“The notorious Lincoln Group, which is an unofficial organ of the Department of Defense and was created solely to plant official lies in both foreign and domestic media outlets, is not the only “non-official” agency used by the Bush Administration for close observation and eventual control of the American public. The United States is crammed full of “think tanks,” “research institutes,” “credit information agencies,” “medical data bases,” and on an on, all euphemisms for gathers of information on the American public, businesses whose secrets can be mined and given, or sold, to other Administration-supporting businesses worthy of government rewards, information on all US/overseas banking and money transfers, diplomatic communications foreign governments and businesses, individuals and organizations that are termed as being “hostile, or potentially hostile, to government entities and/or individuals.”
In the aggregate, these organizations can, and certainly do, supply information on any citizen of the United States and many foreign ones, especially those in foreign governments and business. Although you will never see their names connected with such activities, saving on internet blogs, there certainly exists, and I have had access to, thick rosters of such organizations, their leadership, their abilities to gather specific information in specific areas and contact points inside each and every entity, as well as payment rates for the acquisition of information. None of these companies exist as charities after all.
I should note that nearly all of these organization, without fail, are staffed with former, and sometimes current, individuals with a background in government investigative activities like the FBI, the NSA, the CIA and the many intrusive and secret branched of the Department of Defense’s Domestic Surveillance systems. Because of this, the government can tap into a huge mine of personal, business and economic data on any American citizen that they wish. Not even minor children are exempt from this universal pool. School and medical records are at their fingertips as are juvenile records, (supposedly sealed by the courts but in fact open at will to these paid spies) school records, work and bank account activities., divorce records, local credit bureau files, your complete medical records, samples of your DNA, anonymous accusations contained in local and federal investigative files (allegations that have never been substantiated) any and all credit information to include travel or purchases of any kind, any and all bank records, both corporate and personal, to include the presence of safe deposit boxes, saving accounts and complete records of all deposits and withdrawals (to include copies of checks) and a legion of other material that most people think is private. Think again. In Bush’s America, there is no such thing as privacy.
We have seen how telephone system giants, SBC, Verizon and ATT willingly, even eagerly, supplied the NSA (whose former head at the time of this, General Hayden, now wants to run the CIA) any and all telephone records of their subscribers. Note that it was not necessary for Hayden’s people to obtain warrants for this, as the law requires them to do. When the firestorm began over the wholesale spying by the NSA, that organization’s spokesman said “Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide. However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law.” They most certainly do not as should be obvious to anyone not a practicing Republican.
These huge telecommunications firms volunteered to supply this material. In the world of the internet and computers, the giant AOL similarly volunteered to permit government agents entry to their facilities for the sole purpose of spying on their subscribers. Only Google in the computer world and Qwest in the telephone world refused to cooperate in the absence of proper legal permission. This Hayden would not provide because he was working under specific Presidential orders and did not feel the necessity of obeying well-established Federal law.
It might be instructive to many Americans to learn more about this invasive Gestapo/KGB behavior and at the end of this study, we have some interesting news that will hearten the victims and depress the oppressors.
Since the subject of clandestine private and public espionage on American citizens is now of great interest, I am making an in-depth study of how this is done and, most especially, by whom. The cooperation of three large telephone companies and at least two major computer servers has been mentioned before, and will be mentioned in detail again, but now we will look at what are called “Data Miners,” or firms that collect all manner of information on Americans and then give, or in many cases, sell it to government agencies that cannot, by law, collect such information themselves.
In the United States today, the top collector and disseminator of highly personal information to include DNA data, is called ChoicePoint. This company, as of May 1, 2006, has amassed over 17 billion files on American citizens. This entity was formed in 1997, is based in Alpharetta, Georgia and its stated purpose is to provide what its corporate site states are “Identification and credential verification services”. It obtains and sells to more than 50,000 businesses the personal information of consumers, including their names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, employment information, and credit histories. ChoicePoint employs 4,600 persons at its 52 locations within 26 states. ChoicePoint maintains a database of names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit reports, and other sensitive information. And its stated intention is to build a database of DNA samples from every person in the United States which ChoicePoint then will link to all the other personal information files Its chief operating officers are: Derek V. Smith, CEO,Douglas C. Curling, President/COO, Steven W. Surbaugh, CFO, J. Michael de Janes, Gen. Counsel and David T. Lee, Exec. VP
ChoicePoint is the most important provider of DNA info to the FBI. Its DNA laboratory aided in the identification of victims of the WTC attacks, and data supplied by ChoicePoint was used in the Beltway Snipers investigation. Choicepoint also assisted the Transportation Security Administration in investigating 112,278 applicants. The US Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children credit the corporation with assisting in the return of ~800 missing children . It also contracts with over 7,500 state and local government agencies, including law enforcement and has complete files on the voting records of all Americans. In 2002, ChoicePoint generated earnings of ~200 million USD on revenue of ~791 million USD. In total, ChoicePoint has received over one billion dollars from its cooperation with U.S. governmental agencies.
Its rise to the position of being the formost possessor and disseminator of billions of files on Americans voting, health, criminal, ownership of property and banking information has not always been without problems
Consumer data broker ChoicePoint, Inc., which last year acknowledged that the personal financial records of more than 163,000 consumers in its database had been compromised, had to pay $10 million in civil penalties and $5 million in consumer redress to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its security and record-handling procedures violated consumers’ privacy rights and federal laws. The settlement required ChoicePoint to implement new procedures to ensure that it provides consumer reports only to legitimate businesses for lawful purposes, to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, and to obtain audits by an independent third-party security professional every other year until 2026.
The FTC alleged that ChoicePoint did not have reasonable procedures to screen prospective subscribers, and turned over consumers’ sensitive personal information to subscribers whose applications raised obvious “red flags.” Indeed, the FTC alleged that ChoicePoint approved as customers, individuals who lied about their credentials and used commercial mail drops as business addresses. In addition, ChoicePoint applicants reportedly used fax machines at public commercial locations to send multiple applications for purportedly separate companies.
According to the FTC, ChoicePoint failed to tighten its application approval procedures or monitor subscribers even after receiving subpoenas from law enforcement authorities alerting it to fraudulent activity going back to 2001.
The FTC charged that ChoicePoint violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by furnishing consumer reports – credit histories – to subscribers who did not have a permissible purpose to obtain them, and by failing to maintain reasonable procedures to verify both their identities and how they intended to use the information.
The agency also charged that ChoicePoint violated the FTC Act by making false and misleading statements about its privacy policies. ChoicePoint had publicized privacy principles that address the confidentiality and security of personal information it collects and maintains with statements such as, “ChoicePoint allows access to your consumer reports only by those authorized under the FCRA . . . ” and “Every ChoicePoint customer must successfully complete a rigorous credentialing process. ChoicePoint does not distribute information to the general public and monitors the use of its public record information to ensure appropriate use.”
The stipulated final judgment and order required ChoicePoint to pay $10 million in civil penalties – the largest civil penalty in FTC history – and to provide $5 million for consumer redress. It barred the company from furnishing consumer reports to people who do not have a permissible purpose to receive them and requires the company to establish and maintain reasonable procedures to ensure that consumer reports are provided only to those with a permissible purpose. U.S. government agencies are considered to be ones with a permissible purpose. ChoicePoint is now required to verify the identity of businesses that apply to receive consumer reports, including making site visits to certain business premises and auditing subscribers’ use of consumer reports.
The order requires ChoicePoint to establish, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program designed to protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of the personal information it collects from or about consumers. It also requires ChoicePoint to obtain, every two years for the next 20 years, an audit from a qualified, independent, third-party professional to ensure that its security program meets the standards of the order. ChoicePoint will be subject to standard record-keeping and reporting provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance. Finally, the settlement bars future violations of the FCRA and the FTC Act.
And, among other similar problems, ChoicePoint was fired by the Illinois State Police because the company had supplied faked DNA results on Illinois rape cases In January 2000, Pennsylvania terminated its contract with ChoicePoint after alleging that the firm had illegally sold citizens’ personal information.
Like Diebold, the voting machine company, ChoicePoint has been, and is, staunchly Republican, and as a case in point, they became heavily involved in Florida politics, being especially aggressive in the 2000 Presidential campaign. Earlier, in 1998 the state of Florida signed a 4 million dollar contract with Database Technologies (DBT Online), which later was merged into ChoicePoint, for the purposes of providing a central voter file listing those barred from voting. As of 2002, Florida was the only state that hired a private firm for these purposes. Prior to contracting with Database Technologies, Florida contracted with a smaller operator for 5,700 dollars per year. The state of Florida contracted with DBT in November 1998, following the controversial Miami mayoral race of 1997. The 1998 contracting process involved no bidding and was worth 2,317,800 dollars.
ChoicePoint has been criticized for knowingly using inaccurate data, and for racial discrimination. Allegations include listing voters as felons for alleged crimes said to have been committed several years in the future. In addition, people who had been convicted of a felony in a different state and had their rights restored by said state, were not allowed to vote despite the restoration of their rights. (One should note Schlenther v. Florida Department of State [June 1998] which ruled that Florida could not prevent a man convicted of a felony in Connecticut, where his civil rights had not been lost, from exercising his civil rights elsewhere) Furthermore, it is argued that people were listed as felons based on a coincidence of names, despite other data (such as date of birth) which showed that the criminal record did not apply to the voter in question
This firm cooperated with Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Florida Elections Unit Chief Clay Roberts, in a conspiracy of voter fraud, involving the central voter file, during the US Presidential Election of 2000. The allegations charge that 57,700 people (15% of the list), primarily Democrats of African-American and Hispanic descent, were incorrectly listed as felons and thus barred from voting
ChoicePoint Vice President Martin Fagan has admitted that at least 8,000 names were incorrectly listed in this fashion when the company passed on a list given by the state of Texas, these 8,000 names were removed prior to the election. Fagan has described the error as a “minor glitch”. ChoicePoint, as a matter of policy, does not verify the accuracy of its data and argues that it is the user’s responsibility to verify accuracy.
There appears to be an antidote to all of this intense governmental spying, and data compilation and storage, on its generally completely innocent citizens. Unfortunately, is would seem that the cure is worse than the disease.
There have been persistant and growing rumors inside the Beltway, mostly in the technical set, that about two and a half years ago, one, or several, young computer experts concocted what is called a Trojan Horse. The only such thing I knew such a thing about was written up by Homer but it appears that this is a computer program that oblitrates it host when instructed to do so. As I understand this particular virus, again from rumor, it is so disguised that it is not detectable by any known scanning system, including the super-sophisticated ones used by certain very secret agencies like the NSA. When the device is triggered, in all probability by a series of words and/or numbers, a timer built into the system is activated and then on a predetermined day and time, it is activated and completely obliterates the host computer’s harddrive. Any and all data, programs, files, commands and systems in the stricken computer vanish into Never-Never land and cannot be rertreived. Also, backup discs and other systems are subject to destruction if they are reactivated on a computer system that might have undetectable remains of the virus and are subject to total or partial obliteration.
When I heard this, I thought it was some kind of a nut story, so beloved by the dimwitted bloggers but I asked a number of genuine computer experts and all, without exception, advised me that this was an entirely valid scenario; that such a disguised virus could not only be implanted into a computer but would automatically infect any other computer system that had interfaced with the infected one. Given the lapse of time since this was apparently started, there is, I have been told, no reason why it could not infect every computer system, internet server, and personal computer in the world, ranging from the harmless home computer to the massive NSA and international banking systems. The prognosis? If it happened, systems would crash into oblivion in the order in which they had been infected. Since the world runs on computers, the chaos would be awful to contemplate and it would, two experts told me, take between three to five years to rebuild the systems again.
The costs, in lost records, vanished financial information and saved data would immense; obliterated operating systems, criminal, civil and intelligence records And completely terminal.
My own computer is a laptop that has never been, and never will be, connected to the Internet so everything could crash but my data would still be intact, unless, of course, I connected with an infected Internet.
This is a very possible scenario but one of my sources said he doubted if anyone would launch this on an unsuspecting world for the same reason governments have been reluctant to start atomic wars or spread deadly diseases….this can all return from whence it came and there would be no way to prevent this from happening. Let us hope that the person or persons who started this either died without passing his trigger information on (in which case the virus would remain permanently dormant) or has found Jesus somewhere and decided against it. On the other hand, if the constructors of this monster still are functionig and for some reason develop a sociopathic fury at some massive entity like AOL or the NSA, we could all be in for a return to the computer Stone Age.”
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