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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Psychological Profiles of Internet, Contact, and Mixed Internet Contact Sex Offenders by Ian A. Elliott, Anthony R. Beech , and Rebecca Mandeville-Norden

The Psychological Profiles of Internet, Contact, and Mixed Internet Contact Sex Offenders by Ian A. Elliott, Anthony R. Beech , and Rebecca Mandeville-Norden

Characteristics of Females Who Sexually Offend: A Comparison of Solo and Co-Offenders by Steven M. Gillespie, Rebecca Williams, Ian A. Elliott, Hilary J. Eldridge, Sherry Ashfield , Anthony R. Beech

Characteristics of Females Who Sexually Offend: A Comparison of Solo and Co-Offenders by Steven M. Gillespie, Rebecca Williams, Ian A. Elliott, Hilary J. Eldridge, Sherry Ashfield , Anthony R. Beech

A SELF-REGULATION MODEL OF SEXUAL GROOMING by Ian A. Elliott

A SELF-REGULATION MODEL OF SEXUAL GROOMING by Ian A. Elliott

INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MAJOR STUDIES, by Researchers: Marieke Lewis Patrick Miller Project Manager: Alice R. Buchalter

INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MAJOR STUDIES, by Researchers: Marieke Lewis Patrick Miller Project Manager: Alice R. Buchalter

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The darker side of computer forensics by John Irvine


The darker side of computer forensics John Irvine
For the better part of the past thirteen (thirteen?!) years, I have been a computer forensic examiner. Sure, the title varies by job and location — digital forensic analyst, media exploiter, computer forensic investigator — but the job is always the same. Computer forensic examiners delve deeply into computers that have either been the victim, instrumentality, or witness to a crime. (Thank you, Mark P., for that definition. I’ve never left it behind.)

It’s not at all like what you see on “CSI.” Computer forensics can be tiresome, dreary, boring, and downright drudgery. Performing a competent analysis can take days, weeks, or even months depending upon the subject, the condition and state of the hard drive, or the importance of the case. For that time period, the examiner is literally trying on the subject’s life, wearing it like a costume for eight or more hours a day. Everything someone likes, hates, is interested in, fantasizes about, or fetishes goes through his or her keyboard at one point or another. Think about every email message you’ve ever written…every chat you’ve ever typed…every website you’ve ever visited…every phrase you’ve ever searched for online.

Seriously…think about it. I’ll give you a moment.

Now think about me reading and seeing it all. That should scare you a little bit, and if it didn’t, you’re probably lying to yourself. It’s okay. Most people do.

Doing computer forensics for any amount of time in your life changes you. It damages you. It makes you unfit to be around others in decent company, because you have to mentally screen absolutely everything you say in fear of drawing looks of horror or disgust from the good people around you. For forty hours a week, a computer forensic examiner is exposed to the worst that the world has to offer — child pornography, beheadings, torture, rape — all in high resolution photo or video formats. In fact, people in the business have found that for general criminal computer forensic examiners (and we’re not talking about intrusion analysts, as exposure to the badness I’ve mentioned is usually infrequent and incidental), there is a two-year time limit before your soul dies. Around that time, every examiner either has built-up enough of a callus that he/she can continue forever, or that examiner pushes the chair away from the desk, stands up, and says, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Two years. As I said, I’ve been doing it for almost thirteen.

What does the general criminal examiner work with? Almost 80-90% of the cases criminal computer forensic examiners work on are related to child pornography. This ranges from simple digital images to full-length movies recorded by the dregs of humanity. The worst kind, in my opinion, are those we’ve dubbed the “No, Daddy, no” videos, in which a usually heavy-set man rapes his extremely young children. Their faces tell the real story — this isn’t the first time, and they have endured their father’s actions numerous times before. People who make and/or collect these kinds of things usually don’t just have one or two…they have one or two dozen, hundred, or thousand.

How about the counterterrorism examiner? Beheading videos, torture videos, and endless rants about exterminating Americans are the feature of the day. Over and over, you watch videos of jump-suit clad Americans, British, Australians, or others on their knees, begging for their lives, as a troupe of Muslim-extremists stand behind them with knives in hand. Then, after the speeches are done, one of the masked men will all-too-slowly remove the head from the body, then place it triumphantly on the back of his victim. Fade to black. At first, you don’t know how to feel…it sickens you. Then, you feel outrage, and you want to seek retribution. Then, you feel…nothing. You comment on the technical quality of the video and remark about the quality of the jihadist’s upgraded A/V equipment. You comment about the sounds that people make when their heads are removed — it sounds something like a pig drowning. You comment, and you go onto the next one. Like their pedophile brothers, jihadists don’t just have one or two, they have hundreds, and the examiner has to watch every one. After seeing a few dozen of these beheadings and torture videos, the political correctness one may have started with goes right out the window. Gitmo is no longer a bad idea, but a necessity, and suddenly you start getting right with waterboarding. Just sayin’.

Being exposed to this kind of daily horror changes you. I’m not asking for sympathy; I think paramedics or police officers have it worse. (One of my good friends is both a computer forensic examiner AND a paramedic — I’m just WAITING for him to snap.) I’m just offering an explanation for why people like me might not say the most appropriate thing, or why our humor tends to run a little darker than that of others, or why our Twitter posts might occasionally make you blush.

As you can imagine, our meetings are rarely dull.

People who only have known me for a short time might find me to be paranoid, disturbed, or even a little deviant. People who have known me for a long time, especially those in the profession, understand completely.

What’s the upside? Why do computer forensic examiners do what we do? Well, it pays really, really well, and we get to put the occasional criminal behind bars or terrorist behind a scope. That makes it worth it all, even if we do tend to have basements full of MREs, anti-radiation pills, water filters, gas masks, and shotgun shells.

One thing’s for sure…terrorist attack, zombie apocalypse, or cyborg uprising, I’m ready — and it won’t even be much of a surprise.

This article can be discussed here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors by Mitchell, Wolak, Finkelhor

Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors by Mitchell, Wolak, Finkelhor

A TRAINING TOOL FOR INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN CASES, by S. Aggarwal, B. Breeden, P. Henry and J. Mulholland

A TRAINING TOOL FOR INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN CASES, by S. Aggarwal, B. Breeden, P. Henry and J. Mulholland

Child Pornography and Selfies: What You Need to Know - See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-pornography-and-selfies--what-you-need-to-know.html#sthash.O5vjvBQQ.dpuf

    Child Pornography and Selfies: What You Need to Know
http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-pornography-and-selfies--what-you-need-to-know.html#sthash.O5vjvBQQ.dpuf

Although it was used prior, the term "selfie" quickly became part of the mainstream lexicon in 2013 when its use became so common that it was named the "Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year." For the uninitiated, a selfie is a self-portrait photograph that's often taken with a camera phone, webcam, or digital camera. The explosion of social media networks and the rise of the camera phone have created endless opportunities for anyone to share their self-portraits with the world.

This emerging technology is a natural fit for most teens and, generally, the worst offense they might commit is sharing too frequently. There is, however, also a potential for criminal liability under child pornography laws when selfies involve underage nudity or sexual situations.

          Definition of Child Pornography

Since technology moves much faster than legislation, crimes committed via social media are often prosecuted by applying existing statutes. Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, and the United States Department of Justice may prosecute offenses occurring across state or international borders and almost any offense involving the Internet.

Federal charges need not be exclusive, however, and an individual may face criminal liability under both U.S. and state child pornography laws, which are largely similar to and sometimes more comprehensive than the federal statutes. Many states further define elements of the crime, such as what constitutes sexually explicit conduct or who is considered a minor. For example:
Massachusetts extends its child pornography laws to include participating, with lascivious intent, in the depiction of a nude minor in any visual material.
In South Carolina, the judge or jury may infer that the participants in alleged child pornography are minors based on the material's title or text. Utah's definition of "sexually explicit content" includes actual or simulated "explicit representation of defecation or urination functions."

Application of Child Pornography Laws to Selfies

If an adult takes a sexually explicit picture of a minor and shares it via social media or text message, that adult will likely have run afoul of some child pornography laws. But what about a minor who takes selfies and sends them discreetly to another teen? What if the receiver then forwards the photos to others? Have they violated any laws? In many states, the answer is yes.

Though their laws were created to protect minors from exploitation caused by others, states are prosecuting minors under child pornography statutes for sending nude or otherwise lurid self-portraits, even when the minors sent the selfies without coercion. The common quirk in the laws is that there is no exception for taking or distributing sexually explicit pictures of oneself. Thus, a high school student sending a racy seflie to a boyfriend or girlfriend could subject both themselves and the receiver to prosecution for child pornography. If the picture makes its way around other social circles through online or direct sharing, anyone who received or distributed the photo could also find themselves open to charges.

                 Direction of Future Laws

The overall trend on both the federal and state levels is toward broader definitions of child pornography with increased prosecutions and harsher penalties for those connected to it. One of the gray areas that's getting greater attention in the age of social media is what constitutes "possession" of child pornography. Most social media sites can now store large caches of images indefinitely on the Internet, lessening the need for viewers to download files to their computers. Other services, such as Snapchat, can be used to distribute selfies that auto-delete themselves after a few seconds (though the receiver may create a screen capture before the image disappears).

Since merely viewing child pornography is illegal in many states, browsing a website or knowingly receiving illegal images would be criminal activity in those jurisdictions. Other states' child pornography laws, however, have "possession" requirements that are somewhat archaic in the digital age. The shortcomings of these statutes were exemplified by a pair of high court decisions from Oregon and New York:
A 2011 decision by the Oregon Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a man charged under the state's Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse statute since the child pornography in question was only accessed on the Internet and he never 'possessed' or 'controlled' the images, as required by the law.
Similarly, in 2012, the New York Court of Appeals held that viewing child pornography online does constitute the "knowing procurement or possession of those files" and reversed some charges against the defendant.

Both of these states and others have since taken steps to close such loopholes and expand the reach of their child pornography laws so as to include developing and future technologies, but this is an area of law that is rapidly evolving to meet the times. For teens sending or exchanging risqué pictures, their concern can no longer be limited to whether it may bring embarrassment or even parental and academic discipline. Instead, they need to also consider whether that sexually explicit selfie can get them prosecuted under child pornography laws.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Why Is Homeland Security Taking Control of Local Police?

Why Is Homeland Security Taking Control of Local Police?

A key plank of the Obama administration platform seems to be the conversion of the local police into a fifth branch of the U.S. armed forces.

The means of accomplishing this goal is the doling out of millions of dollars from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to police departments and sheriffs' offices around the country.

Cash-strapped local law enforcement gobbles up the federal “grants,” purchasing military-grade vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and surveillance technology that would make the National Security Agency (NSA) proud.

For a list of the largesse and an inventory of the incredible equipment it finances, we rely on local media reports.


To help local emergency preparedness capability, local governments and police departments across the state have received $80 million in grants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.

The grants help support and expand local government and police departments’ ability to respond and react to emergencies. The majority of funding is distributed through the $75 million annual state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant, Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl reports.

According to the story, the DHS money will go to fund “Technical Rescue and Urban Search and Rescue, Bomb Squad Initiative, the Explosive Detection Canine Team Grant Program, and the Critical Infrastructure Grant Program.”

In San Juan, Texas, DHS money is buying the police department an intelligence-gathering robot. Local newspaper, The Monitor, reports:

The San Juan Police Department has added a robot named Raven to its crime fighting arsenal.

Raven was purchased in early November at a cost of $27,000, paid for with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, said San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez.

“Raven is a great asset to our department,” Gonzalez said, referring to the black, shin-high, tank-like robot designed to enter hard-to-reach places. “He is equipped with a set of cameras, infrared cameras and audio equipment that gives us eyes and ears in difficult situations such as a hostage situation.”

While Raven has already been used to gather intelligence in a drug raid last month, San Juan police got a chance to fully interact with the robot in the days before Thanksgiving when the department ran a series of exercises to test the capabilities of Raven and of the Law Enforcement Emergency Regional Response Team, or LEERRT — the regional SWAT team based in San Juan.

The San Juan Police Department’s website looks more like an advertisement for an elite military unit rather than for the cops from a town of less than 36,000. [Update (Dec. 15, 2015): We have learned that the San Juan Police Department's Web page that the previous sentence refers to has been taken down.]

Apart from armored personnel vehicles and war-worthy weapons, perhaps the most popular item purchased with DHS grant money is facial recognition software. San Diego State University’s Police Department is the proud new owner of this powerful surveillance technology. The school’s newspaper The Daily Aztec reports:

Facial recognition technology, previously limited to soldiers in Afghanistan and FBI agents, is now being used by civilian law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County. According to documents acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit focused on digital and privacy rights, the San Diego State Police Department is one of the agencies using this new technology. SDSUPD currently only has one officer in the program. However, he is the most active officer in the county, with more than 200 photos analyzed from January to October of this year.

The program to bring facial recognition technology to San Diego law enforcement is called TACIDS—short for Tactical Identification System. It’s a pilot program from the San Diego Association of Governments developed and purchased using grants from the federal government’s National Institute of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting.

TACIDS works through Samsung tablets and Android smartphones that were distributed to specific officers (SDSUPD uses a tablet). Most of the 25 participating agencies were given one or two devices, although the sheriff’s department received the most with 64, while the San Diego and National City police departments received 27 and 26 respectively.

Notice that the story practically brags about the fact that a college police department is going to have gear more appropriate in the battlefield than on campus.

Maybe the author of the piece in The Daily Aztec is saying more than he meant to.

Is there a chance that the Department of Homeland Security is funneling all this money and materiel to local police to prepare them to quell popular uprisings? One expert thinks that may be the case.

Jim Fitzgerald worked for eight years as a vice and narcotics squad detective in Newark, New Jersey, before joining the staff of The John Birch Society. He is point man for the conservative organization’s “Support Your Local Police” initiative.

In an interview with The New American, Fitzgerald said there is “virtually no use” for the military-grade equipment being bought by local law enforcement with DHS grant money.

“The only reason to have this equipment is to use it,” Fitzgerald said, and it is likely it would be used against local citizens who have risen up and created some sort of civil disorder.

DHS, Fitzgerald believes, may be anticipating these riots and looks to them as a justification for the militarization of the police.

“They [DHS grants] are not good, not healthy, and not constitutional,” Fitzgerald adds.

The question that remains is how long citizens will accept the arming of their local police until they rise up in resistance and, as DHS probably has orchestrated, are targets of all the tactical weaponry, ammunition, and monitoring technology.

From license plate readers to facial recognition software, from surveillance cameras to cellphone signal trackers, the Department of Homeland Security is providing police with all the gadgets, hardware, and software necessary to keep everybody under surveillance, without the targeted public ever realizing that it’s the Capitol, not the cops, that are behind the monitoring.

Local police who participate in the program will have access to a shockingly broad array of personal information of citizens. Facial recognition technology, license plate readers, and stop light camera video feeds will all be funneled to a Regional Operations Intelligence Center where FBI, police, and DHS agents can watch the live feeds.

In fairness, most police chiefs and sheriffs are unaware of any larger, more sinister DHS program to foment riot as a pretext for quelling it. 

But whether these lawmen realize it or not, when they accept federal gadgets and grants, they are surrendering their independence and their citizens’ civil liberties.

Perhaps the most important argument against the federalization of local police departments is that there is not a single syllable of the Constitution authorizing any such federal participation in law enforcement. If the power isn’t granted to the federal government in the Constitution, then authority over that area remains with the states and the people as described in the Tenth Amendment.

Self-serving bureaucrats inside the U.S. government are tirelessly trying to obliterate local police forces answerable to local citizens and promote the consolidation movement as a step toward federalization of law enforcement. These proponents of regional and national police forces desire nothing less than the eradication of all local police departments and sheriffs’ offices, the surrender of state and municipal sovereignty, and the conversion of police into federal security agents sworn not to protect and to serve their neighbors, but to protect the prerogatives of politicians.

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He is the host of The New American Review radio show that is simulcast on YouTube every Monday. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at jwolverton@thenewamerican.com

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Evolution of the Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Industry and the Security Risks for Users; by M. Eric Johnson, Dan McGuire, Nicholas D. Willey Center for Digital Strategies Tuck School of Business

The Evolution of the Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Industry and the Security Risks for Users; by M. Eric Johnson, Dan McGuire, Nicholas D. Willey Center for Digital Strategies Tuck School of Business

Has The Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army? By John Whitehead

Has The Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army? By John Whitehead
If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies.
“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison
“Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.”—Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant
If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.
The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”
In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.
A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.
To Kenny’s list, I will add the following: The menace of a national police force, a.k.a. a standing army, vested with so much power cannot be overstated, nor can its danger be ignored. Indeed, as the following list shows, just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to police agencies in the form of grants.
Militarizing police and SWAT teams. The DHS routinely hands out six-figure grants to enable local municipalities to purchase military-style vehicles, as well as a veritable war chest of weaponry, ranging from tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, assault weapons and combat uniforms. This rise in military equipment purchases funded by the DHS has, according to analysts Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, “paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams.” The end result? An explosive growth in the use of SWAT teams for otherwise routine police matters, an increased tendency on the part of police to shoot first and ask questions later, and an overall mindset within police forces that they are at war—and the citizenry are the enemy combatants.
Spying on activists, dissidents and veterans. In 2009, DHS released three infamous reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,” and another entitled Operation Vigilant Eagle, outlining a surveillance program targeting veterans. The reports collectively and broadly define extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” In 2013, it was revealed that DHS, the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the private sector were working together to conduct nationwide surveillance on protesters’ First Amendment activities.
Stockpiling ammunition.  DHS, along with other government agencies, has been stockpiling an alarming amount of ammunition in recent years, which only adds to the discomfort of those already leery of the government. As of 2013, DHS had 260 million rounds of ammo in stock, which averages out to between 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer. The US Army, in contrast, has roughly 350 rounds per soldier. DHS has since requisitioned more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammo, “enough,” concludes Forbes magazine, “to sustain a hot war for 20+ years.”
Distributing license plate readers. DHS has already distributed more than $50 million in grants to enable local police agencies to acquire license plate readers, which rely on mobile cameras to photograph and identify cars, match them against a national database, and track their movements. Relying on private contractors to maintain a license plate database allows the DHS and its affiliates to access millions of records without much in the way of oversight.
Contracting to build detention camps. In 2006, DHS awarded a $385 million contract to a Halliburton subsidiary to build detention centers on American soil. Although the government and Halliburton were not forthcoming about where or when these domestic detention centers would be built, they rationalized the need for them in case of “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies such as “natural disasters.” Viewed in conjunction with the NDAA provision allowing the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, it would seem the building blocks are already in place for such an eventuality.
Tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices. Distributed to local police agencies as a result of grants from the DHS, these Stingray devices enable police to track individuals’ cell phones—and their owners—without a court warrant or court order. The amount of information conveyed by these devices about one’s activities, whereabouts and interactions is considerable. As one attorney explained: “Because we carry our cellphones with us virtually everywhere we go, stingrays can paint a precise picture of where we are and who we spend time with, including our location in a lover’s house, in a psychologist’s office or at a political protest.”
Carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities. Each year, DHS funds military-style training drills in cities across the country. These Urban Shield exercises, elaborately staged with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims, fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers, bystanders and the media into thinking it’s a real crisis.
Using the TSA as an advance guard. The TSA now searches a variety of government and private databases, including things like car registrations and employment information, in order to track travelers’ before they ever get near an airport. Other information collected includes “tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.”
Conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners. Under the direction of the TSA, American travelers have been subjected to all manner of searches ranging from whole-body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports to bag searches in train stations. In response to public outrage over what amounted to a virtual strip search, the TSA has begun replacing the scanners with equally costly yet less detailed models. The old scanners will be used by prisons for now.
Carrying out soft target checkpoints. VIPR task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams have laid the groundwork for the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. Some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. DHS’ Operation Shield, a program which seeks to check up on security protocols around the country with unannounced visits, conducted a surprise security exercise at the Social Security Administration building in Leesburg, Fla., when they subjected people who went to pick up their checks to random ID checks by federal agents armed with semi-automatic weapons.
Directing government workers to spy on Americans.  Terrorism Liaison Officers are firefighters, police officers, and even corporate employees who have received training to spy on and report back to government entities on the day-to-day activities of their fellow citizens. These individuals are authorized to report “suspicious activity” which can include such innocuous activities as taking pictures with no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements and drawings, taking notes, conversing in code, espousing radical beliefs, and buying items in bulk.
Conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers. Data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency, fusions centers—of which there are at least 78 scattered around the U.S.— constantly monitor our communications, collecting and cataloguing everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected: the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police. Despite a budget estimated to be somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion, these fusion centers have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on “flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets.”
Carrying out Constitution-free border control searches. On orders from the DHS, the government’s efforts along the border have become little more than an exercise in police state power, ranging from aggressive checkpoints to the widespread use of drone technology, often used against American citizens traveling within the country. Border patrol operations occur within 100 miles of an international crossing, putting some 200 million Americans within the bounds of aggressive border patrol searches and seizures, as well as increasingly expansive drone surveillance. With 71 checkpoints found along the southwest border of the United States alone, suspicionless search and seizures on the border are rampant. Border patrol agents also search the personal electronic devices of people crossing the border without a warrant.
Funding city-wide surveillance cameras. As Charlie Savage reports for the Boston Globe, the DHS has funneled “millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a ‘surveillance society’ in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost.” These camera systems, installed on city streets, in parks and transit systems, operating in conjunction with sophisticated computer systems that boast intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification, military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime and facial recognition software, create a vast surveillance network that can target millions of innocent individuals.
Utilizing drones and other spybots. The DHS has been at the forefront of funding and deploying surveillance robots and drones for land, sea and air, including robots that resemble fish and tunnel-bots that can travel underground. Despite repeated concerns over the danger surveillance drones used domestically pose to Americans’ privacy rights, the DHS has continued to expand its fleet of Predator drones, which come equipped with video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar. DHS also loans its drones out to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for a variety of tasks, although the agency refuses to divulge any details as to how, why and in what capacity these drones are being used by police. Incredibly, the DHS has also been handing out millions of dollars in grants to local police agencies to “accelerate the adoption” of drones in their localities.
It’s not difficult to see why the DHS has been described as a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” If it is a beast, however, it is a beast that is accelerating our nation’s transformation into a police state through its establishment of a standing army, a.k.a. national police force.
This, too, is nothing new. Historically, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the establishment of a national police force has served as a fundamental and final building block for every totalitarian regime that has ever wreaked havoc on humanity, from Hitler’s all-too-real Nazi Germany to George Orwell’s fictional Oceania. Whether fictional or historical, however, the calling cards of these national police agencies remain the same: brutality, inhumanity, corruption, intolerance, rigidity, and bureaucracy—in other words, evil.

What every prosecutor should know about peer to peer Investigations By Sergeant Josh Moulin, 1 CFCE, DFCP, ACE, CEECS

What every prosecutor should know about peer to peer Investigations By Sergeant Josh Moulin, 1 CFCE, DFCP, ACE, CEECS