There are a number of technologies being explored by the U.S. government for the sake of national security. One of the best documents to review those proposed technologies is the 2012 budget request from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
This document not only reveals technologies and activities given the highest priority by DHS, but it also hints at a focus on development of future technologies and gives a glimpse of the direction the government is headed in strengthening the nation’s borders and bolstering the nation’s security.
It’s important to stay aware of these activities, because while the legitimate and appropriate use of such technologies would certainly lead to more secure borders and a safer nation, the inappropriate use of many of these same technologies could potentially conflict with the liberties of American citizens that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
The following are some of the more interesting technologies revealed in this budget request document from DHS.
Areas of National Security
In developing technologies that will serve to protect the nation’s security, DHS focuses on six areas of security, which it refers to as six “missions”. Those are:
– Border Security
– Immigration Enforcement
– Cyberspace Security
– Resilience to Disasters
– Supporting National and Economic Security
These areas represent the core missions of DHS, and the areas where the department seeks out cutting-edge technologies to help further national security goals. These goals seem relatively innocuous, and the technologies themselves are described in very non-threatening and mundane terms, but upon closer examination it becomes very clear the dangers that these technologies pose to the liberties and freedoms of American citizens.
One of the most common reasons provided for beefing up security at airports and increasing the domestic use of law enforcement drones is anti-terrorism. While images of the fall of the twin towers in New York City are still fresh in the minds of most Americans, the expansion of security activities throughout the nation continues to wear thin on the patience of many citizens.
Whether it’s getting frisked in inappropriate ways at airport security checkpoints, the increase of strange surveillance-like craft in the skies, or the increase of surveillance technologies throughout the country, things have no doubt changed dramatically in the United States since 9-11.
The following technologies were listed in the FY 2012 budget request by the DHS.
–> Advanced imaging technologies that can scan for metallic and non-metallic objects “concealed under layers of clothing”.
–> An increase of “Behavior Detection Officers” in airports for the purpose of essentially profiling individuals that appear to “pose a risk of terrorism or criminal activity”. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the criteria they use for that?
–> BioWatch Gen 1/2 and 3 – a nationwide bio-surveillance network created to immediately detect the use of “aerosolized biological agents” throughout more than 30 cities in the United States. Full deployment of the system is estimated in the report for 2014.
–> An increase of “Fusion Centers”, which the report describes as “integrating and coordinating” agencies throughout the government to “address threats in their communities”. Conspiracy theorists have questioned whether many of the “local” activities of these fusion centers are direct threats to American liberties.
–> The development of a new “bio and agro defense facility”, intended to develop vaccines and anti-virals to fight “foreign animal and emerging diseases”. We’ve previously written about how this facility poses a serious threat to national security, and the planned location of the facility is poorly chosen.
One of the greatest legitimate threats to the U.S. is in fact cyberwar. Here at TSW, we’ve often covered the recent escalating cyber threat posed by China against the United States and other Western nations.
So, it should come as no surprise that cyber-security is an area that represents the biggest chunk of advanced technologies to bolster national security on the Internet.
–> Deploying “Einstein 3“, an advanced system intended to “prevent and detect intrusions” on federal computer systems.
–> The upgrade of the “National Cyber Security Protection System” for protecting federal networks.
Billions Applied Toward National Security
Despite the fact that the country is currently facing tremendous spending cuts, DHS remains one of the most well-funded areas of government. At the time of the DHS budget report for 2012, the budget was slated at almost 57 billion – an increase of almost 1 billion since 2010.
Branches that fall under DHS include U.S. Secret Service, FEMA, the “Domestic Nuclear Detection Office”, and the TSA, just to name a few. So, it should come as no surprise that so much money is sunk into national security programs under the DHS. However, with the continued rush to bolster “national security”, the American public needs to remain cognizant to the threat posed by the expansion of “security and surveillance systems” beyond their intended purpose to protect against a foreign threat.
Without proper oversight and caution, there may come a time when the threat from within becomes more dangerous to American citizens than the threat from outside of its borders.
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