Big Brother and the Hidden Hand of the Free Market

Managing Data and Dissent in America – Published on Global, by Tom Burghardt, April 5, 2010.

… Repression: A Game the Whole Corporate Family Can Play:

With their fingers into everything from missile design and satellite surveillance technology to domestic spying or that latest craze consuming Washington, “cybersecurity,” Lockheed Martin is, as they say, a “player.”

On the domestic spy game front, Lockheed Martin were one of the contractors who supplied intelligence analysts for the Counterintelligence Field Activity office (CIFA), the secretive Rumsfeld-era initiative that spied on antiwar activists and other Pentagon policy critics.

CIFA was tasked with tracking “logical combinations of keywords and personalities” used to estimate current or future threats. When CIFA was shuttered after public outcry, its functions were taken over by the Defense Intelligence Agency, where Lockheed Martin runs a bidding consortium.

But as with CIFA, the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center, relies heavily on the unproven “science” of data-mining and its offshoot, link analysis.

Data-mining by corporate and secret state agencies such as the FBI seek to uncover “hidden patterns” and “subtle relationships” within disparate data-sets in order to “infer rules that allow for the prediction of future results,” according to a 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Sentinel will undoubtedly deploy data-mining techniques insofar as they are applicable to “managing” alleged foreign “terrorism plots,” but also domestic dissidents identified as national security “risks.”

Although the Sentinel program has apparently hit a brick wall in terms of operability, it is also clear that the FBI and other national security agencies, will continue their quixotic quest for technophilic “silver bullets” to “manage” domestic dissent.

That such endeavors are illusory, as with the Pentagon’s “Revolution in Military Affairs” that promised always-on “persistent area surveillance” of the “battlespace,” the deployment of high-priced sensor technologies and data-mining algorithms assure securocrats that “total information awareness” is only a keystroke away.

While “situational awareness” may be an illusive commodity, when it comes to data storage and the indexing of alleged national security threats, systems such as Sentinel or the Investigative Data Warehouse, as well as the broader application of predictive data-mining to map so-called terrorist “nodes” expand the operation and intensification of the “surveillance society” ever-deeper into social life.

As Tim Shorrock revealed in CorpWatch, in 2004 and 2005 Lockheed Martin “acquired the government IT unit of Affiliated Computer Services Inc., inheriting several contracts with defense intelligence agencies and Sytex, a $425 million Philadelphia-based company that held contracts with the Pentagon’s Northern Command and the NSA/Army Intelligence and Security Command. By 2007 the company employed 52,000 IT specialists with security clearances, and intelligence made up nearly 40 percent of its annual business, company executives said.”

According to Shorrock, one of the firm’s “most important intelligence-related acquisitions took place in the 1990s, when the conglomerate bought Betac Corporation. Betac was one of the companies the government hired during the late 1980s to provide communications technology for the secret Continuity of Government program the Reagan administration created to keep the U.S. government functioning in the event of a nuclear attack.”

As readers are aware, secretive Continuity of Government programs went into effect after the 9/11 attacks. Details on these programs have never been revealed, although investigative journalists have discovered that some portions of COG have to do with the national security indexing of American citizens in a massive, classified database known as Main Core.

As investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham revealed in 2008, one “well-informed source–a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community–says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations with ’social network analysis’ and artificial intelligence modeling tools.”

Ketcham’s source told him that “‘the more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help,’ he says. ‘Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets.’ An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that ‘it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time’.”

Shorrock writes that “Under a 1982 presidential directive, the outbreak of war could trigger the proclamation of martial law nationwide, giving the military the authority to use its domestic database to round up citizens and residents considered threats to national security. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army were to carry out the emergency measures for domestic security.”

And one of the “biggest winners” was Betac Corporation, “a consulting firm composed of former intelligence and communications specialists from the Pentagon. Betac was one of the largest government contractors of its day and, with TRW and Lockheed itself, dominated the intelligence contracting industry from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s.”

“Its first project for the Continuity of Government plan,” Shorrock reveals, “was a sole-source contract to devise and maintain security for the system. Between 1983 and 1985, the contract expanded from $316,000 to nearly $3 million, and by 1988 Betac had multiple COG contracts worth $22 million. Betac was eventually sold to ACS Government Solutions Group and is now a unit of Lockheed Martin.”

While it is de rigueur, particularly since the rise of the Obama administration, to deride critics who point out the perils of an out-of-control national security state armed with meta-databases such as Main Core and secretive COG programs as “conspiracy theorists,” such “whistling past the graveyard” is done at great peril to an open and transparent democratic system of governance based on accountability and the rule of law. (full long text).

(Tom Burghardt is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Tom Burghardt).


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