As they walked along the busy, yellow-lit tiers of offices, Anderton said: “You’re acquainted with the theory of precrime, of course. I presume we can take that for granted.” — Philip K. Dick, The Minority Reportmore grim meat-hook reality at the link...
From COINTELPRO to the illegal targeting of antiwar activists and Muslim-Americans, the FBI is America’s premier political police agency. And now, from the folks who brought us Wi-Fi hacking, viral computer spyware and al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed comes the Bureau’s Department of Precrime!
A chilling new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals the breadth and scope of the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), the Bureau’s massive data-mining project.
With more than a billion records “many of which contain information on American citizens,” EFF is calling on Congress to demand FBI accountability and strict oversight of this Orwellian project. By all accounts IDW is huge and growing at a geometric pace. According to the Bureau’s own narrative,
The IDW received its initial authority to operate in September 2005, and successfully completed a Federal Information Security Management Act audit in May 2007. As of September 2008, the IDW had: 7,223 active user accounts; 3,826 FBI personnel trained on the system, and 997,368,450 unique searchable documents. The IDW transitioned to the operations and maintenance phase during FY 2008. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Investigative Data Warehouse,” no date)
EFF notes that “the Library on Congress by way of comparison, has about 138 million (138,313,427) items in its collection.”
Kurt Opsahl, EFF’s Senior Staff Attorney and the author of the new report said: “The IDW includes more than four times as many documents as the Library of Congress, and the FBI has asked for millions of dollars to data-mine this warehouse, using unproven science in an attempt to predict future crimes from past behavior. We need to know all of what’s in the IDW, and how our privacy will be protected.”
In 2008, the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council issued a stinging report that questioned the efficacy of data-mining as an investigative tool for combatting terrorism.
Also see, Detecting a crime before it happens
Could the blink of an eye or the curl of a lip give away a terrorist? Government scientists are trying to find out.
Reporting from Washington —If Bob Burns is correct, terrorists may betray themselves someday by jiggling on a Nintendo Wii balance board, blinking too fast, curling a lip like Elvis — or doing nothing at all.
Burns and his team of scientists are researching whether video game boards, biometric sensors and other high-tech devices can be used to detect distinct nonverbal cues from people who harbor "mal-intent," or malicious intent.
"We're looking pre-event," said Burns, the No. 2 at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency, a counterpart of the fabled Pentagon agency that developed Stealth aircraft and the Internet.
"We're trying to detect a crime before it has occurred."
OK, roll the sci-fi thriller "Minority Report," in which Tom Cruise and other "pre-crime" cops use psychic visions to arrest murderers before they kill. Or maybe "The Men Who Stare at Goats," a George Clooney comedy inspired by real military experiments with supposedly psychic soldiers.
The work on mal-intent, which has cost $20 million so far, represents the future in screening: trying to find the bomber, not just the bomb.
"Sometimes people look at our projects and say, 'This is crazy,' " conceded Burns, a former submarine weapons officer.
If Burns' group is delving into the mind of terrorists, another Homeland Security agency is studying its face.
The human factors division has spent nearly $20 million to experiment with micro-expressions, or super-quick flickers of facial muscles, that may — or may not — indicate hostile intent.
Researchers are studying 275 videos of test interviews — frame by painstaking frame, 30 frames a second, each video up to 10 minutes long — so analysts can catalog "micro-facial emotional leakages."
"We are breaking new ground here," said Larry Willis, the project director.
The need for improvement is clear. Security teams trained to spot suspicious behavior have pulled 152,000 people out of airport lines in recent years, according to a report this month from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
As another commenter says, "since the FBI probably went ahead and datamined members of Congress first, very little will come of this". That's how it's done now...