Perhaps we can start by agreeing there is no such thing as Consensual Surveillance, for if there were, we would all be ticking boxes on Census-like forms offered to us by benevolent government entities keen to surveill us with our consent, saying Yes! You can surveill me, adding, defensively, as many of the unthinking among us do, After all, I have nothing to hide.
The FBI States It Engages in Consensual Monitoring
Still, the FBI is on record now as stating that it engages in Consensual Monitoring, in the case of the aerial surveillance of Baltimore in May during the protests succeeding Freddy Gray’s death in police custody, as documents obtained by ACLU reveal. This October 30, 2015 ACLU report has the story, and the FBI Evidence and Memo Logs referencing “Consensual Monitoring” in pdf form can be found linked at the end of that article. These evidence logs, which are redacted in places, seem to be logging in Aerial Surveillance Videos, but in a few cases, log in “Other Electronic Surveillance” which is still item-described as “Aerial Surveillance,” and in one case, additionally, as “Consensual Monitoring–Non-Telephonic.”
What is Consensual Monitoring?
What can Consensual Monitoring possibly be? Is the FBI defining a form of monitoring and surveillance it engages in as Consensual, in hopes of “keeping it legal”? One clue they offer is that it’s “Other Electronic.” It’s not Aerial Video. It’s not Aerial Photography. Can it be Aerial Cyber Surveillance? (Why would they need to do that from the air, when it would be far more effective from the ground?) It’s Non-Telephonic. So it’s not Stingray, Dirtbox, cell-phone-tower-mimicking scooping-up of cellphone voice and text data. It’s Electronic, and it’s Consensual–so they say–and it’s not Video, Audio, Telephonic, Cyber-related.
From the ACLU article:
“FBI evidence logs reveal that at least half of the flights conducted video surveillance, and that the FBI retained copies of those videos in its files. Other flights conducted some type of “electronic surveillance,” but specific descriptions are redacted. This suggests that those flights were perhaps using more sensitive or powerful recording gear than just video cameras, though what kind we don’t know.
What we do know is that one of the aircraft, a Cessna propeller plane registered to an FBI front company, NG Research, had specialized surveillance camera equipment on board. FAA documentation shows that the FBI installed a Paravion Technology infrared camera mount and a FLIR Talon multi-sensor camera system on the exterior of the plane. The FLIR system includes a “thermal imager,” an optical camera, and a “laser illuminator” for recording at night. We did not receive documentation about the second plane observed circling over Baltimore, so we don’t know if it was carrying different gear.”
Regular FBI Surveillance Flights Over Cities and Rural Areas
A June 2015 article by the Associated Press revealed the fact of regular surveillance flights over cities by FBI planes, although again the nature of the surveillance was not clarified:
“Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.
For decades, the planes have provided support to FBI surveillance operations on the ground. But now the aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones, raising questions about how these surveillance flights affect Americans’ privacy.
“It’s important that federal law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to find and catch criminals,” said Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But whenever an operation may also monitor the activities of Americans who are not the intended target, we must make darn sure that safeguards are in place to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.“
The FBI says the planes are not equipped or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge’s approval.”
“One of the planes, photographed in flight last week (May/June 2015) by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side.”
The AP video report that accompanies a Blaze article on this same AP report identifies the spherical white protrusion with cable on the fuselage as a ball camera to provide sweeping panoramic views, but the other equipment is not identified.
“Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a “cell-site simulator” — or Stingray, to use one of the product’s brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.
Officials say cellphone surveillance is rare, although the AP found in recent weeks FBI flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.”
Currently Available Aerial Surveillance Technologies
On the subject of technology currently being used in Aerial Surveillance by Law Enforcement, and by Military PISR operations (Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance), see this slide show presentation from the company Persistent Surveillance Systems, linked in pdf and posted Jan 2014 at PublicIntelligence.net, which includes suggested policy statements on Persistent Surveillance for Law Enforcement, among other things.
The image below of the Surveillance Systems market size is from this pdf. Also posted at Public Intelligence is the US Joint Command Handbook for Persistent Surveillance.
The Washington Post ran an article on this subject in Feb 2014. Also see the video produced by the Center of Investigative Reporting and PBS demonstrating this system.
Essentially, what they say is that Wide Area Persistent Surveillance camera systems that are carried on planes offer panoramic views of large areas such as whole towns and cities, several miles (up to 25 miles in reports) in diameter, and the way they are used is to generate real-time video by having the planes circle interminably over defined areas, for about six hours at a time, combining the data obtained thereby with that from networked ground cameras, traffic cameras, gas station cameras, etc., to create a detailed picture in real-time of what anyone is doing, outside, on foot or in cars/vehicles. CIR and KQED’s video on surveillance below introduces this system and also touches on biometric intelligence, and other forms of surveillance.
State of Surveillance: Police, Privacy, and Technology
ACLU also discusses this issue, and elsewhere covers wide area surveillance (ARGUS-IS) from drones as it raises privacy concerns.
Persistent Surveillance Systems on Military Electronic Warfare Planes
Merely as reference, consider too the kind of wide-spectrum surveillance and data collection in process currently with Military Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance programs, which use continuously-generated data from planes, ground stations, and satellites, as illustrated in this Raytheon UK overview image, from a Dec 2014 AIN Online article (Raytheon UK Develops New ISR Solutions). Note especially SATCOM–how satellites are being used to network data from the ground, from aircraft, from mobile forces, and from “tactical” ground stations.
Electronic Warfare aircraft, whose collection of ELINT, COMINT, SIGINT–Electronic Intelligence, Communications Intelligence, Signals Intelligence–is achieved through sophisticated radar systems, electronic jamming systems, and radio antennas, use various networked tools to engage in Persistent Aerial Surveillance.
The image below of an Electronic Warfare plane is from GlobalSecurity.org; while this aircraft looks obviously military and loaded with “pods” and antennae, Military news reports (and Defence company news and press releases) over the past couple years have pursued the creation of increasingly “intuitive” portable and streamlined EW collections/jamming packages that can be mounted more easily on smaller craft, including drones, as well be used in ground vehicles, fixed installations, and in backpacks for “foot soldiers” to carry. (See The Future of Army Electronic Warfare, Sep 2013.)
So, looking again at the FBI surveillance plane imaged above, one might just wonder if it’s possible this high-tech FBI surveillance aircraft is merely a smaller, streamlined version of the plane below, carrying compact Electronic Warfare collection/jamming systems for Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance.
Electronic Warfare Includes “Signals Intelligence” Collection
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Electronic Warfare, which has been covered previously in this post here, includes electronic surveillance and remote electronic signals collection–by which is meant a variety of electronic signals, as this Army Concept Capability on Electronic Warfare for the Future Modular Force 2015-2024 document details, including remotely-culled information from computers and electronic communications. Electronic Attack, one of the three Army-Doctrine aspects of Electronic Warfare, seeks to use electromagnetic energy to attack personnel, as well as equipment, and Electronic Warfare Support seeks out sources of intentionally and unintentionally radiated electromagnetic energy for threat recognition and targeting, as this overview image from the Army Concept Capability document illustrates.
Widely-posted –although less-well-known–information from the ’90s on NSA Signals Intelligence reveals that SIGINT also includes information on human bioelectric fields and EMF thoughtwave forms (unintentionally radiated energy), as noted by John St.Clair Akwei in his lawsuit against the NSA (See especially the Section, NSA Signals Intelligence uses EMF Brain Stimulation for Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM) and Electronic Brain Link (EBL)).
Returning to Consensual Monitoring
It turns out the FBI has Department of Justice-specified Procedures for Consensual Monitoring.
See this Sep 2005 report: Chapter Six: Procedures for Lawful, Warrantless Monitoring of Verbal Communications (Consensual Monitoring)/FBI’s Compliance with the Attorney General’s Investigative Guidelines (Redacted) Special Report.
Opening information from this report:
“Consensual monitoring is the interception by an electronic device of any wire, oral, or electronic communication where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the monitoring or recording. A warrant is not required to conduct consensual monitoring, and the party providing consent may be a government agent. See 18 U.S.C. § 2511, (2) (c) – (e) (2002).
The Attorney General Guidelines governing consensual monitoring cover only non-telephonic consensual monitoring.319 The types of monitorings addressed by these Guidelines include the use of body recorders and transmitting devices. To supplement the Guidelines, the FBI imposes detailed administrative and management controls on the use of both non-telephonic and telephonic consensual monitoring. MIOG II § 10-10.”
Further, the report goes on to specify that DOJ permission to monitor is required only in the case of “sensitive individuals” such as members of Congress, Governors, and other public officials, and duration of monitoring be permitted in those cases for only up to 90 days at a time. For all other parties–such as you and me–no permission is required other than a sign off from a Special Agent at the local FBI office, and duration of monitoring may be marked by said Special Agent as “for the duration of the investigation,” may be conducted by anyone, including possibly Government agents, and doesn’t need a warrant or DOJ approval.
Records are required to be maintained in all cases of consensual monitoring; the record to FOIA-request is: Form FD-759, captioned “Notification of SAC/ASAC Authority Granted for Use of Telephonic and/or Nontelephonic Consensual Monitoring Equipment in Criminal Matters Only.”
Is Consensual Monitoring Accomplished via 1), Recordings Unilaterally Consented-to by Hundreds of Thousands of Recipients of National Security Letters, & 2), Covertly Implanted RFID transponders?
Given this information, while it appears as if this kind of monitoring is being legitimately engaged in by the FBI purely in matters of criminal investigations, because there is much information online about abusive surveillance–fraudulent and wasteful investigations on non-terrorists and non-spies mis-characterized post-Patriot-Act as terrorists and spies–being conducted by DHS/FBI, including from ex-FBI insiders and whistleblowers (such as Mike Germain), and because thousands of individuals today in the US report covert assaults with Remote Neural Monitoring technologies involving Directed-Energy Weapons and Covert RFID implants, two other possibilities come to mind:
Consensual Monitoring One: The consensual monitoring being spoken of here is via recorders, such as apps on cell phones, or videorecorders/audiorecorders on cell phones, which belong to people who are “co-operating in an investigation” by the FBI, and who are being gagged from speaking about this to the individual under investigation by way of National Security Letters, hundreds of thousands of which, possibly now more than a million, have been handed out every year (See the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Module on NSLs);
and Consensual Monitoring Two; The “body recorders and transmitting devices” spoken of are biomems, RFID chips, MicroElectroMechanical devices, neurostimulators, and the like, covertly implanted in individuals, which do indeed function as “body recorders” and radio transmitter/receivers. Of course, this is scarcely Consensual communications, even if it is a two-way radio communication, since the implants themselves are non-consensual, but is an attempt being made here to pass off RFID transmissions as “Consensual Monitoring”?
The CIA’s Concealed Monitoring
This brings us to the CIA, and a June ACLU article by Staff Attorney Ashley Gorski, New Docs Raise Questions About CIA Spying Here At Home which revealed the recent FOIA-requested (by ACLU & Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic) release of several documents–eg., the CIA’s own internal regulations on spying in both foreign and domestic areas, titled AR 2-2, a CIA/FBI Memo of Understanding regarding foreign and domestic intelligence collection, and others, related to the CIA’s collection programs under Executive Order 12333.
It must be noted, these documents are continuously redacted, with blanks in place of particular Intelligence collection information marked “National Security Act.”
These documented regulations apparently govern the domestic activities of the CIA, in its human subject research programs, its domestic intelligence collection programs, its foreign intelligence collected-domestically programs, its domestic monitoring programs, and its co-ordination with the FBI in domestic electronic surveillance and monitoring.
This ACLU article, and all the documents it points to, in particular the document AR 2-2, which clearly notes that the CIA engages in human subject research and experimentation programs–an issue of profound concern at this site, deserve close reading and analysis, and will be examined further here, in a succeeding post (when redactions will be filled in, speculatively).
What’s of particular note here to this analysis, from this ACLU article/finding is: The CIA works closely with the FBI on domestic intelligence collection and can ask the FBI to collect intelligence anytime on anyone it likes. Any recording consented to by one party is not considered electronic surveillance, it is possibly considered Concealed Monitoring, a term that Army Intelligence and the CIA are familiar with—(this seems to be the same kind of surveillance the FBI discusses as Consensual Monitoring, where one party unilaterally consents to a recording involving two parties or more). The CIA gives itself permission to install “monitoring devices” whenever no warrant is required for law enforcement–a loophole created by other loopholes–but does not specify what these devices are. (RFID Implants/Bio-MEMs maybe?)
The ACLU article notes:
“In addition, Annex B explains that the CIA may “use a monitoring device within the United States under circumstances in which a warrant would not be required for law enforcement purposes if the CIA General Counsel concurs.”
But what qualifies as a “monitoring device”? And how exactly does monitoring differ from “electronic surveillance,” which the CIA is prohibited from doing domestically? We don’t know. In the newly released documents, the definition of “monitoring” (as distinct from “electronic surveillance”) is redacted.”
Redacted Signals Intelligence Collection Information, Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, One-Party Consent Labelled Consensual Monitoring, Warrantless FBI Monitoring with Transmitting Devices, Warrantless CIA Monitoring Devices Used Domestically, Redacted Definitions of Monitoring
Security and Intelligence analysts need to start connecting the dots here and planning strategies to force this information out into the open in order to seek accountability and exposure. All Americans deserve to know that our Intelligence agencies–in particular the FBI and CIA–are 1) actively collecting particular electronic signals information the nature of which is being kept redacted and classified–but which thousands of Americans experiencing covert-assault and covert-access with radar and Remote Neural Monitoring technologies, as well as researchers studying Mind-Hacking patents and technologies can identify as Human Bio-Resonance EMFs and Brain EMFs; 2) getting away with close monitoring and surveillance of Americans, domestically, and secretively, using National Security Letters as leverage to obtain one-party consent that is then labelled “consensual monitoring”; 3) self-permitting and installing covert non-consensual implants of radio transmitting/receiving devices in the bodies of Americans so as to engage in Remote Monitoring which is then rolled into “concealed monitoring.”
Further posts here will specifically examine CIA involvement in ongoing classified human subject research and experimentation programs, and the nature of the transmitting devices/monitoring devices–radio frequency implants– being self-authorized for CIA/FBI use in undisclosed Remote Monitoring programs.
For an inside look at one extraordinary instance of the documented CIA use of biomedical implants in Intelligence collection as a surveillance method, see David Larson’s 2009 testimony, lawsuit against the CIA, and report with photographs.