The Navy’s primary law enforcement agency has been conducting illegal surveillance operations against countless civilian computers for the past several years, a federal appeals court found last week.
Documents obtained by the Courthouse News Service reveal a 2010 case in which a Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agent in Georgia used an advanced surveillance software program known as “RoundUp” to scan every civilian computer in Washington state for child pornography
NCIS Agent Steve Logan was able to locate one suspect, Washington-resident Michael Dreyer, and immediately turned the information over to police, who subpoenaed Dreyer’s internet service provider with the FBI. Dreyer was charged in federal court after the officers, and Homeland Security at a later date, used the illegally-obtained data to acquire a search warrant for his house.
After Dreyer’s lawyers questioned the search warrant’s legitimacy, Navy representatives claimed that the initial surveillance operation was justified due to Washington state’s heavy “saturation” of Navy personnel and Dreyer’s prior military service.
A panel of the Ninth District Court of Appeals in San Francisco disagreed, stating that the search never targeted specific military bases or personnel but instead searched millions of computers not associated with the military.
“To accept that position would mean that NCIS agents could, for example, routinely stop suspected drunk drivers in downtown Seattle on the off-chance that a driver is a member of the military, and then turn over all information collected about civilians to the Seattle Police Department for prosecution,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon.
While possession of child pornography is undoubtedly the most vile of offenses, the government’s use of dragnet surveillance against millions of Americans not suspected of a crime still remains unconstitutional.
“This is, literally, the militarization of the police,” defense attorney Erik Levin told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They have enough funding that they can go out and stray from the core mission of national security and get into local law enforcement.”
Unsurprisingly, the case also revealed the illegal surveillance practice to be a regular occurrence inside the Navy.
“So far as we can tell from the record, it has become a routine practice for the Navy to conduct surveillance of all the civilian computers in an entire state to see whether any child pornography can be found on them, and then to turn over the information to civilian law enforcement when no military connection exists,” the ruling states.
“We have here abundant evidence that the violation at issue has occurred repeatedly and frequently, and that the government believes that its conduct is permissible, despite prior cautions by our court and others that military personnel, including NCIS agents, may not enforce the civilian laws.”
The Navy, like countless other government agencies, may also be engaged in “parallel construction,” a technique used by law enforcement to conceal when data is provided illegally by federal agencies.
Speaking with Infowars earlier this month, NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe explained how the federal government routinely engages in the practice.
“Now we have NSA collaborating with FBI and DEA doing something called ‘Parallel Construction.’ In such a scenario, NSA sends information to a law enforcement agency, such as Drug Enforcement Agency and that agency uses the information secretly to investigate individuals, circumventing the law. No warrants,” Wiebe said.
“In fact, the agency actively covers up the source of the information to make it look like the information came out of classical law enforcement investigatory techniques. DEA has a special unit called the ‘SOD’ – Special Operations Division that does the cover up work. The legal consequence of doing this kind of surreptitious collaboration between intelligence and law enforcement is to deny an accused person their legal rights under the Constitution. They are denied the opportunity to face their accuser because the source of the information is kept under wraps/hidden.”
Ebola Goes Airborne
A mutated Ebola virus likely spread through the ventilation system of a Virginia medical lab in 1989 and infected dozens of monkeys in separate research rooms, highlighting the current potential of an airborne Ebola strain killing millions of people.
In late 1989, cynomolgus monkeys from the Philippines delivered to Hazleton Research Products’ Primate Quarantine Unit in Reston, Va., began dying at an alarming rate, prompting HRP to euthanize all the monkeys in that shipment, but during the 10 days after the euthanization, other monkeys in separate rooms connected only by air ducts began dying as well, which was attributed to an Ebola strain that went airborne.
“Due to the spread of infection to animals in all parts of the quarantine facility, it is likely that Ebola Reston may have been spread by airborne transmission,” wrote Lisa A. Beltz in the book Emerging Infectious Diseases. “On several subsequent occasions during 1989, 1990 and 1996, Ebola Reston killed monkeys in colonies in the United States.”
“Some of the people at the colony in Texas and several of the workers at the facility in the Philippines also produced antibodies to the virus but did not become ill.”
The 1989 incident validates concerns that a new, airborne strain of Ebola could infect humans, and if such a mutated strain already exists, it would easily explain why Ebola is currently spreading so rapidly in Africa.
For one thing, because Ebola doesn’t replicate itself perfectly every time it infects a victim, each new infection represents a potential mutation of the disease.
“If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola,” wrote Michael T. Osterholm of the New York Times. “Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.”
And due to the severity of the current outbreak in western Africa, which is the worst in history, Ebola has had more chances to mutate in the past four months than in the past 500 years.
“What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time,” journalist Mac Slavo wrote.
What is known publicly, however, is that the State Department has taken the threat of Ebola so seriously it recently ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits, well over 100 times the number of federal workers currently in western Africa.
But just how large is the risk of Ebola mutating even further? Right now, it has the potential to infect – and kill – five million people in western Africa, according to a top German virologist.
“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of Hamburg’s Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine told Deutsche Welle. “That time was May and June; now it is too late.”
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