Uncle Sam Is Choking on Data
by Gary North: Illegal
Aliens and Unemployment: Causes and Effects
At the end
of this report, I will provide a link to an article I published
on steps that you can take to keep Web-based data-gathering companies
from collecting data on your Web viewing activities.
stop this altogether. Too much data comes from your financial transactions.
The FBI and other intelligence agencies are now buying data from
private firms. In effect, they are outsourcing data-collection.
FORMER RIGHT TO PRIVACY
We know that
privacy is no longer a right. The Supreme Court in 1973 legalized
abortion based on the supposed Constitutional right to privacy.
But the invasion of privacy by Big Brother is so all-encompassing
today that whatever right to privacy existed in 1973 is missing
in action today.
government can track all of our bank-related transfers of money.
These are digital, and digits are easy to trace. Only when we pull
money out of an ATM does the government cease being able to follow
the money. This is why national governments around the world limit
the denominational size of bills, despite price inflation. They
want to make it less convenient to use paper money. Paper money
does not leave a paper trail. Digital money does. Professor
Joseph Salerno of Pace University has identified this motivation.
this enormous depreciation, the Federal Reserve has steadfastly
refused to issue notes of larger denomination. This has made large
cash transactions extremely inconvenient and has forced the American
public to make much greater use than is optimal of electronic-payment
methods. Of course, this is precisely the intent of the US government.
The purpose of its ongoing breach of long-established laws regarding
financial privacy is to make it easier to monitor the economic affairs
and abrogate the financial privacy of its citizens, ostensibly to
secure their safety from Colombian drug lords, Al Qaeda operatives,
and tax cheats and other nefarious white-collar criminals.
There is no
way to hide digital money. There are few ways to hide digital information
at all. The average American does not bother to try to hide.
The very rich
use the legal system to protect their interests. They make it so
difficult for governments to interfere with their activities that
bureaucrats prefer to go for the low-hanging fruit: small businesses,
upper middle-class taxpayers, and similar targets who offer the
bureaucrats a high conviction/collection rate per investigation.
The bureaucrats want scalps. Middle class ones will do just fine.
ARE CHEAP TO COLLECT
law of demand is this: "When the price of something falls, more
will be demanded." This surely includes digitized data. The cost
for companies and governments to collect data is falling exponentially.
The demand is for more data. This is mammon in action: the god of
the Obama Administration authorized a change in the rules. It now
allows the government's National Counterterrorism Center to keep
information on Americans for five years. The old limit was six months.
The organization was founded in 2004 to coordinate information from
the various intelligence agencies: CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and the NSA.
The PBS News
Hour ran a segment on this administrative change. It noted this
following: "Left unclear is the kinds of information on Americans
that is being collected, retained, and analyzed now, and how widely
commercial data, like travel records, credit card transactions,
and phone calls, is involved." Whenever things are left unclear
this is because government bureaucrats prefer it this way. They
have fewer written restraints on their activities.
for this expansion is the inability of the government to identify
the 2009 Ft. Hood mass murders by a Muslim Army officer. We can
understand how difficult this was. As
Secretary of Defense Gates said, the military did not give enough
attention to the problem of "workplace violence."
Department of Defense Independent Review Related to Fort Hood, ordered
by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is
limited in scope. Despite the title of its report Protecting
the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood there is only a single
page dedicated to the chapter called "Oversight of the Alleged Perpetrator."
Much more space is given to military personnel policies (11 pages),
force protection (six pages) and the emergency response to the shootings
article on the Ft. Hood shootings offers this summary. The shooter
was in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone
has expressed admiration for the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, imam
at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque between 2000 and 2002. As Al-Awlaki
was under surveillance, Hasan was investigated by the FBI after
intelligence agencies intercepted 18 emails between them between
December 2008 and June 2009. In one, Hasan wrote: "I can't wait
to join you" in the afterlife. . . .
were informed of the contacts, but no threat was perceived; the
emails were judged to be consistent with mental health research
about Muslims in the armed services. A DC-based joint terrorism
task force operating under the FBI was notified, and the information
reviewed by one of its Defense Criminal Investigative Service
employees, who concluded there was not sufficient information
for a larger investigation. Despite two Defense Department investigators
on two joint task forces having looked into Hasan's communications,
higher-ups at the Department of Defense stated they were not notified
before the incident of such investigations.
of Ft. Hood, the government has opened the door to five-year data
storage on all Americans. In other words, there was insufficient
data available to the intelligence community to identify a looming
problem. The solution? Monitor everyone more closely.
"intelligence community" is an oxymoron. It is comparable to "military
justice." By the way, the shooter is still alive. He has not yet
been tried. On February 2, 2012 a military judge ruled that Hasan
will stand trial on June 12, 2012. The
delay in the trial is "purely a matter of necessity of adequate
time for pretrial preparation." Meanwhile, Hasan continues to receive
paychecks and medical expenses are paid by the military.
wrote a definitive book on the National Security Agency. He was
interviewed by PBS. He had this to say about the plan to extend
the period of data storage to five years. He pointed out that this
was attempted before, The Total Information Program, the infamous
was an organization that came up with this idea of collecting every
piece of information, putting it all together. And most of that
was private information on U.S. citizens. And then somehow, from
all that, we would be able to find these terrorists. Well, the public
was outraged by that idea and Congress was outraged by it, and they
quickly disbanded the Total Information Awareness program. And the
more we keep going down this road, the more we keep coming back
to that same concept.
I just finished
a cover story for Wired magazine this month where we look
at this very, very large data center that's being built in Utah
for the National Security Agency and for other agencies also.
It's going to be one million square feet. It will probably hold
a yottabyte of information, which is almost indescribable in terms
of the number of pages. I think it's a quintillion 500
quintillion pages of documents. You get to the point where you're
saying there's just too much collection, and the analysis just
has to go on with the information it has.
For your information,
a yottabyte is a quadrillion gigabytes.
spokesman said that the government intends to be discreet in what
it gathers. It will not gather everything.
had this response. He began with a little-known fact: the FBI
buys data from private data firms.
probably it's legal to do that, but we saw in the Bush administration
how for years they went on conducting illegal surveillance, and
then lying to the public about what was going on. President Bush
came out and said we were doing no warrantless eavesdropping, when
in fact we were doing a massive amount of warrantless eavesdropping.
The amount of information the government collects I think is a problem.
It's a problem because it affects the privacy, Fourth Amendment
rights of U.S. citizens. And I think the government is drowning
in information. I think that is one of the problems. It isn't able
to find the terrorists because there's too much information, not
too little information.
So, it is
not merely that government agencies collect data. All private American
data base collection firms are now fair game.
YES; INTELLIGENCE, NO
of the data is beyond comprehension anyone's comprehension.
This is the meaning of "comprehend": to get your mind around something.
can accumulate data. The government uses many programs. There is
no universal computer or program inside the U.S. government. The
data are not coordinated.
cannot think. They can only respond. The programmer has to build
in connections. The program is always limited by the abilities of
a handful of programmers. Too many programmers spoil the digital
government is drowning in data now. The decision-makers have the
ability to ask certain kinds of questions. But they cannot possibly
handle the amount of specific information that has been computerized.
of the government to make connections regarding terrorists is minimal.
Someone within the bureaucracy has to be willing to say: "He's the
man." He has to be Adrian Monk. He has to piece together the separate
bits and bytes. This takes the following:
Asking the right questions
Finding the correct data
Putting your next promotion on the line
Going to your superior
Who will go to his superior
Who will go to his superior.
Who will decide there's too much risk
to taxes, the IRS may decide it's worth the risk to pursue someone.
With the IRS, you are guilty until proven innocent. But it still
takes time and personnel to bring a case to a conclusion.
can create havoc for an individual. It has the resources. But why
bother? Who is this person? A nobody? No promotion there. A somebody?
He has lawyers who are smarter than government lawyers. So, it must
be someone in between: easy victories.
is this: despite enormous quantities of data, it still takes wisdom
and courage by bureaucrats to make the system work. Both are in
short supply in government.
The more suspects
they have, the greater the size of the haystack. The needle may
be easy to identify, but he will not be easy to convict.
It takes bureaucratic
resources to get a conviction. Agencies have administrative law
judges, meaning judges employed by the agencies. They are not independent.
But a decision by an ALJ can be appealed to an independent court.
The more data
the agencies have, the longer it will take to force anyone with
real money to do anything. If the U.S. Army cannot bring the Ft.
Hood shooter to trial after 18 months, you know the system is jammed
Noise is your
friend. The more data the government collects, the more noise exists
between you and an agency that seeks convictions.
of other people are part of the noise, and you opt out, that works
to your advantage.
will not bother to opt out.
You can get
off the lists of the largest data-collection sites. Just
click here to get started.
To surf outside
of Google's data-gathering, use
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible.
2012 Gary North
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