The 2010 DHS Surveillance Technology Wish list (or, What To Watch Out For...)

The 2010 DHS Surveillance Technology Wishlist
(or, What to Watch Out For)

"What I Want To Know Is..." – issue #1

American citizen: if you think the danger is only relevant to those with "something to hide," you had better think again. Please.(Anonymous)

The makers of our constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness... They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone – the most comprehensive of the rights and the right most valued by civilized men. (Justice Louis D. Brandeis)

Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen... (Zbigniew Brezhinsky)

I hope you find this helpful, gentle Reader. I could have, you understand, done something more immediately useful instead, like looking for a place to move to – a land like the America of my youth - an America I only thought I lived in, an America that may have never existed.

I come across documents much like the one below semi-regularly, documents in portable document format (pdf), often with an unintelligible title (or none at all), sometimes retrievable only with difficulty (or not at all). I have been noticing a trend, a subtext, chilling hints of a possible future bleak and ugly and maybe hopeless, I don't know, I didn't trust my fear addled mind to unwind them. Such "conspiracy" theories remain discouraged, popular or no. What I want to know is, how did public opinion go from 'That's preposterous' or 'They don't have the resources' or 'Why would they want to do that? What good does it do them?' or 'They who? Who is this they?' on the one hand to "Yeah, yeah, so what,' and 'of course,'? How did not-worth-knowing become everyone-knows-that? What's in between ignorant apathy and apathetic ignorance? No actual details or meaningful discourse, usually. A DMZ of manufactured consent. Livingrooms across the country where too much trust is placed in talking heads on glowing screens, and too little trust in the observations of non-experts. Where discourse is dominated by social jockeying. In other words, people don't really know what "everybody knows," and few have seen source documents for themselves.

So here we go: first, a few of my questions, opinions, and comments; then the original document reposted from Google's hypertext; finally the hypertext link & the downloadable pdf.

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The mission of the DHS S&T Directorate is to “support basic and applied homeland security research to promote revolutionary changes in technologies; advance the development, testing and evaluation, and deployment of critical homeland security technologies; and accelerate the prototyping and deployment of technologies that would address homeland security vulnerabilities.”

What I want to know is, why now? What does this have to do with the Captain Underwear? with Iran? Israel? Fort Hood? Bin Laden? Nine Eleven?

Or perhaps you would rather I asked more relevant questions? More credible... ones? Why now? Why do we need revolutionary changes in technologies to deal with airport security? Or to get to the bottom of terror scares like this the most recent, with all their anomalies and discrepancies?

It doesn't sound like its to make the security technologies any less invasive, or less health-threatening. The technoogies seem to be exponentially evolving apace. So far they have not indicated that they will prove in the final analysis to have made us substantially safer. So far they have reduced our security, our personal security, against unlawful searches of our persons, our papers, our ipods, and our effects. I would like to think that this is this glaring problem. I could almost imagine it. This caused government to gather, to figure out how to neuter them, how to untether creativity from copyright. Technological change, we find out, will have had to have been rendered (good word, rendered) revolutionary to address. To address it, to actually protect us, DHS would have to take on the greedy-mutherfucking-bastard-corporate-interests, and rewrite the code, so that profit isn't the bottom line. Either that, or strip the corporations of their personhood. But I know better. I know by now, after eight years of Bush's bullshit, after reading a lot of news, I know better.

A friend of mine saw the PDF and shook his head, saying, "Its always been about the same thing: Its always been about the drugs. The drugs and the downloads." The technologies are now just about powerful enough, to let these cats out of their bag, don't you think? When you read the following, keep an eye out for them. Five years ago, there would only have been hints, maybe one vague mention, if any. One could tell, however, that the new technologies could easily handle substitutions. One could tell - or I thought one could - where the nouveau-fasciste were going. Like one knows when they really want drugs, they talk explosives; when they want dissidents, they talk child porn; when they want file-sharers, well, they try not to say anything until the scheme is underway.

A few substitutions, amendments, modules swapped out – and suddenly presto! Law Enforcement would find itself in the enviable position of having far too many exact, credible, detailed leads, and far too much power with which, in following such leads, one could invent whatever the fuck one wished to. Who are they going to believe, an Officer of the Law, or some rag tag you-fill-in-description-of-undesireable-here? And then, in my over-active imagination, the uniformed speaker of that question glares at me. Of course, if I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to worry about. He pauses, tries to look behind me, at what I have written. He squints at the PDF. Flips through the text version. I don't have anything to hide, do I?

No, officer. But I don't consent to any searches, sir.

And then, before anything, without pretext, out-of-place in our conversation because it isn't a conversation – it's never, ever, a "conversation" between a citizen and a police officer, its a trap – What I really really want to know is –

Are you detaining me, officer, or am I free to go?

– before he has had long enough to regroup and relaunch what would no doubt otherwise be a seemingly inexhaustible series of 'gotcha'-games designed to get me to waive my rights, to consent to a search, or to give him probable cause... before he can think of a way to circumvent or sabotage my somewhat unpracticed defieance...

Are you detaining me, officer, or am I free to go?

That's it. Those revolutionary new technologies? They are to get around all this silly posturing. Find a legitimate justification for detaining whom they will, and find it quickly. Automate the process to save the taxpayer money. Revolutionary? Make it predictive. As if data mining worked. As if surveillance was useful. Let us not forget what the exact definition of a terrorist is, according to the language of the Patriot Act, back when it had quote just been written unquote, back when it was of course an understandable legislative response to quote what had just happened unquote, back when it was an emergency measure called for by the quote emergency. Unquote.

American citizen: if you think the danger is only relevant to those with "something to hide," you had better think again. Please.(Anonymous)

Complete and accurate surveillance as a means of control is probably a practical impossibility. What is much more likely is a loss of privacy and constant inconvenience as the wrong people gain access to information, as one wastes time convincing the inquisitors that one is in fact innocent, or as one struggles to untangle the errors of the errant machine. (Victor Ferkiss)

«Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre» ("Give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I find something to hang him" – Cardinal Richelieu)

There are a few things that it seems always must be done or established or agreed upon by our "Homeland Security" for anything else to happen, or for DHS to call their activities successfull. At their most fundamental these will be the same as they were for the the Roman, the Mongol, Aztec, Khazar, Mayan equivalents of DHS. Consider the relationship that society, media, institutions, and the individual must have to the state for the agenda of "Homeland Security" to remain viable, much less unquestioned – for the Department itself to pass for useful, never mind for it to be successful.

The Truth is, such success, even at its most minimum, is right now uncertain. Despite the manipulation of the media, of our schools, of our religious or defensive instinct. Despite the implicit or sometimes blatant prejudices that allow the great masss of Humanity to be led about, lied to, totured, overworked, deprived of the basic necessities: p0wned: despite the abysmal nature of things in that respect people are waking up. And more and more are realizing that this horrible, unacceptable situation, where their basic humanity is nearly worthless, could not occur without their legally binding (if silent or implied or coerced, nonetheless, legal and binding) – if manufactured – consent.

Make no mistake. Failure to say "no" is a "yes"; consent is assumed in the absence of explicit refusal.

There is a lot of power, money, and influence at work trying to ensure this consent. It is very important that the fundamentals be controlled, if Capital-T-They get the outcome they want: people, above all, obedient and tractable. As they may not in fact turn out to be. Correct me if I am wrong, but from where I sit, reading news voraciously, people are closer to waking up than they've been for quite some time. More of them than ever before.

For them to neutralize this trend, quickly - that would require sweeping changes. Changes in the whole way the control was being gathered, deployed, and wielded. This is what the DHS is calling for help with. Soon I will let you go forth, gentle reader, into this evil pdf. Look at everything listed, every objective, as a tool. Try to see beneath it. Try to make out at what they take such urgent, deliberate, expensive aim. This objective is just the beginning - guess at what they really want, and you'll be able to see the excuses, as pretexts, the exigencies, as tactics, the principles, as propaganda. What will become of this, of us? How far, given what we know, will it actually go? And what I really want to know is, what can I - can we - do about it? Hopefully knowledge is power. Tell people about this. Post it. Email it. Find other documents like it while you can. Download them, just in case. Let us keep what Freedom we have; let us figure out how to reclaim the rest.

Be seeing you.

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