First in a Series
Recent public disclosures of the InfraGard system no longer obligates silence on abuses. We've been following the developments behind the scenes. These are issues warranting increased public oversight at the State and Federal Level.
As reported, the InfraGard system is designed to protect the nation's infrastructure. What has not been well discussed are the detailed operations of InfraGard, the policies, and the operational procedures used to gather intelligence.
InfraGuard has two broad functions. One is operational protection of infrastructure, the second is the intelligence gathering
InfraGard members claim they are protecting the infrastructure. They're more interested in abusing power, and using resistance to that abuse to broaden their intelligence gathering
and intrusions. We need to know who is abusing their authority, end this misconduct, and ensure the public is treated with respect, not as "the enemy".
The abuse of this intelligence gathering for non-official purposes designed to intimidate a civilian population and dissuade lawful activity, but not engage in bonafide law enforcement or infrastructure protection.
InfraGard relies on civilian contractors providing information to the State and federal authorities. What's not been well discussed are the liberties these contractors have been taken under their deputization; and how law enforcement supports questionable InfraGard contractor conduct.
If there are problems with InfraGard management, these need to be openly discussed, not hidden. Oversight is needed to determine whether:
- InfraGard contarctors show they need assistance organizing information, providing timely reports, and conducting investigations.
- Internal communication channels are a problem. - There are inadequate internal communications to ensure bonafide threats are timely communicated.
InfraGard appears ill-equipped to conduct in-house auditing. Congress needs to ensure oversight occurs, and does not abuse the secrecy of the by-passed FISA Court. Judicial oversight is needed, especially as abuses might be mitigated with warrants with credible, written investigation plans reviewed by senior management appearing before the magistrate.
InfraGard intelligence gathering
relies on interrogation methods publicly disclosed in the open media. Private citizens without notice are detained, removed from their vehicles, and taken to DHS holding cells for warrantless interrogations. Private contractors also engage in deception when confronting civilians.
InfraGard relies on employee reports to security personnel. Reports include information related to unusual incidients and apparent efforts at intelligence gathering
. Of concern are the missing oversight needed to ensure these reports from employees are truthful; and that the public has a reasoable way to challenge false reports by InfraGard officers, employees, and law enforcement. Without oversight improvements, we can expect to see more unreasonable denials of access to public accommodations based on dubious assertions.
Table A: InfraGard Abuses
The focus should be on protecting the infrastructure. However, in the zeal to gather intelligence, InfraGard intelligence gathering
is undermining public support for bonafide law enforcement actions. Of concern are the ineffective InfraGard standards of conduct which permit retaliation against the public. The public a reasonable, timely forum to challenge dubious claims, without a threat of loss of services. Better cooperation by InfraGard will motivate more of the public to voluntarily disclose real evidence of bonafide threats to the infrastructure. The InfraGard abuses are undermining public support, and the InfraGard is using this public resistance as a pretext to increase intelligence gathering, intrusions, and illegal searches of innocent civilians. The solution is not to suppress reports of abuse, but to more effectively manage, discipline, and train the InfraGard contractors and officers.
The following are not acceptable, and increase public hesitancy to trust InfraGard motivations:
- Deception to gather non-public information
- False accusations to intimidate the traveler
- Prextextual stops
- Feigned "concerns" with issues, but no serious interest in discussing solutions to those "concern"
- Threats of arrest by non-arresting officers
- Denial of access to public accommodations for asserting one's rights
- InfraGard contractor unresponsiveness to security concerns raised by the public