TrapWire is Big Brother on Steroids

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The events following the release by Wikileaks of more e-mails obtained during last year’s Stratfor hack have played out like something out of an Orwell novel. TrapWire is Big Brother on steroids. By now we have all heard of Facial Recognition applications and their suspected use by Facebook. TrapWire goes a step further reportedly being able to detect patterns consistent with an attack, and “walk back the cat” or trace suspects back following an attack utilizing it’s vast network of cameras. Internal emails from Stratfor state: “TrapWire is one of the most innovative tools developed since 9-11 to help mitigate terrorist threats. From a protective intelligence perspective, TrapWire does have the ability to share information on suspicious events or suspects between cities. Operationally, the ability to identify hostile surveillance at one target set — in multiple cities — can be used to neutralize terror threats by interrupting the attack cycle. Meaning, a suspect conducting surveillance of the NYC subway can also be spotted by TrapWire conducting similar activity at the DC subway, connecting the infamous dots. An additional benefit of TrapWire is that the system can also be used to help “walk back the cat” after an attack to identify terrorist suspects and modus operandi. I can also see the tool being very effective in identifying general street crime.”

A program called “iWatch” (Steve Jobs could not be reached for comment), was also mentioned. This program “pulls community member reporting into the TrapWire search engine and compares SARs across the country…with potential matches being fedback to the local LE agency.” Fred Burton (Stratfor Vice President) went on to add “An amazing amount of good quality reporting is coming in from alert citizens (and police officers) in the DC area in particular.” This appears to allow every low-level snitch and Neighborhood Nosey Nancy to feed the system information on “suspects”.

While the true abilities of this application remain the stuff of speculation, what can be certain is these e-mails reveal the system being in place in many major cities for several years now. An e-mail from Burton suggests the London Stock Exchange, where we saw the British equivalent of OWS play out is “protected by heavy surveillance coverages (TrapWire) and predictive software”. Burton wrote of NYC in September of 2010: “This week, 500 surveillance cameras were activated on the NYC subway system to focus on pre-operational terrorist surveillance.” E-mails suggest that DC, Austin, and L.A. also have the systems in place.

Following the leak, Wikileaks was bombarded with a severe DDOS attack and as I am writting this piece the site is still unavailable. Reports came in on Wednesday that the attack on Wikileaks and it’s mirrors were “dropping upwards of 40 gigabits of traffic per second”. We have been lead to believe that this attack was facilitated by a hacker group calling themselves “AntiLeaks”. However the force of the attack suggests that whoever launched it had a massive botnet at their dissposal, and is not the work of amateurs by any means. If we simply ask ourselves “who benefits” we would come to the conclusion that those not wanting the existence of this system to become public knowledge would do so.

And from an article by David Seaman in Business Insider.

In related news, the Obama administration is fighting in federal court this week for the ability to imprison American citizens under NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions—and anyone else—without charge or trial, on suspicion alone.

So we have a widespread network of surveillance cameras across America monitoring us and reporting suspicious activity back to a centralized analysis center, mixed in with the ability to imprison people via military force on the basis of suspicious activity alone. I don’t see how that could possibly go wrong. Nope, not at all. We all know the government, and algorithmic computer programs, never make mistakes.

We will continue to follow this story closely and release information as we find it.


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