You’ve probably seen those “Spy Shop” catalogs with their overpriced, oversized surveillance gadgets, much beloved by cuckolds and small-time wannabe PIs. Well, here’s a catalog[.pdf] of the real stuff, a catalog that you were never supposed to see.
It’s the 2014 Cobham PLC “Tactical Communications & Surveillance” catalog for governments. While this is from their US subsidiary in Pinellas Park, FL (not far from SOCOM, oddly enough) and is specifically aimed at US military, police and TLA (Three Letter Agency) requirements for warrant-authorized and (shadier) warrantless intrusion and surveillance, the same company sells worldwide, including to many of the world’s greatest human-rights-abusing secret police agencies.
Hey, dollars, euros, rubles or renminbi, it’s all fungible. Cha-chingg!
They’re serious about not wanting this document to get around:
This catalog is the property of Cobham Tactical Communications and Surveillance and must be returned upon request. The contents of this catalog are proprietary and confidential and may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written consent of Cobham TCS. Export restrictions apply. Possession and/or use of many of these products contained in this catalog is restricted by Federal or State law. Product features and specifications are not intended to be comprehensive and may not be accurate. For up to date and comprehensive product features and specifications please visit www. cobham.com/tcs or contact your Cobham Tactical Communications and Surveillance Account Manager.
Every page is further marked:
Cobham TCS Propriety and Confidential Information, DO NOT DISTRIBUTE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
Sorry ’bout that, Chief.
What they say they’re offering is:
…covert audio, video, and tracking surveillance equipment built and supported by the best brands in the industry. Our aim is to supply clients with advanced surveillance technology which significantly enhances their operational capability.
Some of the capabilities are:
Video solutions offer high quality recording and sharing of images, to evidential standards
Audio solutions for covert monitoring of target conversations
Tracking, Tagging and Locating solutions, where tiny unique tags help follow or find people and assets, wherever they are
Integrated Surveillance Solutions bring together the best of Cobham’s products to deliver a complete solutions in some of the toughest locations in the world.
There’s also the IP Mesh product line, which is a robust, self-organizing and self-healing network that not only operates in a public-service context, but also can provide nodes that are in listening radio silence for clandestine operation against electronically sophisticated opponents.
Cobham’s radios don’t use frequency-hopping; instead, they escape detection (and increase live dwell time on target) by using a fixed frequency, but an extremely minute signal, easily overlooked by technical surveillance countermeasures.
There are a wide range of prefab clandestine cameras, for those lacking the in-house ability to dummy them up…
… and there’s even a dog-collar camera, and a throwable “ball camera” that rights itself on landing. Not to mention a full suite of IMSI catchers (Cobham’s version of the Harris Stingray, a covert cell phone surveillance device. IMSI catchers are widely used without warrants to develop information; rather than submit that information as “evidence,” which would (1) expose the use of the surveillance and (2) enable warrantless wiretapping to be challenged in court, the information is then used to develop the same information using legal means, a processs that the Feds call “parallel construction.”
All in all, the catalog is jammed with spy tech, any item of which can be integrated into your video/audio/RF-spectrum/etc. pervasive surveillance system.
Like a gun, these technologies are neutral. They can be sold (and from Cobham, they are) to beleaguered democracies with a strong rule of law, and ruthless dictatorships that laugh at the very idea of the law. They can be pro-civic in nature, when deployed under judicial oversight (for example, particularized and narrow warrants), and they can be totalitarian and dyscivic in nature, when deployed on warrantless fishing expeditions.
With the FBI increasingly stepping into a role as a partisan political police, and with the Bureau’s, the other agencies’, and the DOJ’s allergic reaction to the sunlight of transparency, maybe some common sense spy tech control measures need to be imposed by Congress.
Think of the children.
You can see the catalog here[.pdf on documentcloud.org]. Should it get nuked, let us know in the comments; we’ve saved a copy.
Exit howler: Cobham Tactical Communications and Surveillance’s truly Orwellian tagline: “The most important thing we build is trust.”