Friday, June 21, 2013

Roundup: Obama Stupid and the Poor

Ben Shapiro has a piece up at Breitbart this week on the Obama Administration's unnecessary slashing of the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance, and the subsequent Republican reaction to those cuts.  In an effort to further politicize sequestration cuts, the Obama Administration cut WIC while simultaneously holding a workshop in Martha's Vineyard highlighting the USDA Rural Development Office's programs for economic development and affordable housing in rural areas.  The need for affordable housing is pressing in Martha's Vineyard, where the cheapest real estate listing is a $260,000 two bedroom condo.  Martha's Vineyard, home to 1% of America, is in fact a rural area under the program, where taxpayer backed loans to purchase a home are available to those who qualify.

If that wasn't bad enough, the same agency within the USDA will also subsidize the Wine Barn LLC in order to promote marketing and increase production of Kansas wine, while also giving $300,000 to the Mackinaw Trail Winery in Michigan, $100,000 to the Appleton Creek Winery in New York, and $162,500 for the Westminster Winery in Maryland.  Vodka, Bloody Mary mix, and hard cider manufacturers also received subsidies from the USDA Rural Development Office.  While the Obama Administration cut WIC for 600,000 women, infants, and children, it continued subsidies to the aforementioned interests, a fact that raised the ire of Senator Tom Coburn, who penned a letter highlighting the subsidies and pointing out that they could be cut in order to fund WIC.

This seems shocking to those who don't understand the long history the Obama family, particularly the two adults at the head of that family, have of denying help to the poor and indigent.  While working at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Michelle Obama, who was paid $317,000 a year, helped to devise a program to divert poor and uninsured patients from the UMCMC emergency room to other neighborhood healthcare providers. She did this despite the fact that her employer, as a non-profit, received tax breaks amounting to five times what it spent on charity care.

Barack Obama is a new breed of Democrat: he can't feel your pain, and what's more, he's not interested in that pain in the slightest if you're poor, uninsured, or going without adequate nutrition as a result of your indigent status.   This is consistent with Obama's style of government under Medicaid, a program that pays a mere $17 to primary care physicians for a visit.  As a result, most physicians refuse to accept Medicaid patients.

It's not the physicians are heartless, either; because many of those same physicians, such as Dr. Alieta Eck of Piscataway, New Jersey, found or support free healthcare clinics where physicians volunteer. Eck and her husband, John, established the Zarephath Health Center, a free health care clinic, and they volunteer at the clinic for six hours each week, as do other area health care professionals.  The patients who show up that free clinic are Medicaid recipients who can't find a regular doctor. Indeed, Medicaid patients go to the emergency room at double the rate of the insured, with problems that could have been treated earlier with a doctor's visit and preventative care. The net result is tragic: Medicaid patients are more likely than the privately insured or uninsured to have late-stage cancer at first diagnosis. They're also twice as likely as the privately insured to die in the hospital after surgery, with the uninsured beating Medicaid patients in mortality rates after surgery.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the program Barack Obama intends to funnel enrollees into beginning in 2014, with some 17 million new enrollees designated for a program that can't even ensure basic preventative care for its existing members.  Against the backdrop of his indifference to WIC beneficiaries, and his compassion for wineries and "rural homeowners" who suffer the plight of unaffordable housing in Martha's Vineyard, President Obama moves to assist the poor and uninsured by moving more of them into a program with mortality rates after surgery that are two times as high as the mortality rates of the privately insured.

While working to bolster the affordability of homes in Martha's Vineyard, the President tried to cut funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), by almost $3 billion in February 2011.  LIHEAP provided home heating assistance to the poor and elderly during the winter, and Obama's attempts to slash funding for the program drew a rare rebuke from senior Democrats in Congress like Senator John Kerry.  This followed after a 159% cigarette tax increase signed by Obama two weeks after taking office, a tax hike that fell disproportionately on the poor, who smoke at higher rates than people in higher income brackets.  As a result, the burden of the tax hike was 37 times heavier on the lowest earning 20 percent of households.  The tax hike was used in some states to finance an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide benefits to children in households earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level, and in some states like New Jersey and New York, at even higher income levels.

The net result was that poor smokers were being forced to shoulder the cost of providing healthcare to middle class children.  That's the way you want to finance expanded S-CHIP coverage: on the addiction of the working poor, while doing little if anything to throw them a lifeline to help them kick their addiction.  As bad as it was, the two aforementioned examples were consistent with Obama's continuing practices towards the poorest members of society.  Rhetoric in the place of action, with actions that directly increased the misery the poor as the norm in Obama's actual policies.

After decades of decisions in opposition to the legalization of online gambling, the Obama Administration's Justice Department issued a 13-page memo that allowed states to authorize Web-based, nonsports gaming.   While states decried teen addiction to prescription drugs, they did not apparently foresee a problem with gambling addiction amongst teenagers, even though both types of addiction affect the same number of teenagers: half a million. As poor people tend to be the biggest losers in gambling, the Obama Administration's reversal of decades worth of consistent interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act paved the way for yet another method of exploiting the misery and addiction of the poor in America.

Years ago, Kanye West stirred controversy with his declaration that George Bush didn't care about black people.  Today, we might as well declare the obvious: Barack Obama doesn't care about poor people, if his actual policies and practices are any indicator.  That's the Roundup for today, June 21st, 2013.


Alien and Sedition Media Podcast: Why the Republicans Aren't Winning

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Why in the Spy II: Money


The revelations surrounding the NSA’s PRISM program continued to unfold throughout the weekend.  The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden was able to procure classified information above his clearance level and download it to a thumb drive despite federal regulations that prohibited the use of thumb drives. Additionally, revelations continue to come in about the public-private surveillance partnership between the United States government and private corporations.  These partnerships enable corporations to receive intelligence from the government in exchange for built-in access to customer information regarding communications and equipment specifications.

The media’s reporting has been selective at best, excising any historical context from its examination of PRISM and the corporate cooperation with NSA surveillance. For example, Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft provides information about software bugs to the government before releasing the information to the public.  Bloomberg’s reporting omits a fact known since at least 1999: Microsoft has been building in special NSA access codes into its Windows software since 1995; every single version of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2 to the present has these access codes.   The codes were first discovered by British researcher Dr. Nicko van Someren, and a few weeks later a second researcher tied the codes to the NSA.

Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym, a company in Morrisville, North Carolina, came across the two CAPI keys, one which was labeled "KEY" and the other of which was labeled "NSAKEY."  He revealed his findings at the "Advances in Cryptology, Crypto 99" conference in Santa Barbara, California. While Windows crypto programmers refused to talk about the two keys, they were stunned to know that Windows 2000 contained a third key that they were not aware of even as the top crypto programmers at Microsoft.

This third key could be replaced by a user's own key, which could then be used to sign cryptographic security modules from overseas or from third parties, which was what the NSA and other federal agencies wanted to prevent.  In other words, the NSA's own key, inserted without the knowledge of Microsoft's chief programmers who assisted the NSA with the insertion of the first two keys, could be used to defeat the NSA's entire purpose in inserting the access keys to begin with.

Viewed in this context, the NSA's failure to prevent thumb drive access at the Hawaii site where Edward Snowden worked takes on greater significance: not only is the NSA engaged in massive and unconstitutional surveillance of communications and operating systems worldwide, it is also too incompetent to devise methods that prevent the subversion of its programs. Moreover, when you consider that Edward Snowden clearly wanted to be known, his ability to procure classified information above his clearance on a thumb drive takes on an even more sinister significance: how many people working for the NSA who didn't want to be known managed to pull off the same feat, and what did they do with the information they procured?

The omission of historical context is particularly damaging to the public’s ability to understand that the NSA has been engaged in this sort of comprehensive surveillance of communication from its inception, regardless of whether or not the people engaged in the communications are suspected of any wrongdoing.

Familiar Patterns

The media, corporate owned and operated, continues to report on the story as though the revelations are shocking, when in fact each subsequent revelation has a historical parallel that directly contradicts the narrative being foisted on the public.  PRISM is not a new practice of the NSA; the NSA developed and deployed ECHELON in the 1970s to accomplish the same purpose as PRISM.  Before ECHELON, there was Project SHAMROCK, a program designed to intercept and obtain copies of all telegraphic information entering and exiting the United States.

SHAMROCK was initiated in 1945, and involved the full cooperation of RCA, ITT, and Western Union, enabling the United States government to obtain microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegraphs.  In 1945, the model was already in place for a public-private partnership to subvert the Fourth Amendment's limitations on unreasonable search and seizure.  This model is not unique to the present day, nor is the notion that private business and government could or should act together to accumulate the communications of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

From the watch lists of Project MINARET to Projects RESISTANCE and MERRIMAC, in which the CIA and the Department of Defense monitored peace activists and opponents of the U.S. government's policies in Vietnam, the United States federal government has been engaged in an ongoing, illegal, and unconstitutional search and seizure dragnet of communications and information pertaining to the activities of Americans without regard for their involvement in illegal activity. Indeed, simply by opposing U.S. policies or voicing your disapproval of the federal government's actions, you can wind up on a watchlist, a no-fly list, and your communications can be intercepted and monitored without a warrant.  Even if you haven't engaged in activism or voiced your disapproval of government policies, your communications are still being intercepted and monitored.

The myth being constructed around Edward Snowden's whistleblowing, and the myth being built around the Bush Administration's expansion of surveillance post-9/11, is that the revelations reveal something unprecedented in our nation's history.  This is a lie.

The surveillance apparatus detailed by Edward Snowden, and reported on by various mainstream media outlets, dates back to at least 1945. For almost seven decades, the United States government has tried to intercept, collect, and analyze virtually every communication sent within and without its boundaries, and every communication that crosses its boundaries.  Telegraphs, phone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, and any other form of communication have been intercepted, collated, analyzed, and stored.

This is not unprecedented, nor is it new.  The model of public and private partnerships in surveillance between the United States government and private corporations and companies dates back to the inception of these massive surveillance programs.  The motivations are the same today as they were back then: money.  Whatever your opinion of the Vietnam War or our massive Cold War arms buildup may be, there is no denying that both were extraordinarily lucrative to private businesses and publicly traded corporations.

The myth that the NSA and the CIA are rogue agencies operating without authorization is a falsehood, because the FBI, a subsidiary agency of the Justice Department, knew about and partook in Operation MINARET.  The subsequent revelations of watchlists and surveillance were not a surprise to the Justice Department; its own law enforcement agencies were at the fore of the effort to surveil Americans for mere political activism.

Though Congress established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to provide a check on FBI and NSA surveillance, over a 20 year period, the FISC approved 9,999 applications for surveillance out of 10,000. The Reagan Administration withdrew the lone application that was unapproved.

While these surveillance powers are sold to the American public in the wake of terrorist attacks as necessary for security, the fact remains that the surveillance powers in questions were being exercised before the terrorist attacks in question.  These surveillance powers did not detect or prevent either the first World Trade Center bombing or the attacks of 9/11.  This is likely because the emphasis is not on preventing actual attacks that will result in lucrative payouts for private defense contractors; instead, the emphasis is centered on identifying and quelling internal political dissent that threatens those payouts to private contractors and publicly traded corporations.

Internal Activism Threatens the Bottom Line; Terrorism Grows the Bottom Line

Contractors have a vested interest in maintaining this status quo because it is extraordinarily lucrative.  But the issues run much deeper than mere cronyism in appropriations or purchases, because the public-private partnerships between the intelligence agencies and the private sector extend to excusing businesses from complying with accounting rules.  On May 5, 2006, President George W. Bush signed an innocuously titled memo, "Assignment of Function Relating to Granting of Authority for Issuance of Certain Directives: Memorandum for the Director of National Intelligence," wherein he assigned to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte his authority under the Securities Exchange Act to waive reporting requirements with respect to matters pertaining to the national security of the United States.

In other words, a publicly traded company could claim that national security justified its failure to keep accurate books, records, and accounts, and if the DNI had granted the waiver, then the publicly traded company would have no liability for cooking its books.  At the time Businessweek reported on the memo, the White House refused to say whether or not the DNI had granted any waivers.  The practice of using national security treatment for private sector issues continued into the Obama Administration, as Reuters revealed that the Federal Reserve and AIG requested that the terms of AIG's bailout be extended the same protections as matters of national security.  The confidentiality would keep the terms of the bailout from being revealed to the taxpayers, who were merely expected to pay for the bailout.

Security, as it were, depended largely on keeping taxpayers from knowing the full extent of the bailouts they were expected to fund.  National security also meant that taxpayers, many of whom were investing the stock market as shareholders to fund their retirements, could not expect the accounting reports of the companies they invested in to be in compliance with GAAP standards if the Director of National Intelligence had granted the companies in question a waiver.

In Pennsylvania, the head of that state's Department of Homeland Security James Powers made it very clear what he favored in an email in terms of security:

For Your Information & Situational Awareness
 Just a short note of clarification regarding the intent of the PIB. The information provided to you via the PIB is not for dissemination in the public domain. As indicated in the caveats on the first page, the PIB is solely meant for owners/operators & security personnel associated with our critical infrastructure & key resources.
Although an internet forum is certainly a great way to spread the word and receive input from forum participants, it's still in the public domain and thus be accessed by both pro and anti-natural gas drilling folks.
Please assist us in keeping the information provided in the PIB to those having a valid need-to-know; it should only be disseminated via closed communications systems.
Thanks for your support. We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.
James F. Powers, Jr. | Director
Office of Homeland Security
2605 Interstate Drive | Suite 380
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9382
717-651-2715 | Cell: 717-307-5335
The Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security saw its role as denying information to groups fomenting dissent while assisting the stakeholders of fracking companies.  Pennsylvania DHS was also engaged in the monitoring of local meetings about drilling ordinances in Cranberry County, zoning regulation hearings in Damascus, PA, and a movie screening of the documentary Gasland in Philadelphia.  It compiled confidential updates on these gatherings and meetings into the Pennsylvania Intelligence Newsletter, as part of its ongoing efforts to provide support to Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while undercutting groups fomenting dissent.

If you're in the fracking industry, even as an out of state corporation, the state of Pennsylvania will provide you a newsletter with dates and locations of key meetings for county and state regulatory bodies, along with information about the topics of the hearings.  The state will also use its Department of Homeland Security to monitor the activities of your political opponents, and compile information on the dates, locations, and nature of their meetings.  All of this information will be aggregated into a newsletter and sent to you directly, while your opponents will have to do their own legwork to monitor public hearings and uncover your political activity.

The state will tell fracking companies where and when their opposition intends to appear, and even give the companies summaries of activist literature.  Indeed, at the federal level, when fracking activist and documentarian Josh Fox showed up to record a congressional hearing entitled "Fractured Science: Examining the EPA's Approach to Groundwater Research: The Pavilion Analysis," Fox was arrested and taken out of the hearing in handcuffs.  Fox made multiple requests to receive permission to record at the hearing, but he never received a response.  The House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment held the hearing, which was planned as a response to an EPA report blaming fracking for contaminated drinking water in Pavilion, Wyoming.  Republican Representative Andy Harris, the chair of the subcommittee, did not want Fox to record the hearing, and so it was that Fox was first asked to leave and then arrested for refusing to leave a public, taxpayer-funded hearing on fracking.

The efforts go beyond the state level and rise to the federal level as well, because the federal Department of Homeland Security informed Senator Barbara Boxer that her Senate committee could not disclose the location of coal ash dumps around the country.  The reason? National security. With 44 sites identified as high hazard by the EPA, and several hundred coal ash sites around the country, all of which are unregulated, DHS insisted that publicizing the locations would potentially alert terrorists to targets.  That might be true, but it could also spur the local population to demand action to secure and clean the sites to prevent a recurrence of the coal ash spill in Tennessee, which was 100 times worse than the Exxon-Valdez spill and will cost over a billion dollars to clean up.

Your elected officials cannot discuss the location of pollution dumps in your backyard with you in the name of national security.  This has the handy consequence of stifling awareness, and limiting public outrage or activism to address the problem.  The companies responsible for the coal ash dumps maintain a status quo whereby their dumps are unregulated, and where the only time the public has notice of the danger is in the aftermath of a coal ash spill.  An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but it also costs the companies in question more money than they want to spend.

As a result, they go to the Department of Homeland Security, and get the same national security treatment as a bailed out insurer like AIG, or any publicly traded corporation seeking a waiver from the Director of National Intelligence to avoid complying with accounting rules.  Between the cost-plus government contracts, avoiding the cost of accounting rules, and national security classifications that short circuit public awareness and outrage over pollution, national security is worth billions in either revenue or savings to private corporations.  Public activism directly threatens those billions, by calling attention to the cost-plus contracts and the waste within, or by making local communities aware of potential ecological catastrophes in their areas, thereby spurring local residents to demand greater safeguards that cost more money for the corporation in question.

National security therefore becomes a blanket for activity that is detrimental to the security of local communities, who are unaware of the potential threat of pollution, or to ordinary investors, who aren't aware that the company they hold stock in has a national security waiver that enables it to fudge numbers on its accounting reports.  Should ordinary citizens rise up, against pollution, or against corruption and government waste, they will be monitored by their state's Department of Homeland Security, whose officials will compile information about their activities into newsletters provided to the very corporations those citizens are seeking to oppose, and the citizens' tax dollars will be used to fund it all.

The DHS apparatus, consisting of state- and federal-level DHS, and fusion centers that act as public-private monitoring centers for activity that is protected by the First Amendment, exists to identify, monitor, and thwart grassroots political activism.  Your opponents know when and where you meet, what you intend to do before you do it, and all of the information is provided to them in newsletters by the very agencies you fund with your tax dollars.  Should your elected officials take your side, they will find that their conversations are monitored as well.

Years ago, when Margaret Newsham claimed to have intercepted the phone call of Senator Strom Thurmond in real time, people scoffed.  But when Maryland congressman Michael Barnes related the story of reporters showing him transcripts of his phone calls, the idea of NSA surveillance of elected officials became more and more plausible.  The program that intercepted the phone calls of Thurmond and Barnes, ECHELON, was used to monitor the communications of Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and even a Christian missionary group.

23,000 members representing 350 Fortune 500 companies are in Infragard, working to compile intelligence for the FBI on their fellow citizens and they receive threat warnings even before elected officials do. Combined with the news of other public-private partnerships like PRISM, the implication is clear: the government is interested in benefiting stakeholders at the expense of those who foment dissent, because dissent is unprofitable and the status quo is lucrative.

The Evolving NSA Story

The NSA at first insisted that it only monitored metadata under PRISM.  It neglected to mention the documented history of intercepting phone calls under ECHELON, or the fact that it built backdoor access keys into every version of Windows after Windows 95 OS2.  The NSA further claimed that its surveillance was limited to international calls, where one participant was outside the United States. It now admits that it claims for itself the power to listen to phone calls without a warrant, regardless of whether or not the phone call involves domestic or international participants.

The NSA's surveillance capability, administered by 480,000 contractors with Top Secret clearance, and paired with the existence of various public-private initiatives, as well as state level Homeland Security departments that monitor the protected First Amendment activism of ordinary citizens, does not stop the Mumbai plots, or interdict underwear bombers, nor did it prevent the Boston Bombings or the Fort Hood shootings.

That's because the emphasis of surveillance isn't terrorism. Terrorism is ultimately good for business if you're a contractor.  At most, government might be held accountable, but government will also expected to do something.  Doing something means spending money.  The problem for a contractor, and also the ubiquitous incumbents that run our government, is domestic political activism.  This activism demands reduced spending, or at least more efficient and accountable spending, and it isn't compatible with the no-bid cost-plus contracting culture of Washington D.C. and various state capitols around the country.

For the government, increased surveillance enables greater spending. The Homeland Security fusion centers, the grants, the government contracts via the Pentagon, the outside contractors of the NSA, all sit at the trough waiting.

 While You Were Sleeping: Surveillance Creep

For many Americans, the revelations of PRISM seem disconcerting and somewhat shocking. The information blackout of earlier programs that predated PRISM like SHAMROCK and ECHELON, both of which mirrored PRISM in their emphasis on collecting all communications, regardless of probable cause or suspicion of wrongdoing, has been pervasive.  What Americans do not realize is that they live in a totalitarian society, and that they have been living in a totalitarian society for nearly seven decades.  All of their communications are intercepted, compiled, analyzed, and stored.

The 2,000 companies who provide 480,000 contractors with Top Secret clearances are owned by shareholders and hedge funds who do not much care about Al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda can't vote; its operatives have successfully carried out fewer than ten attacks against U.S. interests in the past twenty years.  Al Qaeda doesn't protest in the streets against corruption or money in politics, nor does it attempt to organize to effectuate change through the political process. The Tea Party and hundreds of progressive groups do just that.

The surveillance apparatus of the NSA has traditionally been directed inward at law-abiding citizens who mobilize politically against wars, corporate bailouts, wasteful spending, subsidies, cronyism, corruption, and other practices that financially enrich the very corporate partners the government exchanges intelligence with in return for access.  Those same companies in turn provide the government with information that circumvents the Fourth Amendment through public-private partnerships where the companies themselves surveil and monitor the communications and online activities of their customers.

The story of this partnership begins in 1997, with FBI agent Dan Larkin, who set up a non-profit in Pittsburgh to "[function] as a conduit between private industry and law enforcement." The members of the partnership, consisting of banks, ISPs, telecommunications companies, pharmaceutical companies, and others, hand over information to the non-profit, the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), in order to avoid the legal obstacles to sharing the information directly with the FBI.  The FBI itself has an entire unit, the Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, located in the NCFTA's office.

The NCFTA shares information about servers, IP addresses, or content from emails that the private companies see in their networks.  The information is supposedly purged of the names and addresses of those linked to the servers, IP addresses, and emails before it is passed on to the FBI.

NCFTA is just one of a series of government initiatives designed to facilitate the sharing of customer information and activity among public and private entities, along with the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), established by Presidential Decision Directive 63 (PPD-63), which defined eight industries critical to the national economy.  Within those eight industries, the ISACs serve as information clearinghouses for the companies within those industries.  The shared information is then aggregated among the ISACs, ostensibly to promote better understanding of cross industry concerns.

The year before Dan Larkin started up the NCFTA 501(c)(6) in Pittsburgh, the FBI set up Infragard out of its Cleveland, Ohio office.  Infragard is different than the NCFTA and the ISACs in that it is open U.S. citizens at no cost, and its focus has broadened from information technology to activities involving what the FBI deems as critical infrastructure.  Infragard is a means for the FBI to ensure that even if the corporate partners of the NCFTA don't share information, their individual employees can.  It includes representatives from private industry, the academic community, and the public sector, but any U.S. citizen can join.

Between the individual membership of Infragard, and the corporate membership of the NCFTA and the ISACs, information aggregation and dissemination amongst the public and private sectors is rampant. Add in the NSA's covert surveillance, with its comprehensive reach to wiretapping of actual conversations and the metadata thereof, and there is virtually nothing in the way of private communication that is free of government scrutiny.

In this ubiquitous surveillance state, the question then turns to how any terrorist activity can go undetected, and how any terrorist plot can continue to fulfillment.  The answer is simple: terrorism is profitable.  In the aftermath of 9/11, corporations made trillions.  Terrorism is compatible with the corporate interest in that it creates a political environment more conducive to the needs of corporations in terms of suspended civil liberties.

“I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.
  -Edward Snowden

Maintaining a Status Quo

From September 11, 2001, to the present day, the United States spent $791 billion on Homeland Security, according to a report by the National Priorities Project.  That $791 billion represents a huge source of revenue to the corporations who win contracts to provide services, equipment, and expertise for governments.  One particular contract, a $103,000 no-bid contract awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security in 2009 to the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITTR), drew scrutiny when it was revealed that ITTR was accumulating intelligence on Tea Party protesters, pro-life activists, and anti-fracking environmental organizations. In other words, if you were an unarmed political organization taking steps to change the political realities of this country, you were subject the surveillance of a Homeland Security contractor, whose employees provided thrice-weekly bulletins on how your activities were a threat to the state's critical infrastructure.

As Adam Federman of The Investigative Fund put it in his piece "Is Homeland Security Spying on You?":
"The state's Department of Homeland Security was essentially providing intelligence to the natural gas industry about their detractors. And Pennsylvania taxpayers were footing the bill."
A state's critical infrastructure consists of the contracts the state provides over the objections of taxpayers and politically active citizens, many of whom want to end no-bid contracts and crony capitalist arrangements that are extremely lucrative to private business.  Put simply, if the Tea Party has its way, government spending will be drastically reduced.  If government spending is drastically reduced, then private corporations have to find new business elsewhere to make up for the loss of a portion of reduced Homeland Security spending, or Medicare and Medicaid spending, or defense spending.

Government spending at all levels consumes 40% of our Gross Domestic Product, or almost half of everything we produce in an average year.  This does not include the extensive costs of government regulation at all levels of the economy, which would easily push the impact of government to half of GDP.

Citizens' groups like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, along with grassroots activists linked to any number of specialized causes like fracking or pacifism, present a greater threat to the bottom line of the private sector than any terrorist organization ever will.  When terrorism achieves its objectives, the political environment that results makes greater spending possible at all levels of government.  Even when you exclude the costs of the Global War on Terror, the Department of Defense almost doubled its spending from 2001 to 2011.

That spending goes directly into the coffers of defense contractors who benefit from the lack of cost controls at the Pentagon, because the Pentagon cannot effectively audit its spending.  According to the United States Senate Budget Committee's 1990 Department of Defense Spare Parts Management Report, the net result of this lack of accounting control is an environment where contractors can sell the Department of Defense 53,268 duplicates of a machine tool for the F-14 that needs to be replaced at a rate of four times a year.  That's 13,317 years worth of tools.

Considering that the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and various other advocacy groups rightly criticize the waste in Washington as corporate welfare, it becomes apparent that the bigger threat to a contractor's bottom line is the citizenry whose tax payments are plundered in order to fund such waste.  While a contractor is virtually assured of vast profits in the wake of a terrorist attack, if the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street were ever to make inroads in either major political party, or if either major political party began to actually heed the calls of the two groups for greater transparency and fiscal accountability, contractors would lose those profits. You can't sell over 13,000 years worth of duplicate tools for the F-14 in an environment of fiscal transparency and political accountability.

You also cannot engage in $29 trillion bailouts for the financial sector, and portray them up front as $800 billion TARP bailouts.  You can’t provide vast amounts of subsidized support in drastically reduced borrowing costs for private banks, or enable them to manipulate the LIBOR to pad their bottom lines.  The NSA’s surveillance state doesn’t catch the likes of David Headley or Najibullah Zazi, but it does enable the corporate contractors who administer it to monitor the real-time communications of elected officials and activists seeking to change the rules of their game.

No NSA surveillance will ever prevent the recurrence of a financial crisis by catching the bad actors overleveraging their institutions before the institutions collapse.  NSA and Homeland Security surveillance is directed at Americans unsuspected of wrongdoing precisely because their activity, protected as it is by the First Amendment, threatens to up-end the status quo, a status quo that is reinforced by terrorism and the emergence of foreign boogeyman regimes.

Those citizens believe that their government should be responsive to their needs and democratic will. Americans think their elected officials should tell them that a coal ash dump is located in their backyard, and force the owners of that dump to ensure that it is maintained for safety in order to minimize the risk of a hazardous spill.  Americans don’t believe that they should be kept in the dark about such information, which can affect their property values and safety.

Americans especially don’t believe that a company receiving taxpayer dollars should be able to keep the terms of its bailout secret in the name of national security.  They generally don’t agree with having their Tea Party meetings, or their Occupy Wall Street gatherings, monitored by a public-private partnership between their elected government and the very banks and corporations who siphon off tax dollars in wasteful spending and bailouts.

At every level, the motivation for the surveillance, be it ECHELON, PRISM, Infragard, the NCFTA, or the Homeland Security Fusion Centers is economic.  The success of the Tea Party will mean that government spending is drastically reduced, and the role of the federal government is scaled back.  The success of Occupy Wall Street means that spending priorities will be reoriented.

A successful terrorist attack, or a homegrown terrorist attack that grows out of an FBI sting operation, means that consent can be manufactured to even greater amounts of spending.  The economic implications alone are the reason legal communications need to be subject to surveillance.  Just as the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security provides intelligence on fracking opponents to Marcellus Shale stakeholders, our government and its contractors collude to gain and distribute intelligence on the political opposition threatening to upend the status quo.   This surveillance extends not just to ordinary citizens engaged in activism, but also to elected officials who might consider going along with the proposed changes.

The why in the spy is obvious: the status quo is extremely profitable, and any communication, but especially those of citizens who want to change the status quo, is valuable intelligence for the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.  The fact that the communications aren’t criminal does not matter.  The fact that the First and Fourth Amendments protect the communications does not matter.  All that matters is the money, and if the profit of private corporations is threatened by the success of activists, then the communications should be intercepted, analyzed, and stored.

The value of knowing your political opposition’s strategies, meeting times, and contacts with elected officials cannot be overstated.  Knowing their innermost secrets, from the pornography they procure to the affairs they have, along with the innermost secrets of the elected officials they appeal to, is valuable intelligence that can be exploited to direct outcomes.  That’s why PRISM and other surveillance programs catch non-criminal communications and activities, while failing to identify the threats of David Headley, Major Nidal Hassan, and the Boston Bombers in time to prevent issue.

The emphasis is on money.  Headley, Hassan, and the Boston Bombers lead to more money.  The Tea Party and the Occupy Movements, along with the environmental groups opposing fracking, lead to less money.  That’s the why in the spy.