I have been fascinated recently with the Washington Post intelligence analysis by William Arkin and Dana Priest. Both are well known journalists who have covered the military and intelligence communities for many years. Realizing that something had changed after 9/11, they dedicated two years to investigating what the intelligence community had evolved into.
They first dug up the location of as many Top Secret facilities, both government and private, as possible. Then took somewhat of a guided tour, gaining access to several high ranking officials inside the Top Secret intelligence community to explain and clarify what each agency does and how they do it.
What They Discovered
Almost everyone is amazed when they see the creatures the government had created not only in size and scope, but in the amount of waste, redundancy, cost and ineffectiveness. There are 45 different government agencies with 1,271 subdivisions, all involved with intelligence.
More than 2,000 private companies with government contracts provide some service to Top Secret agencies. In total, there are over 850,000 people nationwide who have Top Secret clearance working on intelligence gathering, analysis, support, implementation, etc. The massive size and scope of the intelligence community is larger than it ever was during the cold war and is directed as much at targets within the US as at targets abroad for the first time.
They really have spared no expense. The US intelligence community has effectively become the “fourth branch of government.”
The Post is clearly more shocked about the size and inefficiency of the creatures which have been created. I am more concerned with how dangerous these creatures inherently are and how difficult they are to control by their very nature.
The Real Danger Of The Intelligence Community
The Washington Post fails to point out the most dangerous part of this scientific marvel that has been created. The judicial branch cannot act as a check on the intelligence community because judicial review is not required for almost any intelligence operations.
Subsequent prosecution for any illegal conduct is nearly impossible because of the Top Secret nature of the evidence. The legislative branch requires no accountability or measures of success to check and balance the intelligence community with funding restrictions.
The directors of these agencies, appointed by the executive branch and confirmed by the legislative branch, have admitted that the system is beyond their control. Like a more dangerous version of Jurassic Park, these intelligence agencies are vicious creatures which have been animated, have escaped from their cages, and are taking over the park.
The intelligence community was so preoccupied with whether or not they could build such a surveillance system, they didn't stop to think if they should. The fourth branch of government is the most dangerous branch regardless of whether this surveillance and dataveillance of citizens is justified or not and whether it is effective or not.
The sheer power and scope of this system allows unprecedented power over the lives of individuals. Should someone in any of these agencies want to exert control, no matter what the reason, the lack of accountability and lack of supervision makes it possible.
Intelligence Analysis Is Dangerous To Innocent Citizens
This kind of organization, without control or accountability, attracts sociopaths. Even if the intelligence agencies are benevolent in purpose, and even if their function is benevolent for a period of time, they will become infested with voracious velociraptors. Imagine the Corleone family having just one database administrator in their pocket.
The inherent goal of anyone gathering this data is to manipulate it, find patterns, and prove those patterns to be correct. These vast collectors of information don't want to be fed, they want to hunt.
There will be no way for innocent people to protect themselves from being devoured alive because US law prohibits citizens from protecting much of their important financial and personal data. For example, the census is a mandatory disclosure of information. It is likely possible to re-identify 87% of the census responders who thought they were anonymous.
Where disclosure of data is not required by law, private companies, which are regulated by government entities, are coerced into divulging information about their customers upon request by the government with a national security letter.
Geography Irrelevant For Intelligence Analysis
The Post focuses on whether the intelligence community is too big to be effective, a legitimate concern. They also focus on the geography of the intelligence community. Geography is irrelevant when it comes to dataveillance and data aggregation and analysis. The most important information tracked by these intelligence agencies is digital. Digital info exists simultaneously in as many places as you want it to exist.
Your bank accounts and financial accounts are just a bunch of digits in an electronic database. Your identity is just a few characters and numbers in an electronic database. These velociraptors do not need geography to feed on your data and they don't need geography to hunt you.
How You Can Escape The Park (Sort Of)
Since Top secret America is most concerned with data and information, one of the most effective ways to avoid being devoured by the dinosaurs that have taken control of the park is to control the data and information that is traceable to you with Freenet.
Freenet is an open source (that means free) peer to peer network which allows you to post information to the network completely anonymously and acquire information from the network completely anonymously. It will cost anyone, including the intelligence community, millions of dollars per person to link information with identity on Freenet.
It will only cost users of Freenet a few minutes in time to anonymize that data.
There are even more robust tools in Freenet which allow you to create a network among only trusted individuals. This creates even more protection against the intrusive eyes of an out of control ministry of information.
It is one of the ways that Chinese, Iranian and other citizens of closed societies are able to communicate ideas and information without retaliation from their most vicious predators. This prevents any tracking of information to you unless a warrant is served to search an individual computer.
The Washington Post has done an excellent job discovering the scope and size of the intelligence community that poses a greater threat to Americans than Hitler, Russia, or Osama ever did. If defeating the threat of Hitler, Russia, or Osama was made easier by using Freenet, would you use it?
Surveillance of citizens by government, surveillance of customers by corporations, private transactional databases, government transactional databases and other forms of search without a warrant are dangerous to a free society.
Also, be sure to check out the new Privacy Tools and Resources page posted on How To Vanish that contains several intriguing videos about your privacy.