Details of snooping technology kept secret
Paul Joseph Watson
September 26, 2013
In another indication of how the TSA is expanding its turf way beyond airport security, the federal agency is about to roll out high-tech vehicles that will utilize secret technology to conduct “covert surveillance operations” in cities around the country.
According to a synopsis posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website (PDF), the TSA is set to purchase technology to retrofit three vans in Arlington, VA, Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA in order to convert them into surveillance vehicles that will “conduct covert surveillance operations in the course of investigations.”
Precisely where such covert surveillance will take place is not mentioned, although in 2010 it was revealed that US government agencies were already using roving street surveillance vans that deployed backscatter x-ray vision technology to inspect other vehicles.
In 2011, the Electronic Privacy Information Center also revealed plans for the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA to roll out mobile surveillance vans that had long-distance X-ray capability and eye movement tracking.
TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams are responsible for around 10,000 checkpoints every year in the US, and have expanded from airports to bus & train terminals and even highways despite the fact that there is “no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety,” according to the L.A. Times.
The total cost of outfitting just three vans with the covert surveillance technology will be a jaw-dropping $160,000 dollars.
Despite their tax dollars paying for such equipment, American citizens are not privy to any detailed information on what this surveillance system will actually entail.
The TSA vehicles will be fitted with Crime Point IP Network Surveillance technology. When attempting to access details of the technology via the Crime Point website, the user is met with the message, “Due to its sensitive nature, the product content on this website is restricted to law enforcement professionals and government agencies only,” and a password is required to go any further.
Although the general public is barred from scrutinizing specific details, the company says that it provides “covert outdoor video systems” that “incorporate the latest emerging technologies.”
Crime Point provides surveillance vans of its own but, like details of the surveillance systems, that information is also restricted.
The legality of the TSA conducting “covert surveillance” of Americans, whether it be at transport hubs or on highways, conflicts with the Fourth Amendment, which protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”