Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Infragard (first in a series), by Virginia Braddock Simson

[Ed.- From February 13, 2008. "Infraguard" sounds very similar to anti-union business associations, and the old role of private security in suppressing progressive organizing. It also sounds like the old "Red Squads," or anti-radical police intelligence units that began around WWI. What it definitely constitutes is yet another attempt at privatizing nearly everything as American Empire declines. That's known as desperation, kids. ]

Recent public disclosures of the InfraGard system no longer obligates silence on abuses. We've been following the developments behind the scenes. These are issues warranting increased public oversight at the State and Federal Level.

As reported, the InfraGard system is designed to protect the nation's infrastructure. What has not been well discussed are the detailed operations of InfraGard, the policies, and the operational procedures used to gather intelligence.

InfraGuard has two broad functions. One is operational protection of infrastructure, the second is the intelligence gathering arm. InfraGard members claim they are protecting the infrastructure. They're more interested in abusing power, and using resistance to that abuse to broaden their intelligence gathering and intrusions. We need to know who is abusing their authority, end this misconduct, and ensure the public is treated with respect, not as "the enemy".

The abuse of this intelligence gathering for non-official purposes designed to intimidate a civilian population and dissuade lawful activity, but not engage in bona fide law enforcement or infrastructure protection.

InfraGard relies on civilian contractors providing information to the State and federal authorities. What's not been well discussed are the liberties these contractors have been taken under their deputization; and how law enforcement supports questionable InfraGard contractor conduct.

If there are problems with InfraGard management, these need to be openly discussed, not hidden. Oversight is needed to determine whether:

- InfraGard contractors show they need assistance organizing information, providing timely reports, and conducting investigations.

- Internal communication channels are a problem. - There are inadequate internal communications to ensure bona fide threats are timely communicated.

InfraGard appears ill-equipped to conduct in-house auditing. Congress needs to ensure oversight occurs, and does not abuse the secrecy of the by-passed FISA Court. Judicial oversight is needed, especially as abuses might be mitigated with warrants with credible, written investigation plans reviewed by senior management appearing before the magistrate.

InfraGard intelligence gathering relies on interrogation methods publicly disclosed in the open media. Private citizens without notice are detained, removed from their vehicles, and taken to DHS holding cells for warrantless interrogations. Private contractors also engage in deception when confronting civilians.

InfraGard relies on employee reports to security personnel. Reports include information related to unusual incidents and apparent efforts at intelligence gathering. Of concern are the missing oversight needed to ensure these reports from employees are truthful; and that the public has a reasonable way to challenge false reports by InfraGard officers, employees, and law enforcement. Without oversight improvements, we can expect to see more unreasonable denials of access to public accommodations based on dubious assertions.

The focus should be on protecting the infrastructure. However, in the zeal to gather intelligence, InfraGard intelligence gathering is undermining public support for bonafide law enforcement actions. Of concern are the ineffective InfraGard standards of conduct which permit retaliation against the public. The public a reasonable, timely forum to challenge dubious claims, without a threat of loss of services.

Better cooperation by InfraGard will motivate more of the public to voluntarily disclose real evidence of bona fide threats to the infrastructure. The InfraGard abuses are undermining public support, and the InfraGard is using this public resistance as a pretext to increase intelligence gathering, intrusions, and illegal searches of innocent civilians. The solution is not to suppress reports of abuse, but to more effectively manage, discipline, and train the InfraGard contractors and officers.


Table A: InfraGard Abuses
The following are not acceptable, and increase public hesitancy to trust InfraGard motivations:

- Deception to gather non-public information.

- False accusations to intimidate the traveler.

- Prextextual stops.

- Feigned "concerns" with issues, but no serious interest in discussing solutions to those "concern."

- Rudeness.

- Threats of arrest by non-arresting officers.

- Denial of access to public accommodations for asserting one's rights.

- InfraGard contractor unresponsiveness to security concerns raised by the public.

- Using public reports to InfraGard about officer misconduct as a pretext to target the informer.

- Targeting personnel suspected of being on no-notice audit teams with intrusions, surveillance, and harassment.

- Retaliating against unionization efforts within InfraGard under the pretext of "infrastructure protection."

Of concern to Academia are the innocent questions students pose to public officials and private contractors. Student bodies do have contracting relationships with the various transportation companies. Some students applying their academic skills have been threatened with having their names placed on the DHS watch list. American citizens, when applying their academic degrees, are being openly confronted for asking innocent questions about things in the public domain.

Of further concern are the unconfirmed accusations which InfraGard contractors have been making. Notably, to deflect attention from InfraGard misconduct, personnel have been reported providing misleading information to deflect attention from procedural violations, disclosures of classified information, or other illegal activity by law enforcement and the InfraGard contractors.

State licensing boards are encouraged to increase oversight, random sampling, and better protect their no-notice audit procedures when reviewing firms within the InfraGard system.

Congress is encouraged to provide the public with better oversight in the form of public discussion of the abuses; and better disclosures of the specific companies involved with the InfraGard misconduct. The voters and consumers will be able to make more informed voting and business decisions.

InfraGard contractors to engage in deception are viewed as unreliable counter parties. This increases transaction costs. Boards of directors are urged to evaluate the alleged misconduct in terms of cost premiums, lost sales, higher turnover, and union member dissatisfaction.

Student Surveys

Because of reports of abuse, academic leaders are expanding their student surveys. These surveys have been designed to alert the public of the types of abuses students may encounter. Academic leaders are consolidating these findings when reviewing contracts with transportation companies.

When contractors in the InfraGard system are unable to get information using threats or deception, they do rely on local and regional law enforcement. Law enforcement does support the InfraGard intelligence gathering by engaging in pre-textual stops. Pretextual stops are fabricated reasons an officer will invent to "justify" a stop if challenged.

InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been observed falsely accusing people engaged in innocent behavior as being criminals, under suspicion, or matching the description of reported crimes. The officers have been stating that innocent conduct is a crime; or that activity that is not illegal has been placed under investigation.

InfraGard contractors are known for their deceptive conduct. Public complaints of their unresponsiveness have been met with increased observations and pretextual encounters.

InfraGard contractors are typically given advance notice of audits. This is in alleged violation of the "no notice" rules where official auditors are supposed to arrive without warning, and conduct independent data gathering. Federal officials are advised to better secure the audit notification lists, and conduct bogus notifications to test which InfraGard contractors are receiving these fabricated "no notice" audit warning.

When InfraGard contractors and law enforcement encounter citizens, the public is advised to remember they may or may not have the power to arrest. Please discuss these issues with legal counsel.

Some Infragard contractors may attempt to leave the false impression that they have the power to arrest, detain, and prosecute. This may not be correct. Although the security contractors may have handcuffs, this does not mean that they have necessarily been adequately trained on lawful arrests. Citizens are encouraged to discuss with counsel the insurance liability premiums of the InfraGard contractors.

When law enforcement is directed to provide support to the InfraGard intelligence gathering, law enforcement may or may not have a credible story or explanation for their stopping you. Citizens are encouraged to discuss with counsel the difference between an interview, detention, and arrest.

Some law enforcement when supporting the InfraGard intelligence gathering may make insulting comments, attempt to demean you, or imply they have superior experience or information. Whether this is or isn't true is unrelated to their stated reasons for stopping you.

One sign that the InfraGard intelligence gathering is occurring is when the Infragard contractors or law enforcement provide convoluted stories. This is intended to confuse you. You may also notice that they may change their reason for stopping you several times. This is intended to get you to react to new information. They will compare your responses and challenge you on any apparent, real, or fabricated inconsistency.

InfraGard contractors have been linked with procedural violations. InfraGard contractors have been the subject of no-notice audits, and been caught violating guidelines. Some have even established false front companies to gather information. For example, one InfraGard contractor established a fictitious legal entity, falsely portraying itself as an advocate for certain legal issues. This was intended to attract the types of people opposing a specific intrusive security policy. Once the InfraGard contractor was able to fool the public, they were able to identify the leadership who opposed their company's practices. This is an example of the InfraGard intelligence collection being abused.

Table B: Signs InfraGard/Law Enforcement Are Engaged in Intelligence Gathering, Not Bona fide Crime Prevention
:

- Inconsistent statements.

- False accusations.

- Insults.

- Threats of arrest unless you disclose private medical information.

- Feigning concern about a "serious issue," then changing the subject.

- Demanding the public "show concern" for a fabricated story.

- Stating their "procedures" require them to do something, but they are not following procedures.

- Claims they have incriminating evidence (If they have it, why aren't you being charged with a crime in court?).

- Threats to "get law enforcement" (But unable to sustain their accusations when law enforcement arrives).

- After being denied consent to search, they search despite stating no specific reason, and having no warrant.

- Physically moving you to move you in front of cameras, but not stating what their concerns are.

- Plain clothes officers following you into dead-end streets, then left no where to go after you depart.

- Acting as if lawful activity is "suspicious" and has "been reported."

- Use of subtle intimidation.

- Asking about morally offensive conduct, personal issues, or brutal details of hideous criminal activity.

- Saying things designed to shock you.

- Refusing to take your suggestions seriously, suggesting their "problem" isn't real; or that they're not serious about doing what they say is a problem.

- Interruptions.

- Lectures about unrelated issues.

- Shifting the burden from them to you.

- Pretending that "your requirement" is to answer questions, when their mandate is to provide evidence to the court to charge you with a crime.

InfraGard contractors have also been linked with requests to conduct illegal break ins of private homes, offices, and protected facilities. It's curious they've supposedly been hired to protect infrastructure, yet they're willing to breach the infrastructure of others.

Law enforcement is not unknown to falsely accuse the public of being engaged in "questionable" behavior, even though that activity is lawful. You may notice during a conversation with an InfraGard intelligence officer in law enforcement that they skip around, and are unable to focus on a single topic. They may insult you and imply that you are not willing to "care" about their "concern". In truth, they are not concerned about that issue, merely hoping to get you to react and respond to something.

InfraGard contractors may attempt to imply that they have a special relationship with law enforcement. InfraGard contractors have been observed discussing "security videos" that they have "proving" there is a problem; and that if the public refuses to fully discuss the "incriminating" evidence, that the private citizen will be arrested. "If we have to, we'll get law enforcement." InfraGard contractors when challenged have shown they are not well coordinating with law enforcement.

Table C: Progress Indicators When Challenging InfraGard Abuses

- Officer frustration that you are not responding to their insults, intimidation.

- Calling InfraGard officers on their bluffs about "evidence."

- Challenging their inconsistencies.

- Asking to see a lawyer.

- Invoking your 5th Amendment right to silence.

- Not discussing any personal information until your lawyer is there.

- Asking for specific reasons why you are being stopped, detained, challenged, or questioned.

- Asking the InfraGard contactor why they claim they are concerned about procedures, but they are not following those procedures.

- Asking the InfraGard contractors to explain why they claim they are attempting to "protect" a resource, but the public record shows they are not fully meeting that standard.

- Asking the InfraGard contractor why they use deception, lies, and false companies to gather information about people supporting unions, political candidates, or policies that contradict the company's board of directors.

- Asking InfraGard personnel why they are afraid of unionization efforts.

Some of the InfraGard contractors have claimed that they have been conducting an "extensive" investigation into a particular "concern". However, independent review of their records shows there had been no investigation.

Independent encounters with the InfraGard contractors show substantial deception, abuse, and misconduct. Officers are misleading the public. Some of the InfraGard contractors have claimed that they have a "special duty" to protect resources. However, this assertion fails to pan out. When the public has attempted to provide suggestions to address the "concern" the InfraGard officers raised, the InfraGard officers were not interested in solutions. This shows their stated "concerns" or "problems' they were attempting to "resolve" were not genuine.

InfraGard officers have a challenging job: Protecting the nation's resources. However, they make their job more difficult when they abuse the public, especially those who might be inclined to risk providing valuable information and support.

The InfraGard contractors have denied public access to public accommodations. They use pretextual reasons. Citizens engaged in lawful conduct have a right to privacy. InfraGard officers have been falsely asserting that unless this right to privacy were given up, the public could not use the public accommodations.

InfraGard officers have been caught lying. Public services rely on public access. However, the InfraGard officers have falsely stated that the public accommodations were "private".

InfraGard officers do not have clear disciplinary procedures. When there are reports of abuse or misconduct, these are typically explained away as "Officer discretion". The public needs know that InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been abusing their authority. Oversight is needed.

Appendix 1: Oversight Issues of InfraGard
Congress and State Officials need to review and independently audit with real no-notice audits the following:

- To what extent InfraGard contractors have relied on law enforcement to engage in pretextual stops to collect information they are otherwise not entitled.

- Extent to which threats of arrest for using public accommodations have been used to gather intelligence.

- Extent to which access to public accommodations have been denied unless the public provides the InfraGard contractors and law enforcement information they are otherwise not entitled to access.

- Reasons for InfraGard officers asserting that they are following specific procedures which have not been coordinated with DHS.

- Reasons why InfraGard contractors have been providing lists of names to DHS and FBI, despite assurances to the public that the collected information would "not" be disclosed.

- Extent to which officers use pretextual stops to gather information InfraGard contractors are unable to collect using deception, threats, and denial of services.

- Reasons why InfraGard officers are fabricating phony accusations related to weapons, surveillance equipment, and criminal activity.

- Extent to which InfraGard contractors are not adequately screening assigned surveillance personnel.

- Reasons why InfraGard contractors are not conducting independent/impartial investigations, but are relying on misrepresentations by InfraGard assigned personnel.

- Extent to which misrepresentations about private citizen conduct have resulted in denial of services to the public.

- Reasons why misrepresentations by InfraGard contractors has not resulted in award fees provided to contractors within InfraGard.

- Extent to which formerly assigned US government officials have been assigned to law enforcement to apply lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan in re prisoner interrogation, abuse, and mistreatment to US civilians.

- Extent to which law enforcement and InfraGard contractors have bypassed the judicial branch, not secured required warrants, and illegally searched and detained US citizens, their property, and private papers without a specific, real reason.

Appendix 2: Sample Survey Questions

Academic institutions are encouraged to survey their student bodies to review the extent to which InfraGard contractors and law enforcement have been targeting members of the Academic community:
- Have students observed officer misconduct around transportation, infrastructure, or public accommodations.

- Were students' reports of misconduct timely handled.


- Were students who provided reports of misconduct targeted for questioning and/or denied access to public accommodations.


- Did students observe plain clothes officers following them.

- Was there an unusual interest by InfraGard contractors in the students' educational background, interest.

- Did any students observe officers or employees misrepresenting conversations to deflect attention from InfraGard contractor misconduct, lies, or illegal disclosures of classified information.


- Have students observed misconduct, attempted to report that misconduct, and the InfraGard officers believe the students were part of a "no notice" audit team?


- Have students observed inconsistent statements by InfraGard contractors.


- Have Students heard InfraGard contractors assert that the contractors, as a reason for the stop or intrusion, were "following procedures"; but later evidence reveals the officers were not following procedures related to documentation, notification, reporting, or discretion.

- Have students been threatened with arrest unless they disclose information that is unrelated to criminal activity, private, or not of any reasonable relationship to the alleged misconduct.


- Have students been accused of engaging in 'criminal-like" behavior for activities that may be unpopular, but are not illegal.


- Have students been told by law enforcement or InfraGard contractors their educational choices were not appropriate, a waste of time, or not up to the level of experience of law enforcement/InfraGard?


- Have students been insulted by InfraGard/law enforcement?

- Have the InfraGard officers asked students about private issues, asked the students why there were "focused" on that issue; then asserted that the InfraGard/law enforcement officer is "above" that?

- Have any students been physically touched by any law enforcement officer/InfraGard contractor without their consent, without being told why they were being arrested, or detained for more than 15 hours?


- Have students been issued "stay away orders" for activities that were not violating any policy, were not illegal, and are not contrary to public or school policy?


- Have students been denied access to public accommodations, services, or public facilities on the false assertion that the property was "private"?


- Have students been followed after reporting law enforcement/InfraGard contractor misconduct?


- Have students attempted to seek assistance from the InfraGard contractor management, but not provided a forum or opportunity to resolve an issue unless additional private information was disclosed to the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement?


- What types of discussions were students engaged when they were confronted, told that conversation was "not appropriate"?


- Have students been accused of engaging in "inappropriate conduct" using false accusations, misrepresentations, or fabrications by the InfraGard contractors?


- How long were you detained, stopped, arrested, or held before you were given access to legal counsel?


- Was your personal property searched despite your assertions that the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement did not have consent to search?


- What was the reason the InfraGard contractor/law enforcement did not provide a copy of a search warrant before searching your personal belongings, school supplies, or academic computing materials?

related web sites:
http://www.infragard.net/
http://www.progressive.org/mag_rothschild0308

Also found at:
http://ladybroadoak.blogspot.com/2008/02/infragardfirst-in-series.html
http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_ladybroa_080214_infragard___first_in.htm

Editor's postscript: I can see many of these businessmen getting shot in-the-ass, if not having it sued off. Works for me.