Obama to let U.S. spy agencies scour Americans’ finances

March 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Police State


NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN.

The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.

The planning document, dated March 4, shows that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and it is not known when implementation might begin.

Financial institutions file more than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000, as well as suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting.

“For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community,” said the Treasury planning document.

A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act. “Law enforcement and intelligence community members with access to this information are bound by these safeguards,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Some privacy watchdogs expressed concern about the plan when Reuters outlined it to them.

A move like the FinCEN proposal “raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group.

Despite these concerns, legal experts emphasize that this sharing of data is permissible under U.S. law. Specifically, banks’ suspicious activity reporting requirements are dictated by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, which offer some privacy safeguards.

National security experts also maintain that a robust system for sharing criminal, financial and intelligence data among agencies will improve their ability to identify those who plan attacks on the United States.

“It’s a war on money, war on corruption, on politically exposed persons, anti-money laundering, organized crime,” said Amit Kumar, who advised the United Nations on Taliban sanctions and is a fellow at the Democratic think tank Center for National Policy.


The Treasury document outlines a proposal to link the FinCEN database with a computer network used by U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies to share classified information called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.

The plan calls for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – set up after 9/11 to foster greater collaboration among intelligence agencies – to work with Treasury. The Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

More than 25,000 financial firms – including banks, securities dealers, casinos, and money and wire transfer agencies – routinely file “suspicious activity reports” to FinCEN. The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, said privacy advocates have already been pushing back against the increased data-sharing activities between government agencies that followed the September 11 attacks.

“One of the real pushes from the civil liberties community has been to move away from collection restrictions on the front end and put more limits on what the government can do once it has the information,” he said.

Obama taps Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA

January 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Americas

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team.

Hagel, even before being nominated, has faced tough criticism from congressional Republicans who say the former GOP senator is anti-Israel and soft on Iran. And Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, withdrew from consideration for the spy agency’s top job in 2008 amid questions about his connection to enhanced interrogation techniques during the George W. Bush administration.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/politics/article/Obama-taps-Hagel-for-Pentagon-Brennan-for-CIA-4171717.php#ixzz2HICLGWi4

CIA Sued Over Alledged 1953 Murder of Military Scientist, Frank Olson

November 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

For the complete story check out our 2010 interview with Author of “Its a Terrible Mistake” Hank Albarelli – Jack Blood Hank H.P. Albarelli Mar 17 2010

Find more videos like this on 12160 Social Network

Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency murdered military scientist Frank Olson in 1953 after he raised concerns about testing chemical and biological weapons on human subjects without their consent, according to a lawsuit brought by his two sons.

Eric and Nils Olson, in a complaint filed against the U.S. today in Washington, said the agency has covered up the cause of their father’s death for 59 years. Frank Olson, who the CIA admitted was given LSD a few days before his death, didn’t jump from a 13th floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York City, but rather was pushed, they claim.

“The circumstances surrounding the death mirrored those detailed in an assassination manual that, upon information and belief, the CIA had drafted that same year,” Scott Gilbert, a lawyer for the Olsons, wrote in the complaint.

Full Article

Living 911 Gitmo patsies show defiance at Trial: ‘They may Suicide us’

May 6, 2012 by  
Filed under World


GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed fingered his long, henna-dyed beard and stared down in silence on Saturday, pointedly ignoring a military commissionsjudge asking in vain whether the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks understood what was being said and whether he was willing to be represented by his defense lawyers.

“Look mean or No Soup for you!” – European Pressphoto Agency

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the top defendant, in 2003.

Minutes later, Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the five detainees arraigned on Saturday as accused conspirators in the attacks, stood, knelt and started praying. Later, he shouted at the judge that he should address their complaints about prison conditions because “maybe you are not going to see me again.”

Maybe they are going to kill us and say that we have committed suicide,” he added.

One defendant, Walid bin Attash, was wheeled into the courtroom in a restraint chair for reasons that were not disclosed.

Amid disruptions both passive and aggressive, the government’s attempt to restart its efforts to prosecute the five defendants in the long-delayed Sept. 11 case got off to a slow and rocky start in a trial that could ultimately result in their execution.

After hours of jostling over procedural issues, all five defendants deferred entering a plea. The judge set a hearing date for motions in mid-June; the trial is not likely to start for at least a year.

The Bush administration had started to prosecute the men in the military commissions system in 2008.

The Obama administration tried to transfer the case to a federal court in Lower Manhattan, a short distance from the World Trade Center site, but the plan collapsed amid security fears and a backlash in Congress.

As defense lawyers repeatedly tried to change the subject to security restrictions that they say have hampered their ability to do their jobs, the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, struggled to stick to a military commissions script that had been rewritten the day before — and so was not yet translated into Arabic.

The judge, however, was determined to keep the case on track. When a lawyer for Mr. Mohammed, David Nevin, explained that his client had decided not to respond to the judge’s questions about his assigned defense lawyers in order to protest what he saw as an unfair process, Colonel Pohl replied that he would assume that he had no objections to being represented by them.

“He has that choice,” Colonel Pohl said of Mr. Mohammed’s silence. “But he does not have a choice that would frustrate this commission going forward.”

The arraignment was the first time since 2008 that the five high-profile Qaeda detainees had been seen in public. They wore loose, light-colored garb; their lawyers complained that they had brought other clothes to wear, but that prison officials refused to let them wear it.

Four walked into the courtroom without shackles but surrounded by three large guards who stood between them when the court was not in session. With Mr. bin Attash initially restrained, guards put glasses on his face and attached his prosthetic leg.

Colonel Pohl said he would have the restraints taken off if Mr. bin Attash would pledge not to disrupt the court, but Mr. bin Attash refused to answer him. Eventually, the restraints were removed after the judge accepted a promise relayed through Mr. bin Attash’s lawyer.

While passive when the judge tried to talk to them, the detainees occasionally whispered to one another. During brief recesses, they talked freely to their defense lawyers, and while guards came and stood between them, they craned their necks and talked to each other as well, appearing relaxed.

Each detainee also had a bin containing items liked legal papers, Korans, prayer rugs and other materials. Mr. Mohammed, wearing a black skullcap, took a white cloth from his bin and fashioned it into a sort of turban. One detainee, Ali Abd al Aziz Ali, had a copy of the Economist magazine, which he appeared to be reading and later handed to a detainee sitting behind him, Mustafa al Hawsawi, who leafed through it.

The detainees refused, however, to wear headphones so they could hear a simultaneous Arabic translation. To make sure they knew what was being asked, the judge directed translators to repeat in Arabic over a loudspeaker each phrase that was uttered in the courtroom, sometimes causing a confusing jumble and significantly slowing the process — especially after Mr. bin Attash insisted that prosecutors read the full charges, which consumed more than two hours.

 The arraignment was the latest chapter for the detainees, who were captured and held for years in secret overseas prisons by the Central Intelligence Agency and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. In 2008, they were charged before a tribunal and seen for the first time; Mr. Mohammed’s beard then was gray, and his behavior during pretrial motions was marked by frequent outbursts, not silence.

The high-security courtroom at this naval base was sealed; anything the detainees say is considered presumptively classified, and at one point censors cut off an audio feed when a defense lawyer said his client had been tortured, but later comments about torture were not. The sound also cut out at first when Mr. bin al Shibh began shouting — but was turned back on midway through.

Among the observers watching the proceeding behind soundproof glass were several family members of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, separated from reporters and other observers by a blue curtain. (A closed-circuit feed was also broadcast to several locations around the United States.)

Several family members could be heard muttering when the lawyer for Mr. bin Attash, Cheryl Borman — who wore traditional black Muslim garb, covering everything but her face — asked women on the prosecution team to consider dressing more modestly so that the defendants would not have to avoid looking at them “for fear of committing a sin under their faith.” The women were wearing military or civilian jackets and skirts.

Ms. Borman later sought a court order preventing prison guards from forcibly extracting detainees from cells if they did not want to come to the next hearing, saying Mr. bin Attash had “scars on his arms”; as she spoke, he took off his shirts, but put them back on after the judge admonished him. Mr. Nevin also complained that Mr. Mohammed had been strip-searched that morning — which, along with not being allowed to wear the clothes their lawyers had brought for them, and not having a translation of the just-rewritten hearing script — had “inflamed the situation.”

Colonel Pohl said several such concerns were valid, but he would take them up at the next hearing.

Family members also whispered angrily about the disruptions. Against the backdrop of scrutiny over whether the military commissions system was a fair venue, Colonel Pohl appeared to be giving broader leeway to the defendants and the defense lawyers than many federal judges would tolerate.

Throughout the hearing, for example, lawyers for the detainees repeatedly raised complaints about restrictions on their ability to communicate, including problems with translators and a prison policy of looking through mail about the case. Colonel Pohl told them again and again not to raise an issue he had already said would be addressed later.

And when Mr. bin al Shibh stood and began praying, Colonel Pohl did not order guards to intervene. Later, when all five detainees returned from an hour break and then started praying in the courtroom, delaying the hearing by 20 minutes, he expressed only mild frustration.

“I fully respect the accused’s request for prayer,” he said. “It’s a right for them to have it. But a right can still be abused, if you understand me.”

Donald Guter, a retired rear admiral who was formerly the top judge advocate general in the Navy, attended the arraignment on behalf of Human Rights First. A critic of military commissions, he praised Colonel Pohl’s temperament — suggesting that the judge’s patience on procedural issues was probably aimed at “carrying over into a perception of fairness on the substantive issues.”



Someone Would Have Talked? Someone Would Be Crazy

April 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Commentary


By on Apr 10, 2012


Would covert operatives whose work involves subverting democratic governments abroad—including violent coups such as the one that brought down Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973—hesitate when ordered to participate in comparable activities at home?

We’re constantly told that no such thing could happen in the good ole USA (certainly not in the deaths of JFK, RFK, MLK, for example), if for no other reason than that it is impossible to keep such plots secret.

Or, in the common parlance: “Someone would have talked.”

The logic goes: since no one has come forward to describe their role in such plots, therefore no plot has existed.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. People are coming forward all the time to provide, if not the whole story, crucial bits and pieces that together would lead us to awareness of a variety of covert doings, some clearly nefarious. For example, scores, perhaps hundreds of credible eyewitnesses have cast doubt on the official “lone kook” scenario that is a staple of every domestic assassination.

But these whistleblowers are quickly discredited, suppressed, or worse. From time to time people even come out of the national security establishment to testify to such wrongdoing, but they almost always pay a heavy price –which of course discourages others from bearing witness.

How many remember the story of Philip Agee? Phil was a loyal American who served in the Central Intelligence Agency abroad. Eventually, he could no longer stomach the ugly work he and colleagues were doing to subvert the affairs of other countries, and he became a critic and a fugitive. You can read about his hair-raising adventures as the might of the US government came down upon him wherever he went, in his book On the Run

The Waterboard Whisperer

In the years since, there have been numerous other examples of “someone” who did talk, only to suffer a variety of unpleasant circumstances. The most recent case is that of former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who faces up to 45 years in prison for statements he has made.

Kiriakou first attracted the Agency’s ire when, in 2007, the ex-agent told ABC News that while he believed that waterboarding could be effective, it was morally the wrong thing to do. He was quickly ousted from his job as a security risk analyst for the accounting firm Deloitte.

He later, the government charges, spoke to journalists who were seeking confirmation of the identity of agency personnel involved with the controversial interrogation program that used methods tantamount to torture. Kiriakou faces four counts related to leaking classified information, each carrying a penalty of ten years imprisonment.

He is also accused of having told the CIA that material in a book he was writing  would “fictionalize” a high-tech CIA scanning device known as a “magic box” while in fact he went ahead to describe it accurately. The charge of making false statements could earn him an additional five years imprisonment.

The bottom line here is that public servants can go to jail for trying to inform the public about the truth of what their government does—and, bizarrely, for lying to the government by falsely promising to lie about government secrets while actually telling the truth about what they had seen from the inside.

As for “someone would have talked”……baloney. Almost nobody talks. And for good reason. Just ask John Kiriakou.

Have You Posted Your Pictures on the Internet? Invasive Surveillance Technology Awaits

April 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

Kelley Bergman
Via Preventdisease.com

Editor’s note: Please note that as of January 2012, facebook has changed their terms of use (possibly due to overwhelming criticism) and they have modified the original phrasing excerpted below. They now state “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook”, however you grant facebook non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any of your intellectual property content that you post in Facebook. In other words, they can still use your pictures and information at will, when they please and without your permission.

We’ve all done it at one point or another, posting our pictures of ourselves, family and friends on websites and social network portals such as Facebook. Whether it be submitting your picture to output a cartoon or aged version of yourself, or uploading your personal snapshots to Facebook, marketing campaigns are aggressively being pushed by digital media corporations to obtain your facial biometrics. However, most people are completely unaware of the deceptive nature of these campaigns and their intentions.

Opponents to facial recognition technology are well aware that its acceptance and integration within society are growing in combination with wider use of video surveillance, which is likely to grow increasingly invasive over time. Once installed, this kind of a surveillance system rarely remains confined to its original purpose. New ways of applying the technology are leading to abuse as authorities or operators find them to be an irresistible expansion of their power. Ultimately, the privacy of citizens will suffer another blow. The threat is that widespread surveillance will change the character, feel, and quality of our lives.

The Buzzing Social Network Giants Among Us

Online social networking has revolutionized the way the under-40 crowd communicate and share information with one another. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the preferred way of communicating for many people around the world.

According to a study by InSites Consulting, 72 percent of Internet users worldwide are members of at least one social network, which translates to 940 million people globally.

Eastern Europe and Asia are the regions with the lowest social networking participation (4 out of 10), while South America has the highest usage in terms of percentage (95%). Brits mostly visit Facebook (50%), followed by Twitter (42%). Worldwide, Facebook remains the most popular social network (51% use Facebook), followed by MySpace (20%) and Twitter (17%).

It is quite evident that a monopoly in social networking has formed and little is likely to change in the next year. “It is becoming difficult for new social sites to recruit members, said Steven Van Belleghem, Managing Partner of InSites Consulting. “The majority of surfers are happy with their current situation and do not want to become members of a new platform.”

Media and technology experts estimate that 20% or more of the world’s population will be using social networking by 2011. It also means that as older members age, they will post new updated pictures of themselves as they expand their activity and friendships. People average almost 200 friends (global average) on Facebook meaning that the connections within Facebook itself could span around the world with a link to each and every person registered.

Is Big Brother Using The Internet
To Extract Your Biometrics

Technology expert Ivan Abreu says that Facebook and Google have strong ties to lettered agencies within the U.S. government. “Every picture that you upload to Facebook or Google becomes the property of the government and they can do as they wish with that property” said Abreu. Facebook’s terms and conditions confirm that the company can do as they wish with any personal photos or information of any user at their discretion.

Facebook’s own Terms of use states: “by posting Member Content to any part of the Web site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, reformat, translate, excerpt and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

And in its equally interesting privacy policy: “Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg. photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience. By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.”
Since December 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency has been using Facebook.com, to recruit potential employees into its National Clandestine Service.

A major source of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from the venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise are in “data mining technologies”.

Dr. Anita Jones served on In-Q-Tel’s board, and had been director of Defence Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defence. She was also an adviser to the Secretary of Defence and overseeing the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for high-tech, high-end development.

It was when a journalist lifted the lid on the DARPA’s Information Awareness Office that the public began to show concern at its information mining projects of which biometric facial recognition was a key component.

Wikipedia’s IAO page says: “the IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralised location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver’s licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.”.

According to Abreu, a confidential source has explained some of the technology behind the social network giant which he reiterated, “not only can they scan items on your Facebook page, but their facial recognition and biometric applications can scan every single photograph within Facebook (billions of images) in real-time…that’s the kind of advanced technology and computing power they operate.”

The technological capabilities of government agencies have long been known to far exceed even the most advanced public user. Abreu’s source identified the facial biometric technology as ‘beyond state of the art’. “Regardless of whether it is your profile or a front shot, if your facial biometric signature is anywhere on their database and they have a reference screen capture from a video or even a faxed copy of your photograph, they can retrieve a match with almost 90% accuracy,” added Abreu.

Abreu disclosed that access to such images are not solely confined to Facebook. The technology can breach the security of any website and can simultaneously scan and download images it has been programmed to retrieve based on a predefined sequence of algorithmic biometric markers.

According to Abreu, the success and massive marketing strategies by social networking portals have made facial recognition technology that much more attractive to governments. “This technology has proliferated because of public compliance and willful disclosure of personal information.” He stated that there are dozens of other companies in addition to Facebook that log and store your information indefinitely.

Many Culprits

In late 2009, Google launched a new mobile search technology called Google Goggles that allows users to submit pictures rather that keywords as queries. Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience explained that Google has been focusing on four aspects of search: modes, media, language, and personalization. New modes of searching, such as voice-driven and image-driven search, represent a major new commitment for Google, an empire built-on keyword search ads.

Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra said that Google Goggles represents the beginning of Google’s journey into computer vision. The service is being launched in Google Labs because it’s experimental and can only recognize certain objects. Google has the capability to do facial recognition, said Gundotra, but has decided to delay implementing it to mull the privacy implications.

Other interactive internet giants such as InterActive Corp who own subsidiary branches such as Mindspark and Match.com are prime portals to access personal images and information. For example myWebFace is downloaded as a toolbar for your browser and it enables you to create an “online cartoon avatar by choosing from a huge selection of facial features, characteristics and accessories,” as stated in their license agreement. They then provide you with the opportunity to use your myWebFace cartoon for your Facebook profile or other social networks.

Another myWebFace invention oldyourself.com digitizes and ages any portrait image to simulate 20 years in the future, thus an an older version of yourself. The site uses clever tactics such as applying the software to age celebrities to attract more users.

“Users flock to such sites,” stated Brent Kane who is a former technology officer and worked as a interactive media liaison in Canada, Australia and the United States. “They heavily advertise these types of sites to attract as many users as possible within a short period of time,” he added.

A review of the oldyourself.com website proved Kane’s assertion correct. On July 24th, 2010 this author tracked the website’s traffic through a Facebook widget they had integrated on the landing page of the website. The Facebook “Likes” went from just a few to just over 28,000 “Likes” in a matter of hours suggesting the advertising load was extremely high. Interestingly enough, there was no defined page to be found on Facebook itself.

“Users who download these tool bars are completely oblivious to the fact that they are being tracked and traced regardless of what is said in the license agreements,” said Kane.

Emails were sent to Mindspark to clarify their position regarding these assertions, however responses were never received. “The goals of such well invested websites appear quite innocent and entertaining to the average user, however behind the scenes, images are tracked, stored and logged into massive data mining projects specifically for private information such as email and IP addresses for future use,” concluded Kane.

FACEinHOLE uses similar methods to entice users to upload photos of themselves for integration into specific scenarios. Want to look like a bodybuilder, model or actor? Faceinhole.com has thousands of scenarios to attract unsuspecting users to submit their personal photos. Registrants use an upload interface (instead of a browser intergrated toolbar) to submit their photos.

FACEinHOLE makes their domain information private to avoid public disclosure. However, seeing this domain contact owns over 5000 domain names, it is likely a large company whose reasons for such privacy raise suspicion. Their “Terms of Use” page states they are owned by LisbonLabs, Creative Experiences a corporation based in Lisbon, Portugal, but how this company is connected to the domain contact who owns 5000 other domain names is not clear.

In a typical fashion that resembles the other examples above, the site outlines a “terms of use” agreement stating that “FACEinHOLE may collect certain personal information from user that is not displayed on the FACEinHOLE Sites,” and they again invade a user’s privacy by stating that they “may use your personally identifiable information to present offers to you on behalf of business partners and advertisers.” Also, your information can be “accessed and disclosed if and as required by legal procedures, as determined by FACEinHOLE.com in good faith. Lastly, they may “transfer personally identifiable information in the event of a transfer of ownership of FACEinHOLE.com or any of its websites or products.” So basically, you have no privacy and they can do as they please with your personal images and information.

Ironically, on their legal note page, they state “FACEinHOLE.com will investigate notices of copyright infringement and take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” Well this author would be very curious to inquire if FACEinHOLE requested permission from George Bush, Tony Blair, Leonardo Dicaprio and Zinedine Zidane before duplicating and storing digital images of these figures in their media page.

Video games are other effective gateways that corporations are using to biometrically record younger generations. Want a whole generation of teens to be scanned? Why not incorporate facial recognition and biometrics in video games. That’s exactly what both Xbox and Playstation have done.

Microsoft’s Project Natal is delivering a new addon to the XBox gaming system that maps the exacts position of your hands, your fingers, your feet, your face, your nose, everything in a 3D map. It recognizes voice and faces and supports complex video chat for a complete interactive experience. Maybe too interactive, because in an Orwellian overstep, Microsoft has included face recognition technology which will allow you to use the meat, sinew and cartilage on the front of your head too as your password to log in to your Live account.

Natal isn’t just for gaming: As Microsoft starts to push the Xbox 360 as the home entertainment mega-hub, you’ll be able to use Natal to flick through your films and songs and use voice recognition to issue commands.

Sony Europe’s Head of Developer Services, Kish Hirani, said the Playstation Eye will have the ability to “detect gender and even the age of the face, separate facial features such as the nose, eyes and ears, and even detect whether you’re smiling or not.”

And taking a page from Microsoft’s Natal platform, Hirani said the Eye will also support “skeleton tracking.”

Of course millions of teens and young adults will jump at the chance of owning and scanning every segment of their body to play the next generation of video games. Unfortunately, once the images are uploaded online, their identities will forever be owned by nefarious levels of government.

Trust is a Wonderful Thing Until It’s Broken

“A digital divide exits between how youth perceive network privacy and how the older generation of managers and executives perceive it,” says Dr. Levin, co-author of the study, The Next Digital Divide: Online Social Network Privacy. “Young people believe that information shared with their personal social networks is considered private as long as its dissemination is limited to their social network. Organizations, on the other hand, don’t recognize this notion of network privacy. They believe that any information posted online is public and deserves no protection.”

The study found that while online social networkers are comfortable posting large amounts of personal and private information, they do so differentiating between destinations for that information. Friends, family and work are three separate networks in their minds. Young people are concerned that their personal information while freely shared within their network of friends may end up in the hands of others.

Indeed, facial recognition technology is being utilized on the internet as we speak, however to what extent is still not clear. The use of facial recognition in public places like airports depends on widespread video monitoring, an intrusive form of surveillance that can record in graphic detail personal and private behavior. And experience tells us that video monitoring will be misused. Video camera systems are operated by humans, after all, who bring to the job all their existing prejudices and biases. In Great Britain, for example, which has experimented with the widespread installation of closed circuit video cameras in public places, camera operators have been found to focus disproportionately on people of color, and the mostly male operators frequently focus voyeuristically on women.

An ACLU special report highlighted an investigation by the Detroit Free Press which showed the kind of abuses that can happen when police use video surveillance. Looking at how a database available to Michigan law enforcement was used, the newspaper found that officers had used it to help their friends or themselves stalk women, threaten motorists, track estranged spouses – even to intimidate political opponents.  The unavoidable truth is that the more people who have access to a database, the more likely that there will be abuse.

Facial recognition is especially subject to abuse because it can be used in a passive way that doesn’t require the knowledge, consent, or participation of the subject. It’s possible to put a camera up anywhere and train it on people; modern cameras can easily view faces from over 100 yards away. People act differently when they are being watched, and have the right to know if their movements and identities are being captured.

Two things must be understood by mass populations before any further cooperation in facial recognition technology. The first is to validate if the technology is effective for its intended purpose. The second is whether the technology violates the appropriate balance between security and liberty. Unfortunately, facial recognition fails on both counts: because it doesn’t work reliably, it won’t significantly protect our security – but it would pose a significant threat to our privacy.

So why should the public continue to participate or subject themselves to such invasive technologies? They shouldn’t. Stop uploading, stop sharing, stop scanning, stop distributing personal images throughout the internet. They are being used against us and any further compliance in this charade will only lead to new levels of manipulation and control by the powers that be.

If we keep our images personal and inaccessible to others, and if we prevent any part of our bodies from being scanned, the chances of exposing our unique biometrics will be dramatically reduced. It’s already too easy for them….don’t make it easier!

Kelley Bergman is a media consultant, critic and geopolitical investigator. She has worked as a journalist and writer, specializing in geostrategic issues around the globe.


The CIA wants to spy on you through your TV

March 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

Agency director says it will ‘transform’ surveillance

  • Devices connected to internet leak information
  • CIA director says these gadgets will ‘transform clandestine tradecraft’
  • Spies could watch thousands via supercomputers
  • People ‘bug’ their own homes with web-connected devices

By Rob Waugh

Daily Mail

When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.

Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.

The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.

A Sony internet TV: The rise of 'connected' devices in the home offers spies a window into people's lives - CIA director David Petraeus says the technologies will 'transform' surveillance  

A Sony internet TV: The rise of ‘connected’ devices in the home offers spies a window into people’s lives – CIA director David Petraeus says the technologies will ‘transform’ surveillance

General David Petraeus, former head of the allied forces in Afghanistan, is sworn in as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency on September 6, 2011 in the White House 

General David Petraeus, former head of the allied forces in Afghanistan, is sworn in as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency on September 6, 2011 in the White House

Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.

The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired’s ‘Danger Room’ blog.

Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.

‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ said Petraeus.

‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters –  all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’

Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously  ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems.

This week, one of the world’s biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside ‘connected’ white goods.

The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors – and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.

It’s a concept described as the ‘internet of things’.

The murderous computer Hal in 2001: But it seems that the danger of computers isn't villainous artificial intelligence - but the information they 'leak' about us  

The murderous computer Hal in 2001: But it seems that the danger of computers isn’t villainous artificial intelligence – but the information they ‘leak’ about us


Futurists think that one day ‘connected’ devices will tell the internet where they are and what they are doing at all times – and will be mapped by computers as precisely as Google Maps charts the physical landscape now.

Privacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned of how information such as geolocation data can be misused – but as more and more devices connect, it’s clear that opportunities for surveillance will multiply.
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Claim: Drug Cartel Member Had ‘CIA Pistol’

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Americas

By Mario Andrade
March 13, 2012

Last month, the Mexican military came under fire by a drug gang in Chihuahua. According to the newspaper La Prensa, the military arrested the cartel members and found several weapons in their possession, including one peculiar .40 caliber pistol. It was a gold plated 1911 model pistol engraved with the words ‘Major General William J. Donovan, for special service.’

Another gold plating has the words ‘Central Intelligence Agency” and ‘Special Edition.’ The serial number of the gun is CIA037 and according to the military, it is one out of 500 similar pistols that have been manufactured..

It is not known if this ‘Special Edition CIA’ pistol was an actual U.S. Government issue weapon, or just a collector’s item.

Major General William J. Donovan served during World War I, but he was better known for his service as Coordinator of Information in 1941, and participated in the creation of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), which eventually became the Central Intelligence Agency.