The $1billion scheme will help officials fight crime by matching surveillance photographs with images of known offenders.
But privacy advocates have decried the wide-ranging project as ‘a national photographic database’ which will eventually encompass the innocent as well as criminals.
The plan involves using several hi-tech identification measures such as DNA analysis, voice recognition and iris scans to help fight crimes.
But the centrepiece of the project is facial recognition, a technological breakthrough which the FBI says will be invaluable in solving and preventing crime in the future.
The software has two primary uses – one is to allow officials to pick out an individual from a crowd to facilitate surveillance.
The other new step is the ability to take a photograph and compare it against a database of faces which would in theory contain all former criminals, like fingerprint databases do today.
Facial recognition software is already used by social networking sites such as Facebook to help users ‘tag’ their friends in photographs, and it is believed to have an accuracy rate of over 90 per cent.
However, some campaigners are concerned that by using such sites and other sources, the government could build a photographic database of nearly every American, casting suspicion on those who have done nothing wrong.
FBI official Jerome Pender told a Senate hearing earlier this year that until now the project has only involved those previously convicted of a crime.
But the bureau has not yet confirmed that it does not plan to include photographs of the general public in the programme after it is fully operational in 2014.
The FBI has previously worked with bodies which issue drivers’ licences, raising the spectre of all holders of state identification being entered into the database.
A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union told the New Scientist: ‘Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database.’
FBI logo.(Foto fromen.wikipedia.org)
Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America .
“The NGI Program is a compilation of initiatives that will either improve or expand existing biometric identification services,” its administrator explained to the Department of Justice at the time, adding that the project, “will accommodate increased information processing and sharing demands in support of anti-terrorism.”
“The NGI Program Office mission is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation and implementation of advanced technology within the IAFIS environment.”
The agency insists, “As a result of the NGI initiatives, the FBI will be able to provide services to enhance interoperability between stakeholders at all levels of government, including local, state, federal, and international partners.” In doing as such, though, the government is now going ahead with linking a database of images and personally identifiable information of anyone in their records with departments around the world thanks to technology that makes fingerprint tracking seem like kids’ stuff.
According to their 2006 report, the NGI program utilizes “specialized requirements in the Latent Services, Facial Recognition and Multi-modal Biometrics areas” that “will allow the FnewBI to establish a terrorist fingerprint identification system that is compatible with other systems; increase the accessibility and number of the IAFIS terrorist fingerprint records; and provide latent palm print search capabilities.”
Is that just all, though? During a 2010 presentation (.pdf) made by the FBI’s Biometric Center of Intelligence, the agency identified why facial recognition technology needs to be embraced. Specifically, the FBI said that the technology could be used for “Identifying subjects in public datasets,” as well as “conducting automated surveillance at lookout locations” and “tracking subject movements,” meaning NGI is more than just a database of mug shots mixed up with fingerprints — the FBI has admitted that this their intent with the technology surpasses just searching for criminals but includes spectacular surveillance capabilities. Together, it’s a system unheard of outside of science fiction.
New Scientist reports that a 2010 study found technology used by NGI to be accurate in picking out suspects from a pool of 1.6 million mug shots 92 percent of the time. The system was tested on a trial basis in the state of Michigan earlier this year, and has already been cleared for pilot runs in Washington, Florida and North Carolina. Now according to this week’s New Scientist report, the full rollout of the program has begun and the FBI expects its intelligence infrastructure to be in place across the United States by 2014.
In 2008, the FBI announced that it awarded Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions, one of the Defense Department’s most favored contractors, with the authorization to design, develop, test and deploy the NGI System. Thomas E. Bush III, the former FBI agent who helped develop the NGI’s system requirements, tells NextGov.com, “The idea was to be able to plug and play with these identifiers and biometrics.” With those items being collected without much oversight being admitted, though, putting the personal facts pertaining to millions of Americans into the hands of some playful Pentagon staffers only begins to open up civil liberties issues.
Jim Harper, director of information policy at the Cato Institute, adds to NextGov that investigators pair facial recognition technology with publically available social networks in order to build bigger profiles. Facial recognition “is more accurate with a Google or a Facebook, because they will have anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen pictures of an individual, whereas I imagine the FBI has one or two mug shots,” he says. When these files are then fed to law enforcement agencies on local, federal and international levels, intelligence databases that include everything from close-ups of eyeballs and irises to online interests could be shared among offices.
The FBI expects the NGI system to include as many as 14 million photographs by the time the project is in full swing in only two years, but the pace of technology and the new connections constantly created by law enforcement agencies could allow for a database that dwarfs that estimate. As RT reported earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles now considers photography in public space “suspicious,” and authorizes LAPD officers to file reports if they have reason to believe a suspect is up to no good. Those reports, which may not necessarily involve any arrests, crimes, charges or even interviews with the suspect, can then be filed, analyzed, stored and shared with federal and local agencies connected across the country to massive data fusion centers. Similarly, live video transmissions from thousands of surveillance cameras across the country are believed to be sent to the same fusion centers as part of TrapWire, a global eye-in-the-sky endeavor that RT first exposed earlier this year.
“Facial recognition creates acute privacy concerns that fingerprints do not,” US Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law earlier this year. “Once someone has your faceprint, they can get your name, they can find your social networking account and they can find and track you in the street, in the stores you visit, the government buildings you enter, and the photos your friends post online.”
In his own testimony, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Alessandro Acquisti said to Sen. Franken, “the convergence of face recognition, online social networks and data mining has made it possible to use publicly available data and inexpensive technologies to produce sensitive inferences merely starting from an anonymous face.”
“Face recognition, like other information technologies, can be source of both benefits and costs to society and its individual members,” Prof. Acquisti added. “However, the combination of face recognition, social networks data and data mining can significant undermine our current notions and expectations of privacy and anonymity.”
With the latest report suggesting the NGI program is now a reality in America, though, it might be too late to try and keep the FBI from interfering with seemingly every aspect of life in the US, both private and public. As of July 18, 2012, the FBI reports, “The NGI program … is on scope, on schedule, on cost, and 60 percent deployed.”
There’s a nasty computer virus going around that shocks users by putting on the screen a claim that the FBI and the federal government has taken control of the computer because it has been linked to illegal activity.
Further, it controls the computer’s Web camera and makes it look like an image of the user is being streamed to the government.
The latest wave of attacks has hit the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where numerous computer users lined up at computer centers for help removing the malicious software.
Diaz told the Houston station the new FBI scam tries to convince users that they have done something wrong and have been caught.
It then demands that the user purchase a pre-paid debit card for $200 and enter the card number so the “fine” can be paid and the computer unlocked.
“With anything that you see with FBI warnings, you want to be alarmed and read it properly, but do not send any money,” Diaz advised the station. “The FBI is not taking money from you, or wanting any money from you in that manner.”
Federal investigators confirm it’s just a new twist on an old theme used by scammers – scaring people into sending them money.
But technical experts say the computer effectively is worthless until the virus can be cleaned.
The The Hillsboro, Kan., Star-Journal reported that local computer users were being threatened for “owning or distributing copyrighted material, pornography, or malware.”
The virus also threatens criminal action for those who fail to pay.
Several anti-virus program companies already were addressing the concerns, posting notices about the “FBI Moneypak Virus” and instructions on how to remove it. Spyware, spybot and other companies also posted warnings and advisories about the problem.
Officials with Geek Squad, Best Buy electronics company’s computer fixit shop, said the software is accurately described as a “ransomware, “which states the user’s computer is locked and requires payment via Moneypak cards.”
The company declined to comment on the number of cases its technicians have seen.
“We do encourage individuals to take the proper precautions, because it is dangerous from the perspective that if individuals purchase Moneypak cards and pay the ransom they have no way of getting the money back or filing a claim,” the company statement said.
“We’re getting inundated with complaints,” Donna Gregory of the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center said of the “Reventon ransomware.”
“Some people have actually paid the so-called fine,” she told AFP.
|“Domestic Terrorism: A Persistent Threat in the United States is republished with permission of Stratfor.”|
By Scott Stewart
A string of incidents over the past month has served as a reminder that despite the intense, decadelong focus on the jihadist threat, domestic terrorism is still an issue in the United States. On Aug. 5, Wade Page opened fire on the congregation of a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding three others. Though Page killed himself and did not leave any evidence explicitly listing his motives for the attack, his long association with the white supremacist movement was clearly a factor in his target choice.
On Aug. 15, Floyd Corkins shot and wounded a security guard in the lobby of the Family Research Council’s office in Washington after the guard blocked him from entering the office. Corkins reportedly was carrying a bag containing a box of ammunition and a number of Chick-fil-A sandwiches. He apparently targeted the Family Research Council because of its public support for Chick-fil-A in the wake of the controversy over statements made by the fast food chain’s founder regarding gay marriage. According to media reports, Corkins said, “I don’t like your politics,” before opening fire.
And on Aug. 16, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy was shot and wounded while working as a security guard at an oil refinery in St. John the Baptist Parish, La. When two other deputies responded to a nearby trailer park where a vehicle reportedly associated with the shooting was spotted, the trailers’ occupants ambushed and killed the deputies. An additional officer was wounded, along with two of the suspects involved in the shooting, Brian Smith and Kyle Joekel. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the incident, including Smith’s father and brother. News reports indicate that the group was associated with the sovereign citizen movement, and members of it were under investigation for weapons offenses and previous threats to law enforcement officers in other states.
All three of these incidents stem from distinct ideological streams: the white supremacist skinhead movement, the radical left and the Posse Comitatus/sovereign citizen movement. While unrelated as far as timing and motive, when taken together they show that extremist ideologies subscribed to by certain individuals on the fringes of U.S. society continue to radicalize some to the point that they are willing to take violent action in accordance with those ideologies. Domestic terrorism is thus alive and well.
First, we need to remember that terrorism is a tactic practiced by actors from a wide array of ethnic and religious backgrounds who follow various ideologies stretching from anarchism to neo-Nazism. Terrorism does not equal jihadism. Long before jihadism reared its head in the United States, anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated President William McKinley, white supremacist James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., and Posse Comitatus member Gordon Kahl killed three law enforcement officers in a multistate spree of violence.
Indeed, as we look at all of the recent attention being paid to lone assailants and small cells, it must be remembered that anti-government and white supremacist leaders in the United States embraced the leaderless resistance model of operations long before jihadist groups began to promote it.
In 1989, William Pierce wrote his novel Hunter, which detailed the exploits of a fictional lone wolf named Oscar Yeager and was loosely based upon real-life lone wolf Joseph Paul Franklin. In 1990, Richard Kelly Hoskins published a book titled Vigilantes of Christendom, in which he introduced the concept of a “Phineas Priest,” or a lone wolf militant chosen and set apart by God to be his agent of vengeance upon the earth. In 1992, former Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam published an essay in his magazine, The Seditionist, that provided a detailed outline for moving the white supremacist movement toward a leaderless resistance model. Jihadists such as Abu Musab al-Suri first began to promote leaderless resistance only after the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks began to severely affect al Qaeda. But even so, groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula did not really embrace al-Suri’s concept of leaderless resistance until late 2009, and the al Qaeda core did not follow suit until 2010.
The recent spate of incidents is also not all that unusual. Other examples stand out in recent years of different streams of domestic radicalism leading to a confluence of attacks by different types of actors. For example, on April 19, 1995, a large truck bomb built by anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Five days later, on April 25, timber lobbyist Gilbert Murray became the third fatality and final victim of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski’s long Neo-Luddite bombing campaign.
Another such convergence occurred in the summer of 1999. After conducting arsons at three Sacramento-area synagogues, brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams killed a gay couple in their home in Happy Valley, Calif., on July 1. On July 2, World Church of the Creator adherent Benjamin Smith began a multistate shooting spree that killed two and wounded nine and that only ended when he killed himself July 4. On Aug. 10, former Aryan Nations member Buford Furrow mounted an armed assault against a Jewish day care center in Los Angeles, during which he wounded five people before killing a Filipino-American mailman on the street.
Domestic terrorism in the United States is a cyclical phenomenon. There are discernable peaks in that cycle, like those we’ve discussed — and like the one the country is currently experiencing. The intense political polarization that has occurred in recent years in the United States, the widespread distrust of the government on both the extreme right and the extreme left, and the current election-year rhetoric will further inflame political passions. This means that the current cycle of domestic terrorism plots and violence is likely to continue for at least the next several months.
While domestic terrorism is currently at the peak of the cycle in the United States, it is important to remember that most domestic terrorism cases tend to be simple attacks conducted by a lone actor or small cell. There are far more instances of simple bombings, such as those conducted by Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph or animal rights bomber Daniel Andreas San Diego, than the sort of large truck bomb attack committed by McVeigh and Nichols, which was an anomaly. Even more common than bombing attacks are the armed assaults that we’ve seen recently, and they are generally implemented against soft targets — something we’ve talked about in relation to other terrorist threats.
And that means that the implications for domestic terrorist threats are essentially the same as they are for the jihadist or Iranian threat. First, it is critical for people to remember that terrorist attacks do not appear out of a vacuum. Individuals planning an attack — no matter what their motivation or ideology — follow a discernable cycle, and that cycle involves behavior that can be identified and detected before the attack is conducted. Indeed, it appears that the Smith family and their associates involved in the Louisiana shooting were known by authorities in several jurisdictions and were considered armed and dangerous.
It is also important for individuals to understand that it is physically impossible for governments to protect all potential targets from every sort of attack. This means that many places are vulnerable to an attack, should an assailant choose to strike and should the assailant’s preoperational activities go undetected. Therefore, citizens need to assume responsibility for their own security. This involves citizens not only reporting suspicious activity to the authorities, but also practicing good situational awareness and having updated and appropriate contingency plans in place for their families and businesses.
Michael Kelley | Aug. 18, 2012, 8:32 PM
It is unknown if Brandon Raub was detained for anything more than questioning.
A former U.S. Marine who accused the government of lying about 9/11 and spoke of “The Revolution” on Facebook was detained on Friday night, reports Renee Nal of Gather.
According to Brandon Raub’s mother, authorities from the FBI, Secret Service and Chesterfield County PD came to their door, questioned Raub about his Facebook posts – which are critical of the official story regarding 9/11 and refer to “starting a revolution” – then handcuffed him and placed him in a Chesterfield PD squad car before taking him directly to John Randolph Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Va.
The Chesterfield PD told us that the situation “was an FBI matter and we were just there to assist them” so it could not provide us with an official reason why Raub was detained.
Raub’s mother said that an FBI agent told her Raub was “arrested by the Chesterfield police department” because he “assaulted an officer and resisted arrest,” then asked her if Raub “was having any issues relating to people” and told her that “the threats he was making were terrorist in nature.”
When asked the Chesterfield PD said Raub has not been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
The FBI and Secret Service will not be available for comment until Monday morning.
Here is the video of the arrest:
The most recent posts by Brandon J Raub – as opposed to Raub Brandon – include “AND THEY WILL SAY HE SAID IT TO THE NSA FIRST.” on August 16 and “Feelin like Pac all Eyes on me.” on August 15 and “The Revolution will come for me. Men will be at my door soon to pick me up to lead it. ;)” on August 14.
Also on August 14, he posted this video:
A post on August 12 said: “There has been an overwhelming amount of evil enacted and planned against you, your children, and your countrymen. It is great in scope. Your government evil. It is as simple as that. And the calvary is coming.”
Raub’s mother said Raub was told that he will see a judge on Monday but has not been told what he has been charged with and has not been read his rights.
Published: RT 26 July, 2012, 21:48
L-R) Leon Panetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and Robert S. Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington, DC (RIA Novosti / Tim Sloan)
Athletes from around the globe are now in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but sports stars and spectators aren’t the only ones arriving. The US is sending its top spies from the CIA, FBI and other agencies to aid UK authorities during the games.
British security officials have joined forces with America’s top federal intelligence agencies to establish a “threat integration center” in the UK. Experts with America’s Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) are teaming up with British security officials from Scotland Yard, MI-5 and MI-6 to identify and analyze potential threats that could target the games, set to begin this Friday. They will operate out of a temporary headquarters in the US Embassy in London.
In a prepared testimony delivered on Wednesday before the US House Homeland Security Committee, NCTC Director Matthew Olsen said American authorities have been coordinating with overseas officials for the last two years to prepare for any disruptions targeting the Olympics and claims that their team is “in a position to respond quickly to prevent any possible plotting tied to the games.”
Olsen adds that their operations out of the US Embassy are “designed to operate around the clock providing real-time situational awareness and threat analysis,” but won’t necessarily be tasked with running the show.
“They won’t directly be providing security. That’s what the U.K. authorities will be doing,” Patrick Ventrell testified during a July 17 State Department briefing. “But they’ll be providing some routine liaison capability.”
Additionally, American agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — a division of the Department of Homeland Security — have been dispatched to London to assist with screening airline passengers landing at Heathrow and other British airports. After the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, the US agency deployed only 21 TSA Representatives (TSARs) and 50 inspectors overseas to conduct security assessments at more than 300 foreign airports, their federal website reveals. However, actually deploying agents to directly assist with screening passengers internationally is believed to be unprecedented before now.
Neither the TSA nor the agencies involved in the threat integration center have explicitly announced how many Americans are being sent to aid British security, but it isn’t unlikely that a surge of US security personnel will be assisting in facets both inside of airports and at the US Embassy. The head of the international security company G4S admitted to British parliament earlier this month that his company had only hired and trained 4,000 agents to supplement the state’s security forces during the games, although he previously had promised the Olympics a staff of 10,000. In response, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered 3,400 British troops and thousands of law enforcement officers to the games as part of a contingency plan established to aid.
The threat integration center is reported to have officially opened up on Wednesday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources talking to ABC News claim that around 50 FBI agents are involved in UK operations. The US Secret Service will also be in London to provide security for athletes and dignitaries attending the festivities, which could open international protesters demonstrating the either American athletes or US policy to be subject to HR 347. That legislation, dubbed the Trespass Act, passed earlier this year and in turn made in a criminal act to disrupt events that warrant Secret Service protection. In a paper published earlier this year by the Congressional Research Service by law expert Charles Doyle, he writes that “The Constitution grants Congress broad powers to enact laws of extraterritorial scope and imposes few limitations on the exercise of that power.” A disruption that is thereby considered a threat to a person protected under HR 347, although done overseas, could perhaps lead to prosecutors arguing for criminal charges to be filed in the States. According to Doyle, many US nationals can be charged with many crimes waged at other American citizens, even if conducted overseas.