• The National Security State Continues to Militarize the Homeland

    August 3, 2013

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Democracy, Iraq

    (This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

    While poets and psychologists talk about soldiers bringing the battlefield home with them, in fact, the U.S. is doing just that. More and more, weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures that have been used abroad in war are coming home, this time employed against American Citizens.

    Armor, Drones and Armed Drones

    Others have written about the rise of warrior cops. Armored military-style vehicles are now part of most big-city police forces, as are military-style weapons. The FBI has admitted to using drones over America. In a 2010 Department of Homeland Security report, the Customs and Border Protection agency suggests arming their fleet of drones to “immobilize TOIs,” or targets of interest.

    Stingray Knows Where You Are

    Much of the technology and methodology the NSA and others have been shown to be using against American Citizens was developed on and for the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular the advanced use of cell phones to track people’s movements.

    A technique now at use here at home is employing a fake cell phone tower under a program called Stingray. Stingrays spoof a legitimate cell phone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless devices into connecting to the fake tower instead of a nearby real one. When devices connect, stingrays can harvest MAC addresses and other unique identifiers and data, as well as location information. To prevent detection, the stingray relays the call itself to a real tower so the pickup is transparent to the caller. By gathering the wireless device’s signal strength from various locations, the Feds can pinpoint where the device is being used with much more precision than they can get through data obtained from the mobile network provider’s fixed tower location.

    Better yet, stingray bypasses the phone company entirely. Handy when the phone company is controlled by the enemy, handy when laws change and the phone companies no longer cooperate with the government, handy when you simply don’t want the phone company to know you’re snooping on its network.


    Also refined in Iraq, Afghanistan and the greater archipelago of the war of terror was the use of metadata and data-mining, essentially amassing everything, however minor or unimportant, and then using increasingly powerful computers to pull out of that large pile actionable information, i.e., specific information to feed back to combat commanders and special forces to allow them to kill specific people. Knowing, for example, the name of a guy’s girlfriend leads to knowing what car she drives which leads to knowing when she left home which leads to listening to her make a date via cell phone which leads a credit card charge for a room which leads to a strike on a particular location at a specific time, high-tech flagrante delicto.

    The FBI has followed the NSA’s wartime lead in creating its Investigative Data Warehouse, a collection of more than a billion documents on Americans including intelligence reports, social security files, drivers’ licenses, and private financial information including credit card data. All accessible to 13,000 analysts making a million queries monthly. One of them called it the “uber-Google.”

    Welcome Home Aerostat

    The latest (known) example of war technology coming home is the aerostat, a medium-sized blimp tethered high above its target area. Anyone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan will recognize the thing, as one or more flew over nearly every military base of any size or importance (You can see photos online).

    What did those blimps do in war? Even drones have to land sometime, but a blimp can stay aloft 24/7/forever. Blimps are cheaper and do not require skilled pilots. Blimps can carry tons of equipment, significantly more than a drone. The blimps can carry any sensor or technology the U.S. has available, suspending it at altitude to soak up whatever that sensor is aimed at– cell calls, radio waves, electronic whatevers. The aerostats also carried high-powered cameras, with heat and night vision of course. While in Iraq, I had the aerostat video feed on my desktop. Soldiers being soldiers, occasional diversions were found when a camera operator spotted almost anything of vague interest, including two dogs mating, an Iraqi relieving himself outdoors or on really dull days, even a person hanging out laundry. The device obviously also had much less benign tasks assigned to it.

    The war has come home again, as the Army announced this week that by 2014 at least two of these aerostats will be permanently over Washington DC. They will be run by the Army, using operators who likely learned their trade at war. The aerostats are brought to you by the Raytheon company, who also makes some of America’s favorite weapons and surveillence gear.

    It’s All Good

    No need to worry Citizens, as the aerostats will only be used for your own good. In fact, their sensors will scan for incoming cruise missiles, mine-laying ships, armed drones, or anything incoming from hundreds of miles away, because of course Washington is constantly being attacked by those sorts of things (I love the idea of protecting the city from mine-laying ships sneaking up the Potomac River).

    Those DC-based aerostats will certainly not have employed the Gorgon Stare system, now in use in Afghanistan to rave reviews. Gorgon Stare, made up of nine video cameras, can transmit live images of physical movement across an entire town (four km radius), much wider in scope than any drone. Might be handy for VIP visits and presidential stuff, however, right?

    And of course the temptation to mount a stingray device where it can ping thousands of cell phones would be ignored.

    But I could be wrong about all the 1984-stuff, in which case the multi-million dollar aerostat program to protect against mines in the Potomac would be noteworthy only as another waste of taxpayer money. Remember when that was what made us the maddest about the government?

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  • Recent Comments

    • Guy Montag said...


      Here’s an excerpt from my 2012 post “Something to Die For” at the Feral Firefighter blog:

      Jesselyn Radack also wrote: “Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras … has filmed three of my NSA clients for the third installment of her War on Terror trilogy. Not surprisingly, her latest film will be about the government’s ever-expanding secret domestic surveillance, NSA treating our nation like a foreign country for spying purposes, and the war on whistleblowers.”

      Washington Post report Dana Priest, in her book “Top Secret America”, also wrote about “the government’s ever-expanding secret domestic surveillance”:

      “The Defense Department has given JSOC a bigger role in nonmilitary assignments …
      the organization is busy with its new 30,000-square-foot office building turned command center … [Joint Special Operations Task Force-National Capital Region]. It sits across the highway from the Pentagon in pristine suburban splendor, just a five-minute drive from McChrystal’s civilian office and the former general’s favorite beer-call restaurant… It is creating targeting packages for U.S. domestic agencies…”

      Many of the intelligence innovations (including the use of drones) pioneered by Gen. Stanley McChrystal & Gen. Michael Flynn to target insurgents overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan are now being turned inward on the United States. Isn’t it great to live in the “land of the free, home of the brave”?

      08/3/13 3:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”It is creating targeting packages for U.S. domestic agencies…”unquote

      Targeting packages. right. Senator Church’s warning fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, most of the citizens of the US haven’t got a clue the temperature of the water is approaching the boiling point.

      Frankly, this whole scenario is starting to look like a coup has taken place. A military coup. Regardless, it has destroyed the very meaning of “American values”. All I know now..is I don’t want to live this way, but knowing my kids and grandkids will witness the coming TOTALATARIANISM-R-US makes me sick to my stomach.

      I do know this though..at some point..there will be a revolt. And it ain’t gonna be pretty. However, the Law of Unintended Consequences will come into effect. Only question is..at whose expense.

      08/3/13 4:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The blimps are meant to herald the reign of Chris Christie.

      08/3/13 6:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Patricia Lawler said...


      Thank you, Mr. Bauer. That’s priceless!

      08/3/13 10:42 PM | Comment Link

    • kyzl orda said...


      “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

      James Madison

      08/3/13 11:50 PM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...


      It was a defining moment when people started calling Amerika Ze Homeland. Always reminds me of another Reich that was supposed to last for 1,000 years.

      08/4/13 8:34 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      CC is like MM: Mad Max – The Lord Humungus

      08/4/13 10:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “The blimps are meant to herald the reign of Chris Christie, Lord Humungous.”


      08/4/13 12:09 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      In all seriousness, I doubt that today’s Americans would elect a fat President, since image means everything to them now. They elected Obama mainly BECAUSE of his dark skin – secondarily aided by his being reasonably handsome – and although Hillary’s soul’s hideousness has finally become evident in her face (as Orwell said “after a certain age a man becomes responsible for his own face”) yet her being “A Woman” is sufficient to persuade a plurality of American imbeciles (but I repeat myself) to vote for her.

      But a fat White Man? No, that won’t sell.

      08/4/13 12:19 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Oh but what the hell, let’s have some fun with CC while we can. Set to this tune, let’s sing “There’s a Humungous Among Us” (chorus: “Which one is Humungous?”):


      08/4/13 12:28 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Another song for CC, “Beware of the Blob”:


      08/4/13 12:30 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “In all seriousness, I doubt that today’s Americans would elect a fat President, since image means everything to them now.”

      The fat man is a mirror image of America, a bloated bureaucracy full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

      08/4/13 12:31 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      “The fat man is a mirror image of America, a bloated bureaucracy full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

      Hey that’s good! Back atchya with another Shakespearean analogy for CC AND America! Well, except that Falstaff was a lot more fun and more honest than today’s America:


      08/4/13 1:01 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      But then who can forget Chris Christie’s original role model, Monty Python’s “Mr Chreosote”?:


      08/4/13 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote”But then who can forget Chris Christie’s original role model, Monty Python’s “Mr Chreosote”?unquote

      Cristie hell. Ole Creosote is the spittin image of the USG. Spewing bile while waddling it’s fat across the planet. Even the blimps are designed to invoke their image. As for Christi..I hope someone lances that perineal abscess. Unfortunately..it would take a HAZMAT clean up crew a few years to disperse his bloat to a nuclear storage pit.

      08/4/13 2:36 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      pitch, in light of your above, I give you this (and I’d serve it with a double bourbon if we met in person):


      08/4/13 3:14 PM | Comment Link

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