Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA recently reported on drones equipped with facial recognition technology that could some day be used to monitor the population and scan for behavior or individuals deemed suspicious by authorities. Almost as disturbing as the implications of the technology is the scripted presentation in which the news anchors do nothing to raise the alarm of surveillance abuses in the midst of Snowden's NSA revelations, and instead normalize the "freakiness" of having one's face captured and being put "in the system." In the end the anchors conclude that the development of this surveillance state technology is "fascinating" and "really cool stuff." Clearly the interests that are working through this station are attempting to downplay any legitimate fears one might have from witnessing these kinds of capabilities in order to get the populace to accept constant monitoring by the State. The only question that remains is will this technology come into full implementation before the environmental and economic meltdown get into full swing? Indeed, the mantra, it's okay to have my privacy shredded because I haven't done anything wrong, will be meaningless when the true purpose of the control grid becomes apparent in the midst of an inevitable backlash from a corporate government led destabilization of the systems we have come to depend on for our lives.
Yet a 2012 article from Popular Science revealed the disturbing surveillance related ambitions of
deputy executive director of national air-security operations for the Office of Air and Marine (OAM), Kenneth Knight, whose position within US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, organizationally nested within the Department of Homeland Security) afforded him the ability to begin putting into place some big dreams. Knight was helping to lay the groundwork for what in 2005 had come to be known as the Big Pipe, a gestating total surveillance grid that will move far beyond watching the borders by linking together networks of stationary cameras and aerial surveillance, and stream the footage to "fusion centers," creating the ability to seamlessly pass targets between camera networks, and closing gaps in covert monitoring capabilities. According to the article,
[Knight ] was targeting a much larger domain: the national air radar picture and the coastal marine surface radar picture, not just the surveillance cameras in the ports and along the border but also the surveillance cameras in metropolitan areas—airports, train stations, on the side of buildings, anywhere—such that the theater of operations was expanded to the widest possible extent. This broad spectrum of surveillance was really what Knight had in mind when he told me about total domain awareness, an operating picture that encompassed pretty much the entire country. Total domain awareness meant the ability to apply these tools, at will and as needed, anywhere in the U.S.
Then in January 2013, PBS aired a documentary, Rise of the Drones, widely criticized on the blogosphere for its propagandistic slant and its Lockheed Martin underwriting. The documentary revealed that the new 1.8 gigapixel Argus surveillance video camera, when mounted on a Predator drone from 20,000 feet in the air, can broadly monitor at least a fifteen square mile area, and then zoom in and film movements like waving hands or birds in flight. It's "persistent stare" will potentially be lengthened in the future, with plans for drones that can stay aloft for years at a time. Argus developer and British based BAE Systems engineer Yiannis Antoniades seems to relish his access to privileged information surrounding Argus, a fitting disposition for the creator of a flying surveillance machine arrogantly named for the Greek hundred eyed god. Although its deployment remains classified, such an invention would fit well into an evolving "Big Pipe" system, within a governmental apparatus that flouts rules or invents new ones to circumvent laws like Posse-Commitatus and so-called Constitutional protections.
In 2011 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Director of the Northern Region Office of Air and Marine, (OAM) John S. Beutlich, talked about one of the Operational Integration Centers (fusion centers) being set up in the country in order to better streamline surveillance and intelligence sharing capabilities at varying levels of law enforcement.
CBP has also established the Operational Integration Center (OIC) located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, Michigan. The OIC is a demonstration project, involving the application of personnel and technology to enhance border security and situational awareness for CBP and its mission partners in the Detroit region, a critical area of the northern border. In terms of personnel, the OIC allows for a collaborative work area and communications capabilities for all components of CBP, USCG, other DHS organizations, federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, the RCMP and CBSA.
Beutlich then fleshed out in a little more detail, just how the"Big Pipe" is coming together, and how it might make the data collected through mass surveillance more accessible to law enforcement.
In 2005, CBP created a robust information sharing environment known as “BigPipe,” which links equipped CBP aviation assets and information sharing protocols to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies to provide near-real time video and sensor data—enhancing situational awareness for officers and rescue personnel across the public safety community. BigPipe is also used by numerous federal, state, local and tribal agencies during warrant presentations, controlled deliveries, search and rescue and surveillance operations. Earlier this year, live video information streamed via Big Pipe was used to enable FEMA Rapid Needs Analysis (RNA) teams to quickly determine the condition of levees during the flooding that occurred in the Mississippi River Valley.
People often react to the increasingly pervasive surveillance state with the notion that if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. As I have said before, and will continue to say, these systems of extreme tracking and intrusion, down to the level of traffic cameras, will serve as a means to control large uprisings, when the deterioration of the economy and the environment accelerates under the weight of high level, government enabled, criminal activities. It's interesting to note that the term blue force tracking is actually military parlance for GPS systems that keep tabs on friendly forces, which are pictured in blue (and enemy forces, pictured in red). With 1.8 gigapixel clarity, we see again the way in which the NORTHCOM operational United States is increasingly being viewed through the lens of a tightly surveilled war zone.