CBP Now Has Access To NSA, CIA Collections

from the fantastic-news-for-authoritarians dept

Welcome to the Intelligence Community, CBP!

Pushing further toward its goal of “extreme vetting,” the Trump administration is creating a new center in suburban Virginia that will allow immigration agents to access, for the first time, the sprawling array of information scooped up by America’s intelligence agencies, from phone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency to material gathered by the CIA’s spies overseas to tips from informants in Central America.

CBP and ICE have been pushing for this for several months now, nudged along by an administration that has decided to treat immigration as a national emergency rather than an explicit endorsement of the American Dream™. Now that immigrants crossing the border are "threats" rather than potential contributing American citizens, CBP has been given access to intelligence gathered by foreign-facing intelligence agencies.

"National security = border security" says our nation's president, his administration, and his revolving door of short-lived agency heads. This greatly overstates the reality of the situation. Multiple studies have shown immigrants tend to be less dangerous than natural born citizens, but the Man Up Top still believes our last president was a Kenyan interloper so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Multiple agencies have access to data collected by intelligence agencies. The FBI in particular loves the backdoor searches these supposedly foreign-facing collections offer. Working backwards from overseas connections, the FBI can engage in secondhand domestic surveillance, all without troubling the Constitution enough for courts or Congress to shut this bullshit down.

Add CBP to that list. When not harassing foreigners because they're foreigners, the CBP can (theoretically but come on, how long until some abuse is exposed?) continue its surveillance of domestic journalists, lawyers, and activists, all without worrying too much about this snooping being exposed in court proceedings. Once you tap into natsec pipelines, you have a built-in STFU when people start asking questions.

This snooping will be added to the list of things CBP gets away with due to its border/national security tasking. The Constitution is barely applied at the border, so things the CBP does won't be subjected to the strictest scrutiny.

All of this alone would be reason to worry. But as Melissa del Bosque's report for ProPublica points out, the volatility of this particular administration adds additional concerns to the mix. Oversight is already kind of a joke. Direct control of this access is going to be up in the air until at least 2021.

“You have an acting secretary who could be gone in an hour by tweet,” said Carrie Cordero, a senior fellow with the Washington-based bipartisan think tank Center for a New American Security. “The general counsel for DHS, who ultimately has the responsibility for making sure that oversight rules are followed, was just fired. So, there’s real questions as to what kind of management decisions are being made.”

Laying the groundwork now ensures this will be perfectly lawful and normal going forward. It will take more than a regime change to claw back CBP's access to IC collections once they've been codified. Congress had a line drawn between domestic law enforcement agencies and foreign-facing intelligence agencies, but that line has been blurred over the past 18 years. The FBI has rebranded itself as a counterterrorist agency and other law enforcement entities have insisted their drug war is a global effort that shouldn't be limited by firewalls meant to protect Americans from domestic snooping.

President Trump, however, has decided protecting Americans doesn't make America great.

Trump’s memo requires even the most sensitive intelligence agencies, including the NSA and the CIA, to share classified intelligence with the CBP-run center. It also requires the center to expand vetting beyond counterterrorism into new areas such as transnational crime and counterintelligence.

If you think CBP won't abuse its access to expand its questionable targeting of journalists, activists, and immigration lawyers, you haven't been paying attention to the last six years of leaks and FOIA documents. The NSA has abused its collections. The FBI has abused the NSA's collections. The CIA has abused pretty much everything it's touched, domestic or foreign. And the CBP has abused its powers to perform surveillance of people engaged in protected or privileged communications. This isn't good news for anyone.

Filed Under: cbp, cia, intelligence data, law enforcement, nsa, surveillance


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 11:08am

    1. On the Obama Kenyan issue, enough people spouted it that I believe he might actually be a dual citizen. I know my family tree and know I have some dual citizenships by descent that I just ignore. He is definitely a natural born US citizen though.

    2. I have been holding my tongue on most Trump issues because the Trump-Russia investigations did seem exactly like a partisan frame up where Trump was blamed for Russian actions he knew nothing about for political advantage from the beginning of it. Also, Trump ran on almost the polar opposite platform as Obama so it makes sense that he's reversing Obama policies.

    However, continually bitching about how Obama had him spied on (which was true if you refer to Obama in his head of state role even if he didn't know about it or get involved with it personally with it) and then assigning another agency to spy on the rest of us is getting pretty close to enough Trump for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 12:00pm

      Re:

      You are quite confused, but do not feel alone in this condition as many others share your dilemma.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      I looked it up quickly. Kenya has citizenship by descent from a single parent so if Obama's father never gave up his Kenyan citizenship after he moved Obama would have been born a dual citizen. If Obama Sr. didn't give up his citizenship from Kenya then President Obama would then have the choice to give his inherited citizenship up or not. Either way, being born in the Hawaii made him a natural born US citizen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        CW Miller (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 4:12am

        Re: Re:

        You are incorrect. Natural Born Citizenship can only be inherited from both parents being a citizen at the time of birth.Read "The Law of Nature" by Emer de Vattel. The Founders did.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Natural Born Citizenship can only be inherited from both parents being a citizen at the time of birth"

          In Kenya?

          btw ... a little off topic no?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That isn't the definition that has adopted in use thus far afaik. I don't know if Obama Sr. completed the immigration process when President Obama was born but I assume he did even if it wasn't necessary.

          There have been a number of court cases about whether doing the US citizen oath takes away your foreign citizenship. The supreme court weighed in when the transfer of citizenship treaties were found unconstitutional. So, you have to go through a foreign legal process to get rid of your foreign citizenships and oaths to the US government don't have any legal affect on it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 8 Nov 2019 @ 2:13pm

    America, America - Where have you gone?

    Pushing further toward its goal of “extreme vetting,” the Trump administration is creating a new center in suburban Virginia that will allow immigration agents to access, for the first time, the sprawling array of information scooped up by America’s intelligence agencies, from phone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency to material gathered by the CIA’s spies overseas to tips from informants in Central America.

    Thank goodness - our trustworthy betters in government - have kept the surveillance program on tack and have used it solely to uncover spies and terrorists within our midst.

    Trump’s memo requires even the most sensitive intelligence agencies, including the NSA and the CIA, to share classified intelligence with the CBP-run center. It also requires the center to expand vetting beyond counterterrorism into new areas such as transnational crime and counterintelligence.

    What could possibly go wrong with this scheme?

    It isn't as if US government agents would abuse data gleaned by unconstitutionally surveilling every American's electronic bits/bytes sent/received 24/7/365.

    Our betters in government also photograph every piece of mail sent from coast to coast.

    Italicized/bold text was excerpted from nytimes.com a report titled:

    Postal Service Confirms Photographing All U.S. Mail

    The Postal Service on Friday confirmed that it takes a photograph of every letter and package mailed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year — and occasionally provides the photos to law enforcement agencies that request them as part of criminal cases.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/us/postal-service-confirms-photographing-all-us-mail.html

    There is no escaping the all seeing, omni-present/powerful gorgon stare of the criminal US government.

    Italicized/bold text was excerpted from observer.com a report titled:

    Top Secret Military-Grade Surveillance Drones Might Be Coming To Your Neighborhood

    The Gorgon Stare is the eye-in-the-sky, a military surveillance drone built by the Pentagon, that can simultaneously track 1,000 moving targets. It’s the cute nickname for a type of wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) technology, that allows a camera, which has had its power greatly expanded, to be attached to a drone—and can then watch and record a massive area.

    And everyone involved in the development of Gorgon Stare who Holland Michel interviewed for his book was very realistic about the fact that they had created a very dangerous tool if misused. Gulp.

    The Air Force owns Gorgon Stare. Holland Michel states that it is also flying right now as we speak, but we don’t know in what capacity; all operational information is considered classified. If Homeland Security has the ability to prevent a terrorist attack, then it’s incumbent to use the technology at hand to do so—just don’t get on the wrong side of the Patriot Act.

    https://observer.com/2019/06/gorgon-stare-aerial-surveillance-drones/

    We can trust the US government and it's agents - they would never tell a lie. (HAHA)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 4:13pm

    This is where rando foreign and domestic operatives are going to get access to the Mass Surveillance Pipe and use it for their own purposes. Of all the agencies to have access to collections, this will be be the most leaky, insecure one with the most awful, low-quality employees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:06am

    "Pushing further toward its goal of “extreme vetting,”"

    The GOP should learn about this "vetting" thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 11:28am

    An obvious step after the firewall had been demolished ...

    ... between intelligence and law enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 3:25am

    Police State

    Terrorism, the gift that just keeps on giving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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