|image source: FBI|
Border control operations have long been a convenient cover for introducing policies and technologies that provide a staging ground for incremental rollout of more surveillance across the United States. The Secure Communities program (S-Comm) is no exception.
ICE announced in February that it would begin using biometric identification as a key component of an information sharing nexus with 58 California counties meant to identify aliens who are booked for crimes by local police. However, a recent Freedom of Information Act request by several justice organizations reveals a program involving extensive Homeland Security coordination to expand the Secure Communities biometrics program to include even law abiding American citizens. Rather than a specific initiative to deport known criminals, this is looking more and more like a sweeping move toward a Big Brother total surveillance grid.
A pattern of deception by the federal government is emerging in the wake of a failed attempt to push a national ID card. ICE is already under investigation for misrepresenting its intentions, and the wider role of the FBI only furthers the suspicion that this latest move has ulterior motives.
According to Bridget Kessler of the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, one of the organizations that applied through FOIA:
"These documents provide a fascinating glimpse into the FBI’s role in forcing S-Comm on states and localities. The FBI’s desire to pave the way for the rest of the NGI project seems to have been a driving force in the policy decision to make S-Comm mandatory. But the documents also confirm that, both technologically and legally, S-Comm could have been voluntary." (Source)The "NGI project" to which she refers is the Next Generation Identification which will be used to enhance the current database of fingerprints (IAFIS). Added to fingerprints will be full biometrics including palm scans, voice imprints, iris scans, facial recognition, and other body signatures that form a full identity dossier of every individual that can ultimately be analyzed and communicated in real time between local law enforcement and federal agencies. This collated information essentially becomes the property of law enforcement agencies even if your biometrics (and DNA) are picked up as latent imprints at a crime scene. This makes everyday movements part of a tracking grid that can be cross-referenced beyond the court of law, leading to false suspicions, interrogations, and arrests.
The FBI's own website admits to easing this into existence through, "an incremental replacement of current IAFIS technical capabilities, while introducing new functionality. NGI improvements and new capabilities will be introduced across a multi-year timeframe within a phased approach. "
The potential abuse of such a system has led the Center for Constitutional Rights to issue a four-page fact sheet; part of which states a scope of concern that extends even beyond law enforcement abuse:
The accumulation of information in such large databases creates targets for hackers, disgruntled insiders, and national enemies. Information collection projects like NGI greatly endanger national security and leave us vulnerable to identity theft. Using biometric link identifiers introduces the risk that information gathered for one purpose will be used for completely unrelated purposes, without our knowledge or consent, and in blatant violation of our privacy rights. (Source, PDF)This program is following a similar track as that of the now widely condemned and out of control TSA patdown and body scanner debacle in the assertion by federal authorities that states cannot opt out of the program. This was not how the program was initially marketed and only shows the lengths to which the government will go to hoodwink its own citizens in a drive for more power . . . and profit.
Naturally, the world's largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, stands to gain by selling the technology in the multi-million dollar contract (conservatively) in the same way that politically connected contractor OSI received $173 million for the Rapiscan naked body scanner, while the entire military-surveillance-industrial complex grows more powerful and more wealthy on the taxpayer's tab.
This latest federal takeover attempt is yet another backdoor intended to target the American population through the guise of protecting the security of Americans. Any time a federal program has the word secure in it, you can be sure that an Orwellian attack on your rights is about to commence and the real threat to your personal security just went up one more level.
This article may be re-posted in full with attribution.
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