Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pentagon Spying On Americans. AGAIN.

See, THIS is thinking outside the box. If stupid old Congress makes it difficult for the CIA to spy on America's citizens, then you bypass the CIA and instead assign the Military to spy on America's citizens. You know, that same Military which is oh, so hard-pressed in Iraq. Hey! Looks like I found a few surplus units that aren't doing jack shit and can be instead rotated into the Meat Grinder!

Support Our Troops? Not when the motherfuckers are spying on us, we shouldn't.

Military Expands Intelligence Role in U.S.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say.

The F.B.I., the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, provoking criticism and court challenges from civil liberties advocates who see them as unjustified intrusions into Americans’ private lives.

But it was not previously known, even to some senior counterterrorism officials, that the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have been using their own “noncompulsory” versions of the letters. Congress has rejected several attempts by the two agencies since 2001 for authority to issue mandatory letters, in part because of concerns about the dangers of expanding their role in domestic spying.
Oh, Don't Worry, Vice-President Cheney says it's not illegal for him to spy on you for being against Halliburton's his war:
Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday the Pentagon and CIA are not violating people's rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage in the United States.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel will be the judge of that.

National security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terrorism and spy investigations without a judge's approval or grand jury subpoena.

"The Defense Department gets involved because we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets," Cheney said.

"The Department of Defense has legitimate authority in this area. This is an authority that goes back three or four decades. It was reaffirmed in the Patriot Act," he said. "It's perfectly legitimate activity. There's nothing wrong with it or illegal. It doesn't violate people's civil rights."
This entire issue brings a few things to mind. Firstly, a personal note; I first heard of this entire Pentagon-Is-Spying-On-Americans issue a few months ago when I was in Florida, giving a book reading/slideshow at the Wolfsonian Museum. As I mentioned in my blog at the time, there was a creep with a crew-cut in the audience taking notes on a clipboard the entire time. When my talk was over, I ran into him in the hall and asked if he enjoyed the speech and joked that I hoped he didn't work at the Department of Homeland Security. He replied "See you at Gitmo, kid." Gitmo, of course, being mil-speak for our Gulag at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. The next day there was a report on the radio about the Pentagon's increased spying on anti-war groups and rallies and things sorta fell into place about my odd museum notes-taker.

Having that guy in the audience made me feel creepy. Which it was obviously intended to do as a means of chilling debate and complaint about Beloved Leader Bush's stupid war. Several of the other museum guests complained to me at the book signing after the night's slideshow about Crewcut Clipboard... ALL of them (and we're talking mostly about elderly men & women 50+ who were docents and benefactors of the Museum, mostly) pegged the mid-40's crewcut guy as DHS. Ooops, turns out we were all wrong, he's Pentagon.

That's the personal side, though. On a Macro level this turn by the Pentagon is highly alarming because the fact is that in the entire history of Mankind, whenever a country's military has been turned into a domestic spying force, it has become a dangerously brutal force for repression of the population and extension of the privileges of the Wealthy and Powerful. Nazi Germany, East Germany, the Soviet Union, Spain, Italy, Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Chile... mankind's history is littered with so-called civilized countries whose leaders turned the military into an apparatus for oppressing their people... it ALWAYS starts with spying on them. Only after digging up "suspicious" materials do the killings begin.

So what's Bush's end-game here? Because from the seat of History, it looks rather sinister.