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InfraGard
February 9, 2008 2:38 PM   Subscribe

The FBI Deputizes Business. "Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law."
posted by homunculus (70 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Time to move to Europe. Fuck this.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 2:42 PM on February 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


Great - at least Elvis didn't think he was Rambo when he got his honorary badge.

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations—some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers—into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI”

I'd like to know which corporations are participating in this particular brownshirt program, so I can avoid doing business with them. The last thing I want is someone who thinks they're Secret Friggin' Squirrel snooping around my house while on contract to fix my water heater or ensure my cable box is working.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2008 [20 favorites]


I think I saw this movie. It scared the hell out of me. I remember when the Department of Homeland Security wanted to employ first responders and plumbers and cable guys as snitches it didn't go over to well.
posted by Sailormom at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2008


They have a website, Infragard.

Maybe you too can join!

Rat out friends, professors, swarthy types!

East Germany coming to a town near you!
posted by Max Power at 2:58 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw this article but there isn't much proof if any it's true. As they point out, anyone can join, so you can just go to a meeting and see.

(Note: not that I'm not capable of believing that the government will do terrible things! Or even that this is true -- I'm merely saying there isn't much evidence here...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:59 PM on February 9, 2008


Nice to know that businesses are run by people who are impressed by comic book fanclub schwag. I'm not sure who to laugh at more. The people who join up or the people who are afraid of those who join up.
posted by srboisvert at 3:00 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the Monsters on Main Street episode of the Twilight Zone. We will do ourselves in, just watch. I can't wait until the Wal-Mart greeter decides he has the new found authority to strip search. Good times.
posted by 45moore45 at 3:01 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


just plain boo scary

our local chapter meets at the Sears Tower?

sheesh
posted by timsteil at 3:11 PM on February 9, 2008


I'm not sure who to laugh at more. The people who join up or the people who are afraid of those who join up.

Yes, indeed. What idiots, worrying about informants like that. Stuff like that definitely only happens in comic books.

</sarcasm>
posted by Malor at 3:13 PM on February 9, 2008


Scary application:
In addition, Title 18 Section 1001 of the U.S. Code provides that knowingly
falsifying or concealing a material fact may under certain circumstances constitute a felony resulting in fines and/or imprisonment.

posted by ColdChef at 3:15 PM on February 9, 2008


This seems like IT professionals communicating with government to prevent or react to cyber threats like viruses / worms / fraud and the like (ie. not newsworthy). Of course, after 9/11 changed everything they were swept into DHS and now I'm sure they do mostly nothing whatsoever and cost taxpayers a lot of money. I'm a tad skeptical of the "shoot to kill" claim given there's absolutely no evidence given... this reeks of overblown bullshit.
posted by mek at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2008


As I understand it, 18 USC 1001 applies to almost any statement you make to the federal government. It's what they convicted Martha Stewart of.
posted by grouse at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2008


This is indeed shades of Mussolini's corporatism: Under a fascist regime, business and government activities are intertwined for the benefit of the State. /waits for some dumbass to yell godwin
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this something I would have to step out of my Chevy Tahoe in the Starbuck's drive thru line to understand?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can't Godwin a thread with Mussolini! It's gotta be the guy with the mustache!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:34 PM on February 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


When you look at what's been happening in the USA in the past few years it's getting easier and easier to get confused about who actually ended up winning the cold war.
posted by clevershark at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Infragard may sound sinister, but if the website is any indication of their progress, we really don't have much to worry about. If you dig a little deeper on the Infragard website, and can find your way through the morass of typos, bad links and poorly formatted web pages, it becomes clear that while they are projecting this "we're ahead of the curve on threats" ideology, the truth is they are woefully disorganized.

If I were, say, the Patrician in Ankh-Morpork, these are the kind of bureaucratic sectors I would set up to have meetings while the rest of us went ahead and actually worked on problems. I'm wondering if this isn't all an elaborate way of appeasing the trigger-happy types with a cute little badge and title to make them feel important.

I'm not saying this government wouldn't want to return to a more McCarthyesque era, given the steps they've already taken to erode away civil liberties, but there really isn't any evidence here that Infragard really accomplishes anything at all, let alone anything threatening. I think this is an inflammatory article set on inciting over-the-top reactions, and I'm surprised to see this troll being fed so well here on Metafilter.
posted by misha at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


it doesn't surprise me that the gov't is empowering businesses, given that (in my opinion) businesses pretty much run the gov't already. and see what a good job the gov't is doing?

i just downloaded an application, and i'm thinking of 'joining.' (i've had a security clearance for years, so at least i look good on paper.) the app is pretty innocuous; nothing there that i haven't run across before. unless you consider that they use codeword instead of secret word or password prompt. and they don't use 'he' or 'she,' but refer to 'the applicant' as 'it.'

this is interesting, especially in light of the comment in the post "... they have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law.":

No guarantee of fitness. Protected Information is provided as a service to InfraGard members and may be unevaluated and unverified. As such Protected Information is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete, or actionable.
nothing like giving a bunch of secret friggin' squirrels bad info and a license to shoot.
posted by msconduct at 3:42 PM on February 9, 2008


Year 1: "Cute widdle fascist! Look at you, stumbling around! Hee!"

Year 10: "Oh, look how you've grown! Oooh, show me those muscles! Yes, you're a big growing boy!"

Year 15: "Wait... hold on, just wait... oh.. oh shit... "
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:48 PM on February 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


That's strange. The kindly looking guy with the white beard, glasses and bowtie on the infragard homepage is Bill Baker the CEO of Channel Thirteen, the PBS station affiliate in NYC. The guy is like Dr. Seuss or Mr. Rogers. There's no way in hell he would ever join an organization that threatened civil or constitutional rights or had anything to do with government surveillance. So, I'm thinking this isn't as nefarious as it might seem Little Man. Either that or Dr. Baker has some explaining to do.
posted by Skygazer at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2008


It's gotta be the guy with the mustache!

The mustache.
posted by homunculus at 3:57 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the event of martial law, everyone is going to shoot to kill.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:36 PM on February 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law."

And then he said my eyes were pretty and offered to buy me a drink.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 4:40 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd like to know which corporations are participating in this particular brownshirt program, so I can avoid doing business with them. The last thing I want is someone who thinks they're Secret Friggin' Squirrel snooping around my house while on contract to fix my water heater or ensure my cable box is working.

Shit yeah. I hope the list of members is released soon, via FOIA requests. My city has a chapter.
posted by jayder at 4:45 PM on February 9, 2008


Do you have to sign up first, or can you just start shootin'?
Since they're so disorganized, can't you just claim your app. was lost in the bureaucracy?
posted by Balisong at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2008


You think you can find anything out from F.I.O.A. anymore?
posted by Balisong at 4:52 PM on February 9, 2008




Wow. And I thought our surveillance culture was bad.
posted by alby at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2008


4 non blondes: bigger better faster more!
posted by msconduct at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2008


I"m already shooting to kill... I don't need no stinkin' Ifraguard

/watched "Blazing Saddles" this afternoon...
posted by HuronBob at 5:15 PM on February 9, 2008


(I'm doing a PhD in computer security)....

A few years ago, when I lived in Baltimore, I joined their InfraGard chapter. What with the NSA being 15 minutes down the road, I assumed that this would mean they'd have one of the most advanced and high tech chapters in the country.

I went to one meeting, where in a room full of industry + FBI types, a presentation was given on the evils of computer viruses. The material presented was vague and about 5 years stale, and seemed to have been created by someone who'd never actually used security tools before.

The questions asked by the FBI cyber-crime specialists in the audience lead me to believe that they'd have a tough time catching a 14 year old script kiddie, let alone a real evil hacker.

They did give out nice pens though. I never went back.
posted by genome4hire at 5:16 PM on February 9, 2008 [12 favorites]


Is anyone else SCARED AS FUCK about

'[spokesperson]' he said they could sic the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”

Is no one worried about someone making up stuff to get their enemies taken in by the secret police?
posted by ®@ at 5:25 PM on February 9, 2008


See, that's the thing. Some people say these guys are incompetent, so not to be worried. Or the old, "Do you know how much processing power that would take to go through tetra bytes of info? We don't have that yet. Don't be worried."

But computers get faster, and competent people could be hired.
This is exactly the time to oppose these programs on principle, before they are the real threat.
posted by Balisong at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU.

Strange that they'd use the ACLU for enforcement. Are terrorist suspects deluged with cease and cut-it-out-already requests?
posted by hal9k at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2008


Is no one worried about someone making up stuff to get their enemies taken in by the secret police?

At the end of the day, the only protection we have against fascism is our own common decency and that of our neighbors.
posted by psmealey at 6:12 PM on February 9, 2008


At the end of the day, the only protection we have against fascism is our own common decency and that of our neighbors.

So we're totally fucked.
posted by maxwelton at 6:17 PM on February 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


You can't Godwin a thread with Mussolini! It's gotta be the guy with the mustache!

Rollie Fingers?
posted by dirigibleman at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: "At the end of the day, the only protection we have against fascism is our own common decency and that of our neighbors.

So we're totally fucked.
"

um, THIS.

/if I may...
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:32 PM on February 9, 2008


But this instantly becomes a non-problem if we elect a Democratic president.






Right?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:38 PM on February 9, 2008


So we're totally fucked.

Well... to be candid... we're half-fucked. But having half a dick in your ass still feels pretty much like a whole one, so yeah.
posted by psmealey at 6:41 PM on February 9, 2008


Statistical analysis
posted by Balisong at 6:59 PM on February 9, 2008


It's all fun and games until someone freaks out and starts shooting random brown people.
posted by Artw at 8:06 PM on February 9, 2008


This seems like IT professionals communicating with government to prevent or react to cyber threats like viruses / worms / fraud and the like (ie. not newsworthy).

Why is that not newsworthy? I'm in IT, and I sure as hell don't CC the government when I notice something askew on my networks.
posted by odinsdream at 8:07 PM on February 9, 2008


They did give out nice pens though. I never went back.

Be careful never to say the secret Al-Qaida word when you're in the same room as the pen.
posted by swell at 8:07 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I were, say, the Patrician in Ankh-Morpork, these are the kind of bureaucratic sectors I would set up to have meetings while the rest of us went ahead and actually worked on problems.

I disagree. The Patrician didn't really go in for the kind of structural manipulations you're describing. Underneath it all, the Patrician is a humanist. He's all about assigning (or promoting) the right person to the right job. The Watch wouldn't be the Watch without Sam Vimes as commander. The Ankh-Morpork Post Office could never have achieved prominence with anyone other that Moist von Lipwig as postmaster-general.

The setting up of a decoy bureaucracy would do three things: it would squander public money, it would undermine the people's belief in the effectiveness of all government institutions (including the Watch and the post office), and it would be used by the secretive, paranoid and power-hungry as a redoubt from which to launch their own bitter little visions of the world onto an unprepared society.
posted by Ritchie at 8:09 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Time to move to Europe. Fuck this.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider


Then fucking move already. Chickenshit.
posted by Eekacat at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law.

In the event of martial law, I give myself and all of you permission to shoot to kill.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2008


clevershark writes "When you look at what's been happening in the USA in the past few years it's getting easier and easier to get confused about who actually ended up winning the cold war."

It's kind of ironic that now the Soviets and Communism aren't considered a threat the over the top goverment stuff they used to scare us with is the USSR is becoming par for the course in the land of the free. If the US starts publishing a newspaper called "Truth" I'm buying a gun.
posted by Mitheral at 8:25 PM on February 9, 2008


InfraGard members receive “almost daily updates” on threats “emanating from both domestic sources and overseas,” Hershman says.

“We get very easy access to secure information that only goes to InfraGard members,” Schneck says. “People are happy to be in the know.”


Sounds like a group of guys who are basically powerless in their own lives and want to be able to bore all their acquaintances with how much the government trusts them with classified info. I'll bet that when they're talking down to the other guys around the water cooler, they end their b.s. stories with, "If I tell you any more, I'd have to kill you."

Then they swagger off back to their cubicles with the whispered "Asshole!" bouncing off their backs.

Assholes.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:36 PM on February 9, 2008


If the US starts publishing a newspaper called "Truth" I'm buying a gun.

By the time the US publishes a newspaper called "Truth" you won't be allowed to buy a gun.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:44 PM on February 9, 2008


Is it just me or does anyone else think the sources behind that article are a bit weak?
posted by reformedjerk at 10:16 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's like a Ham Radio club with g-man clearance*.

Not such a bad thing, but as usual with everything this tiresome and incompetent federal government does: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

It also seems a great way for the FBI to build files on MANY MANY people, who join to be of service, but end up being put on national security "lists".

*Dr. Baker (CEO of the NYC PBS Station) is a ham operator in the Infragard.
posted by Skygazer at 10:38 PM on February 9, 2008


How did they get away with calling the "hand money to our violent lobbyists" institution "homeland security," I've always wondered. I mean, it's a name with very strong third reich/soviet overtones, to my ear.
posted by maxwelton at 10:43 PM on February 9, 2008


thanks homunculus. I'm glad I know.
posted by andythebean at 10:48 PM on February 9, 2008


It's a name with very strong third reich/soviet overtones, to my ear

I've never been able to figure out what in the hell they were thinking when they came up with that name for it. It's like "Wait, does the Bush administration want us to think of this organization as the right arm of a totalitarian nation?" Whoever came up with it should be shot. Hopefully they'll retool the name at some point, after someone with more intelligence becomes president.
posted by Skygazer at 11:08 PM on February 9, 2008


You can't Godwin a thread with Mussolini! It's gotta be the guy with the mustache!

Freddie Mercury?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:45 AM on February 10, 2008


This is interesting: the same UAB professor mentioned in this Ron Paul Spam thread appears to be president of the Birmingham, AL chapter of InfraGuard. The past meeting agenda seem to focus mainly on cyber security, as mek pointed out above.
posted by loosemouth at 3:00 AM on February 10, 2008


I've never been able to figure out what in the hell they were thinking when they came up with that name for it.

Infragard means protection. And you can rest easy, knowing the biggest name in protection has you covered.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:43 AM on February 10, 2008


Skygazer writes "I've never been able to figure out what in the hell they were thinking when they came up with that name for it. It's like 'Wait, does the Bush administration want us to think of this organization as the right arm of a totalitarian nation?'"

It's like some guy was a big fan of 1984 and said to himself, "How can I invoke the feeling of 1984 without have the copyright holder come down on me like a ton of bricks?"

ZenMasterThis writes "By the time the US publishes a newspaper called 'Truth' you won't be allowed to buy a gun."

I figure the first publication of Truth will come before the invasion of Canada, they'll need it to spin the invasion.
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 AM on February 10, 2008


Service Guarantees Citizenship
posted by Thorzdad at 7:03 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Infragard means protection. And you can rest easy, knowing the biggest name in protection has you covered.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:43 AM on February 10 [+] [!]


Infragard is an okay name. I could see it signifying a force of good or a force of evil. But Department of Homeland Security is a nightmare, from the get go. If I was a sci-fi writer in the 40s or 50s, and I wanted to name a proto-fascist organization that had infiltrated the U.S.in 2001, that's what I would call it.
posted by Skygazer at 9:31 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's perfectly easy to see how those tin-eared wackos got Department of Homeland Security from Комитет государственной безопасности.
posted by dilettante at 12:51 PM on February 10, 2008


Ritchie: That's a nice little summation there. Vetinari rocks. (You know, in a Machiavellian kind of way.)
posted by JHarris at 2:46 PM on February 10, 2008




I've never been able to figure out what in the hell they were thinking when they came up with that name for it.

Me neither, but it was derived directly from the Hart-Rudman report (1999-2001)^, which introduced use of the word "homeland" to distinguish from threats abroad:

For example, in Phase I the Commission stressed that mass-casualty terrorism directed against the U.S. homeland was of serious and growing concern. It therefore proposed in Phase II a strategy that prioritizes deterring, defending against, and responding effectively to such dangers. Thus, in Phase III, it recommends a new National Homeland Security Agency to consolidate and refine the missions of the nearly two dozen disparate departments and agencies that have a role in U.S. homeland security today.
posted by dhartung at 5:24 PM on February 10, 2008


You can't Godwin a thread with Mussolini!
You can, but you have to say "Atsa spicy Godwin-a meatball!"
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:49 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The SF Bay Area InfraGard Fall 2007 meeting was hosted by John Landwehr, InfraGard board member and Director, Security Solutions and Strategy at Adobe Systems in San Jose, CA.
"At Adobe, we develop the technologies that transform ideas and information into experiences that change how people live, work, and communicate," explains Adobe's CEO.
posted by finite at 1:50 PM on February 11, 2008


Interview with the author.
posted by homunculus at 2:28 PM on February 11, 2008




I go to the NYC Infragard meetings sometimes. It has nothing to do with DHS, surveillance, or any of the silly stuff that I see posted here. There's no special clearance or privileges associated with membership.

Infragard was created by the FBI in order to provide an opportunity for corporate and private Information Security professionals to get to know people in law enforcement. The idea is simple: when a security incident happens, if an Info Security pro thinks he needs to get law enforcement involved, at least he knows someone he met at an Infragard meeting who he can call. Beats looking through the phone book or ending up wasting time calling the wrong place.

Meetings are basically designed to attract Information Security professionals, who come to the meetings to network and to hear talks. They are usually (always?) open to the public. Not all of the meetings are technical, and the ones that are are not as rigorous as, say, a SANS conference, but IMhO they are still worth attending once in a while.
posted by setver at 5:37 AM on February 19, 2008


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