Americans have never seen such a blatant and misleading excuse to use surveillance planes to spy on everyone, quite like what is happening in Maryland.
Two days ago, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan sent a letter to the Mayor of Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department agreeing to send funds to help the city fight crime.
Which seems like a laudable thing to do right? But there is a darker side to this story.
The Baltimore Sun revealed that police will use some of this money to monitor the movements of people and vehicles.
“Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday pledged $21 million to help fight crime in Baltimore and endorsed the use of a controversial surveillance plane to fly over the city recording the movements of people and vehicles below.”
In the letter, Hogan said, “We understand that this has been offered at no cost to Baltimore for up to three years,” Hogan wrote. “We urge you to implement this program immediately.”
But in the video below, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison claimed police have a five-year “transformational plan” to monitor the public. (approx: 2:00)
So it is unclear who is telling the truth. Is it a three-year or five-year plan to use planes to monitor everyone? Or is it really a permanent plan to use aerial surveillance planes, helicopters and drones to monitor the public?
Police claim monitoring the public makes them happier
In what can only be described as one of the most audacious fallacies to come out of post-9/11 are law enforcement claims that spying on everyone makes people happier.
The Governor’s letter revealed how police are using the “Baltimore Community Support Program” or the Eye in the Sky to “help make the community a safer and happier place to live, work, and play.”
If you are thinking haven’t I hear this story before? You would be correct.
Last year I reported officials in Riverhead, New York also claimed that police drones and cameras would “uplift downtown.”
And that is exactly what is happening in Baltimore.
The police department’s justification or “vision” for monitoring people and vehicles is that it will make them happier.
“Our vision is a safer, happier, and more enjoyable Baltimore. We hope to contribute to a safe environment and a respectful community where people feel safe to live, work and play.”
I thought Hollywood had cornered the market on horror stories, except this is not Hollywood, it is real-life.
What makes this story even more disturbing is the Persistent Surveillance Solutions (PSS) offer to pay for administration and oversight of the program.
Last year, the Baltimore Police Department began using an innocuously-named “Community Support Program” run by PSS to monitor the public from high altitudes.
But just last month, Steve McNutt the owner of PSS was still working hard to convince officials to use free surveillance planes to monitor the public.
“The current mayor has said if the police commissioner wants it, he should be allowed to have it,” McNutt told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “We hope that when the commissioner sees what we do, and how effective we are, that he would be very supportive of it.”
Who could say no to a free surveillance plane program? Certainly not the Governor and Mayor who saw what PSS could do and liked it.
Recent news stories and videos reveal that the police commissioner appears to have changed his mind and will use surveillance planes to monitor people and vehicles.
The Governor’s letter revealed one more disturbing tidbit of information,
“The Maryland State Police Aviation Command, Homeland Security, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Governor’s Office of Crime Patrol and Prevention (GOCCP) will work together with the Baltimore Police Department to build and improve upon what we are already doing.”
In other words, DHS and law enforcement will work together perfecting how best to monitor everyone.
One cannot help but notice how eerily similar the GOCCP is to the CCCP, the Russian abbreviation for the Union of Soviet Social Republics.
It is getting harder and harder for even the most cynical person to deny that corporations and Big Brother are working together to improve upon ways to monitor everything we do.
Editors Note: Some of the information collected through these local surveillance programs almost certainly ends up in federal databases. The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE.
Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”
Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.
This article was originally published at MassPrivatel
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