On July 23, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged a billboard at Bayshore Boulevard near Sunnydale Avenue in San Francisco. The CDC released the corrected ad one day before a U.S. House of Representatives vote that would have curtailed the agency’s surveillance inside the United States.
The CDC’s ad features a phalanx of massive robots emerging from an ocean storm and marching inland through a barrage of rocket fire. Military helicopters and an aircraft carrier are dwarfed by the robots who wear acronyms of American security agencies: the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The largest robot lumbers toward the billboard’s headline, TO FIGHT MONSTERS WE CREATED MONSTERS…THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE.
Following the unauthorized release of information by its former contractor, Edward Snowden, the NSA has faced an unprecedented wave of public scrutiny. On July 24th the U.S. House of Representatives voted on an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would have eliminated funding for the agency’s phone data collection. Narrowly defeated by a margin of 205 to 217, the amendment was attached to a $598 billion defense spending bill for 2014. In addition, news organizations have released daily coverage of Snowden’s leaked documents, and nineteen civilian groups have filed a lawsuit against the NSA, alleging that the massive collection of phone data violates their right of association.
In the midst of this public attention, the CDC initiated its billboard campaign to call for additional support for the NSA. Limited by current levels of funding, the NSA has only been able to collect data on all cell phone calls, all emails and every piece of domestic mail. The agency has also been operating drones for domestic surveillance, searching homes without the knowledge of occupants and acquiring private records from government agencies and financial institutions without obtaining a warrant. With America’s continued support, the NSA will be able to expand and improve these surveillance techniques, enabling the agency to record every conversation that occurs inside the U.S., operate drones over every inch of domestic airspace, search every personal residence and collect every document related to the private lives of U.S. citizens.
The corrected billboard is currently at liberty and seems to have successfully readjusted to public life. However, this ad will remain under surveillance by department staff to prevent recidivism and any potential lapse into prior criminal behavior.
Founded in 1994, the CDC is a private correctional facility that protects the public through the secure management, discipline, and rehabilitation of California’s advertising. The department was initiated by individuals who felt that public correctional facilities were insufficiently managing the state’s most criminal elements and that effective care and treatment would improve under the supervision of a private institution.