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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Has America Become a Totalitarian State?

The Utah Data Center, Operation Virtual Shield, and the Death of the 4th Amendment



In September of this year, construction on the largest top-secret government facility in America will be complete.  The National Security Agency's Utah Data Center (officially known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center) is a $2 billion facility designed to store intelligence data on the scale of yottabytes (for the record, one yottabyte is equal to 100,000,000,000 gigabytes).

And just what type of "data" will be collected and stored at this 1.5 million square foot facility?  It has been alleged that this data center will have the capacity to store every private email, cellphone call, and Internet search ever made or written.  Experts predict that the electricity bill alone for the Utah Data Center will run about $40 million a year, since the annual power demand will be in the vicinity of 65 megawatts.

Artist's rendering of the Utah Data Center


In spite of this readily-available information, the federal government has been mum about the purpose of the Utah Data Center, which in turn has sparked a firestorm of controversy.  In August of 2012, the New York Times referenced a documentary in which an NSA whistleblower named William Binney (who helped design NSA'a Stellar Wind project) claims that the new data center will illegally obtain information about American citizens, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.



The Real Motive Behind False Flag Operations?

You've heard the conspiracy theorists claim that Sandy Hook was a ploy to disarm the American people.  However, it appears that the debate over gun control just might be a distraction from an even larger government plot- to violate the privacy of every man, woman, and child in the United States.

As the debate raged on over assault weapons and ammunition, the Boston Marathon was allegedly targeted by the Tsarnaev brothers, and the ensuing manhunt resulted in a partial lockdown of Boston and a complete siege of Watertown, Massachusetts.  For the first time in American history, a whole community was prohibited from leaving their homes for reasons other than a natural disaster, as law enforcement officials went door-to-door, searching homes without warrants.

Some constitutional scholars insist that this wasn't a violation of the 4th Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizure of property.  The "exigent circumstance" exception states that law enforcement officers can override the 4th Amendment when they have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate need to protect lives and property.  This is open to interpretation, of course, and is essentially a judgment call since no legal definition exists for "immediate need".

Nonetheless, Americans were so worried about gun control that they fell for the government sleight-of-hand.  While we argued that we didn't want our personal data stored in a federal firearm registry, construction crews were hard at work in Utah, building the grand-daddy of all spy centers, capable of storing every email ever written in the history of mankind.  Yes, like country rubes watching a magician at a traveling carnival, our eyes were fixed on the performer's left hand, while the magician tricked us with his right.

Sandy Hook may have lured us into a debate on guns, Boston may have tested the waters of martial law, but Utah will be the coffin nail which will make George Orwell look down from the Great Beyond and say, "Ha!  I told you so."  Big Brother won't only be watching every move you make in public; he'll be capable of monitoring everything you do in private.

And it's not just the federal government.  As it turns out, you don't have just one Big Brother, you have several.  You, my friend, are the youngest runt in the litter.  The federal government may be the biggest brother, but let's not forget the state and local authorities, who have also been watching your every move for years.



Operation Virtual Shield

When Chicago mayor Richard Dailey obtained $217 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security, he implemented Operation Virtual Shield- a program which created the most extensive video surveillance network in the United States.  Operation Virtual Shield links over 3000 cameras to a central monitoring system, allowing footage to be viewed in real time.  The program also has "facial recognition" capabilities.  Dailey stated that his goal was to have a surveillance camera on every street corner by 2016.

Similar programs have already been implemented in several major cities such as Washington DC, New York, and Philadelphia. 

One watchdog group, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed a lawsuit against the FBI in 2012 over the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program.  NGI is a  system that consists of building a database of biometric data such as DNA profiles, facial recognition, and even iris scans.  EPIC estimates there are approximately 30 million cameras- both public and private- incorporated into the NGI program.

“The Department of Homeland Security has expended hundreds of millions of dollars to establish state and local surveillance systems, including CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras that record the routine activities of millions of individuals,” EPIC states. “The NGI system could be integrated with other surveillance technology, such as Trapwire, that would enable real-time image-matching of live feeds from CCTV surveillance cameras.”

The lawsuit came about because EPIC had filed a FOIA request for records relating to the FBI program.  The FBI, of course, ignored the request, essentially telling EPIC and the rest of America to "go to hell".

Before you think that a mass surveillance network involving government and privately-owned cameras is a good idea, let's not forget the mysterious death of Sunil Tripathi.  Tripathi was wrongfully identified as one of the Boston bombers, and became the target of anti-Muslim lynch mobs and vigilantes.  Facebook pages emerged, labeling Tripathi as a terrorist.  His family was the target of death threats and intimidation.  Sunil Tripathi's body was pulled from the waters of Rhode Island the other day, proving what can go wrong when the FBI, NSA, FEMA, and DHS decide to use "crowdsourcing" as a means of obtaining information.



Before you shrug and say, "this can't happen to me", keep in mind that Big Brother has even limited your ability to defend yourself from accusations.  The judicial system may be no help to you, since President Obama has signed the highly-controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which allows the United States military to act as a police force, giving them the right to  arrest, indefinitely detain, and use deadly force against any person suspected of terrorism- all without a court trial.

What it all boils down to is this:  While Big Brother would probably love to take your guns away, this cannot happen until the government finds a way to trample on the 4th Amendment.  And, if Boston has taught us anything, it's that the government is willing and able to do just that.  Forget about your name appearing in a national firearms database, my friend, because that's the least of your worries.  The Utah Data Center- paired with 24/7 video surveillance in every major city- will be able to tell Big Brother much more private information about you than how many hunting rifles you own. 



Anyone wishing to learn more about totalitarianism should check out any one of the following JOTB Staff Picks:

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