An interesting article here, which basically highlights that DEA paid an Amtrak secretary almost $900,000 over 20 years to give them private information on Amtrak passengers, under the table, so they could look for indicators of drug transport.
To many that story may be ho-hum, but they are not familiar with the process of recruiting an agent. If an intelligence agency, even the intelligence division of a domestic law enforcement agency, wants to recruit an asset there is one given. You will operate as if you only get once chance to recruit an asset in the targeted organization.
In this case, had they approached the secretary, and she went to her bosses and reported the approach, then an overzealous boss might actively seek to close down all access to the desired information. In this case, had that happened, there would have been two detriments. First, DEA would have had to ask for the data officially, and share seized assets and money with Amtrak Police, and Amtrak would have had to reveal the information sharing, had anyone filed an official FOIA request with Amtrak for documents relating to it. Clearly DEA decided that was not an option, so they choose to recruit the source, probably mostly to keep the activities of their intelligence division secret. Intelligence operations, wherever they operate out of, want to remain ghosts.
The first thing they did was somehow identify everyone who had access to the information they wanted. I have no idea how they did that, but once they had the list, they initiated passive surveillance on everyone on the list. That means pulling garbage, identifying and infiltrating social circles, probably pulling bank and telephone data (itself illegally acquired through similarly recruited assets in those entities) and getting a feel for who each person was, and where their pressure points were. If I had to guess, I’d bet they got pole-mounted phase-interference mics and maybe video on their house, if broadband was readily available to wire it into, but vehicle and foot operators would have been lightly applied, if at all.
I am certain if we knew the information that these covert domestic intelligence networks have amassed through these intelligence activities, and just what they could pull on any individual on a moment’s notice, our minds would be blown. They have either recruited sources or planted agents everywhere there is any intelligence that anybody could want, and I’ll bet what they haul in is put into a master database that would make “The Machine” on Person of Interest look like a Commodore 64 reading from a 5 inch floppy. Bank data, credit card purchases, cell-phone locations and activity, internet searches and traffic, emails, Fed-ex origins/destinations, stock-transactions, if it’s digitized, it’s all in there, no warrant needed.
As they reviewed potential agents, an upper level Amtrak executive, who owned his home outright, with a good salary, no credit card debt, good credit, and no moral shortcomings would be a bad choice – especially if he contributed to the ACLU and had a brother-in-law who was a reporter somewhere. A low paid secretary, with bad credit, lots of receipts for expensive clothes and shoes in her trash, a high mortgage payment, a high credit card balance, a low bank balance, poor morals, and who was having an affair behind her husband’s back despite their small child, would prove more pliable. She’d be a candidate.
She would probably have a girl or two show up at her yoga class, compliment her clothes and politely chat with her, to get an idea of what she was like. Someone would approach a close associate of her’s, initiate a relationship, and then finagle an introduction at some gathering, so they could begin the relationship with some social proof. You let your guard down with the friends of friends, because to be untrusting of a friend’s friend is almost to be disrespectful to your friend themselves.
The new friend might invite her out to drinks and a movie with some girlfriends, or even a vacation retreat somewhere, recording everything that occurred for later analysis. Since her intel would be important enough to dump almost a million dollars into her, she’d probably be followed everywhere by vehicle and foot surveillance for a time during this part of her assessment period, to see everyone she met, and watch everything she did.
She wouldn’t get the tier one surveillance operators. Her team would consist of the cast-offs with records of getting burned on past operations, but they’d probably be professional enough she wouldn’t notice them. The file on her, documenting every minute of her day for weeks, or maybe even months, even with video and audio files would be amazing. Even more amazing, she would probably be oblivious to all of this happening around her. To her every day would be just another day.
At some point, after they knew enough about her, she would get the pitch. It would ideally combine a carrot and a stick, so if she said no, she’d understand that if she didn’t keep her mouth shut, there would be a consequences. But she would say yes based on everything they knew, and they’d be right.
Once she is recruited, I’d be shocked if she wasn’t monitored more aggressively technically. The mics on her house, her plates in a database for the license plate readers, her phone data (calls and phone location) checked, and maybe even monitored, using the data from assets just like her that were recruited in the phone, bank, and credit card companies. One guy might spend and hour or so every two days quickly reviewing everything the tech pulled in on her, to keep tabs on her, just to make sure there were no surprises, like a cartel leader’s counter-surveillance guy putting money in her bank account to delete data about his mules from what she gave the DEA, or her secretly passing data about what she was doing to a reporter for an expose. She probably wouldn’t get in-person vehicle and foot surveillance normally, but if a flag popped up in the technical stuff, like her phone getting switched off for two hours midday, or a call to a reporter, you could bet vehicle and foot would be on her in a jiff to figure out exactly what was up.
Now here is the funny part. They went to all this trouble and expense – for information that was of limited importance to them. First, if this was high priority data, they would have gotten one of their own agents backstopped as a secretary, or a computer tech, and hired on to pull it themselves. That they were recruiting a mere secretary said they viewed it as normal background intelligence they wanted in their database, but which didn’t relate to any specific high-priority investigation. Additionally, they probably already had two or three other sources of the same information in different offices already pulling it and providing it, so they’d have multiple sources. That way, if one source went down there would be redundancy – and with multiple copies, they could check each list against the others, to make sure no specific asset was providing compromised data.
They went to this effort and a million dollar expense, on low level background intelligence which they could have gotten for free, simply by formally asking, and which they probably already had via other sources (to whom they were paying a million dollars each) anyway. Think about that for a moment, and what it implies about their budget and activities.
Now imagine what would fall on your head if you were ever to become a high-priority target of the government. Or just a medium-priority target, or even just a target of some interest period, which would be more than this secretary was. That is the machine that is operating behind the curtain, and it is keeping excess capacity on hand to handle any requirement for a future terrorism-related surge. Where they don’t have work, they make it, to keep their edge sharp. As you read this, they are infiltrating somewhere, recruiting someone, and adding a new stream of data to their database.
I don’t care that they do this for drugs. Dealers are usually likely to be psychopaths and scumbags, and cleaning the population of them is a public service. But I am worried that this type of intelligence apparatus is evolving domestically, to amass data for purposes of extra-legal control of Americans. The law enforcement professionals who want to fight bad guys probably have a hold of it now, but that will change, if history is any guide.
Things are changing already. Federal agencies are starting to be overtly turned on Conservatives for purely political reasons, from IRS, to EPA, to OSHA. We never do that type of thing, so when George Bush takes office, he simply pretends nothing could ever be wrong. But then a Liberal gets in, plants all their SJW operatives in these organizations, they begin to force out anyone who isn’t on board with their ideological agenda, and eventually, lacking all morals, that agency will be capable of anything.
I see no indication that these agencies are taking steps to exclude liberal ideologues. That is a problem we would be foolish to ignore.
The more power these agencies amass, the more liberal ideologues will seek to infiltrate them, and then purge them of all non-believers – it is how leftists work. Once the Law Enforcement professionals are purged, and replaced with the ideologues, watch-out. Things will get real hairy, real fast for any conservatives who care about freedom.
This is what is coming, and it is why I think anyone involved with Conservative politics should take measures to become more surveillance-aware. If you have spoken out, even just by commenting on Vox, you may someday get attention. Be aware of when it arrives, because once it comes, things will have changed, and nothing will be impossible anymore.