Archive for the ‘suspicious activity reporting’ Category

Just get through it.

BTC –  Through my travels, I have observed a seasonal effort to increase local passenger surveillance on public transit. Sometimes passengers actually do create problems for themselves and others. That’s part of the public transit system. However, it really adds a touch of cold war scope creep when you get to hear announcements made by the DHS Secretary “if you see something, say something”.   This also means terrorism is subject to interpretation by the general public, who are not trained law enforcement professionals.

Today Operation Rail Safe was set in motion by the TSA nationwide to supervise trains, specifically AMTRAK systems. 

To keep it in perspective, recent reports compare that more people die of poverty than from terrorism.   *Ghandi’s said once, “Enforced poverty is the worst violence against a people”.

So here’s my casual advice for passengers;  do not allow ANYONE on public transit to provoke you.

Here are my reasons.

There may be a rider who: doesn’t like your hair, who is having a bad day or for whatever reason wants to see otherwise innocent people lose their freedoms. Transit personnel may and have openly tested riders, just like police officers, to initiate a confrontation so they have cause to search and detain people they simply don’t like.  There are a lot of malicious people in life whose aim is to put you in a bad situation. In these treacherous times, a confrontation on public transit could lead to your name and events being dumped into a terrorist watch list.  We know this because basic traffic infractions have been entered into fusion center databases.  Suddenly, someone who had a speeding ticket is in the same database as someone with reasonable suspicion of being an international terrorist.  In won’t be fair, but the results are the same.  Ask one the hundreds of thousands of innocent people on TSA’s no-fly list.

We are asking you to not be that fearful working class hero. Be that reasonable innocent getting from A-to-B.

In the Bay Area, it’s all seems to be part of TransitWatch. In the East Bay and Oakland, where a securely detained passenger may be murdered in broad daylight by local police working the public transit beat; the TSA has initiated Operation Rail Safe.

MORE HERE: Video@KTVU- OAKLAND: Security Beefed Up At Local Amtrak Station

Other News: Chicago Activists Raided by FBI Refuse to Participate in “Fishing Expedition”
John Lennon’s Fingerprints Seized  by FBI at Memorabilia Shop

BTC – Digital Privacy, like most things over 35 years of age,  is in need of a little in need of shaping up around the middle as Senators push to update to electronic privacy law in spite of elections.

Almost on cue, Washington domestic intelligence agencies are expressing resistance to this new regimen of reduced budget diet and political exercise to cut the fat.

To start, DHS is asking to be exempted from the dated provisions in the 1974 Privacy Act in a new National Proposed Rule or NPRM concerning “electronic records”.  Yes, that would include e-mail, phone calls and anything else that creates a record from an electronic pulse. This is possibly so they won’t have to pass an additional appropriations bill or comply with the development of more stringent Privacy codes designed to protect citizens from non-criminal surveillance.

“The Department of Homeland Security is giving concurrent notice of a newly established system of records pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 [EPCA] for the “Department of Homeland Security/ALL-031 Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative System of Records” and this proposed rulemaking. In this proposed rulemaking, the Department proposes to exempt portions of the system of records from one or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.”

[They are seeking public input on this for the next 19 days.]

NPRM’s are a chronic source of irritation for electronic privacy advocates seeking ways to cut funding to bureacratic tech adoptions in local and national governance; which are later used for broad public surveillance.  Domestic federal intelligence agencies, like the FBI, are trying to hang onto the vagueries which allow them to veer into places they have no right to go.  However, in all fairness, the government is only one aspect of our society where upgrades to the EPCA will face resistance.

Wireless, social networking, and cloud computing companies, like Google, have been compromising the public cache, divesting analytics, or information gained by use of their technology, for profit or for leverage in a tough economy.  Strange concessions from these companies have started to emerge, maybe to demonstrate how they can change their evil ways.  Perhaps more so they won’t get the heavy legal hit expected if the EPCA gets the legal upgrade necessary to constrict the private tap of consumer information being abused today.

One thing is clear ; as the EPCA is updated it should end the festive looting of your private digital records at the convenience of the US government and private information brokers.

RELATED NEWS:  Stephen Colbert’s, Colbertlist 

“The concept is simple,” Napolitano said. “If you are on a train, or standing on a platform, on in a station or public place and you see something that doesn’t look right, or out of place, like an unattended package or bag, or an individual acting in a suspicious manner, report it to law enforcement.”

BTC –  “If you see something, say something…”  Here’s what I’ve been seeing lately.

After relocating the to the Bay Area I’ve noticed a lot more surveillance cameras in public transit areas and speaker messages which promote suspicious activity reporting.  It’s not at every station – just on BART, when you exit Millbrae to Caltrain.  If you board the San Jose DASH from the train a recorded announcement will ask you to “report any unattended packages” to the driver.   I recall one Spring afternoon day, up to five police personnel manning entryways on an inbound train to San Francisco.  There wasn’t any posting or announcements on the train to explain this extra presence to passengers.

On Friday afternoon there was a sobriety checkpoint where police stopped to ask for licenses in my suburban, one stoplight area coming from the freeway.  I asked my friend to stop and let me out before the cones.   A police officer then openly insulted me for getting out and walking to the sidewalk.   I wasn’t volunteering up for a random identity surveillance measure or for the engagement snare.

A single mother of two said starkly at a Starbucks after I handed her a postcard, “It’s becoming a police state!”

The US is incorporating a public surveillance practice used in the UK which may dump random things you do into a terrorism watch fusion center.  Suspicious Activity reports or SARs are handled as “national security” domestic intelligence run by local law enforcement.  It’s not based on actual crime or reasonable suspicion.  It’s based on “reasonable indication” of a crime.  What does that mean?  Well if someone indicates to law enforcement that you may be a criminal, you get a history in a terror watch database.

In the 80’s we used to deride the USSR for abusing suspicious activity reporting practices because it was how “the commies” used threat of intimidation on their people and how neighbors exercised vengance on those they didn’t like.   We used to think “wow, I’m glad it’s not like that over here.”

Well, it’s my unfortunate duty to report modern America is operating just like fallen communist Russia.

“At it’s core pre-emptive policing severely undercuts the basic notion that police are public servants sworn to protect and serve, rather than intelligence agents whose job is to feed daily observations into data streams winding their way into a nationwide matrix of Fusion Centers and federal agencies. The SAR Inititave casts a wide net of surveillance: it encourages local police, the public, and corporations and businesses to engage in vaguely-defined “pre-operational surveillance” and report actvities such as the practive of religion and spirituality, political protest, and community organizing will weaken civil liberties and erode community trust.”

– Thomas Cincotta, Platform for Prejudice


BOSTON – An 82 page analysis of domestic intelligence policy released by Political Research Associates (PRA) Tuesday found local police are being used as domestic intelligence gatherers with little to no oversight in criminal intelligence distinctions. Amid the findings are rampant racial and political profiling and hystrionic calls for further surveillance protections where no criminal or terrorist acts occurred. Costs to implement digital surveillance based on these local police intelligence gatherings were deemed expensive and wasteful. The practices were overwhelmingly considered unconstitutional, against 4th Amendment protections.

The study, Platform for Prejudice, evaluated the police intelligence gathering practices in 12 cities for 2 years involving a decentralized network of 72 Fusion Centers. Tax funded Fusion Centers are present in local communities for the purposes of gathering criminal intelligence and terrorism prevention. Local police are deployed to gather federal intelligence to submit to an Information Sharing Environment (ISE) or a Fusion Center. It is then fed to a network to federal intelligence agencies, like the FBI. It may be furthered for international analysis at the National Counter Terrorism Center. Examples of suspected criminal activity worthy of creating a pre-criminal national intelligence profile included: photography, taking notes, sketching, public speaking on political issues and making diagrams in public settings. Once a profile is created local police may be dispatched to follow up on non-criminal activities for the purposes of surveillance. Non-criminal information submitted to an ISE is deemed “fact-based information” by local police hence alluding to potential criminality of any activity submitted.
Further into the report, traditional neighborhood crimes and traffic violations are filtered with a label of terrorism prevention in an “all crimes” watch policy. People become profiled for minor infractions, such as speeding tickets. Their information is then funnelled into a database treatment cycle for national terrorists.
The UK derived practice of pre-emptive policing creates a deluge of low quality information into our national terror watch networks. According to RAND Corp. local police are “simply collecting so much data of such low quality that they do not provide much [counter-terror] benefit”. Non-criminal information bogs down networks with a low threshhold for reporting information. It becomes difficult to evaluate bonafide national terror threats according the the National Counter Terrorism Center.
According to officials who designed the SAR Initiative, pre-emptive policing is based on behaviors regardless of race, ethnicity, or political associations. Behaviors otherwise overlooked by police enforcement become what is called a “reasonable indication” of suspicious activity. The definition of “reasonable suspicion” became independent of actual crime and criminal predicates in the adoption of this initiative’s use of “reasonable indication”.
Privacy safeguards and legal limitations were overlooked in code 28 CFR 23, in accord with The Justice Systems Improvement Act of 1979. This code necessitates an actual crime as a predicate for reasonable suspicion and the creation of an intelligence record. This code is being challenged to downgrade current predicates for criminal intelligence, to simply “reasonable indication” of possible crime. Using “reasonable indication” officers can gather any data, at any time for intelligence purposes without probable cause.
The window stays open for this practice as long as ISE’s Program Manager does not perpetuate any oversight of information submitted by State and Local agencies. Due to short cuts, negligence in sifting non-terror related reports and little feedback to local police departments submitting SARs, “reasonable indication” becomes standard operating procedure for public surveillance.
According to the ACLU, law enforcement are encouraged by federal agencies to actively disregard 28 CFR 23 and expand the quest for non-criminal information to include public and private sector data. The focus and objective for certain law enforcement agents may be to gather data considered unclassified. For example: biometric data eyes, fingerprints, face scans, and body identifiers are considered largely unclassified.
SAR’s use a myriad of sources other than law enforcement officers: corporations, private security firms, anonymous neighborhood watch groups. Infraguard, a private surveillance firm, was contracted by federal intelligence agencies after the federal TIPS program was eliminated due to public scorn. InfraGuard takes up where TIPS left off recruiting utility workers, civil servants and corporate cogs to solicit private information as private criminal intelligence investigators.
The report indicates that up to 23,000 private representatives work with InfraGuard providing information about potentially anyone. The potential for intelligence abuse is astronomical, as InfraGuard users claim they can dispatch FBI operatives in a vindictive manner on political and economic enemies.
iWatch, previously reported on Waking Up Orwell as “iSnitch”, is a model of a neighborhood watch program used to produce SARS in Los Angeles. [You can see how well that went.]
You may want to look into for resources and information about how to get organized and involved in, literally, watching and reporting against those who unconstitutionally watch and report on you. One strategic way is to enlist FOIA or open records requests to your local criminal justice departments to find out what kind of information is being gathered on your neighborhoods and submitted to Fusion Centers. Through a casual online web search you can ususally find out if a Fusion Center is near you.
The information being arbitrarily collected can be held for up to 10 years.

The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) is a collaborative effort among Federal and State, local, and tribal (SLT) government agencies with Counterterrorism (CT) responsibilities. Developed pursuant to Presidential direction, it establishes a nationwide capability to gather, document, process, analyze, and share information about suspicious
incidents to enable rapid identification and mitigation of potential terrorist threats.1 The resulting NSI business process (often referred to as the NSI cycle) was described by the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) in a Concept of Operations for the NSI published in December 2008 and in a revised functional standard in May 2009.”

BTC- Get your sick-bags ready. This new initiative has the capacity to comprehensively suggest the individual can be criminalized for non-criminal acts if a law enforcement agent is called in.