Sunday, July 21, 2013

Delaware's Fusion Center [DIAC]: More on Big Brother

Sometimes we all laugh (a bit nervously perhaps) at the idea that Google eventually wants to have access to every piece of information on Earth.

We should not be laughing, however, at the intention of the Delaware Information Analysis Center (1575 McKee Road, Dover) to eventually have access to every piece of information about Delaware.

It is a lot closer to happening than you think.

For example, as I have covered here before, the DIAC offered a mobile app available for you to download that would allow you to report the "suspicious" behavior of your friends and neighbors in realtime, but which also did oh so much more:
After installation of the app, the fusion center can manipulate the camera application on a phone whenever it is running, allowing it "at any time to collect images the camera is seeing." The app can also tell the fusion center exactly where you are at all times, because by downloading it you've given it permission to monitor your GPS location through your phone. 
--snip-- 
But that's not all. The Delaware fusion center can monitor the metadata for all incoming and outgoing calls on phones that contain the snitch application. Google says the operators "can determine the phone number and serial number of [the] phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like." Just like your location information, who you talk to reveals a lot about you.
This app may have been withdrawn from active circulation as it is not mentioned on the DIAC website.   But the existence of this app is indicative of the method of operations employed by our own fusion center to provide itself the capability to spy on our citizens.

(PS as you might suspect, the DIAC website plants an inordinate number of cookies on your computer when you visit it, so if you do you would certainly want to take the step of immediately expunging cookies from your browser thereafter.)

What information does DIAC collect?  That's difficult to tell, because the DIAC privacy policy (which is, ironically, more designed to protect DIAC's privacy, not yours) allows it to lie to you:


The DIAC shall not confirm the existence or nonexistence of information to any person or agency that would not be eligible to receive the information itself.

How much does DIAC spend to collect the data it won't tell you about?  That's also difficult to tell, as I have already reported, because the DIAC budget is not a separate line item in the State of Delaware budget.  But according to DIAC's own public reports, the General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee DOES receive detailed reports on this topic:

State executives were informed of the success of this initiative at our annual Joint Finance Presentation. Additionally, while members of the legislative body do not have on-line access to this data, statistical information is available to them via a phone call to DELJIS.
Note also that state legislators all have greater access to some information at DIAC than you do.  When was the last time you heard your state legislator talk about this?

So since your Representative and Senator are not very forthcoming with this information, let's see what we can learn via public sources.

(By the way, one of the things we can learn--the hound that did not bark--is that NO Delaware news source except this tiny little blog has EVER run an investigative piece on what DIAC does.  Go ahead. Search the archives.  NOBODY.  Nothing to see here at 1575 McKee Road in Dover, move on please.  And, oh, by the way, please do not take pictures.  Taking pictures of the building is considered by the State of Delaware to be the first of the seven sign of terrorism, and conceivably merits action against you.)

First, we have to note this often recurring phrase among boiler-plate descriptions of the DIAC:

The Delaware Information and Analysis Center is an all crimes and all hazard fusion center.
This sentence is quite meaningful.  The original motivation for creating fusion centers like DIAC was, after 9/11, supposed to be the failure of the US intelligence community to "connect the dots" about the Al Qaeda plans to seize airliners and turn them into flying bombs.  But the counter-terrorism approach to soaking funds out of the Federal and State governments did not, ultimately, yield enough money to keep law enforcement agencies happy, and so the creep began toward an "all hazards" and then an "all crimes" approach.

"All hazards" means collecting data about anything from snowstorms and hurricanes to avian flu or fringe non-violent political groups.  In other words, mission creep led quickly (in less than a decade) to the idea "intelligence led policing" should have access to as much of your information as possible, in advance, in order to "keep society safe."  Then the "all crimes" approach led to the idea that not only should this information be instantly available within DIAC and shared with the FBI or the Department of Justice, but that it should be shared with the twenty-two-year-old Greenwood cop giving you a speeding ticket or Delaware's corporate community.  As a recent major study put it:


You have to realize as you read this stuff that we are strictly limited to reading "pro" DIAC, "pro" fusion center, "pro" government sources, and it is therefore important to red them against themselves.

Go back and read that paragraph as if it had been written by George Orwell and you will begin to see some of the implications.

For example, DIAC now has a "public health representative" on board.  This opens up whole new vistas for intrusive data-gathering about your activities, as you will remember that a few years ago the medical community went on a big push to declare gun ownership and gun violence to be a "public health issue."

For example, recognizing that much of the work of the FBI and the rest of the Intelligence Community are within a classified information environment, I have offered every Police Chief in Delaware the opportunity to apply for a SECRET security clearance. This is a vital part of our local information sharing strategy because every month, we bring in all the cleared Chiefs and provide a classified threat briefing, including: (1) timely Homeland threat reporting; (2) threat trend analysis; (3) information about specific terrorist groups and extremist activities; and (4) current investigations of the Baltimore JTTF.  
Now there is a reasonable question to be raised here by my more statist-inclined friends, which is how I could possibly object to law enforcement activities designed to make me and my family safer from crazed terrorists or AR-15-armed loons preparing to shoot up our schools.

There are two answers here, one pragmatic and one philosophical, both of which we well be exploring in more depth in the near future:

1.  Is there (or has there been) a credible terrorist threat in Delaware that justifies the spending of uncounted millions on this endeavor?  I have to call them uncounted millions until such time as the General Assembly actually grows a pair and demands that the DIAC budget be reported as a separate line item.  But, as we will see in a future post, even DIAC does not claim that any of its major achievements (or even minor ones) have involved terrorism.

In fact, what you are going to read about when we get down to what they do claim, is a mundane story of fighting snowstorms, white collar mortgage fraud, gun violence in Wilmington (quite unsuccessfully), private-sector industrial espionage, and busting common drug dealers.

So the answer to Number 1 (as near as any outsider can tell) is a resounding NO.

2.  In a free society how much authority to gather and maintain information on American citizens without any civilian oversight whatever, should be handed to law enforcement and the military?  Can I justify that statement "without any civilian oversight whatever" with respect to the DIAC?  Yes, I believe I will be able to do so.   Moreover, I believe a reasonable prima facie case is there to be made that there are entire entities and individuals who--unlike you or me--are relatively immune to the prying eyes of DIAC and its consorts.  Orwell again:  All of the animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Here's your teaser for upcoming posts:

Reading between the lines in an almost-candid interview with Delaware's Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lewis J. Schiliro ...

Who is Lt. William Crotty and who works with him at DIAC?

How can we know that DIAC is far less interested in terrorism than the State of Delaware would have you believe?



4 comments:

delacrat said...

"
1. Is there (or has there been) a credible terrorist threat in Delaware that justifies the spending of uncounted millions on this endeavor?"


For example, the New Castle County Courthouse shooting Feb 11, 2013.

Evidently, DIAC does not have the capability to see something like that coming.

Neither did the NSA pick up on the Boston Marathon bombers or the Sandy Hook school shooter.

If these organizations are evidently useless for intercepting serious threats, why have them ?

Anonymous said...

I came across this web site. Check out the chart showing the retention Delaware Department of Homeland Security. New Castle County also makes the lits.



http://rt.com/usa/aclu-license-plate-surveillance-216/

DANIEL E. SHAFFER JR. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Newton said...

Daniel

The comment is not applicable to this blog post. You know where you are permitted to post this stuff.

Do you really think attacking me is going to make me more interested in your cause?