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5 Surprising Facts About Spying In America

Washington’s Blog [1]
Sept 22, 2010

Here are 5 surprising facts about spying in America.

We understand if some of this sounds far-fetched. But take a look for yourself, and see if you can disprove these claims.

1: Cheney and Rumsfeld Pushed for Warrantless Wiretaps in the ’70s

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumseld and other government officials who held high positions in the George W. Bush administration pushed for wiretaps without approval by a judge … in the 1970s [2].

2: Massive Spying on Americans Began Before 9/11

You know about the government’s massive program of spying on Americans which has been justified as a necessary response to 9/11?

Whistleblowers from major telecommunications companies have testified that the program began before 9/11 [3] (confirmed here [4] and here [5]).

3: U.S. and Allied Intelligence Heard the 9/11 Hijackers Plans from Their Own Mouths

The 9/11 hijackers were largely unknown prior to that horrible event, right?

Having A Supply Of Healthy Foods That Last Just Makes Sense (AD) [6] 

[7]

Actually, U.S. and allied intelligence services heard a lot from the hijackers’ own mouths prior to 9/11:

4: The Spying Program Has Not Been Narrowly Tailored to Keeping Americans Safe

We would all hope that the spying program has been tightly focused on protecting Americans from terrorists.

However, as I noted [21] in 2008:

As one writer [25] puts it:

“If we know of illegal administration spying on journalists and other non-suspects, and we know of pre-9/11 surveillance, then we for all intents and purposes know that these are not programs designed to fight some foreign terrorists threat.”

Indeed, the government and its contractors seem to have spent most of their time spying on antiwar protesters, environmentalists and other non-dangerous people. See this [26] and this [27].

(Of course, the fact that the spying program began before 9/11, and that 9/11 wasn’t stopped even though intelligence heard from the hijackers themselves, is also instructive. And see below).

5: The Spying Program Isn’t Just Used for Listening … It Also Is Used to Track Americans and Predict Behavior

As I noted [28] in 2008, it’s not just spying, but also tracking and predicting what American citizens will do:

As a new article [29] by investigative reporter Christopher Ketcham reveals, a governmental unit operating in secret and with no oversight whatsoever is gathering massive amounts of data on every American and running artificial intelligence software to predict each American’s behavior, including “what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help”.

The same governmental unit is responsible for suspending the Constitution and implementing martial law in the event that anything is deemed by the White House in its sole discretion to constitute a threat to the United States [30]. (this is formally known as implementing “Continuity of Government” plans).

As Ketcham’s article makes clear, these same folks and their predecessors have been been busy dreaming up plans to imprison countless “trouble-making” Americans without trial in case of any real or imagined emergency. What kind of Americans? Ketcham describes it this way:

“dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protestors, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.”

Do we want the same small group of folks who have the power to suspend the Constitution, implement martial law, and imprison normal citizens to also be gathering information on all Americans and running AI programs to be able to predict where American citizens will go for help and what they will do in case of an emergency? Don’t we want the government to — um, I don’t know — help us in case of an emergency?

Bear in mind that the Pentagon is also running an AI program to see how people will react to propaganda and to government-inflicted terror. The program is called Sentient World Simulation [31]:

“U.S defense, intel and homeland security officials are constructing a parallel world, on a computer, which the agencies will use to test propaganda messages and military strategies.

Called the Sentient World Simulation, the program uses AI routines based upon the psychological theories of Marty Seligman, among others. (Seligman introduced the theory of ‘learned helplessness’ in the 1960s, after shocking beagles until they cowered, urinating, on the bottom of their cages.)

Yank a country’s water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next.

The sim will feature an AR avatar for each person in the real world, based upon data collected about us from government records and the internet.”

The continuity of government folks’ AI program and the Pentagon’s AI program may or may not be linked, but they both indicate massive spying and artificial intelligence in order to manipulate the American public, to concentrate power, to take away the liberties and freedoms of average Americans, and — worst of all — to induce chaos in order to achieve these ends.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said that web-based artificial intelligence can predict where people will go. See this [32] and this [33].

ABC News [34] Fast Company [35], Gizmodo [36] and many other sources report that computer programs are being used to “predict” who will commit a crime.

Indeed, as noted by Boston University’s Journal of Science and Technology Law [37], Fox News [38], the Daily Telegraph [39] and other sources, the Department of Homeland Security is developing an airport scanner to be able to read people’s minds and predict terrorist behavior.

Neuroscientists at UCLA say [40] they can predict – using brain scanning – people’s behavior better than the people themselves can. And Northwestern University announced [41] in July that scientists can read people’s brain waves to detect terrorism. See also this [42] and this [43].

I am all for stopping real terrorists. But given that protest is now considered “low-level terrorism” (see this [44], this [45], this [46] and this [47]), this could be used for very repressive purposes.

In other words, spying may gradually be morphing into the Orwellian concept of “pre-crime”.