Operation TIPS is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

By Niki Raapana

August 16, 2002

Editors across the country are having a great time thrashing Homeland
Security's "Operation Tips." The entire U.S. media is dedicating a lot of
time and space to the Justice Department's mistake in attempting to create a
"new cadre of citizen spies."

With congressional glitches to implementing TIPS, and refusals to spy by
organizations like the Postal Service, some writers are suggesting the free
American people won this latest round of federal attacks on their privacy

I wish it were true.  But just because our Congress won't approve the TIPS
program doesn't mean anything. This media blitz is but a red herring that
gives folks a false impression that Congress is back on their side, and that
complaining "loudly" can stop a bad policy from being implemented.

What if Operation TIPS is only one of the many ways the new government is
using to gather and share American's private information?  What if the
Department of Justice has been gathering personal data on private citizens
and putting it into a national database for over a decade?

Working in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) and federal "advisors," local police train citizen spies
called community volunteers. These concerned citizens provide the
Neighborhood Watch "contacts" with "anecdotal information" on people and
places identified to be associated with neighborhood "problems."  HUD's Weed
& Seed program has data that reaches back to the early '80s.

The "contacts" our neighbors now report to are the new federal COPS
(Community Oriented Policing Services).  Clinton created COPS in 1994 after
Congress passed the Violent Crime Act.  COPS' programs went out in federal
grant packages designed to further the Building Livable Communities
Initiative and "create safe streets."

Formed under the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, the idea
of "rebuilding" America followed federal mandates established under the 1993
President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD).

HUD designed Community 2020 mapping software was free to all local municipal
governments participating in the programs.  By 1999, crime "prevention"
mapping evolved easily into asset and skills mapping, as more new federal
policies were created that gave the government "permission" to gather and
share previously restricted private data.  In 2000, the DOJ created COMPASS
(Community Mapping, Planning and Analysis for Safety Strategies), designed
to incorporate all the data into one main database.

Community asset and skills mapping is the idea that people's hidden skills
and abilities can be utilized by the collective government to help "rebuild"
American communities.  Neighborhood watch groups are trained to go
door-to-door asking citizens to answer lengthy "surveys" about their
low-level work abilities. People are questioned about whether they can take
care of elderly and children, if they can cook, clean, or sew, and if they
have more skilled abilities to drive, type and/or use a hammer.

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) interviews include questions about
religious, fraternal, and political associations, and each survey includes
personally identifiable information like the respondent's name, age, and
address. It's called "Mapping and Mobilizing Community Capacity."

The CMRC (Crime Mapping Research Center) was recently changed to MAPS
(Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety), but their literature on the many
programs DOJ uses to enhance the "analytic capabilities of local
problem-solving efforts" continues to be easily accessible.

Crime mapping includes not only police incident reports but also socio-
economic data.  COMPASS has been gathering personally identifiable data from
every available, complicit government agency since the pilot tests began in
2000.  DOJ mappers recommend COMPASS participants utilize Experian's vast
household economic database on 40 million individuals.

President Bush told Americans in his March 2002 State of the Union Address
that the second most important component of Homeland Security was
"rebuilding communities."  The U.S. Army Senior Intelligence Officer for the
Northern Command is on the crime-mapping e-list soliciting cities with an
"active and robust GIS," explaining his "new" assignment includes monitoring
local criminal activities.  Under these many "other" new federal programs,
identified "problems" are considered "potential" criminals or hot spots. 
The federal definition of crime has expanded to include vague, undefined

Crime prevention is about "finding out everything you can about the local
players involved;" it's about gathering and sharing private data on certain
types of "problem" people identified by the Neighborhood Watch groups. 
Neighborhood Watch advises its members to report "all suspicious activity,
noise, and strangers."

One COPS' program started in 1997 was designed to train all city employees
with access to private homes to "report any life-threatening" things
witnessed inside homes during "regular inspections."  Cities across America
are creating new avenues for warrant less searches under new land-use
legislation (as directed by the PCSD). These new laws completely eliminate
the need for a duly authorized legal search warrant if the search is
performed as a "public safety inspection."

TIPS is alive and well, operating under many names and disguises.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]


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