Informants R Us
Speaking of contractors:
"At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector," the InfraGard website states. "InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories."
In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that "350 of our nation's Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard."To join, each person must be sponsored by "an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization." The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.
FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005...He urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they "note suspicious activity or an unusual event." And he said they could sic the FBI on "disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers."
InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the "trade secrets" exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.
"The interests of InfraGard must be protected whenever presented to non-InfraGard members," the website states. "During interviews with members of the press, controlling the image of InfraGard being presented can be difficult. Proper preparation for the interview will minimize the risk of embarrassment. . . . The InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should review the submitted questions, agree on the predilection of the answers, and identify the appropriate interviewee. . . . Tailor answers to the expected audience. . . . Questions concerning sensitive information should be avoided."
In return for being in the know, InfraGard members cooperate with the FBI and Homeland Security. "InfraGard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases," Schneck says. "What InfraGard brings you is reach into the regional and local communities. We are a 22,000-member vetted body of subject-matter experts that reaches across seventeen matrixes. All the different stovepipes can connect with InfraGard."
One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation -- and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, "Partnership for Protection." On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.
This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.
"The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage," he says. "From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we'd be given specific benefits." These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out. But that's not all.
"Then they said when -- not if -- martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn't be prosecuted," he says.
The FBI adamantly denies it, also. "That's ridiculous," says Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokesperson. "If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that's what you want to print, fine."
But one other InfraGard member corroborated the whistleblower's account, and another would not deny it.
Christine Moerke is a business continuity consultant for Alliant Energy in Madison, Wisconsin. She says she's an InfraGard member, and she confirms that she has attended InfraGard meetings that went into the details about what kind of civil patrol function -- including engaging in lethal force -- that InfraGard members may be called upon to perform.
"There have been discussions like that, that I've heard of and participated in," she says.
Curt Haugen is CEO of S'Curo Group, a company that does "strategic planning, business continuity planning and disaster recovery, physical and IT security, policy development, internal control, personnel selection, and travel safety," according to its website. Haugen tells me he is a former FBI agent and that he has been an InfraGard member for many years. He is a huge booster. "It's the only true organization where there is the public-private partnership," he says. "It's all who knows who. You know a face, you trust a face. That's what makes it work."
He says InfraGard "absolutely" does emergency preparedness exercises. When I ask about discussions the FBI and Homeland Security have had with InfraGard members about their use of lethal force, he says: "That much I cannot comment on. But as a private citizen, you have the right to use force if you feel threatened."
"We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions," the whistleblower says. "It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone."
Far be it for me to draw parallels between our developing police state and earlier authoritarian regimes, but there is some fairly recent evidence of where this sort of thing leads:
The Stasi infiltrated almost every aspect of GDR life. In the mid-1980s, a network of civilian informants, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators), began growing in both German states; by the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, the Stasi employed an estimated 91,000 employees and 300,000 informants. About one of every 50 East Germans collaborated with the Stasi — one of the most extensive police infiltrations of a society in history. In 2007 an article in BBC stated that "Some calculations have concluded that in East Germany there was one informer to every seven citizens." Additionally, Stasi agents infiltrated and undermined West Germany's government and spy agencies.
I suppose that American 'exceptionalism" requires that we believe this can never happen here --- that these fine pillars of our communities would never use such powers for personal profit and our government would never use them to quash political dissent. We are much too special for that. Nothing like those awful commies.
Still, it seems to me that our constitution anticipated just this sort of thing, which is why it is so "picky" about civil liberties, demanding that the government go through certain hoops to preserve our freedom. If we all still sign on to it (a debatable proposition, I admit) it seems to me that we probably should not be creating secret societies that work in league with the government to spy on citizens. Call me a DFH, but I don't trust these these people.
Via Avedon Carol