When it comes to the way the US government powers its mass surveillance and similar efforts, it would appear that much of it depends on a research and development outfit called Mitre Corp.
Although one would expect a very thick veil of secrecy to surround the company and its activities, not to mention products and services, Forbes goes into quite a bit of detail regarding all those.
We learn that Mitre's annual budget is $1-2 billion a year, funded by taxpayers, that it has been operating for 60 years, as well as its address in Virginia.
The clients are top US military, security and intelligence organizations, the report said, while the employees include some of the best and the brightest engineers and scientists.
Some former employees are interviewed and named, like Matt Edman, who said he worked with the FBI to dismantle an illegal online marketplace called the Silk Road.
Writes Forbes, “Mitre's history is full of such uncredited public service.” Well, not any more, because the report explains its origins, interviews a former CEO, and lists a whole host of products and services in its portfolio, like the Airborne Warning and Communications Systems (AWACS) and the Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (STARS).
Other tools Mitre's been behind are smartwatch-hacking prototypes, fitness trackers and home thermometers “for the purposes of homeland security,” software that can lift fingerprints from social media platforms like Facebook and hand them over to the FBI, not to mention help this agency build “the biggest database of human anatomy and criminal history in the world.” Mitre also dabbles in biometric surveillance and human interrogation.
And now, Mitre is once again where it's at: Covid-19. The company is teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Homeland Security, supposedly in order to help stop the pandemic.
In exchange for receiving $16.3 million dollars from the CDC in June, Mitre undertook it to “help build an enduring national capability to contain Covid-19.” This is not the first time that Mitre and the CDC have worked together – last year, pre-coronavirus, the contract was worth $20 million.
As to what “building an enduring national capability” actually entails, the CDC declined to answer.
But the report notes that in March, the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office asked Mitre to “‘engage, inform and guide' mayors, governors and emergency response leaders dealing with a pandemic.”