This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
the FBI spying on innocent Americans shocked the country. Led by Senator Frank Church, Congress thoroughly investigated allegations of FBI abuses and made recommendations to prevent further abuse. What the Church Committee found was breathtaking. From the 1950s through the early 1970s, the FBI and other intelligence agencies launched various domestic programs to spy on Americans. Political dissidents, anti-war activists, civil rights activists, groups from the left to the right were infiltrated, disrupted, and harassed, often for nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights.2 For example, government agents infiltrated the “Womenʼs Liberation Movement.” FBI sources reported on the formation of the Conservative American Christian Action Council, and even collected information about the anti-Communist John Birch Society.3 The NAACP was investigated to determine if it “had connections with” the Communist Party. In the first year of the investigation, the FBI issued a report stating that the NAACP had a “strong tendency” to “steer clear of Communist activities.” No evidence was ever adduced by the FBI to rebut this report, yet the FBI investigation continued for a total of twenty-five years. The FBI harassed and investigated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for decades in order to destroy his reputation.5 The FBI saw him as a potential threat because he might “abandon his supposed ʻobedienceʼ to white liberal doctrines (non-violence).” “In short, a nonviolent man was to be secretly attacked and destroyed as insurance against his abandoning non-violence.” In 1976, the Church Committee released its report on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans. The extent of the FBIʼs spying campaign was shocking: • • • • • • • • Between 1960 and 1974, the FBI kept files on one million Americans, and investigated 500,000 so-called “subversives” – all without a single court conviction.8 In 1972 alone, the FBI opened 65,000 domestic intelligence files. The Church Committee found that intelligence collection programs naturally generate increasing demands for new data, and once the data has been collected, strong pressures are exerted to use it against the target. The government often secretly spied upon citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts. Groups and individuals were harassed and disrupted because of their political views and lifestyles The FBI used intrusive techniques such as wiretaps, microphone “bugs,” surreptitious mail opening and break-ins, sweeping in vast amounts of information about the personal lives, views, and associations of American citizens. Investigations were based on vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection of information inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics were employed by the FBI, including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupting meetings, ostracizing people from their professions, and provoking target groups into rivalries that could have resulted in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials. Every administration from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon had “permitted, and sometimes encouraged, government agencies to handle essentially political intelligence.”
People often say that they have nothing to hide because they arenʼt doing anything wrong. Having the FBI spy on them doesnʼt make any difference to them. The Church Committee noted, however, that “[i]ntelligence activity. . .is generally covert. It is concealed from its victims and is seldom described in statutes or explicit executive orders. The victim may never suspect that his misfortunes are the intended result of activities undertaken by his government, and accordingly may have no opportunity to challenge the actions taken against him.”
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Justice and the FBI saw an opportunity to expand the FBIʼs authority. Arguing that the Domestic Guidelines were “outmoded” and at times “hobbled FBI counterterrorism efforts,” then-Attorney General Ashcroft decided to change the Domestic Guidelines to give the FBI a freer hand in investigations. Contrary to Ashcroftʼs assertions, the FBI already had the operational freedom and authority to gather the information needed to do its job. Investigations since September 11, 2001 demonstrated that the FBI was not “hamstrung” by the Domestic Guidelines. The Domestic Guidelines largely related to how to collect evidence rather than how to analyze the evidence collected. The problems the FBI exhibited prior to September 11 were from failure to analyze the evidence it had already collected. Amending the Domestic Guidelines to address this problem is akin to a fisherman who, unable to clean all the fish he catches, purchases a larger net. The Domestic Guidelines were adopted to put the FBI out of the business of spying on Americans when there was no evidence they were involved in criminal activity. They were designed to deal with three problems arising from abusive FBI investigations: • • • Surveillance of dissenters from government policy because they dissent, not because they may be involved in criminal activity; Inadequate supervision of agents who engaged in objectionable investigative techniques; and The use of unlawful or otherwise objectionable investigative techniques to disrupt the efforts of those who dissented.
” • As part of a “domestic terrorism” investigation. growing beyond control (Washington Post) The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. A hidden world. the JTTF conducted surveillance of a Denver bookstore on February 15. Monitoring of Anti-War Activities • In 2002. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth. the result is that the system put in place to keep the . has become so large. Monitoring of Other Protest Activity • A “Call to Action Against Columbus Day” appears in a “counterterrorism” file calling for the opening of an FBI investigation into the event. how many people it employs. The document reports that FBI agents spent two hours watching Breakdown Bookstore and recorded the descriptions and license plate number of a dozen cars “in the vicinity” of the political bookstore.” The report describes the Call to Action as a “week-long anti-capitalist convergence” and mentions various anarchist and diversity groups. the FBI initiated a classified investigation into the activities of the Thomas Merton Center (TMC). noting that the center “holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war with Iraq. an ecumenical anti-war and social justice organization. a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. suppress dissent. a group that opposes the governmentʼs prioritization of war and military programs over solving domestic social ills and that serves vegetarian meals to the homeless.The Ashcroft Guidelines reversed course and allowed the FBI to attend any public meetings it desired.” The FBI memo describes the TMC as “a left-wing organization advocating. No information obtained from such visits shall be retained unless it relates to potential criminal or terrorist activity. Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction.” The memo notes. and protect the administration.ʼ” The FBI reports that it will “effect surveillance” at the Denver location and relay information to FBI agents working with city police in Colorado Springs. 2003 and monitored forty people who gathered there to carpool to an anti-war demonstration in Colorado Springs. • Another FBI memorandum indicates that the FBI opened an investigation into an anti-war march on the basis of announcements the agency found on the Web sites of Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace. among many political causes.” This was the same basis upon which the FBI sent agents into churches and other organizations during the civil rights movement. a young Denver activist who worked for the American Friends Service Committee for several years and who is also active in Food Not Bombs. “For the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities. pacifism. Bardwell is listed as a “point of contact” for the organizers of a Denver anti-war protest and her address is “associated with” Food Not Bombs and a bicycle collective.” The FBI highlights an upcoming TMC event whose purpose is to “bring all people of Pittsburgh together in understanding and respecting each other and also to inform them about Islam and Muslims. • Several other FBI documents demonstrate the agencyʼs interest in Food Not Bombs. The document notes that organizers are “hyping the demonstration as the ʻbiggest peace rally in the history of Colorado. 2001. how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States. and then attempted to block the movement. even though “the majority of demonstrators at the Columbus Day events will be peaceful. 11. so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs. According to these leaflets. the FBI is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public. An FBI report written in December 2004 focuses on Sarah Bardwell. on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally. “one female leaflet distributor…appeared to be of • Middle Eastern decent.
for example." The result.called Super Users . In the Department of Defense. Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex. John R. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U. nearly 1. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations. and 31 more.C. The other recounted that for his initial briefing. That is the reason it is so difficult to gauge the success and identify the problems of Top Secret America. not lack of resources.have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. 2001. he was escorted into a tiny. including whether money is being spent wisely. it inevitably results in message dissonance. who once commanded 145. operating in 15 U.S. reduced effectiveness and waste. Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50. "We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe. The U. is that it's impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. Vines.000 people. 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001." he said.not just for the DNI [Director of National Intelligence]. and 32 more. lack of focus. track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work. homeland security and intelligence in about 10. he said. Gen. for the director of the CIA.S. including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. "I wasn't remembering any of it. Program after program began flashing on a screen. The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. and 20 or more each in 2007.271 government organizations and 1. responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities.000 civil servants. and 26 after that.is a challenge. where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside. For example. • • With the quick infusion of money.000 intelligence reports each year . creating redundancy and waste. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews.United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week." *** Every day across the United States. "The complexity of this system defies description. Capitol buildings about 17 million square feet of space. This is not exactly President Dwight D. "I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything" was how one Super User put it.S. Vines."There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that . 51 federal organizations and military commands.a volume so large that many are routinely ignored. he added. The investigation's other findings include: • • • Some 1. "I'm not aware of any agency with the authority. as well as the Christmas Day bomb attempt thwarted not by the thousands of analysts employed to find lone terrorists but by an alert airline passenger who saw smoke coming from his seatmate. was stunned by what he discovered. cities. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending. 21/2 times the size it was on Sept. has gone from ." he said in an interview. who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department's most sensitive programs. But the figure doesn't include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs. for the secretary of defense .931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism. Twenty-four organizations were created by the end of 2001. dark room.000 locations across the United States. In 2002. military personnel and private contractors with top-secret security clearances are scanned into offices protected by electromagnetic locks. They are also issues that greatly concern some of the people in charge of the nation's security. At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. An estimated 854. seated at a small table and told he couldn't take notes. intelligence budget is vast.000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems. only a handful of senior officials ." Vines said. 2008 and 2009. publicly announced last year as $75 billion. 854. 10. D. there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.. Much of the information about this mission is classified." which emerged with the Cold War and centered on building nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union. hold top-secret security clearances. collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. In Washington and the surrounding area." Defense Secretary Robert M. 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction. was at the heart of the Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead. "Because it lacks a synchronizing process.5 times as many people as live in Washington. Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. until he yelled ''Stop!" in frustration. but for any individual. This is a national security enterprise with a more amorphous mission: defeating transnational violent extremists. retinal cameras and fortified walls that eavesdropping equipment cannot penetrate. These are not academic issues. military and intelligence agencies multiplied.
all the time and in every intelligence and counterterrorism agency. the one place in government that exists to do things overseas that no other U. lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine. and those people have required more administrative and logistic support: phone operators. the George W. The Post estimates that out of 854.and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. you have to build that expertise over time. whose responsibility "is to their shareholders. paid bribes for information in Afghanistan and protected CIA directors visiting world capitals. What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -." Contractors can offer more money .5 billion in 2002 and $44 billion in 2003. which conducts electronic eavesdropping.S. At the agency's training facility in Virginia.. And because competition among firms for people with security clearances is so great. according to a two-year investigation by The Washington Post. air-conditioning mechanics and. Private contractors working for the CIA have recruited spies in Iraq. To remedy this. Lowenthal. . But replacing them "doesn't happen overnight. The idea that the government would save money on a contract workforce "is a false economy." said Mark M.to experienced federal employees than the government is allowed to pay them. who has been in and out of government his entire life. The budget of the National Security Agency." Or as Gates. and that does present an inherent conflict. At Langley headquarters. "For too long. architects.500 today. carpenters." But they do.often twice as much . Bush administration and Congress decided to create an agency in 2004 with overarching responsibilities called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to bring the colossal effort under control. the government has become dependent on them in a way few could have foreseen: wartime temps who have become a permanent cadre. In interviews last week.000 signing bonuses." A second concern of Panetta's: contracting with corporations. The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States. a former senior CIA official and now president of his own intelligence training academy. corporations offer such perks as BMWs and $15. 11 attacks ended. It is also a system in which contractors are playing an ever more important role. With so many more employees. . units and organizations. both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns. (Washington Post) To ensure that the country's most sensitive duties are carried out only by people loyal above all to the nation's interest. interrogated detainees once held at secret prisons abroad and watched over defectors holed up in the Washington suburbs. puts it: "You want somebody who's really in it for a career because they're passionate about it and because they care about the country and not just because of the money. . we've depended on contractors to do the operational work that ought to be done" by CIA employees.500 employees in 2002 to 16. But there's some progress: "All my e-mail on one computer now.7. librarians. agency is allowed to do. doubled. secretaries. a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view. and some agency heads don't really want to give up the systems they have. Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces became 106. As a result. and it amounts to this: It's too hard. even janitors with top-secret clearances.000 people with top-secret clearances.close to 30 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies is contractors. because of where they work.. There is no better example of the government's dependency on them than at the CIA. It was phenomenal growth that began almost as soon as the Sept. as Raytheon did in June for software developers with top-level clearances. the lines of responsibility began to blur.000 are contractors… Most of these contractors do work that is fundamental to an agency's core mission. When you've been dependent on contractors for so long.There is a long explanation for why these databases are still not connected. Nine days after the attacks. In all. That was only a beginning. It followed that up with an additional $36. Panetta said." Leiter says. Contractors have helped snatch a suspected extremist off the streets of Italy. 265. "That's a big deal. they analyze terrorist networks. construction workers." National Security Inc. federal rules say contractors may not perform what are called "inherently government functions. they are helping mold a new generation of American spies.. at the recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. Each has required more people. at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11. Congress committed $40 billion beyond what was in the federal budget to fortify domestic defenses and to launch a global offensive against al-Qaeda.
• • The need to identify U. The DHS has given $31 billion in grants since 2003 to state and local governments for homeland security and to improve their ability to find and protect against terrorists. increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain. but he's having a hard time even getting a basic head count. Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism. where employees from 114 firms account for roughly a third of the workforce." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told police and firefighters recently.000 documents. to pre-9/11 levels. 'Let's do another study. There have been nearly two dozen other cases just this year. often nicknamed "body shops.S. The months-long investigation. With so much money to spend. often former military or intelligence agency employees who left government service to work less and earn more while drawing a federal pension. They are among the most trusted advisers to the four-star generals leading the nation's wars.000 positions.As companies raid federal agencies of talent. At least four other federal departments also contribute to local . how many people you can fly all over the place. such as employment history. everyone does their own study. found that: • • Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.S. some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U. It followed a similar arrest of a Somali-born naturalized U. They spy on foreign governments and eavesdrop on terrorist networks.S. "Someone says. "This is a terrible confession. local police.S. Contractors kill enemy fighters. The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI. The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information. many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance. They staff watch centers across the Washington area. Many of them are temporary hires. This month's FBI sting operation involving a Baltimore construction worker who allegedly planned to bomb a Maryland military recruiting station is the latest example. using the FBI. Ore. The system. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators. So great is the government's appetite for private contractors with topsecret clearances that there are now more than 300 companies." that specialize in finding candidates. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. who headed a team studying the al-Qaeda leadership for the Defense Department. "I can't get a number on how many contractors work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. of thousands of U. the recruiters in the nation's most secretive agencies. based on nearly 100 interviews and 1.S.S. or about 10.8 billion in 2010.-born or naturalized citizens who are planning violent attacks is more urgent than ever. Gates said he wants to reduce the number of defense contractors by about 13 percent." he said. the government has been left with the youngest intelligence staffs ever while more experienced employees move into the private sector. citizen allegedly seeking to detonate a bomb near a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland. They help craft war plans. including $3. They are the historians. often for a fee that approaches $50. state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings. stores and analyzes information about thousands of U. "It's about how many studies you can orchestrate. managers do not always worry about whether they are spending it effectively. The total cost of the localized system is also hard to gauge. the architects. "The old view that 'if we fight the terrorists abroad. We don't need all these people doing all this stuff. collects. which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.000 a person. intelligence officials say. by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history. This is true at the CIA. U. citizens and residents. They gather information on local factions in war zones. according to those in the business.' and because no one shares information." Monitoring America Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001. the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans. intelligence agencies." said Elena Mastors. Making it more difficult to replace contractors with federal employees: The government doesn't know how many are on the federal payroll. we won't have to fight them here' is just that the old view. Everybody's just on a spending spree." referring to the department's civilian leadership.
000 biometric digital mug shots a month. residents in the hopes of teasing out terrorists.the same kind of aircraft. and the automatic license plate reader on his hood captures the numbers on every vehicle nearby.efforts. the status of the driver's license and any outstanding warrants. One handcuffed him. A record of that stop . Iraq and Afghanistan to track the enemy. the FBI. Based on the information that came up. troops during the insurgency in Iraq to register residents of entire neighborhoods. The special operations units deployed overseas to kill the al-Qaeda leadership drove technological advances that are now expanding in use across the United States.S. using a type of equipment prevalent in war zones. The military-grade infrared camera on its hood moved robotically from left to right. those advances allowed the rapid fusing of biometric identification. L-1 Identity Solutions is selling the same type of equipment to police departments to check motorists' identities. It helped pay for license plate readers and defrayed some of the cost of setting up Memphis's crime-analysis center. a Social Security number. it's the DHS that is enamored with collecting photos. he can use a hand-held device to instantly call up a mug shot. problematic street corners. On the front lines. and bridges and other critical infrastructure.was automatically transferred to the Memphis Real Time Crime Center. that has been used in wars in Kosovo. an officer can simply drive around. "Hopefully in the not-too-distant future." . a command center with three walls of streaming surveillance video and analysis capabilities that rival those of an Army command center. snapping digital images of one license plate after another and analyzing each almost instantly.S. U. There are 96 million sets of fingerprints in Clarksburg. All together it has given Memphis $11 million since 2003 in homeland security grants." an officer called out.and the details of every other arrest made that night. "our relationship with these federal agencies . The examples go far beyond Memphis. This year for the first time.S. Now. In Arizona. full-motion video cameras. This information would help the crime intelligence analysts predict trends so the department could figure out what neighborhoods to swarm with officers and surveillance cameras. But that was still not the end of it. The DHS helped Memphis buy surveillance cameras that monitor residents near high-crime housing projects. and the other checked his own PDA. There. video images and other personal information about U. *** On a recent night in Memphis. Iraq and Afghanistan. The computer in the cruiser can tell an officer even more about who owns the vehicle. speaking to an industry group recently. The streets of Memphis are a world away from the streets of Kabul." "Got a live one! Let's do it. captured computer records and cellphone numbers so troops could launch the next surprise raid. There. Take a recent case of two officers with the hood-mounted camera equipment who stopped a man driving on a suspended license. fingerprints from across the United States are stored. equipped with real-time." she said. a red light flashed on the car's screen along with the word "warrant. a patrol car rolled slowly through a parking lot in a run-down section of town. and every summons written . head of the Defense Department's Biometrics Identity Management Agency. records 9. along with others collected by American authorities from prisoners in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. the man was ordered downtown to pay a fine and released as the officers drove off to stop another car. If the officer pulls over a driver. the same types of technologies and techniques are being used in both places to identify and collect information about suspected criminals and terrorists. instead of having to wait 20 minutes for someone back at the office to manually check records. wireless fingerprint scanners were carried by U.Va. the owner's name and address and criminal history. where long-standing privacy principles are under challenge by these new efforts to keep the nation safe. though. W. a volume that government officials view not as daunting but as an opportunity. the DHS and the Defense Department are able to search each other's fingerprint databases. and who else with a criminal history might live at the same address. most of which the city has used to fight crime. instead of having to decide which license plate numbers to type into a computer console in the patrol car. Here at home. But the bulk of the spending every year comes from state and local budgets that are too disparately recorded to aggregate into an overall total. the Maricopa County Sheriff's Facial Recognition Unit. • • • Hand-held. said Myra Gray.along with state and local agencies will be completely symbiotic. yet these days. the information would be geocoded on a map to produce a visual rendering of crime patterns. The Post findings paint a picture of a country at a crossroads. Customs and Border Protection flies General Atomics' Predator drones along the Mexican and Canadian borders . because the fingerprints from the crime records would also go to the FBI's data campus in Clarksburg. That wasn't the end of it. Suddenly.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.