By Tim Cushing
April 17, 2014 “ICH” - “TD” - As we’ve noted several times before, law enforcement and investigative agencies tend to roll out expanded surveillance systems without bothering to run it by the citizens they’re planning to surveil. The systems and programs are deployed, FOIA battles are waged and, finally, at some point, the information makes its way to the public. It is only then that most agencies start considering the privacy implications of their surveillance systems, and these are usually addressed by begrudging, minimal protections being belatedly applied.
Now, it’s obvious why these agencies don’t inform the public of their plans. They may uses terms like “security” and “officer safety” and theorize that making any details public would just allow criminals to find ways to avoid the persistent gaze of multiple surveillance options, but underneath it all, they know the public isn’t going to just sit there and allow them to deploy intrusive surveillance programs.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is using a new surveillance program utilizing the technology of a private contractor doing business under the not-scary-at-all name of “Persistent Surveillance Systems.” This gives the LASD a literal eye in the sky that provides coverage it can’t achieve with systems already in place. But it does more than just give the LASD yet another camera. It provides the agency with some impressive tools to manipulate the recordings.
The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.
“We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” [Ross] McNutt [owner of Persistent Surveillance Systems] said. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”
As with nearly everything making its way into law enforcement hands these days, this technology was developed and deployed first in battlefields. Persistent Surveillance Systems’ first proving grounds were Afghanistan and Iraq, tracking down bombing suspects. All it takes is a cluster of high-powered cameras and a single civilian plane to watch over Compton with warzone-quality surveillance. According to McNutt, the camera system covers “10,000 times” the area a single police helicopter can. McNutt also believes the system can be expanded to cover an area as large as the entire city of San Francisco.
While the cameras aren’t quite powerful enough to allow the LASD to make use of another, increasingly popular technological tool — facial recognition — this still gives the LASD an unprecedented coverage area. Camera technology continues to improve, so there’s no reason to believe a few of McNutt’s planes won’t someday (possibly very soon) have the power to assist the LASD with adding new mugshots to its databases.
But, as pointed out earlier, where does the public fit into all of this? Were privacy concerns addressed before moving forward with Persistent Surveillance Systems? I’m not even going to try to set up this astounding response from an LASD officer. Just read it:
“The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,” (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.”
You know, it’s one thing to think this. We know from experience that many law enforcement officials (as well as the rank-and-file) absolutely resent being publicly accountable and having to make the occasional token effort to respect civil liberties, so it’s not surprising that the LASD knew the easiest way to avoid a negative public was to lock the public out.
It is, however, quite another thing to come out on record and say this. This shows just how little the LASD actually cares about the public’s concerns. The agency knew the public wouldn’t be happy and an official comes right out and tells the public that his agency and others don’t really care. What they don’t know won’t hurt them… until it’s too late to do anything about it.
This was followed up by another statement from an LAPD official, who noted that frogs generally come around to the idea of being boiled to death.
The center’s commanding officer, Capt. John Romero, recognizes the concerns but equates them with public resistance to street lights in America’s earliest days.
“People thought that this is the government trying to see what we’re doing at night, to spy on us,” Romero said. “And so over time, things shifted, and now if you try to take down street lights in Los Angeles or Boston or anywhere else, people will say no.”
There’s no honesty or accountability in these statements. There’s only an admission that Los Angeles law enforcement feels the public is there to serve them and not the other way around. Hiding your plans from the public doesn’t instill confidence that their rights will be respected. Neither does telling them they’ll “get used to it.” Instead, it creates an even more antagonistic environment, one where the public is viewed as a nuisance at best by people whose power is derived from the same citizens they so obviously have no respect for.
This is what happens and will continue to happen until we organize and stand together and say enough is enough - STOP SPYING ON US!!!!!!!
Judy Woodruff leads a discussion on the new regulation enacted in the wake of a major chemical spill in West Virginia.
oldParasiteSingle: No. The activists all say they have to have federal regulators come down because their state sold out to coal corruption. State officials are all captured regulators
The USA’s home-grown, right-wing terrorists .. (more here)
oldParasiteSingle: Also look at this update from this morning. FBI & ATF are investigating 15 random shootings on the highways around Kansas City as hate crimes. Meanwhile Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest the funerals of 2 of the 3 Jewish center shooting victims.
(The second link was posted 6 hours after the first with more police details about their suspect)
FINALLY! A politician who admits that she doesn’t work for ALL OF THE PEOPLE of her state. Kansas State Senator Julia Lynn explained her vote for a bill that caters to special interest groups by eliminating mortgage registration fees, which will undoubtedly result in cuts in local services and higher property taxes on her constituents. SMDH. -Debra http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/12/1291520/—I-Represent-People-Who-Write-Checks-KS-Senator-explains-to-constituents-Video-Included#
Iowa Signs Theocracy Into Law, Ending Separation of Church and State
Added by Rebecca Savastio on April 15, 2014.
Saved under Opinion, Rebecca Savastio, U.S.
Tags: iowa, spot
The state of Iowa has officially made their state a theocracy after ending the separation of church and state by signing a document that declares all nations must submit to the “providence of almighty God” and that there will now be an official Christian “day of fasting, humiliation and prayer” for Iowans each year on July 14. The idea comes from what has been described as a “fringe group” of fundamentalist Christians called “Prayer 7-14-14.”
Iowa governor Terry Branstad (R) signed the declaration during a press conference in which he read from the document. The document itself includes several major mistakes, including calling John Hancock the President. Hancock, of course, was never the President of the United States.
The proclamation stems from a direct request from “Prayer 7-14-14.” The group earlier released a lengthy tome which discusses, in part, how God speaks directly to the author, who is the head of the organization, by “speaking to” him “in dreams, visions and His word about our nation.”
It is worthy to note that most people who think they hear voices and see visions are generally considered to be struggling with some form of mental illness; yet, this document was the catalyst for the governor of Iowa to sign theocracy into law, effectively ending separation of church and state.
The day of humiliation will include fasting and prayer, and will include a focus on repentance, accepting Christian doctrine as the true and correct spiritual path for the state of Iowa; and other miscellaneous constitutional violations.
A website called the Family Leader published the news, and says it is colluding with the state of Iowa and other fundamentalist Christian groups to bring Christian revival to the whole nation, conveniently leaving out the fact that not everyone in the United States is Christian.
The Iowa Republican
And here they were all worried about Sharia laws when we really should have been worrying about Evangelical Christianity! Why?!!! Are people really so stupid that they can’t read the first amendment as it was written? Now Iowa will waste millions defending this unconstitutional law right up to the supreme court if they will take the case. Sad insane times we live in . . you would think it was 1814 instead of 2014.
oldParasiteSingle: I have a tag for Bible Belt Teavangelicals It is “American Taliban” They use “American Taliban” to describe all Muslim-Americans. As an atheist-agnostic-humanist I use “American Taliban” to describe religious cult loons who like to attack women’s health clinics and girl’s schools over sex education objections. For an atheist, there is absolutely no difference between Christian “American Taliban” or Muslim “American Taliban” To my mind you are all save-the-homeland-from-Western-culture lunatics.
TPM should probably be glad their comments section isn’t working right now after posting this mess: Josh Romney Taunts Reid With Photo Of Mitt Romney Paying His Taxes (PHOTO):
Josh Romney on Tuesday tweeted a photo of his father, Mitt Romney, paying his taxes, alluding to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) charge during the 2012 election that Mitt Romney did not pay his taxes for ten years. […]
Reid claimed that an official at Bain Capital, Romney’s former employer, told him that the presidential candidate hadn’t paid his taxes. And Reid used the statistic to call on Romney to release his tax returns.
It later came out that Reid heard that Romney hadn’t paid taxes from Jon Hunstman Sr., according to a book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann called “Double Down.” Huntsman denied that he was Reid’s source.
oldParasiteSingle: Last night when I tried to reblog this post our router got fried for 5 hours and I got booted off of our Wi Fi for 6 hours. When I finally got back online long after midnight, firefox extensions would no longer let me select anything on tumblr. This evening I restarted Firefox in Safe mode to finally discover the faulty control was probably my HTTPS-everywhere v 3.5 firefox extension from eff. Anyway to make a long story short, this is what I was blogging when I was so rudely locked out for 24 hours:
Actually, his post makes sense if you agree that the Rmoney family owes no more back to society than the cost of a postage stamp. That is a form of tax after all, if only a small one.
this is one of my faves. I shall tweet it out so kwik can see. ok bye now :)
Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor a bill that bans the construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) anywhere in the state.
The impetus for the vote was a proposal to build a $174 million BRT system in Nashville called The Amp, which would’ve ran on a 7.1 mile route and served rapidly growing neighborhoods across the city. There’s a more detailed summary of the project over at The Tennessean.
Although BRT has been shown to revitalize economies and reduce congestion, opponents of The Amp voiced concerns about the safety of unloading bus passengers along roadways and whether private land would be used to build dedicated bus lanes.
After the vote, Amp opponents revealed that the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, founded with the support of brothers Charles and David Koch, had lobbied in favor of the bus ban.
The legislation is startlingly specific: Senate Bill 2243 forbids “constructing, maintaining or operating any bus rapid transit system.”
The Senate version of the BRT ban also forbids buses from “loading or discharging passengers at any point within the boundary lines of a state highway or state highway right-of-way not adjacent to the right-hand, lateral curb line.” Though the House struck that provision and sent revised legislation back to the Senate, it would still require special approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and local government bodies.
It’s a hard line, and an unusual one.
Normally, the easiest way to kill a public transit project is to pull its funding. Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah all forbid state funding for public transit systems, for instance, but even that isn’t foolproof: Utah’s taken on some major commuter rail expansions lately, and Phoenix uses county tax revenues to pay for its transit system.
A formal ban on BRT is about the only way that Tennessee could ensure that The Amp didn’t get built as intended. Already, the project seems to be watered down. Nashville’s mayor—a proponent of the project—has ordered a study that would redesign the system to avoid using dedicated lanes (PDF).
Now, drivers in Nashville can look forward to increased traffic and longer commutes. But at least those pesky buses won’t be in the way.
(Photo Credit: Amp Yes)