• A Government Turning the Tools of War on Its Citizens

    March 3, 2014

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Military, Post-Constitution America

    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.

    A front-page article in the Washington Post confirms that wartime surveillance blimps– aerostats– used in Iraq and Afghanistan will now monitor most of the Northeast United States. The aerostats will be able to track individual cars and trucks as they move about their business.

    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 literally 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 confirmed that by summer 2014 at least two of these aerostats will be permanently over the Washington DC area. 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.

    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.”

    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 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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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      So all those rich guys who cheat on their taxes and steal everyday should be worried?

      Didn’t think so.

      03/3/14 1:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Guy Montag said...


      “More and more, weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures that have been used abroad in war are coming home, this time employed against American Citizens.”

      A couple of years ago I wrote about this in my April 2012 Feral Firefighter blog post “Something to Die For”:

      Jesselyn Radack wrote: “Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras … 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 … 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 [& Keith Alexander]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”?

      03/3/14 2:05 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      “A Government Turning the Tools of War on Its Citizens”

      The day the USG turns the HUMAN tools of war on it’s people is the day they’ll discover the Law of Unintended Consequences has gone into effect. Make no mistake. There are millions of gun owners out there that won’t stand idyll should the military start gunning down American citizens. They will have become the enemy.

      “Isn’t it great to live in the “land of the free, home of the brave”?”

      “American” soldiers SHOULD be asking themselves exactly what “country” they are fighting for now, cause it’s blindingly obvious it ain’t the one I grew up in. In case there is any question, they might check here…


      03/3/14 3:29 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Speaking of madness…

      Obama threatens Putin with “isolating” Russia from the Ukrain…


      Prez Oblabla get’s more psychotic by the day…


      Isolate Russia..from the Ukrain… hahahahahahahaha!

      I’d bet $1k Putin is rolling on the floor in gut splitting laughter. ..and probably calling Obla a raving lunatic while he’s at it.

      03/3/14 8:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “Terrorism is in good part an effective government propaganda; it serves to deflect attention from governmental abuse toward a mostly imagined, highly dangerous outside enemy.” Mark Poster

      03/4/14 1:36 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Good thing the US State Department has made Gay Marriage a priority policy, or else Vladimir Putin might not take them seriously!

      03/4/14 2:41 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      I mean, just imagine how afraid the Russian Army would be if thousands of aggrieved gays stormed at them across the Crimean border demanding marriage certificates!

      03/4/14 2:42 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, has said on Twitter that “Russia must directly dialogue with Ukraine, immediately pull back forces, and allow international monitors”.

      WOW! Such a critical tweet! That must have Putin pissing in his pants now!

      03/4/14 3:53 AM | Comment Link

    • Bakelight said...


      (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened economic sanctions by the United States and allies to isolate Moscow, but called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

      “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

      Uh… yeah…. right…. uh….. Speechless yet again.

      03/4/14 4:21 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ‘Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, has said on Twitter that “Russia must directly dialogue with Ukraine, immediately pull back forces, and allow international monitors”…’

      Really? On Twitter? Diplomatic demands..to Russia..on TWITTER??????????????????

      You got to be fucking kidding.

      that one’s goin down as numero uno in the annuls of Great Moments in Epic Empire FAIL.

      What’s next? Obammy posting a selfie sticking his tongue out at Putin?

      03/4/14 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Very interesting articles at Radio Free Europe on the Russia-Ukraine-US confrontation:


      Some of the articles include:
      – Who’s Who in Ukraine’s ‘Kamikaze’ Cabinet. (Yatseniyuk, whom Victoria Nuland had referenced in the call doesnt get the warmest crowd reception in an embedded video clip in the article, though the other Cabinet members do)
      – US diplomatic options
      – Russian reactions
      – Central Asians weigh in (some of the gas going through Ukraine hails from Central Asia)
      – A Kremlin official promises a “crash” of our financial system if sanctions are implemented

      (Might be a good time for the NSA and company to shift spying on Americans and shore up sensitive web resources, the same ones that always seem to get hacked like at the Pentagon and Federal Reserve. Just an idea??)

      The Guardian reports, for now Western Europe, is in a decent position if the taps get shut off again – but not eastern Europe. Provided this conflict is resolved before next winter sets in:


      03/4/14 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Continuing on the theme of governments turning tools of war on theirs and others’ citizens, in this case Russian intellectuals speak out on Occupation of Crimea:


      03/4/14 1:52 PM | Comment Link

    • jo6pac said...


      pitchfork said… 10

      LOL and that was my thought also. Amerika going down faster every day.

      03/4/14 3:26 PM | Comment Link

    • Just Saying said...


      It sounds crazy, but the most radical form of civil disobediance that we the public could subject the omnipotent state to would be to become crime free. What would they do in the absence of crime???

      03/4/14 3:44 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      “It sounds crazy, but the most radical form of civil disobediance that we the public could subject the omnipotent state to would be to become crime free.”

      Indeed. Now, if we could only break the encryption of EVIL we might have a chance. Unfortunately, the NSA has already compromised the world wide NAS encryption Standards…irony at it’s fucking best.


      Talk about Turning the Tools of Cyberwar on the entire planet..the NSA has become the Tyrant of all tyrant tools.

      However, since we’re talking “civil disobedience” here, let me refer you to an unfolding level of civil disobedience of unprecedented levels since the civil war. If this unfolds in a manner certain people THINK it might, we just might see a Crimera right here in the good ole USA..beginning in Connecticut …


      bartender..set em up..while we can. Doubles.

      03/4/14 10:03 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Kyzl..thanks for the links!

      Heading #1 ..Kerry declares..”U.S. Condemns Russian ‘Aggression'”

      Kettle meet black. Bwahahahahaha! The monumental hubris of US Secretary of State is beyond this universe of comprehension. How does this schmuck look in the mirror? Oh..I forgot..his paycheck.


      03/4/14 10:22 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ya know..I can’t help thinking John Lennon tweaked the Powers that Be heads so bad they just couldn’t stand it….


      His simple solution to the worlds problems is so far beyond the understanding of the current generation of human beings, they deserve everything that is coming.

      03/4/14 10:31 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      I need to re-address this…

      “It sounds crazy, but the most radical form of civil disobediance that we the public could subject the omnipotent state to would be to become crime free. What would they do in the absence of crime???”

      I’m sorry but you are wrong. In the first instance you will never remove evil from the reality we live in. In the second instance.. the MOST radical form of civil disobedience is armed resurrection against a Supranational Sovereign declared Legal Imperialism, whereby PEOPLE GET KILLED in civil war.

      03/4/14 10:44 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...



      “the MOST radical form of civil disobedience is armed resurrection ”

      While the word resurrection might be valid, what I meant was INSURRECTION.

      03/4/14 10:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Bakelight said...


      From BBC 3 March 2014:
      Russia’s defence ministry said a Topol RS-12M missile had been successfully launched, from Russia’s Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan.

      “The aim of the launch was to test a promising intercontinental ballistic missile payload,” it said, adding that the nuclear-capable missile reached its target successfully.

      It is what the international community fears most: a confrontation that spills out of control and leads to war”

      … But it’s okay. Ellen DeGeneres is keeping us entertained and that’s what matters. Leave foreign policy to the ‘experts’. Just gimme my Twitter!!!

      03/5/14 12:38 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      “It is what the international community fears most: a confrontation that spills out of control and leads to war”

      … But it’s okay. Ellen DeGeneres is keeping us entertained and that’s what matters. Leave foreign policy to the ‘experts’. Just gimme my Twitter!!!”

      It’s been a diplomacy debacle and a study what not to do. Will Ms Nuland be promoted again? Maybe ambassador to Germany. Bet Chancellor Merkel could use a drink or three courtesy Pitchfork’s bartender

      03/5/14 3:19 AM | Comment Link

    • Bakelight said...


      I know little about Nuland other than a quick Wiki check. In my time in the USG, totally different agency, we called them, “The Chosen”. These were individuals who from a very early stage in their careers, seemed destined to go up whether due to pedigree, connections, deference to authority and in my agency’s particular case, I shit you not, physical looks and comportment. The climbers just looked a certain way, sorta like an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog model, only for real. The vibe I get from this lady is she is one of The Chosen. My cognizance of this predicament alerted me in my own nascent career development, that I was not going to make it to retirement. I didn’t. The USG obviously has a lot of problems. She’s pretty mercenary. Served Cheney and Obama but has that fundamental flaw in that she is a True Believer and there’s just too many shades of grey to be acting like that. Anyone from State who has anything to offer on this chick, please chime in, I’d love to hear about it.

      03/5/14 9:24 AM | Comment Link

    • anon said...


      Not from state but some Nudelman info nonetheless


      03/5/14 11:07 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “More and more, weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures that have been used abroad in war are coming home, this time employed against American Citizens.”


      03/5/14 1:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      PVB please cc the DS Flying Monkeys that hyperlinking is not considered a crime; it’s protected by the First.


      03/6/14 6:40 PM | Comment Link

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