Some time back, I had watched an engrossing TV series 'A Person of Interest', which is in two Seasons, of twenty two episodes each. The series was created by Jonathan Nolan and is about a former CIA paramilitary operator, Reese, played by Jim Caviezel, as the man in the black suit, who is presumed dead by the military.

Reese is recruited by a reclusive billionaire Finch, played by Michael Emerson, who has developed an ultra, super-duper 'Tracking and Monitoring' machine that can monitor CCTV cameras. These cameras are now placed on almost all public places, street corners, parks, airports, railway stations, important buildings, etc., as a routine and record and 'eavesdrop' all cell phone calls and intercept all SMS and email messages made in the US. The machine is also capable of patching or hacking into any cell-phone call or computer and with the help of the 'I spy with my little eye' gadgets, which can be planted anywhere with ease, penetrating the most secured building or office.

In other words, the old poster of a stern Uncle Sam, pointing a menacing finger at you, with a caption, 'Big Brother is Watching You', is a reality.

According to my friend, MAX, a novel written on this subject by George Orwell in 1984 called "2004", also describes how the American government spies on the movements of every citizen. It was from there that the phrase, "Big Brother is watching you" came to be.

The objective is to detect any planned terrorist or criminal attack in New York City and prevent them from happening. In other words, proving that prevention is better than cure, something that is desperately needed in Pakistan, in order to stop terrorists and targeted killings.

With the special training that Reese has had in Covert Operations and Finch's genius software inventing mind, the two are a perfect match for the job that they take on. With the help of surveillance equipment, they work "outside the law" and protect innocent citizens and get the criminal perpetrators behind bars.

The two of them team up with Carter, played by Taraji P. Henson, a NYPD detective and Fusco, played by Kevin Chapman, a NY police officer. The four of them investigate planned crimes together and neutralise the threat.

(<http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/internet/person_of_interest/>

http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/internet/person_of_interest/)

This futuristic type machine and technology shown in the series, is a glimpse of what the US is developing, which was exposed by William Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in National Security Agency (NSA) history. He worked for America's premier covert intelligence gathering organisation for 32 years before resigning in late 2001, because he "could not stay after <http://publicintelligence.net/binney-nsa-declaration/> NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution."

He claims that NSA took one of the programs he built, known as <http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2013/06/takes-the-nsas-sur veillance-programs.html> Thin Thread and used the programme to spy <http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-whistleblower-says-the-government-is-gat hering-data-on-every-us-citizen-2012-7> on virtually every US citizen under the code-name Stellar Wind.

Binney says that Thin Thread was built to track electronic activities, phone calls, emails, banking, travel records, social media , etc. and map them to collect "all the attributes that any individual has" in every type of activity, <http://www.businessinsider.com/the-nsa-builds-real-time-spying-profile-2013 -6> building a real-time profile based on that data. He claims that the US government was operating an illegal mass surveillance programme.

'The programme can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out, showing your entire life. The programme is able to monitor what people are doing and who they are doing it with. I apologise to the American people, as the programme violates everyone's rights and can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world.' (http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-whistleblower-william-binney-was-right-2013-6)

And now, thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is also on the run like Wikileaks whistleblower, <http://www.forbes.com/profile/julian-assange/> Julian Assange, documents detailing the <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/whos-watching-the-nsa-watchers.html> top-secret surveillance programme have now been published for the first time, corroborating what Binney has said for years. Like Binney, Snowden genuinely believes that the government has no business tapping into the private communications of citizens, which has started a debate into the ethics and legality of the clandestine operation by the US government.

Considering that a 29-year old systems manager like Snowden could have access to so much information about the covert electronic signals interception programme is in itself very disturbing. What is even more troubling is that NSA, which has a much larger budget than the CIA, subcontracts much of this surveillance work to contractors. According to media reports, Snowden worked for Booz Allen, a consulting firm and is one of some 1.4 million Americans, with top-security clearance.

Such a large number of people with access to sensitive information makes the whole system prone to leaks. Also, what is there to stop many from spilling the beans, if the price is right?

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the NSA's counterpart in the UK, has also been tapping into vast amounts of cable traffic entering its shores. Both countries state, 'Trust us. We are doing all this to keep the world safe.' And to back up this claim, Washington asserts that some 50 terrorist plots have been averted because of the PRISM programme.

No doubt, these surveillance programmes to detect and prevent terrorist and criminal activities are the need in today's world, but they also violate the fundamental rights of citizens, which Uncle Sam always claims, should always be protected. And on top of all this, we are told that the US government is developing a Mother of all drones, the high-tech mosquito size drones. (http://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/insectdrone.asp)

These mosquitoes can be remotely controlled and are equipped with a camera and a microphone. They can land on you and have the potential to take a DNA sample or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin. It can fly through an open window, attach itself to your clothing and taking it into your home, without your knowledge.

Among the more extreme applications for such devices is that they may eventually be used as "swarm weapons", which could be launched en masse against enemy forces. The project is being funded by the US Government and is already in production.

If this information is right, then Uncle Sam will not only have the technology to watch and listen to any citizen, but will also have the ultimate drone and a weapon that is licensed to kill, making the Dreaded Drones and 007 James Bond and his super spies a thing of the past.

(Email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk).

 

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 10-Sep-2017 here.