Using the NSA Database Too

Reuters says the IRS has had access to DEA database data for a while. And just like the DEA, the IRS is abusing their use of it by lying about the sources of their tips and leads. Here’s a good Common Dreams summary of the story from writer Jon Queally:

Et Tu, IRS? Tax Agency Also Using Secret Spy Data?
Reuters reports IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intel evidence

Following up on exclusive reporting from earlier this week about how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency uses NSA surveillance data and tips from a secretive unit called the Special Operations Divisions (SOD) to initiate investigations, Reuters on Thursday reveals that the Internal Revenue Service was aware of and may have also used these “unconstitutional” tactics.

What’s troubling in both cases, according to legal experts, is the manner in which the agencies hide the true source of an investigation’s starting point—never revealing the use of the highly classified sources involved—and then “recreate” a parallel investigation to justify criminal findings.

Additionally troubling is that the IRS and the DEA are only two of the more than twenty federal agencies that work in tandem with the SOD, leading to speculation that the practice of utilizing than hiding surveillance techniques that have not been properly documented or approved could be far-reaching.

From the Reuters story (a good click-through):

Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intelligence evidence

Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years. …

A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

And from an IRS document Reuters dug up:

“Special Operations Division has the ability to collect, collate, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate information and intelligence derived from worldwide multi-agency sources, including classified projects.[…] SOD converts extremely sensitive information into usable leads and tips which are then passed to the field offices for real-time enforcement activity against major international drug trafficking organizations.”

Adds the writer of the Common Dreams story:

While the documents stipulates that such procedures should only be used for “drug trafficking” investigations, DEA agents told Reuters that the practice has now been used for “organized crime and drug trafficking.”

And that’s the problem, say critics, who note that surveillance operations like those developed by the NSA and the DEA are first said to only be used for counterterrorism, but then the public finds out they’re also being used for narcotics investigations. Next, new disclosures surface that criminal gangs are being targeted. Next, financial criminals. It appears a classic slippery slope.

Of course, they say they’re only involved in the program because they care deeply about drug trafficking. (Only they don’t.) Or financial crime. (Only they don’t.) Or something.

But we know better. We know by now they all just want access to All Data. We also know by now not to trust anything they say … don’t we? After all, if Obama can lie to Leno on national TV, why on god’s earth would any of them ever tell the truth? You’d have to be a whistle-blower to do that. And those people find the revolving door very tightly closed.

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  1. LifelongLib

    The portrayal of government agencies gleefully sharing info with each other doesn’t ring true. Making info available to outside agencies costs time and money above and beyond processing it for internal use, and gives away their own power over it. Misuse of it risks legal consequences. The government agencies I’ve encountered won’t share info unless they’re a) required to, or b) allowed to do so and also get some benefit from doing so.

    1. indio007

      Your entire post is conjecture.LE shares info willy-nilly with any other agency.

      I hate citing TV shows but, you
      ever see First 48?

      You know how many times they identify a suspect and simply make a phone call to the local jail and get their full file?

      Why don’t you call a jail and ask for the file on some random ex-prisoner ad see the response.

      Your most certainly not getting faxed their file.

      1. LifelongLib

        My post is based on personal experience. Of course law enforcement and corrections agencies in the same localities/states share info with each other. In most states they are required to, and generally find it mutually beneficial. Increasingly states also participate in federal law enforcement information sharing programs, also to their mutual benefit. That is not the sort of information sharing the article was talking about.

        1. Jsn

          Intuitively your experience seems about right: most folks are like that. However, those most pathologically attracted to power will find the pull of this kind of power pretty strong. And don’t kid yourself about how charming and/or innocuous these reptiles can seem: brilliance without scruple can take most any form it chooses, or at least present the outward signifiers of that form to you.

        2. Leeskyblue

          The key words were sharing with “friends” and “friends of friends”.
          I believe the author is describing a system that is becoming increasingly corrupt and decadent, in which there are no real controls. Nepotism emerges where anyone they take a fancy to becomes a privileged character and above the law.
          Such follows the accumulaton of power — cliques who fancy themselves superior and above the law — and liable to do anything.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Your use of the word “gleefully” belies a certain bias. The stories have been coming out all week how the DEA, IRS, etc. have been gaining access to NSA data, then hiding the source of the data and pretending the “tip” or whatever caused them to focus on a specific individual or business came from somewhere else. The data sharing is not in question, so I’m wondering why you feel the need to question it with words like “gleefully”.

      No one is saying that every agency in govt is sharing every piece of data with every other agency. What is clearly happening is that this NSA data is not being used solely for terrorism investigations (as if that would make it constitutional in the first place). It is being disseminated from the NSA to the DEA, to the IRS, and tens of other agencies. And its reasonable to ask where the limits are, as there don’t really appear to be any. Its also reasonable to not believe anything we’re being told by govt on any of this, as they are continuously lying and getting caught in their lies. I’m wondering why you find that hard to believe.

      1. LifelongLib

        “Gleefully” comes from the whole tone of the article.

        Sharing info takes work. Agencies have to spend time and money to do so, above and beyond what they would be spending for internal use. They usually won’t do that unless they’re required to by law, or at the least are allowed to and feel that doing so would somehow benefit them (not always an immediate quid pro quo; it can be something like support for their budget in the next legislative session).

        1. Jsn

          Sociopaths can be very hard and diligent workers when properly incentivized. There is so much latent power in these arrangements, it seems to me, only a wild bias for sloth over greed could overlook it.

        2. Ms G

          I’ve seen what “information sharing” between agencies look like. It can take about 20 minutes, end-to-end. And there is often a certain “glee” in the transaction — “he he, we have the Data, we have the Power” (a sort of empowered insiders’ smugness, if you will.)

          So the “it takes time” business you keep hammering at is either a device to keep generating the same 10 line post or it is conjecture bereft of real life experience.

          1. from Mexico

            The only conclusion I can come to is that LifelongLib must be cut out of the same sort of “liberal” cloth as folks like Obama, both Clintons, Schumer, Feinstein, etc., the kind of “liberal” who hails from the Rubenite wing of the Democratic Party.

      2. LifelongLib

        Guess I touched a nerve.

        As I’ve said here before, I work on a state government crime information system. We don’t provide any more or any less info than what the law requires. I’ve spent many tedious hours reviewing our information systems and legislation to make sure that’s the case. It takes a lot more than “20 minutes”.

        My respect for this blog has taken a long drop.

        1. citizendave

          Historically, disparate data systems have not communicated well or easily. The only effective barrier to universal data access by Big Brother has been the lack of incomplete technological innovation. We can be certain that eventually all of the various systems run by various public and private entities will be able to routinely communicate and share data seamlessly. Then the only remaining barriers to universal data access will be legal, political, moral, ethical.

          I find it completely plausible that some people and organizations still live by the law regarding data access and sharing. But there is great pressure to achieve universal data access, in law enforcement, in marketing, advertising, etc. There seems to be no effective political power to stop the inexorable progress toward keeping tabs on us constantly, both physically in real time, and across time with personal meta-data.

          If it gets really bad, we won’t even be able to achieve or maintain privacy by withdrawing from the cloud and the grid. The postal service is under attack as well. Imagine them opening and reading your paper mail. Then what? A new industry in bonded courier service? Samizdat? Techniques in leaderless organization will become more important if we cannot communicate in secret. Organizing opposition would need to be done openly, with all the risk that entails.

        2. Jess

          I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon branding you either naive or a troll. However, I do think that perhaps you are not recognizing the possibilities for things that happen way above your pay grade. You say your agency doesn’t share with other agencies outside of certain rigid standards. But what about the info they’re providing to you? Do you know where it came from, how they got it, etc? The “parallel construction” of a surrogate source for a piece of info could conceivably happen long before you receive it.

      3. Westcoastliberal

        Sounds to me as if “Lifelonglib” is still drinking the Kool-Aid and is suffering from cognitive dissonance.
        This isn’t your Father’s America.

      1. LifelongLib

        No. Just someone whose actual experience in this instance doesn’t conform to your prejudices.

        Paranoid much?

        1. Nathanael

          Really, when you come in with random speculation based on experience in some minor state office, and then attempt to apply that to the behavior of the feds (note: the feds are not a state government), then you’re just being disruptive. Please stop pulling stuff out of your ass.

          1. LifelongLib

            My limited experience with federal agencies is that they’re just as legalistic and bureaucratic as state ones are. If your experience differs please illuminate.

            As for being “disruptive”, do you prefer blogs in which everybody just strokes each other? Sort of an electronic circlejerk?

            1. Nathanael

              While that is true of *many* federal agencies (Bureau of Mines? Ag Department? Army?), it is not true of all of them.

              As someone noted below, the psychological attitude which has been inculcated in the NSA is an attitude which would encourage uncredited leaks to the DEA — an attitude of “here, but don’t say you got it from us”.

              And the attitude of the DEA is quite well documented to be in many ways the opposite of bureaucratic: it’s “steal everything which isn’t nailed down and worry about the legalities later”.

              If you actually knew something or had researched the culture of the specific agencies involved, that would be useful. You don’t. Guessing about them based on other agencies is disruptive.

    3. MRW

      Extraordinarily naive. Or you work under Operation Information Roadmap for the US military. Either way, you’re wrong.

        1. LucyLulu

          Offering an alternative opinion based on personal experience is NOT trolling, nor does it equate to deliberate attempts at misinformation. Some of these responses however do create the appearance of active suppression of dissenting points of view. NC is better than that.

    4. from Mexico

      In Mexico, all the problems you speak of were easily overcome by the installation of a bi-national “fusion center,” operated within Mexican territory (on the grounds of the military installation at Escobedo, Nuevo León, between Monterrey and Laredo) but by “a team of 24 retired CIA, DEA, and military personnel from the Pentagon’s North American Command.”

    5. petridish

      LifelongLib says:

      “Misuse of it risks legal consequences.”

      LEGAL CONSEQUENCES??? Are you serious? Next I guess you’re going to justify that statement by saying that the US is “a nation of laws.”

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Yeah, the dire “legal consequences” had me ROTFLMAO too. Holder will get right on that. Consequences only adhere to whistleblowers of conscience, not conscienceless drones.

        1. LifelongLib

          Getting fired, prosecuted, and/or sued (which is what could happen to me if I release unauthorized info in my job) is dire enough.

          1. Nathanael

            That’s only for the little people. Clapper has already committed perjury, contempt of Congress, deprivation of civil rights under color of law, among other things, and nobody’s prosecuting him.

            Get a clue.

    6. jess

      I think maybe you are confusing hogging credit for a case with vertical sharing. The FBI is notoriously reluctant to cooperate and share intell with local agencies when a case overlaps. The Fibbies want to hog the credit, as well as determine how the case progresses, when arrests are made, etc. The NSA, on the other hand, has no arrest power, doesn’t hold press conferences to trumpet “victories”, and prefers to operate in the dark as much as possible. So providing info and data downstream to the cops, IRS, FBI, DEA is just fine with the NSA Brown Shirts.

  2. Lona

    I don’t know that these agencies would share data with each other “for free” – that is not how government works in these days of tight budgets. They must be paying each other for it, along with overhead. Per the economy act “Performing agency shall recover full direct and indirect (overhead) costs of the work…”

    1. LAS

      I don’t think information is “freely” traded. It is traded for political influence though. The payment for it may be something other than cash. A corruption of purpose is almost inevitable.

  3. Skeptic

    NC having had a discussion about distrusting the Police the other day, maybe, in light of recently revealed SPOOX activity, how much data can that cop in the squad car access in the onboard computer? How much data can cops access at the Precinct? How is access to that data protected? The possibilities here are endless: cop/wife divorce, cop family feud, cop beef with neighbor(s), rival cops vying for promotion, cops fighting with rival agencies for budget $$$, cops versus other unions fighting for $$$, etc. All the preceding applies also to any functionary or organization having access to these systems.

    Even years ago when I worked with databases, I had easy access to all sorts of personal and financial data which could have been quite useful to the right or wrong people. Security was a laugher. Today, of course, these agencies and their enforcers could care less about your or your business’s privacy and security. As some have pointed out here, it is how they or their agency can benefit from your data.

    A lot of powerful people must be waringly looking over their shoulders. First they came for……….

  4. Jane

    J. Edgar Hoover must be drooling and Joe McCarthy dancing a jig … if only they were alive today; imagine their combined joy at being given access to a veritable Niagara of data. Heaven.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Back in those innocent Hoover/McCarthy days, before Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the main federal ‘hook’ to sanction cannabis trafficking was failure to pay a marijuana stamp tax. Obviously, no one was going to pay this tax, since it amounted to a signed confession of a crime. But it does explain an historical reason behind a DEA-IRS nexus.

      These days, money laundering (a federal criminal offense that was invented out of whole cloth in 1986) is the preferred hook to nail drug traffickers. Any money laundering case likely implies tax evasion as well, so again there is a plausible reason behind DEA-IRS data sharing.

      Describing these rationales in no way implies approval of them. In particular, DEA-IRS data sharing tramples all over the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and the Fourth Amendment requirement of a warrant for personal papers.

      But since we entered the post-constitutional era in Sep. 2001, I mention that antique joke of a document purely for sh*ts and giggles. We don’t need no stinkin’ badges, comrades …

  5. from Mexico

    Gaius Pubius says:

    I can manufacture a justification just sitting here (hint: drugs and money laundering).


    Of course, they say they’re only involved in the program because they care deeply about drug trafficking.

    I think when it comes to drug interdiction, Mexico offers a stunning example which shows that the sort of security and surveillance state envisioned by the US deep state does not work.

    Thanks to the Wikileaks cables released (from Bradley Manning), we now know that Mexico’s ex-president Felipe Calderon, at the behest of the US state department, mandated in September 2007 that Verint Technology Inc, under the auspices of the Merida Initiative and what journalists now call “Plan Mexico,” be allowed “to monitor and ‘to capture’ every private communication in Mexico (emails, chats, electronic messages, faxes, telephone calls)” of every major communications provider operating in the country: Telmex, Telcel, Nextel, Unefon, Iusacell, Cisco, and Prodigy.

    Calderon also authorized the installation of the Bi-national Office of Intelligence, under the control the United States, with facilities located in all the major drug trafficking thoroughfares to the United States: Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and in the military base in Escobedo, Nuevo León (just north of Monterrey, south of Laredo), to serve as bases of operations for Verint Technology, which operated under the supervision of the US deep state.

    The information gathered was shared with Cisen (Mexico’s civil intelligence and counterintelligence service), Mexico’s Secretary of Defense (Sedena), the Mexican Navy, and the PGR (Mexico’s equivalent to the FBI), as well as with the Pentagon, the CIA, the DEA, the FBI, and other US agencies.

    With this intelligence at its fingertips, the Mexican army, navy, and federal police, working side-by-side with the US deep state and “private contractors” of the US security and surveillance state (ex CIA, DEA, and military special forces officers), unleashed Calderon’s now infamous “War on Drugs” against the Mexican people.

    The toll? Amongst others: 1) between 40,000 and 70,000 dead or disappeared; 2) exploding prison populations in Mexico, filled with petty and low-level drug offenders; 3) the complete destruction of civil and human rights in Mexico by police, military and US deep state operatives who operate with impunity; 4) a population that is terrorized by its own police, military and US deep state operatives; 5) the volume of drugs moving from Mexico to the US has increased greatly, perhaps as much as two-fold; 6) the availability of drugs on the streets of the US has greatly increased.

    1. Anarcissie

      But the outcomes mentioned in your last paragraph may well be desired outcomes from the point of view of the ruling class; so the methods ‘work’ for them.

      1. Nathanael

        Not desired outcomes, at all.

        The long-term effect, if Mexico doesn’t reverse policy, is that the drug lords will actually take over Mexico, de jure as well as de facto. This is not good for the *existing* elites.

        The existing elites are drooling morons who have no idea what the results of their actions actually *are*.

    2. charles sereno

      @from Mexico: A great history from an on-the-ground observer. It was only logical that the Colossus of the North would use its convenient neighbor as a test bed.

      1. from Mexico

        Sorry if I got a little testy the other day over Michael Klare’s hyping of “America’a early mastery of the latest production technologies” and his equally false claim that states like China and India “lack the resources and technology to produce unconventional fuels.”

        There’s more behind my ire than what might meet the eye, as there’s currently a knock-down drag-out taking place in Mexico to privatize PEMEX, Mexico’s state-owned oil company.

        Those falsehoods being evangelized by Klare are the same ones being propagandized by the IOCs (International Oil Companies, privately owned) which hope to benefit from the privatization of PEMEX.

        Not only are Klare’s empirical claims untrue, but they reveal a complete ignorance of the way the oil and gas industry works. Even in the Saudi ARAMCO case which I cited, you will note that the new directional drilling technology developed was in conjunction with a service company. Thus that new technology is as much the property of that service company as it is Saudi ARAMCO. These oil field service companies and contractors are not “American,” but transnational. And the technology they develop in conjunction with the NOCs (National Oil Companies, state owned) they sell to anybody with a checkbook, including China and India.

        So can you see how nonsensical the claims of Klare and the IOCs are? These fictions are spun out of whole cloth and propagated for a purpose: they are the sales pitch or lies which IOCs and their puppets, folks like Mexico’s sitting president, use to peddle neoliberalism and its privatization agenda to gullible and unsuspecting populations. What the IOCs are advocating is tantamount to selling off the family jewels or the family farm.

        If you’re interested in exploring how things in the oil field really get done, I recommend the following paper published by the Baker Institute:

        Like so much of the modern economy, the oil industry functions on the basis of a nexus of contracts with many subcontractors. Each firm is highly specialized in what it does. Increasingly, the IOCs have become more like general contractors, coordinating the operation of a number of suppliers who themselves are the ones who undertake seismic work, analyze data, provide drilling rigs and crews and a host of oil field services. The larger IOCs also serve the function of bankers, providing the vast amount of financial resources required to mount greenfield projects in increasingly unfavorable and difficult environments. They also provide the management, organizational skills, and oversight that these large projects require.
        The question is whether NOCs will find this role increasingly useful or whether they believe that such operational planning functions can either be performed by themselves or be farmed out to a service company under a fee-for-service structure. The fact that IOCs have had a poor record in recent years avoiding giant cost overruns on mega projects in Kazakhstan, the Sakhalin Islands, and the Middle East means that NOCs might be skeptical of the benefits being offered by IOCs.

        Over this you can layer BP’s Macondo #1, which blew out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, casting the IOCs in an even more unfavorable light.

        1. charles sereno

          I don’t like pitting authorities against each other (mine’s better than yours) or using guilt by association without a solid argument that can stand by itself. Breaking my own rules, I’ll just say that using something from the Baker Institute against Michael Klare needs a whole lot of justification. The number of inventors who never became billionaires are legion. Haven’t you heard of corporations that gobble up innovative startups? China can produce cheap solar panels but do you think they are equipped to go into the advanced fracking business notwithstanding their potential resources? Pemex, that joke, is a great example of Bill Black’s “control fraud” under the guise of public ownership. While I’m at it, somewhere in this thread, you harshly criticize Adam Curtis. Criticism is fine but don’t throw out the baby with the bath. He produced rarely seen documentation of CIA/Canadian “research” on sensory deprivation. Hebb’s reputation will forever be tarnished by his early association with that project (“money makes the world go around”). Finally, great thanks for your link to the documentary about the Nugand affair!

          1. from Mexico

            Pure straw man, charles sereno. Pure straw man.

            Show me one instance in my comments regarding Michael Klare and Adam Curtis where I attacked the messenger and not the message (engaged in ad hominem), or where I appealed to authority. I referred to specific arguments or statements they made, and countered these with arguments or information (citations) that debunk them. Their arguments stand or fall based on the truthfullness of their empirical claims, or the coherence and qualiaty of their logic.

            This, on the other hand, is an ad hominem attack, and reveals exactly what your sentiments lay:

            Pemex, that joke, is a great example of Bill Black’s “control fraud” under the guise of public ownership.

  6. Fred

    Anyone can look at your tax return. Here is a recent experience I had:

    For business reasons, I wanted to check up on someone whom I thought was hiding his participation in a partnership. I called a private investigator–a retired FBI agent– and asked him what he could legally obtain about the subject guy’s business interests, and also what it would cost. The PI proceeded to explain that I would need to pay $120 to his “source” in order to obtain the subject’s social security number from the source’s database. I would then need to pay several hundred dollars to another of his “sources” in order to obtain the subject’s state income tax return.

    After explaining this to me, the PI ex-FBI guy said, “You asked about obtaining the information legally. I’m not sure any of this is legal, but it’s standard procedure with private investigators.” I politely thanked the guy and hung up.

    You should know that your tax return is available to anybody who wants to pay a modest sum to see it.

    1. Jack Parsons

      Ah, but there’s the rub: $120/head does not allow for vast uncontrolled spying. We’re talking about surveillance technology where there is high fixed cost and very low variable cost per action.

      It has become clear to me that mass freedom comes from friction: action against citizens has to have a high variable cost. It takes a lot of money to put 20 militarized cops in your house at 5am. Yes, this is very bad, and sends a message, but you can’t do it to a million people at once. If I can learn a little about you, it costs very little incremental cost to learn absolutely everything about you, because the apparatus required is all fixed cost.
      Learning everything about a million people costs a little more than that. Inferring pre-crime etc. from that knowledge costs a little more, but I (a lowly silicon valley nerd with no secret ties) can set you up with the software. And a technical book. The software is free and written (much of it) by volunteers looking to create “online resumes”.

      Freedom comes from friction, not laws.

    2. Out_Of_Control

      Fascinating comments. This sharing of private information has been going on for some time, in different forms more or less and we all owe a debt of gratitude to Snowden for his sacrifice and daylighting this issue. It will quiet down in time and we will all go back to being routinely violated on a daily basis.

      In 2004, I was a progressive believer in working from within and therefore ran for local public office against a city with strong democratic party affliations and hell bent on securing private development through charging local fees of streets, water, etc. and controlling public revenue behind a iron curtain. As it turns out, Transparency laws and rules are as easily avoided as it is easy to get private information on anyone of the 99%.

      5 months after being defeated I was audited by the IRS and even though I had reciepts, etc. I was found liable for 3 years and owed a considerable sum of money to the IRS only because the agent did not concede a single point and I could not afford the legal representation. My lawyer advised me it would take even more money to mount a credible defense and even that was no guarantee. The way in which I was treated was, I imagine, akin to a witch hunt. But it continued to get worse.

      I was flat broke for awhile and did not keep up with my auto insurance payments. I found THAT out when a local cop pulled me over. His computer read my license plate number and I think he knew more about me than I did.

      The City where I ran is also my utility provider and so they bill me as well and have immediate access to my credit score. I know people at City Hall who have privately commented on how readily personal and private information is made readily available under the guise that what public servants do is for “the public good”. On the municipal levl, you do as you are told or you are let go. It is easier to collect a good salary and accrue great retirement benefits than it is being a whistleblower or having a conscious.

      The story is the information is out there. There is no avoiding it. And if ANYONE has an axe to grind with you than there is nothing you can do about it. And yes, I believe there are misguided public stewards who think what they are doing is in the public good. And even if they don’t, they rely on these survelliance tools and processes to secure their objectives. With the police; they think it is part of their job of which they are entitled. And if a city manager asks one of his employees to do something they are going to do it.

      To all this, I say Cie La Vie! What elae can you do? Stand your Ground, let your principals evolve, and don’t let them see you sweat. And why? Because there is not even a small percentage of the population that will care, let alone believe what your experiences have been. You and me are more like Snowden. Instead of the USSR and by choice, it is the US of A and we are debt slaves. And to my detractors? They are shameful miscreants and terrible human beings. They support corruption of the human spirit instead of seeking out the natural beauty that exists locally, on this planet, and universally.

    3. LifelongLib

      If what the PI said is true, his sources are probably government employees with access to the info, who are leaking it for money.

      “You should know that your tax return is available to anybody who wants to pay a modest sum to see it.”

      Want to do something about it? Send letters recounting the incident to the heads of the departments involved. The people responsible for the leaks deserve to be fired at least. Naive? Maybe, but you have to try.

  7. Sublimejah

    So where were these snoops when the banks were selling subprime crap after years of warnings? Why are we only using this technology to check out drugs and possible foreign terrorists? If they were really using this system to protect us why do more of us die of gun violence here still in mass shootings? Many of the shooters have extensive internet history, and in CO the shooter bought weapons on the net. More of us have died at the hands of disturbed fellow citizens then at the hands of “terrorists”. The bankers have long electronic records of their interactions as they constructed and sold these deals, but nobody is listening to them. In fact we ignore the outright evidence such as JP Morgan not reporting to the SEC etc. This is a crappy explanation for the NSA program, I hope they know we don’t buy it. We aren’t any safer.

    1. susan the other

      Good points. Especially where finance is concerned. The FBI knew what the banks were up to in 2003 but that information was buried. Yet this monolithic intelligence operation is primarily looking at finance. (Clearly not to hamper the big banks in any way.) They are following the money to get complete control of the illicit drug trade. Of course there’s just no way this intelligence organization is going to track itself. Not the DEA, not the CIA, not the big banks who fund the drug traffic and do their laundry. When they push the lie that this is just an overview of chatter, that is blatantly disprovable. Some of the steps we should take politically really should be to legalize, standardize, sell and tax all drugs now considered illegal. All of them. Control their sale, but do not make them illegal. The black market only helps the black ops. The other thing we could do is disband the IRS altogether and replace income and corporate income tax with a VAT tax paid directly to Treasury. We could defang all the big banks by nationalizing the Fed, stopping most of their balloons. As far as terrorists go, I just don’t think terrorists are that subtle that we need this “information” gathering to find and track them. I think the terrorists are pretty obvious. The “usual suspects.” It’s a ruse to control everything else.

      1. indio007

        Are you guys forgetting that they still have all those conversations and emails in data storage somewhere?

        We might not have listened back then but we can listen now.

      1. Out_Of_Control

        So where were these snoops when the banks were selling subprime crap after years of warnings?

        Lobbyists. And Congress for the laws that they pass. Personally, Greenspan should have been derided instead of praised.

        It all gets back to fiat currency and a government that exists for the industrial military complex. Politicians are useless against such force. And since money is so tightly controlled the only loose ends are critical-thinking citizens. They can be found and then easily manipulated, derided, and separated from the herd.

  8. Ms G

    Great article, thanks for pulling all this gore together.

    One note:

    “The only thing missing from the data collection are investment records (or is that where the IRS comes in?) and medical histories.”

    For “medical histories” — ObamaCare is taking care of that with its Panopticon Hub of SSA-IRS-DHS-CreditReportingAgency-And Now Medical Records data collection (and, we must assume, trafficking).

    For “investment records” — I can think of too many ways off the top of my head where the existing Revolving Door infrastructure of the Fed, SEC, CFTC, DOJ and their private clients — Goldman, Morgan, Citi and all the “trade associations” (NYSE, et al.) provides the link to that particular aspect of data centralization and trafficking.

      1. shinola

        Investigate financial crimes? How about participate?

        Just imagine – if one had access to the inner workings of the Wall St. wheelers & dealers, one could set up a low profile hedge fund that could front run just about anything & everything.
        A huge slush fund could come in handy if congress got all pissy & refused to provide the amount of funding you felt you needed, wanted or deserved.
        Of course this would never really happen because these agencies exist soley for the protection of the blissfully, willfully ignorant American sheeple.

      2. Out_Of_Control

        Really?! I say not odd at all. Please elaborate.

        I think lobbyi$t$ and the money that elects our politicians makes financial scrutiny as believable as the tooth fairy.

      3. Out_Of_Control

        Really?! I say not odd at all. Please elaborate.

        The money that elects our politicians makes financial scrutiny as believable as the tooth fairy.

    1. Joe Rebholz

      I can’t believe that all bank, credit card, Fedwire, etc. data are not collected by or available to the NSA.

      re “The only thing missing from the data collection are investment records (or is that where the IRS comes in?) and medical histories.” — investment records are not missing.

      Information leaks always. The above post and comments illustrate this nicely. Wisteleblowers and Gov. official who leak are only part of the process. The users of secret information leak stuff accidentally. And info leaks all by itself accidentally. So here’s some good news about all this attempted secrecy: It won’t last.

      Further, the proliferation of computers, the internet, data storage, data collection methods means that corporations and individuals themselves will be able to collect, gather, store, analyse the same or similar information that the NSA and large corporations do now. Video cameras are already a countermeasure to police violence and lawbreaking. Hi Res dash cams can be used by individuals and crowd sourced to create huge public databases of license plate info correlated with geo location and time. Similarly with respect to faces. And the Google Glass will allow the same thing with respect to personal interactions in public and private places. The license numbers and faces will be connectable to names and addresses and other info about the individual by hacker methods (as suggested by the private investigator info above) and the methods will become available via open source or maybe even legally (if not presently legal).

      We can already collect and store records of all our money transactions with other people and thereby be collecting and storing information about them. Now crowd source this and we have a monster database of money transactions among all the individuals who choose to participate.

      Also people may begin to document their entire lives (and store the info in secure places) as proof of their actual actions and as a defense against false accusations and/or mistakes by governments and corporations. Dash cam use in Russia already illustrates this.

      Google Glass and its successors may become the biggest success ever.

      1. Bruno Marr

        … and then shattered under the boot of a SWAT member. (Don’t expect See No Evil Google to find your “streamed” video.)

        1. Nathanael

          Google is not happy with the current police state. Not happy at all.

          Neither is Amazon.

          The idiots trying to establish a police state have been wrecking their businesses. For no good reason, either, just because the idiots trying to establish a police state *are idiots*.

          The idiots have now carefully managed to tick off the masses, the professional classes, the patriotic insiders, and several groups of the rich and powerful, *all at once*. This is deranged behavior, geopolitically.

          The actions of the traitors and criminals at the NSA, FBI, etc. are not merely treasonous and criminal, they are also *stupid*.

          I am reminded of the Talleyrand quote: “It was worse than a crime: it was a mistake.”

      2. anon y'mouse

        yes, all we need to do is make the public fear misbehavior and cooked-up allegations by the authority figures, then they will install the spycams on themselves to prove their innocence.

        who needs 1984’s Big Bro forcing his cameras into every home with this kind of strategizing?

  9. Anarcissie

    In and between authoritarian organizations like those mentioned in this article, (good) knowledge is power, and, especially if held exclusively, is valuable. Therefore, we can expect it to be sequestered, guarded, and traded, rather than passed around freely. It is also important to keep it from passing into the outer world, which would cause it to lose its exclusivity and thus much of its value to those who possess it. Typically these requirements bring about a layered and sometimes sectored system of internal channels and boundaries within each power system (authoritarian organization). That arrangement, of course, interferes with the flow of information, as it is designed to.

    The reported ease with which Snowden was able to read anybody’s email suggests that the massive hoovering of data into the NSA has caused some kind of breakdown in the ability of the organization to maintain control of its materials and personnel. One can anticipate further leaks, and a kind of central paralysis as the authoritarian organizations spend more and more time trying to get control of their information appetities and processing.

    1. LifelongLib

      Well Anarcissie, I got called a troll and an Obamabot for making some of the same points, so I hope your post gets a more thoughtful response than mine did.

  10. charles sereno

    Re “Money makes the world go around” Image
    Scott Fitzgerald wouldn’t have believed the power of this still. Even the negative space between the faces is artistic. Reminiscent of Eisenstein.

  11. Norman

    From Mexico says, yes, he produces a very good picture of what is/has taken place on his side of the border. The deep state in the U.S., putting all these things together. Among all the reasons given, there is one that hasn’t been said, that being “control”. So, in the case of drugs coming from Mexico into the U.S., the flow has increased, not decreased, yet the prisons in both Mexico & the U.S. are overflowing with low level participants, (users/dealers). Who is benefiting from this? As the saying goes, it cost money to play, so it’s reasonable to and probably beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the D.E.A. is the enforcement arm that allows the drug trade to flourish. As for the arrest/killing of the top capos in the drug trade, it’s not inconceivable to think that because of the power trip such a position entails, said individuals were either arrested/killed because they didn’t pay the monthly dues or how ever one might call it. Of course, there’s also the matter of fellow capos who rat out said other capo[s], due to where the other one is in that little black book, the one with the “get/stay out of jail” logo on the cover. Food for thought.

  12. sluggeaux

    The collection of all this data by our “government” doesn’t worry me a whit. Our Federal government is generally slothful and incompetent — and mainly interested in how to use this data to advance through the revolving door of corruption. This is especially true in the case of the FBI, the DEA, and the IRS. Don’t ask me how I know…

    The real evil revealed by Snowdon and Greenwald is that all of this data is being collected and sifted by a web of “private contractors” with top-secret security clearances. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that Booz, Allen, Hamilton is wholly-owned by the Carlyle Group. The Germans have already begun to figure out that the meta-data (and more) is being used for industrial espionage and to game the financial markets.

    I have no doubt that this is why Obama is so passionate in his defense of the data-collection game. He is feathering his nest, hoping for an even bigger payday than the one Bill Clinton had when he left office (Jamie Galbraith conservatively estimates that Slick Willie collected $40M in honoraria from the financial sector within his first six years of leaving office). There is no honor here in Ayn Rand’s anarchist paradise…

  13. Doug Terpstra

    If I were the conscienceless CEO of a gulag archipelago like the CCA, I’d be all over the NSA-DEA’s criminal data gold mine. The US has one quarter of the world’s prison population, well over two million, but even with the death penalty, that’s still less than 1% of the US adult population. Think about that: less than one percent of an enormous market! We all know that more of the 99% belong behind bars, and with unfettered access to NSA-DEA-IRS-FEMA-DHS-FBI-CIA data-analysis, I could easily double or triple that number. But why stop at the domestic market? Why not in-source?

    Conscience? HA! I’m positively giddy and drooling—and without the slightest twinge of shame!

    In the quest for full-spectrum dominance, the Neocons “sweep it all up, things related and not”. But this weapon of the military-finance-intelligence-prison complex is a two-edged sword, and many of these same conscienceless malefactors will find themselves hoist with their own petard in the end. Despite industrial-scale propaganda for global hearts-and-minds control, perception management is finally breaking down. That’s evident around the world, but even here in the homeland paddock there are cracks. And it only requires a few like Edward Snowden with genuine faith and conscience to bring down Goliath. I can’t wait to find out what he has on the world’s greatest charlatan.

    There’s also a danger of analysis-paralysis:

    1. Nathanael

      Worth noting: the deranged “collect everything, ignore the law, ignore the Constitution, imprison and kill people without trials” *causes* people within the government to *become* Snowdens.

      The aura of legitimacy is actually very important for any organization. Throwing the aura of legitimacy away and laughing at it is deranged behavior, but we’ve seen the federal government do exactly that *over and over and over* since the election theft in 2000. Once this happens enough times, none of the insiders are loyal any more, and then things can come apart at the seams very suddenly, as the USSR did during the 1990s.

  14. deadcatbounce

    Medical records? Of course!
    A couple years ago when I applied for Blue Cross (long story there) I submitted to a very intimate health history interview, and had to sign a waiver to allow them to cross-check with the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). MIB keeps information from all US providers and insurance companies, garnered every time you file a claim. Every time you ever had a sneeze treated, MIB has a record of that, unless you paid cash for your doctor and prescriptions.

    If you don’t think NSA reads MIB data, you need a pyschiatric consult.

    1. diane

      Indeed. People would be absolutely horrified to see the ugly, uninformed and inexperienced opinions; Ho$pital ba$ed Malfea$ance ; and MS Excel!!!!!, et al, errors included in their “complete” (one has to ask, at least in California, for the “complete version” of their Med Record$ – which includes all conversations you have with even the underpaid call center persons who, severely time constrained and unfamiliar with the patients illness and situation, are forced to try to recollect what the patient said after the phone is hung up, most times (understandably) either omitting important key words, or, misremembering certain entities the patient referred to as other parties, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera .

      Being of an inquisitive mind, not long ago I ‘got lucky’ and ended up engaging with the Director of the contracted (to my sooprise!!!!) Med Record$ company which oversees the med records of the Ho$pital I visit as an outpatient. In the course of our conversation, she clearly implied that $ocial Worker$ (all very young, good looking and stunningly naive and/or PUNITIVELY CAPITALI$T (a feature, not a bug), at the Ho$pital I visit) are Federally Required to transcribe their conversations with – and ‘opinions’ of – patients.

      The worst thing (at least in Cali, and, I’m assuming, Federally), is that those Med Records are ‘written in stone.’ A person could write a refutation (while they’re both ill and, consequently, broke), though it is not all clear where that refutation ends up in the IT MED RECORD, or, if it even ends up there; yet, STUNNINGLY, that IT Med Record remains, …even if is totally erroneous.

      Lastly, hmmmmmm, …… I always thought a social worker’s main concern was supposed to be the wellbeing of that patient, ….BUT, absolutely ironic to that – doesn’t deserve to be called a social worker – $ocial worker[$] covertly reports to the $tate as to their venal ♫ Musical Chairs ♫ opinion as to patient’s ‘state,’ and highly redacted (as to said $ocial Worker’$ stunningly ugly, highly provocative remarks, indicating they they actually view the patient as a squashable insect) version of their conversation with said patient ….. siggggh
      :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) :0)
      :0) :0) :0) :0) :0)
      :0) :0) :0) :0)
      :0) :0) :0)
      :0) :0)

  15. diane

    Some thoughts tossed out (and thank you for the validating opinion re Google as an arm of the Guv, though I think Google’s been involved with the government likely since its inception ….can we say [The] Hoover Institute had a very likely role. If I recollect correctly it may have been Page’s World Digital Library work at Stanford, that was the seed of the Go[o]gleplex):

    Though it has yet to be brought into the current NSA [Pentagon] Prism, et al ‘conversation,’ I’ve long suspected PayPal (Arthur Silber may pop into somes’ minds here) , and other entities dealing with instantaneous monetary transactions are certainly included into the ‘backdoor’ CorpGuv mix as are the Social Security Admin database, which Lockheed plays a huge and horrifying part in. And then of course, there is Israel’s role (it’s been known for some years now that much of the phone snooping software is Israeli based).

    As a matter of fact, Israel and Lockheed have not been brought up at all [YET] in the NSA [Pentagon] Prism, et al conversation. Some recent Lockheed bits news and pondering:

    07/02/13 Lockheed to build technology hub in Israel

    07/01/13 Lockheed Martin Launches Lockheed Martin International

    06/20/13 Prism, Lockheed Martin and the UK Census

    04/15/13 Lockheed Martin Hosts Cyber Defense Exercise Supporting NSA for 11th Year

    1. Nathanael

      The idea that Google is an arm of the government is utterly wrong-headed. It is the classic conspiracy theory mistake: the idea that everyone is working together.

      Oh no. Google has its own agenda. Actually, many of the different criminal operations within the US government have their own agendas.

      By causing the destruction of the demand for “cloud services”, the NSA has done severe damage to Google — where it matters, in the pocketbook. Google will never forgive that.

      1. rob

        Google doesn’t have to be “an arm of the gov’t”.
        The top personalities can”feel” whatever they want.That doesn’t stop google from being a “tool”, of the gov’t.
        History has shown way too many “non-plussed” actors on the world stage, who were “used”, despite their actual intentions.
        This isn’t even getting into the stance google has taken in china.Their go along to get along , business as usual stance, is the same as it is in this country.

        After all, bill binney,william snowden,…these are the whistle blowers, not “google”.or any of their parties who are assuredly under contract clauses which prevent them from sharing info with the public…

  16. merlin pervson

    sounds like service oriented architecture (SOA) is now a growned up little girl. “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. …

  17. allcoppedout

    You could not make the old TV series ‘The Fugitive’ now – no one would believe he could move from town to town and find employment and live in a cash only economy to hide from the State.

    ‘Big Data’ approaches are badly understood and there is potential for a lot of good – though most of the news is bad. We haven’t stood up for Manning and Snowden – and countless others already including banks and health whistle-blowers. But did we ever?

    The key thing here is not on anyone’s lips – we have a technology that could render money (capital) neutral, but instead use it to maintain chronic power inequalities.

    1. diane

      Thank you for releasing that comment, better late than never ,….though it would have been nice for it to have showed up when it was made (especially since that is the High Boast of Technology: Real Time[For $ome TEENY HANDFUL] !!!!!!, and then some!!!! … “heh,” that’s what landline phone’s were for, at least half a century back (no explanation whatsoever as to why landline phones have been under thorough attack for at least a decade)), in the comments sidebar for at least a few minutes, people are pretty much now being forced (Nano$econdry!!!!) into being machine like and liking it!: not to ‘looking back’, in human retrospect , to see if there was something which escaped their eye …… even though they would love to have the time to do so. Consequently, …people miss things which may bear much relevance to their own lives a feature …etcetera …..

      Many times I pray for a Huge (and apparently expected) Solar Storm, to thoroughly SHUT DOWN “THE WEB”, so we’re once more forced to respond to, face to face, with those we are presumably talking to,….. but then think : ooooh FUUUCK …we are in so much trouble …..if that happens, …… yet, ….. it certainly may happen, and good luck to those who have stunningly wriiten off their actual physical neighbors, in their own self interest……………….

      1. diane

        oopsie, correction follows, I had omitted a crucial comma (“,”), (the second one, below):

        Consequently, …people miss things which may bear much relevance to their own lives, a feature …etcetera …..

      2. Yves Smith Post author


        We have said the following things repeatedly:

        1. We have certain tripwires set up. If your comment runs afoul of them, it will go into moderation or potentially in spam

        2. Lambert and I prioritize writing new posts. We get to the backlogged comments when we can.

        3. If you don’t like the turnaround, please write us a check. Complaining about a service that costs meaningful money to provide when it is free to you is ungrateful in the extreme. And complaining is likely to demotivate us to approve your comments.

  18. C

    If the DEA revalations are true, and so far the news has been confirmed by multiple sources, here is a short list of the crimes that have been committed:

    Perjury whenever any officer or DA has lied in court about the origin of the information being used. Or lies when obtaining a warrant.

    Violations of the Confrontation Clause The Sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees an individual the right to confront the witnesses against them. This includes knowledge, review, and assessment of wiretaps and other forensic evidence at trial. This is violated when the information on which the accusations are based is concealed.

    Witholding information whenever any substantive information is used to build a case it must be shared with defense (see above). This has been, if I am not mistaken, interpreted as a violation of the Due Process Clause.

    Warrantless search Search without a warrant or at least probable cause is itself a violation of the fourth amendment and no part of the FISA court can cover this since it is limited for foreign intel.

    I am sure there are more of course but this should be enough to keep defense lawyers appealing every drug conviction of a substantial size for years to come. This alone could ease our prison overcrowding in a few years if handled properly.

  19. diane

    Who knows what other information [Thompson] Reuters has access to. By sheer chance, I’ve read some of their well informed – Snickering and Sneering, STUNNINGLY SMUG AND LETHAL, .. to the bulk of humanity – Tax Industry commentary (provided to Multinational Corps[es] “Tax Departments” regarding supporting that .000001% in evading any contribution, whatsoever, as to so called, Progressive Taxation.

  20. diane

    Dear Yves,

    My comment above was not targeted towards your site in particular.

    But since you’ve brought payment up, like it or not, Yves (and actually you should be quite proud of it), I’m guessing that much of the reading and high popularity of your site is due to the comments, and witness, of those of us who have no money left to contribute to anything but putting a roof over our heads (while me might be spending our comment time trying to find a means to survive by, yet we feel the need to share our horrors so that others can be prepared), and our comments are FREE TO YOU, ALSO, since we are apparently no longer considered worthy of anything but providing free, HTML Coded commentary as to our horrid lives.

    If those of us under the bus had any money to send in order to air our rage and not feel obliged to those with their shirts still on, we would do so, no need to degradingly shove that in our faces.

  21. Synoia

    I’m thinking that the GPS tracking of your cell phone (location, and speed) reported to local government could result in automated speeding tickets (a great source of revenue), and with a tie in the traffic lights, automatic tikketing of jumping red lights.

    Add automated license plate readers and the opportunity for revnue becomes huge.

  22. kimsarah

    What if the tables were turned? What if the people started filming the cops and politicians — everyone who has had a hand in creating this police state — at every opportunity? Posting their pictures on billboards? Making files of all of them and their family members, where they live, eat, shop and work? What they do for entertainment, who they associate with — letting them wonder what anyone would ever do with such information.

    1. LucyLulu

      Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistleblower who writes BoilingFrogsPost blog, says that the security state is already keeping tabs on our legislators and pulls out damning information as needed for control, a la J. Edgar Hoover.

      1. TheCatSaid

        In an interview S.E. also said she was approached by a whistleblower who said that when he was a new intelligence agent (FBI), he and his other newbie colleagues were assigned to do comprehensive background checks of potential nominees as judges & political candidates.

        To his suprise, he later discovered that without exception the folks with squeaky-clean backgrounds never showed up as being recommended. However the ones with the *worst* backgrounds appeared at the top of the list as the ones to be put forward.

        The implication is that ALL our major judges and political candidates have been “vetted” in this way–they all have dodgy backgrounds (skeletons in the closet) and thus can be counted on to be controlled when necessary.

        It’s worth it to listen to the full interview:

        “In this remarkable conversation, Sibel Edmonds reflects on Russ Tice’s recent revelations to Boiling Frogs Post and The Corbett Report that the NSA has wiretapped top government officials for years. Edmonds discusses from her own experience how the FBI collects dirt on Congressman and public officials for use as political leverage. We also talk about how this scandal proves that there is no “official channel” for whistleblowers to follow when they want to expose wrondoing because the system is being controlled from behind the scenes by the criminals in the national security establishment.”

        If true, it’s no wonder we get some of the judicial decisions, legislation and executive actions that we do.

        Information = control & leverage.

  23. rob

    This whole notion that there is any legitimacy to the gov’t being here to protect us, is such a joke.

    as to the comments by lifelonglib,:
    That is just a typical case of denial.Sure, there are reams of rules for those in the employ of the elites to follow.Any one of which some staffer breaks is cause for dismissal.These rules handed down over the decades, are just like rules for schoolchildren.A way to keep them in straight lines, and not asking questions without raising their hands first.
    The reality that comes to light in every scandal, is the same. all these rules are circumvented, by those that do. That doesn’t mean everybody.just the ones that do.These rules can be said to be meaningless.Just like there are rules against speeding. even officers of the law are supposed to follow traffic regulations when their lights aren’t flashing,but we all know that is not the “standard operating procedure”.Everything else is just the same.

    So in this post 9-11 world , in the aftermath of the war on freedom….we ought to remember these actors who are now telling us we ought to trust them…

    One of the most interesting, least talked about aspects of the 9-11 run-up were the investigations by the fbi office out of Chicago,with agents wright and Vincent, who were investigating two of the would be 9-11 hijackers from 1998-2000;and their “money man”, YASIN AL-QADI.A Saudi connected to the highest levels in the Saudi and US gov’t.Even as recently as still donating for mitt romneys campaign.
    Back in the late nineties, he was identified as a terrorist sponsor. The US justice dept, in Chicago, with Patrick fitzgerald in that position, was investigating him as a terrorist sponsor.Even listing him as a terrorist financier, and freezing some of his assets.
    The FBI agents and the us atty gen.chicago, were both ordered to “end their investigations” of these three people. The fbi agents were told to “let sleeping dogs lie”,by their superiors in Washington. And the US atty gen office ordered pat fitzgerald to cease the 2 year ongoing investigation.
    This would be a huge story of and in itself, that two 9-11 hijackers were essentially “let go”, by the powers that be…and their financier… to let 9-11 happen…
    but the real big deal was that YASIN AL-QADI, was also a part owner of the tech firm “P-TECH”, which before 9-11, had contracts with :CIA,FBI,NSA,NRO,FEMA,FAA,etc..With above top secret security clearances, to integrate their computer networks… and whatever they were doing…

    This was all swept under the rug..
    It seems like a pretty f@%#ing big deal to me…. and to say that these cyber security yahoo’s should have access to all of our data…well, is as incredible as everything else going on these days.
    TRUST????? are you kidding me?

  24. kevinearick

    Big Data: The Hundred Yard Dash, Again

    Russia’s Stimulus Plan: Open the Gulag Gates.

    Investment Going to the Wrong Place in China.

    The police state protects those who have stolen from those who steal. The welfare state pays the minimum required to maintain the status quo. And rents hit high as ownership hits low, when both swim in excess capacity, stored off-book in a ponzi created for the purpose. Eminent Domain, swapped with divine providence, has always been the public purpose, with majorities manufactured to ensure the outcome.

    If you want a temporary job to acquire a tradable skill, and/or a career at one of the big data parasite centers to watch the empire squirm on the margin, Des Moines, “with the highest concentration of financial services employment in the country,” is the place to be. The embezzlers from both coasts are at peak flood now.

    If hiring someone on the margin with specialized empire skills is more effective than training a young person with no empire skills, why is the economy still floundering? Why does the Fed measure productivity by the ability to roll over debt and pull income forward, to offset legacy real estate losses hidden off-book with mark to fantasy, to employ debt as an asset instead of labor.

    They’re not making any more land and humans must reproduce, so commandeer a gate tile for the purpose of extortion and assume nature has no response, so the thinking goes, whether it’s doctors, lawyers, or priests. Currency is an at-will agreement between legacy capital and future labor, to grow a middle class economic buffer with trade specialization, the terms and conditions of which are specified in a constitution. Capital fails every time for the same reason the weather changes, it cannot adapt itself.

    Not so long ago, whites were slaves and blacks their masters; Family Law net ‘democracy’ swung in favor of males and away from females; and American productivity promised unrivaled currency hegemony over similarly situated, but failed empires of the past. No matter where, when, you are in the empire, the exit is always loving another that will love you back, and raising your children by example to ignore the civil marriage real estate ponzi, from which all peer pressure politics emerge.

    Only robots look to government for a proprietary right to life and liberty, insured by enslaving future generations to the grant. Of course the teachers can’t teach; they are too busy chasing NSA grants. You can’t argue law at a trial of fact, so why would you accept jurisdiction, especially given that there is no jury of your peers because you do not subscribe to peer pressure, which is your duty as a parent. Enabling family banking law through 50 state constitutions, all aiding and abetting one another with best business practices, does not relieve the Court. Where is Family Law in the US Constitution?

    Labor has no interest in being understood, but others are welcome to create all the economic activity they want in the attempt, on their own dime. My skills are not an empire gift to be proportioned out to those who chose not to educate themselves and depend instead on peer pressure, with a tax system built for the purpose under color of law. Don’t f-with my family and expect me not to employ the skills acquired to short out the empire. That is the beginning, middle and end of military law.

    How often you remind the bank that you don’t need its money, that the empire does not own any thing or any one, depends upon your development. An empire is a utility, like a diaper, nothing more and nothing less. Don’t marry on a foundation of money and expect democracy to work. Money is a derivative of stupidity. It doesn’t work. Only you can do that. If you want peace, learn to make decisions based on the priorities of your development; choose carefully with whom you will and will not share your life.

    Empires are a series of 100-yard dashes created by law and virtually connected by artificial business cycles induced by Bank, with capital at the 90 yard line when the gun fires, and each entitlement horizon retarded with similar consideration. Labor is running a marathon, sometimes in parallel and sometimes not, closing the circuit or opening switches against peer pressure to time the gauntlet.

    Real estate industries require massive subsidies, to load the spring, and all corporations are ultimately in the real estate game. How you get labor to provide those subsidies and how you distribute them are inter-related questions. If you can’t get labor to change its operation by kidnapping its children, you certainly are not going to do so by any means of coercion. Begin with the 24-hour workweek and proceed.

    My granddad, an old tobacco farmer, used to say that indoor plumbing was the worst invention, because it separated people from nature, and electricity was the second worst, because it separated people from themselves. If you want the real economy to reboot, learn to respect labor again, because it is the only part of the economy that cannot be replaced, at will. Empire capital is made of straw.

    You can fool yourself and others similarly inclined with words, but intent belies your actions. Empires are all about entitlement, viruses proffering solutions to self-made problems, which get progressively worse with each iteration. Technology is a tool. Treat it as a weapon at the cost of self destruction, peer pressure, always the tip of the empire spear. Never again is always again, divide and conquer fear as beginning and end. You are a universal tool, with free will to take intelligent action, to open and shut gates at will, and we did not invest all this time energy to conduct another stupid war machine. Navigate and explore.

    You may die tomorrow, but life is a marathon, not a sprint. “Tis true we are in great danger; The greater therefore should our courage be.” “Cowards die many times before their death.” “Rather let my head Stoop at the block than these knees bow to any Save to the God of heaven…”

    How does the universe wind and unwind torque?

  25. CJ

    Thank you Gaius Publius for connecting these dots and making explicit what is implicit in government statements about secret surveillance. I was certainly thinking along similar lines and I appreciate your wider perspective.

    As someone who has been involved in environmental activism, the question your post raises for me is: are these data sharing methods being used to thwart those who oppose industrial-scale destruction of nature in the name of profit?

    This raises additional questions: to what extent does the government feed this surveillance data to corporations and other private entities whose profit depends upon their unfettered access to natural resources? Does this data go to trade associations, or the chamber of commerce, or oil and gas development companies, or chemical/pharmaceutical companies?

    More importantly, to what extent is that information then returned from businesses back to the government so that the power of the state can be used to silence their opponents?

    Judging by the overwhelming number of lost battles in the environmental advocacy effort, I cannot help but see the shadow of business/government collusion as playing a large part.

    Ultimately, I think this will play out as a case where they win all the battles but lose the war, however, there is going to be a lot lost between now and then.

  26. washunate

    Thanks again for the continued and passionate emphasis on the absurd size and scope of the national security state. It’s at the heart of the assault on Constitutional governance that is killing our economy and our republic.

  27. TuffsNotEnuff

    What are the principal risks associated with the FBI UPSTREAM data collection ??? Are these risks substantially different from the commercial world’s EU-600 class of risks — identity theft and the like?

    Do the linguistic search indexes at NSA’s PRISM system and the document tracking systems set up additional risks?

    We know they use these systems to intercept messages. Terror groups, drug cartels, yakuza/triad/mafia gangs. Let’s put the output from these operations on the asset side of the ledger. For ordinary citizens, what else?

    The down side goes to enhanced power on the part of whoever can exploit these systems from the inside. Start with database administrators, work out to analysts and managers, consider planned government projects that have unintended consequences, then go on to schemes from politicians and the professional bribes-and-blackmail crews.

    One FBI employee had 9,000,000 individual phone records copied to his laptop computer. Watergate could recur. “Dirty trick” schemes have appeared in half the election cycles through American history. So what happens when sale of data and the “dirty trick” schemes get hold of the mature databases that will develop as UPSTREAM and PRISM continue through 2020, 2050, and into the 2200s ?

    What happens when criminals get their hands on these databases?

    Can we get a risk analysis commission?

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