White House Plans to Launch Internet ID System,
Further Eroding Civil and Political Rights
rged by one and all to "tone down" what
media pundits and political elites describe as "strident," even
"violent" rhetoric that has "poisoned" our "national conversation" and
"sharply polarized" the population, the shooting rampage in Tucson which
claimed six lives, including that of a nine-year-old girl is, in fact,
emblematic of the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of those selfsame
Faced with an unprecedented economic crisis that has destroyed the
lives of tens of millions our fellow citizens, not to mention aggressive
wars which have cratered entire societies and murdered hundreds of
thousands of people who have done us no harm, when, pray tell, will the
"conversation" turn to the unprecedented annihilation of democratic
institutions and the rule of law which exonerates, even celebrates, those who murder, maim and torture on an industrial scale?
Just last week, the Obama administration announced plans to roll-out
an "identity ecosystem" for the internet. Although passed over in
silence by major media, at the risk of being accused of "incivility,"
particularly when it comes to the "hope" fraudster and war criminal in
the Oval Office, Americans need to focus--sharply--on the militarists,
political bag men and corporate gangsters working to bring George
Orwell's dystopian world one step closer to reality.
Earlier this month, CNET
that the administration "is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce
Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create
an Internet ID for Americans."
White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said that the
secret state's latest move to lower the boom on privacy and free speech
will embed the surveillance op at the Commerce Department. Schmidt,
speaking at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research said
Commerce is "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to
centralize these efforts.
According to CNET, the move "effectively pushes the department to
the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates,
including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland
Really? I don't think so.
NSA Clearly in the Frame
Last week, Government Computer News
that the secretive Pentagon spy shop broke ground on a "massive new
National Security Agency cyber intelligence center in Utah."
The multibillion dollar facility (cost overruns not included) "will
have 100,000 square feet of raised-floor data center space and more than
900,000 square feet of technical support and administrative space" that
"will support the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative."
In September, NextGov
that then Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection,
Glenn Gaffney, said the new data center "would support the intelligence
community in providing foreign intelligence about cybersecurity threats
and protect Defense Department networks."
Back in 2009, investigative journalist James Bamford wrote in The New York Review of Books
"the mammoth $2 billion structure will be one-third larger than the US
Capitol and will use the same amount of energy as every house in Salt
Lake City combined."
While corporate media tell us that the center will "enhance" the
nation's capacity to thwart "cyber threats" the fact is, Bamford wrote,
the complex will "house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and
data trails: Web searches, parking receipts, bookstore visits, and other
digital 'pocket litter'." In other words, the vast data repository will
serve as "spy central" for our digital minders.
"Just how much information will be stored in these windowless
cybertemples?" Bamford wondered. According to a report prepared for the
Pentagon by the ultra-spooky MITRE Corporation
"as the sensors associated with the various surveillance missions
improve, the data volumes are increasing with a projection that sensor
data volume could potentially increase to the level of Yottabytes (10 to
the 24 Bytes) by 2015."
This is "roughly equal to about a septillion
(1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, numbers beyond
Yottabytes haven't yet been named," Bamford avers.
disinformational pyrotechnics by media cheerleaders that the NSA's data
equivalent of a Wal-Mart supercenter will primarily exist for
"cybersecurity," "foreign intelligence" and protecting "Defense
Department networks," Bamford counters that "once vacuumed up and and
stored in these near-infinite 'libraries,' the data are then analyzed by
powerful infoweapons, supercomputers running complex algorithmic
programs, to determine who among us may be--or may one day become--a
"In the NSA's world of automated surveillance on steroids" Bamford
avers, "every bit has a history and every keystroke tells a story."
Or as Cryptohippie
puts it far less delicately, every keystroke or cellphone ping is "criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial."
Just what are they up to?
Even Congress, always willing to give the Executive Branch a free pass
when it comes to blanket surveillance, doesn't know. Last week the Associated Press
that "the Pentagon failed to disclose clandestine cyber activities in a
classified report on secret military actions that goes to Congress."
Citing "gaps" in reporting requirements on clandestine operations,
"emerging high-tech operations are not specifically listed in the law,"
AP averred. After all, "cyber oversight is still a murky work in
progress for the Obama administration."
Perhaps AP and other media outlets should look more closely at
what's hidden inside that "murky work" and where its authority comes
from. "Oversight" is certainly not part of the equation.
Cybersecurity's Brave New World
As Antifascist Calling
previously reported, the operational nuts-and-bolts of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI
is a closely-held state secret that derives authority from classified
annexes of the National Security Presidential Directive 54, Homeland
Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) issued by our
Those 2008 orders are so contentious that both the Bush and Obama
administrations have refused to release details to Congress, prompting a
Freedom of Information Act lawsuit
by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC
) demanding the full text of the underlying legal authority governing "cybersecurity" be made public.
Details on the "trusted identity" scheme are scarce, but back in July Antifascist Calling
reported that the secret state had deployed New York Times reporter John Markoff as a conduit for administration scaremongering
Schmidt told the "Gray Lady" that administration plans involved "a
'voluntary trusted identity' system that would be the high-tech
equivalent of a physical key, a fingerprint and a photo ID card, all
rolled into one."
According to the Times,
"the system might use a smart identity card, or a digital credential
linked to a specific computer, and would authenticate users at a range
of online services."
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was quick to downplay the more
sinister implications of the hustle saying, "We are not talking about a
national ID card."
CNET reported Locke's claim that "we are not
talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about
is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even
eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and
use of more trusted digital identities."
Why bother with privacy when surrendering your rights is so convenient!
Touted as a warm and fuzzy "identity ecosystem," Government Computer News
that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has even
launched a dedicated website hawking the National Strategy for Trusted
Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC
According to NIST, "NSTIC envisions a cyber world--the Identity
Ecosystem--that improves upon the passwords currently used to login
We're informed that the "Identity Ecosystem will provide
people with a variety of more secure and privacy-enhancing ways to
access online services. The Identity Ecosystem enables people to
validate their identities securely when they're doing sensitive
transactions (like banking) and lets them stay anonymous when they're
not (like blogging). The Identity Ecosystem will enhance individuals'
privacy by minimizing the information they must disclose to authenticate
Government Computer News tells
us that the "identity ecosystem" isn't envisaged as a "national
Internet ID to track online activities." The devil's in the details and
what little we do know should set alarm bells ringing.
The program office will "support and coordinate interagency
collaboration" and "promote pilot projects and other implementations."
Which agencies are we talking about here? What pilot projects and "other
implementations" are being alluding to? We don't know.
We do know however, that the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have forged a Memorandum of Agreement
which will increase Pentagon control over America's telecommunications and electronic infrastructure.
In fact, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation disclosed
October, DHS has been tracking people online and that the agency even
established a "Social Networking Monitoring Center" to explicitly do so.
Documents obtained by the civil liberties watchdog group revealed
that the agency has been vacuuming-up "items of interest,"
systematically monitoring "citizenship petitioners" and analyzing
"online public communication."
Wouldn't an "identity ecosystem" greatly facilitate online spying, despite administration claims to the contrary?
the system is "voluntary" and individuals will not be compelled to sign
up, the secret state is lusting after a sure fire means to identify the
billions of computers, smart phones and other digital devices that
And even if you choose not to "opt in," well, plans are already
afoot by advertising pimps and their partners in the national security
state "to collect the digital equivalent of fingerprints from every
computer, cellphone and TV set-top box in the world," The Wall Street Journal
As with all other aspects of the "War on Terror" threatscape, the
closer one looks at the Obama regime's "identity ecosystem" the less
warm and fuzzy it becomes.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research,
an independent research and media group of writers, scholars,
journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read onDissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.