Chuck Norris on Terrorism & DHS Surveillance: The feds have lost their minds

No one wants terrorists running around and creating mayhem in the USA, but in the 10 years since 9/11 the Patriot Act has opened the way to invasive surveillance that has sadly become the norm for America. "Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the Homeland" is a "privacy, homeland security and surveillance" investigative project launched by the ACLU and Truthout to "reawaken awareness of the true extent of government surveillance, and of the violations routinely carried out in the name of securing the 'homeland'."

Surveillance in the Homeland blog stated, that in the years since 9/11:

the full weight of government has been bent on ensuring "homeland security" - a term rarely heard before the 2001 attacks. Over the decade, the government's powers of surveillance have expanded dramatically. They are directed not just at people suspected of wrongdoing, but at all of us. Our phone calls, our emails and web site visits, our financial records, our travel itineraries, and our digital images captured on powerful surveillance cameras are swelling the mountain of data that is being mined for suspicious patterns and associations.  

In discussing the changes in the USA within the last decade since 9/11, Chuck Norris said, "It's official: The feds have lost their minds" and have become "an acute enabler of terrorism." Norris added, "As a part of its 'If You See Something, Say Something' stoolie campaign, Homeland Security released two videos, in which nearly every segment shows a shift in federal strategy from catching foreign terrorists to targeting white middle-class Americans who are against big government as terrorists, including tea partyers, anti-Fed activists and even veterans.

If Americans truly see something, there is little doubt that they would happily report it without what seems to be an insulting scare campaign like See Something, Say Something.  Norris pointed out, "In April 2009, The Washington Times reported that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stood by a DHS intelligence assessment report that 'lists returning veterans among terrorist risks to the U.S.' And in the same month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was running a probe targeting returning veterans as extremists and a major domestic threat."

I'm big on privacy, but the fact that regular Joe Americans and returning soldiers are under high-tech surveillance because they might be considered a potential domestic terrorist threat, while the State Department is disallowing FOIA requests in order to protect the privacy of a cleric on the CIA kill list, is unflipping believable.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic reported on a new Senate bill that would take away the FBI's control over terrorist suspects and "put all terrorist suspects into immediate military custody." Yet under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the military is not supposed to "conduct law-enforcement activities on American soil."

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Lawfare, that in such a case, if the FBI discovered a suspected terrorist cell that is plotting to an attack, it "would be obliged in this scenario to cut short its surveillance and notify the military, and the military would be obliged to conduct the arrest raid on U.S. soil." Wittes added, "This scenario should scare those concerned about the integrity of intelligence and counterterrorism operations at least as much as it should scare those who get the willies thinking about the military conducting domestic arrest operations."

Public Intelligence posted an LAPD research paper about fighting crime in the information age and using predictive policing. It discusses police being "information-rich but analysis-poor" and concluded, "Predictive analysis may include tools that link people or activities, statistical techniques, geospatial tools, or visualization of complex interrelationships. With the advent of fusion centers, we now take for granted that we should use police intelligence to deal with terrorism."

As Surveillance in the Homeland blog asked, "What kind of 'homeland' will we become if we do not demand that secretive domestic surveillance operations are brought in line with longstanding principles of liberty and the Constitution?" With the powers of surveillance and harvesting social media for Intel, what does it take to be considered a terrorist? A bomb threat? 

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Such tactics, whether they were meant to be funny and failed or were flat-out stupid, are no more acceptable than releasing innocent people's information in huge dumps after hacking a site. While Anonymous has proven that plenty of sites are lacking sufficient cybersecurity, how can it be justified to take away another person's right to be anonymous by dumping their personal data? Right or wrong, some security experts have called Anonymous cyber-terrorists. And now DHS has warned the security community about potential Anonymous cyber attacks. So in considering all of that and the "Orwellian nightmare" state of surveillance in America since 9/11, don't be surprised if Anonymous becomes synonymous with terrorists. 

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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