Transforming TSA into a Military Intelligence Operation
March 23, 2010
Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration told Congress on Tuesday he wants U.S. airport security to more closely resemble security at Israeli airports, according to CNN. “We should move even closer to an Israeli model where there’s more engagement with passengers,” Robert Harding told members of the Senate Commerce Committee.
The Israelis are notorious for racial profiling Arabs at their airports. Is that what Harding is suggesting we do in the United States?
Arab Labor MK, Nadia Hilou, and countless others have accused the Israelis of employing humiliation techniques against Arabs. After prominent Israeli Arabs complained about abusive treatment at airports, Shin Bet announced that the procedures would change.
Of course, here in America, where Arabs are few and far between and Arab terrorism is not really an issue, individuals likely to be singled out will be supporters of “rightwing extremists” like Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin. In fact, this has already happened.
TSA notorious for Gestapo interrogation
In 2009, Steve Bierfeldt, director of development for Campaign for Liberty, was detained by the TSA and subjected to the sort of “additional screening” the Israelis put Arabs through. Bierfeldt was carrying Campaign for Liberty bumper stickers and other campaign literature. He was interrogated by TSA screeners and airport police at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for nearly a half-hour before being allowed on his flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The Department of Homeland Security has characterized constitutionalists and patriots as potential terrorists. The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report specifically described supporters of presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr as “militia” influenced terrorists and instructed the Missouri police to be on the lookout for supporters displaying bumper stickers and other paraphernalia associated with the Constitutional, Campaign for Liberty, and Libertarian parties.
Mr. Bierfeldt recorded the interrogation on his iPhone. On the recording, Bierfeldt is repeatedly asked where he works, where he obtained $4,700 he was carrying, and why he was in St. Louis.
Bierfeldt asked whether he was required by law to answer the questions. “You want to play smartass, and I’m not going to play your f–ing game,” a TSA official told him.
On June 18, 2009, the ACLU filed a complaint on behalf of Bierfeldt, charging that TSA is subjecting innocent Americans to unreasonable searches and detentions in violation of the Constitution.
“Eight days before the government’s response was due in our case, TSA issued a new policy directive making clear that its safety screening procedures would be strictly limited to passenger searches for the purpose of safeguarding flight safety,” Bierfeldt wrote on November 10, 2009. “In combination with other directives issued in the wake of our lawsuit, TSA’s policy now makes clear that passengers should not experience the kind of suspicionless detention and questioning I had been subjected to.”
TSA nominee former Pentagon spook
As reported by Infowars earlier this month, Obama’s choice to head up the TSA is a former Army general who was responsible for the planning and execution of the Army’s intelligence programs.
From 1997 to until 2000, as the Director of Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Robert Harding acted as the Department of Defense’s senior Human Intelligence officer.
Prior to working at the DIA, Harding served as the J2, Intelligence Directorate, United States Southern Command, under generals Barry McCaffrey and Wes Clark as their intelligence chief.
He also directed intelligence with the Joint Interagency Task Force in the so-called War on Drugs.
Between 2003 and 2009, Harding was a government consultant on human intelligence and counterintelligence issues.
Pentagon engaged in surveillance of Americans for decades
In 2005, Walter Pincus, writing for the Washington Post, reported that the Defense Department had expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities since 9/11.
“The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence,” Pincus wrote.
“We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview.
Of course, this pervasive snooping is nothing new. In fact, the Pentagon has been in the business of spying on Americans for decades. Cable Splicer and Operation Garden Plot were designed specifically to spy on Americans.
In 1971, Senator Sam Ervin (D-North Carolina), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, held hearings about allegations of Army spying on U.S. civilians. The hearings revealed that the Army had kept records on hundreds of thousands of American citizens connected with the antiwar movement and that such activities were part of Operation Garden Plot. The Subcommittee also found that the Army had trained civilian law enforcement workers in simulated battles against rioters and large groups of protesters. It also found that Army units went on alert in May 1970 for possible response to campus demonstrations in the wake of the Kent State shootings. (See my CIFA: Pentagon’s COINTELPRO.)
Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon established the Northern Command, or Northcom, in Colorado Springs, ostensibly to provide military forces to help in reacting to “terrorist threats in the continental United States” (as noted above, the supposed terrorists are primarily American citizens exercising their right to petition the government under the First Amendment).
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity was “increasingly required to perform domestic missions,” and this resulted in “increased instances whereby Marine intelligence activities [expected to] come across information regarding U.S. persons.”
CIFA and TALON
The Pentagon, with the blessing of the neocon controlled Bush administration, created an outfit dubbed Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. CIFA was empowered to investigate crimes such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage and economic espionage.
In short order, the CIFA director formed a Counterintelligence and Law Enforcement Center “to provide continuous situational awareness of ongoing DoD counterintelligence and law enforcement activities throughout the world.”
CIFA relied on private contractors, including QinetiQ, a British-owned defense and intelligence firm based in McClean, Virginia.
In addition, the Pentagon created TALON, or Threat and Local Observation Notice, a sprawling database that contained “raw, non-validated” reports of “anomalous activities” within the United States, according to Brian McWilliams.
CIFA was “created by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld after the September 11 attacks [and] illegally conducted broad domestic operations that targeted antiwar and other dissident domestic groups,” writes Tom Burghardt.
In 2008, after a spate of bad press, it was announced that CIFA would be shuttered. “The Pentagon is expected to shut a controversial intelligence office that has drawn fire from lawmakers and civil liberties groups who charge that it was part of an effort by the Defense Department to expand into domestic spying,” the New York Times reported.
CIFA, however, was too valuable to disappear. “The Pentagon’s senior intelligence official, James R. Clapper, has recommended to Mr. Gates that the counterintelligence field office be dismantled and that some of its operations be placed under the authority of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” Mark Mazzetti wrote on April 2, 2008. “It is unclear whether Mr. Clapper is also recommending tighter restrictions on Pentagon counterterrorism and counterespionage operations in the United States.”
As Burghardt notes, CIFA and the TALON database were likely outsourced to a number of private contractors associated with the operation. The “Pentagon ‘outsourcing’ of intelligence operations to corporations provide yet another layer of ‘plausible deniability’ to the DoD as it wages the administration’s odious ‘war on terror’ against the American people.”
Transforming TSA into a military intelligence operation
The Pentagon’s long track record of spying on the American people for their political beliefs should figure in Robert Harding’s confirmation process. He was, after all, a major player in military intelligence. Of course, his relationship with the Pentagon and its covert war against political enemies is not a consideration and is certainly not something the corporate media covers (in fact, corporate media coverage of Harding’s confirmation is light at best).
It should be obvious why Obama (or rather his handlers) want a military spook to run the TSA — the government plans to expand its Gestapo tactics at America’s airports under the guise of combating the manufactured war on largely non-existent terrorism.
The TSA is no longer confined to airports. It now routinely “spot checks” bus terminals for supposed terrorists. “The checks involved bomb-sniffing dogs, an explosive trace detection machine and behavior detection officers. In addition, luggage was checked with portable X-ray machines,” an Orlando television news station reported in February.
In the above video, General Harding tells Congress the TSA needs to perform intelligence operations in bus and train stations.
If Harding is confirmed — and there is no reason to believe he will not — future TSA operations will likely take on the character of military intelligence operations in addition to making passengers take off their shoes, go through naked body scanners, and endure mindless interrogations about campaign literature and political bumper stickers.
Critics of Obama, especially displaced neocons, like to portray him as a weak-kneed liberal who is soft on terrorism. It is painfully obvious, however, that there was a near seamless transition between the Bush and Obama administrations. Obama has embraced and taken to heart Dick Cheney’s declaration that the “war on terror is a lengthy enterprise.”