The DHS: Acquiring a Core Competency in Tyranny
The DHS: Acquiring a Core Competency in Tyranny by JAMES WESLEY RAWLES – Survival Blog
Did you see this recent news item at Forbes? Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And ‘Media Influencers’’. Hmmm… That’s interesting. The contract will be for “DHS Media Monitoring Services.” Ah, that sounds suitably mundane. But digging deeper into the original FedBizOpps announcement to read the Statement of Work (SOW), I noticed that it begins with:
1.) Core competencies. Introduce your company’s core competencies and relate those to the specific needs of the attached SOW.
That gave me a laugh. How does one describe a Core Competency in Snooping? Or a Core Competency in Tyranny?
I see that they want to contract with a company that to start has these abilities:
- Ability to track > 290,000 global news sources
- Ability to track online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media
- Ability to track media coverage in > 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Translation function to instantly translate these articles to English.
- Ability to create up to 20 searches with each unlimited keywords
- Unlimited coverage per search (no cap on coverage)
- Ability to change the searches at keywords at any given time
- Ability to create unlimited data tracking, statistical breakdown, and graphical analyses on any coverage on an ad-hoc basis
With all of their handy-dandy parameters and deep archives that never forget, this database tool will be able to constantly monitor individual trade journalist and bloggers. It could certainly watch for their use of certain key words or phrases. And presumably, if they ever used the, ahem, wrong words, then they could be flagged for action. End result: Something much worse than a traditional Ban List or Round-Up List. Instead, the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate will have a database that constantly watches the article topics and phrasing used by hundreds of thousands of journalists. And if any of them ever use the wrong words, then they could effectively self-select their names for a constantly-updated Action List.
The phrase “chilling effect” doesn’t even begin to describe how journalists might someday feel about writing an investigative story about the DHS or any of its 24 subordinate agencies. This planned database tool is a tyrant’s dream come true!
THE BIG SELFIE
Not surprisingly, as part of the SOW, the DHS also wants to track whether they themselves are mentioned in any news stories or blog posts. That is included in one of the SOW specifications:
“Services shall enable [the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate] to monitor traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event. Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers…” [Emphasis added]
Gee, that strikes me as an agency-level equivalent of a teenager who types in a Google search on her own name once a day.
I’M NOT THE FIRST
After I started writing this article, I did a web search and quickly found that I’m not the only blogger out there who suspects that this new database has a lot more in common with building a round-up lists and web site-blocking bad boy lists than it does with just creating a super version of CNN Headline News. The trendy Steemit social media site had an article by anarchist blogger “John Vibes”, who warned:
“According to a 2017 report by the independent research group Freedom House, press freedom in the United States and across the world is at its lowest point in 13 years. The report found that there were ‘unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies and new moves by authoritarian states to control the media, including beyond their borders.’ This is an ominous sign of things come for the media, especially those who question authority.”
And videoblogger Lisa Cabrera warns about the plan:
“This government will violate you when they are good and ready. And they don’t care about laws, they don’t cares about [the] Constitution, they don’t care if they gotta jail you illegally. They will do whatever they have to do to silence you. That is what this is all about: Silencing people…”
I also found an essay at Market-Ticker blog, by Karl Denninger. In it, he noted the significance of the fact that the deliverable database access had to be made to the DHS within five days of the contract award: