Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Gotta love Hawaii: Training kids in the art of computer espionage and cyber security— and training businessmen to kill
by Larry Geller
Hawaii is a hotbed of spooks due to the presence of the Pacific Command, NSA, Infragard (see below) and other intelligence operators and contractors. We’re getting a bit of publicity because NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lived and worked here before leaving for Hong Kong.
Don’t miss the Infragard section towards the end of this article—it includes info on a contest I’ll bet you didn’t know about.
Toward the end of the Civil Beat story posted Saturday is a description of how the university system is training new spooks--and the only thing standing in the way of these "kids" using their knowledge on the public network is a pledge that they won't do so, on penalty of getting kicked out of school.
Training kids in the art of computer espionage and cyber security isn’t something [computer networking professor at HCC Aaron] Tanaka takes lightly.
He makes all his students sign a waiver saying they can get expelled if they use what they’re taught inappropriately. There will also be discussions about ethics, he said.
“Information privacy is very important, so you can’t go onto a public system and start sniffing people’s traffic,” Tanaka said. “We’ll set up a private network for (the students) to play around on. They’re not just playing around on the internet.”
[Civil Beat, Bow Ties, Spies and Money: A Look Inside Hawaii's Intel Community, 7/8/2013]
This cohort of new cyber-spooks will find a lucrative market for their talents once they graduate and are not bound by their paper “waiver.” More important, they’ll know how to hack and penetrate networks either for good or for evil. Is it appropriate for Hawaii’s government institutions to be providing this training at taxpayer expense? Would we pay to teach kids to pick locks?
Given what we have learned from Snowden about the vast, actually unimaginable, amount of data collected about each of us, it may be interesting to speculate upon who has access to our personal data (aside from the 4.9 million or so people with security clearances). Fusion centers have been established throughout the nation to facilitate sharing of data. We have at least one in Hawaii.
This Department of Justice document, freely available on the Web but marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive”, gives details of the location of Hawaii’s Fusion Center including location and contact information as well as a list of participants. A web search shows that the existence of a fusion center here is not a secret, there are plenty of hits.
The number of agencies engaged in sharing information is extensive:
Pacific Regional Information Clearinghouse (Pac Clear) Fusion Center Component of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, City and County Prosecuting Attorney’s Offices, Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hawaii County Police Department, Hawaii National Guard, Hawaii State Attorney General’s Office, Honolulu Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Kauai County Police Department, Maui County Police Department, United States Attorney’s Office, United States Marshals Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Western States Information Network, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and United States Coast Guard
500 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 356-4467 (M-F, 8am-5pm)
They even have a website from which we learn that
Fusion Centers provide regional information sharing among local, state and federal public safety agencies and private sector organizations in order to facilitate the collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence relevant to terrorism and public safety.
That’s a whole lot of agencies potentially sharing what we now know to be a huge amount of data—data on each and every one of us.
Many say, “I’ve done nothing wrong, why should I care?” Without engaging completely on that argument, let me point out some ways that the average Joe or Josephine could find themselves highlighted for more detailed perusal.
From a quick Google hit, a 2009 article on fusion or analysis centers, of which we seem to be oversupplied with here in Hawaii:
If you're an anti-abortion activist, or if you display political paraphernalia supporting a third-party candidate or a certain Republican member of Congress, if you possess subversive literature, you very well might be a member of a domestic paramilitary group.
[Fox News, 'Fusion Centers' Expand Criteria to Identify Militia Members, 3/23/2009]
Your library records, famously sought after by the government, provide “triggers” for suspicion. Have you borrowed, or read on the Internet any Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material? Did you borrow or download the film “America: Freedom to Fascism?”
Have you supported a third-party candidate?
From the article:
During a press conference last week in Kansas City, Mo., DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano called fusion centers the "centerpiece of state, local, federal intelligence-sharing" in the future.
ACLU officials blasted a Texas fusion center last month for distributing a "Prevention Awareness Bulletin" that called on law enforcement officers to report activities of local lobbying groups, Muslim civil rights organizations and anti-war protest groups.
Although much may have changed since these documents were posted by someone onto the Scribd website, they may still be of interest:
- Washington State Fusion Center Standard Operating Procedures
- Washington State Fusion Center Program Overview
Externally, there is plenty of information on Fusion Centers for the googling. Of course, what goes on inside is not available to us.
Washington Post (2010): Top Secret America: The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe. From the report we learn that the Standard Operating Procedures mentioned in the Washington State document linked above may not in fact be governing Fusion Center activities:
* The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.
* Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.
* The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings
Hawaii is mentioned in the Washington Post report, although the data is old and derives from Hawaii state government info they took from a website. But there’s this:
Measured per capita, the state ranked third in overall federal government expenditures.
That would likely be related to the large military presence, with all that brings along with it.
ACLU: Fusion Centers: Force Multiplier for Spying in Local Communities
Infragard in Hawaii
Hey, contest fans. Here’s an exciting one I’ll bet you missed:
EXCITING CONTEST WINNERS - All Infragard Hawaii Contest Members are invited to enter the Infragard Hawaii "Quarterly Best Security Tip Contest". Each calendar quarter starting on July 1, 2009 - 3rd Quarter, 2009, a great prize will be awarded for the best Security Tip. Protect the internet, pick a lock, hack security cameras and more. Show off your skills! Prizes, Deals, Discounts, exclusive redeemable coupons will be given to those who participate. Next quarter Infragard will be donating many prizes including $25 Pizza Hut Gift Card, $25 Off Olive Garden GC, $25 Off Mcdonalds GC. Around a week before Christmas, some lucky and smart Infragard Hawaii member, who provided the Best Security Tip of the Year will be awarded a new 8GB iPod Nano!!!
Yeah, pick a lock or hack a security camera and you might be the winner of $25 off at McDonalds or even an 8GB iPod Nano. (!!!).
It’s hard to believe, but that’s Infragard done Hawaii style. Check it out here before they take down the web page.
How many Infragard members are there in Hawaii? The same web page claims:
As of April 25, 2011, there are now 41,364 members(including FBI).
If true, the odds of winning that iPod Nano might have been pretty small.
What does Infragard do? Check out my 2008 article, Corporations deputized to kill? In Hawaii?? (2/8/2008) and the followup, More on InfraGard and corporate execs licensed to kill (2/11/2008).
The first article is short enough to include here, because I wouldn’t want you to miss it:
by Larry Geller
InfraGard has a chapter in Hawaii. They are a secretive group of business leaders working with the FBI. And like 007, they have a license to kill.
According to an exclusive report by Progressive Review released yesterday (and mentioned on today's Democracy Now!), these corporate members have a "license to kill" granted by the FBI in the event of martial law. From the article:
“One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.”
So if you're walking down the street in front of one of these corporate offices in Honolulu and Bush declares martial law, does this mean they can just shoot you??? No questions asked??
The Democracy Now! short report:
“Report: FBI Deputizes 23,000 Business Leaders
The Progressive Magazine is reporting that more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The business leaders form a group known as InfraGard that receives warnings of terrorist threats directly from the FBI before the public does. According to one whistleblower the FBI has given members of InfraGard permission to shoot to kill in the event of martial law.”
According to the Progressive Review article InfraGard is an exclusive club:
“To join, each person must be sponsored by “an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.” The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.
They are also supposed to be spies:
[FBI Director Robert Mueller] urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they ‘note suspicious activity or an unusual event.’ And he said they could sic the FBI on ‘disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.’ ”
The article ends with this chilling assertion:
“ ‘We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions,’ the whistleblower says. ‘It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone.’ ”
If your bones are also chilled while reading this, check out the complete article.
And should this blog suddenly disappear, someone please call the ACLU for me.
Finally this article on FBI training of these business leaders:
Oh, you think it’s a conspiracy theory that Hawaii business people are being trained to kill? Then why are trainings held for them at the Kaneohe Marine Corp target range where, under the supervision of “some of the FBI’s best weapons instructors,” they learn to use “some of the baddest weapons on the planet?”
Infragard is different in that the organization has trained for action. Action against whom, you may ask? Occupy demonstrators? Maybe those who checked out the wrong movie from the library are on their list.
We live in interesting times. At least, there’s godzilla-bytes of information available for future historians, all collected for them by the NSA.