Skip to comments.Massive FBI Data Mining Revealed, Set to Expand
Posted on 09/28/2009 2:08:30 PM PDT by Coleus
Recently declassified documents obtained by Wired magazine reveal a massive Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data mining operation. It already possesses over 1.5 billion records from government and private-sector sources. That figure is expected by the FBI to balloon to over 6 billion within a few years. And it is not just terrorists they are after. According to the documents, the National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) is being used to pursue multiple types of non-terrorism domestic investigations. It is also meant to be able to sort through the data everything from health and travel records to credit card transactions and car rentals to identify people who might pose a threat. The pattern analysis capabilities search for suspicious behavior to finger people of interest, but the whole concept has been hammered by critics as a sort of unconstitutional pre-crime program.
The effort is similar in some respects to the Department of Defenses controversial Total Information Awareness program that was supposed to be essentially shut down by Congress. But far from disappearing, the program appears to have simply been moved. Now the FBI wants to quadruple the size of the NSACs known staff, according to the Wired article about the system, entitled Newly Declassified Files Detail Massive FBI Data-Mining Project. In 2008, it already had over 100 full time employees and contractors. We have a situation where the government is spending fairly large sums of money to use an unproven technology that has a possibility of false positives that would subject innocent Americans to unnecessary scrutiny and impinge on their freedom, explained Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the privacy watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Before the NSAC expands its mission, there must be strict oversight from Congress and the public.
Opsahl also cited a 2008 study by the National Research Council that said these types of operations are a dangerous and ineffective way of identifying potential terrorists. The paper highlighted poor data quality, the inevitability of false positives, privacy concerns and the preliminary nature of the concepts involved. It concluded that automated identification of terrorists through data mining or any other mechanism is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts. The EFF produced a damning report about the biggest component of the FBIs program the Investigative Data Warehouse, which the bureau claims is its single largest repository of operational and intelligence information. The database contains a wide variety of information including telephone records and even some biometric data. The EFF report also reveals that an employee in the FBIs Office of General Counsel recommended against raising congressional consciousness levels and expectations about the privacy implications of the system.
The IDW objective was to create a data warehouse that uses certain data elements to provide a single-access repository for information related to issues beyond counterterrorism to include counterintelligence, criminal and cyber investigations, according to a formerly secret 2008 budget request cited by Wired. These missions will be refined and expanded as these capabilities are folded into the NSAC. So how did the FBI get all of the data? Nobody really knows, except the data miners themselves, perhaps. Some of it was handed over voluntarily by companies, some is from the government itself and other parts came from the use of provisions in the Patriot Act. The FBI would not comment, nor would many of the companies involved. A report ordered by Republican U.S. Representative Jim Sensebrenner about how the data would be used and how the FBI was safe-guarding the information has not been made public.
Another stunning revelation of the program is that the FBI had been sharing NSAC information with one of the Department of Defenses domestic spying units, the office of Counter-Intelligence Field Activity. The secretive program was caught gathering information about American anti-war groups and even the Quakers. The FBI has since told Congress that they will be more careful. NSAC data was also used in the prosecution of a telemarketing company, and is supposedly being used against hackers and a wide variety of common criminals. Recent revelations from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show that out of 763 so-called sneak-and-peak requests under the Patriot Act, only three were in any way related to terrorism. The majority were drug cases.
Now the FBI has produced a wish list of more information it wants for the operation. On the list were databases from the Airlines Reporting Corporation, which has billions of American travel itineraries, credit card information and a myriad of other private data. Also included were the national social security database, Postal Service databases, and more. The documents provided to Wired contained an additional 24 databases that were blacked out.
Americans already know who the government is looking for so-called right-wing extremists concerned about issues like U.S. sovereignty, the shredding of the Constitution, abortion, and even illegal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security made that abundantly clear when it called them the most dangerous threat to national security in the infamous report that turned out to have been sourced largely to discredited political groups like the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center and a website with dragons, unicorns, and tarot cards across the top.
Congress should thoroughly investigate the program and hold responsible parties accountable. Americans have a right to be secure from such invasive tactics unless a warrant is issued by a judge based on a specific criteria. The time has come to dismantle the police state and restore the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution. Alex Newman is an American freelance writer and the president of Liberty Sentinel Media, Inc., a small media consulting firm. He is currently living in Sweden and has spent most of his life in Latin America, Europe and Africa. He has a degree in foreign languages and speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and a little Swedish and Afrikaans. In addition, he earned a degree in journalism from the University of Florida, with emphasis on economics and international relations.
I am sure they know who I am already. Piss on ‘em.
Look. The Government is keeping us “safe”...from ourselves.
Instead of mining ACORNS transactions they seem to be mining the citizens proclivities..
Why don't that make me feel better?..
Abel Danger II?
I don’t see a problem...as long as they are checking
into SEIU,Acorn,mayors,congress and senators right on
up to the president. I personally haven’t done anything
wrong so I’m not worried, but I think they might be....
I’m sure my reservation at the local re-education camp has been made. But, what is unclear, is whether I’ll keep my check-in date...
That you know about...
And NOW they will have an unsupervised Census GPS data base to find exactly where you live.
No problems with having to involve local authorities.
I Want A Top Bunk !
They Will Just Make Some Thing Up !
“I personally havent done anything
wrong so Im not worried..”
By your definition you probably haven’t.
BUT according to Janet Napolitano’s Dept. of Homeland Security YOU are a right-wing nazi, home-grown terrorist, racist and just an all-around dangerous and bad person (of interest).
I am 100% certain that everything we post here is being read by someone at Langley. We’re already on their list, savage woman!
Although.... I have survived since the FBI's murder of a defensless woman, dog, and child in the 90's...as well as it's greatest accomplishment of the 90's, the incineration of lots of women and children....
Fortunately, based on their demonstrated incompetence, by the time they figure us out...it will be too late...
Wonder if they will find the Birth Certificate, or college records, or passport etc.....
Rule #1 - Leave as small a trail as possible.
The FBI seems quite able to find and track nearly everybody else!
I personally havent done anything
wrong so Im not worried..
By your definition you probably havent.
BUT according to Janet Napolitanos Dept. of Homeland Security YOU are a right-wing nazi, home-grown terrorist, racist and just an all-around dangerous and bad person (of interest).
I am 100% certain that everything we post here is being read by someone at Langley. Were already on their list, savage woman!
Yes, I agree...and I don’t care what they read about me,
I don’t care what names or category they put me in, I just
don’t care, BUT, I do care about them having the capabilities to find the real criminals/terrorist...and they will..