Out of curiosity I once submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter to the FBI and CIA requesting files in their databases attached to my name.
I did so after reading an article about Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist associated with the Snowden disclosures, whose FBI FOIA requests for files concerning himself were denied.
Gellman’s interest in files on himself related to his project of writing a book about how government agencies track and monitor reporters and their activities – a project reflective of Gellman’s notoriety for his work on National Security Agency surveillance which won him the Pulitzer prize. And so, in light of the FBI’s decision to withhold FOIA files that would inform his book, a suit had been filed this time last year, Gellman v. Department of Homeland Security et al.
As of yet, I have no knowledge of what came of this casebut dredge it up to make the point that the “deep state” (the shadowy complex of high-level security clearances, black operations, and the intelligence community’s will to keep untoward things quiet) is alive and well.
The American public needs to be paying attention to what is going on with the current atmosphere of intelligence revelations, for it is saturated with example after example of how the government keeps tabs on its own citizens.
History is replete with examples as well. The former CIA director Allen Dulles once remarked that some (if not all) state-run intelligence networks of history were constructed with the intent of keeping an eye on “subject” populations in order to discern any “signs of revolt” (Dulles, A. The Craft of Intelligence. p.6). The Okhrana, for instance, was a “security” establishment of Russia characterized as an institution of dissident oppression and censorship which kept a watchful eye on soviet citizens, the author Tolstoy, and even the revolutionary Lenin.
This “big brother” function betrays the notion of intelligence networks acting only in the interests of the public.
It must be understood that certain intelligence networks only serve to maintain the status quo (paraphrasing Webster Tarpley, oligarchy seeks to perpetuate oligarchy).
During earlier days intelligence was collected through the senses of an agent, but the advent of modern collection methods contrasts significantly with those of the sense-mediated. Cameras, computers, satellites, and specialized personnel equipped with a variety of other technological edges afford intelligence communities an unprecedented collection capability.
For example, the ARGUS-IS (Automated Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imagery System) of BAE Systems and DAARPA is a Wide-Area Persistent Surveillance (WAPS) system which boasts a remarkable capacity for unmanned aerial surveillance from a predator drone. The 368 cameras used on ARGUS–IS collectively possess a 1.8 gigapixel imagery capability that allows for adequate resolution of a 6 inch object from an altitude of 3.78 miles (20,000 feet) and can survey a land area of 25 square miles at a time! The raw data captured from the ARGUS-IS is then fed into a super-computer at ground station where personnel can monitor 68 individual points of interest of the surveyed area simultaneously – far beyond from what an ancient scout could do.
And your computer data? Well, William Binney, a former NSA contractor turned whistle-blower, has repeatedly stated that your every digital action is being recorded and collected, even Facebook data.
“[T]hey don’t realize that’s being captured.” -William Binney
With whistle-blower revelations abounding, I can’t help but type this message out for those who have an interest in privacy, but do not have even a rudimentary understanding of the nature of intelligence communities. You are being spied on, and you can only begin to change that by bringing this fact to a crystallized awareness.
Admittedly nothing interesting came of my FOIA inquiry to the FBI (I am not an interesting person). The bureau’s response indicated that a denial or admission of records on myself would not be forthcoming without following other legal conduits riddled with legal exemptions. Still, the idea that “watch-lists” exist and that average citizens may inadvertently find themselves on one is an intriguing subject, and one might wonder if these lists may expand beyond the scope of legitimate threats to domestic security by twisting the legal definition of the term terrorist.