The Transnational Homeland Security State and the Decline of Democracy
When Empire Hits Home, Part 4
By Andrew Gavin Marshall
This is Part 4 in the series, “When Empire Hits Home.”
Part 1: War, Racism and the Empire of Poverty
Part 2: Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis: The Impoverishment of the Middle Class
Part 3: The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion and Revolution
As the western world is thrown into debt bondage and the harsh reality of the draconian economic ‘reforms’ to follow, a social collapse seems increasingly inevitable. We will soon witness the collapse of western ‘civilization’. The middle classes of the west will dissolve into the lower labour class. The wealthy class, already nearly at par with the middle class in terms of total consumption, will become the only consuming class.
The state structure itself will be altering; nation-states will become subordinate to supra-national continental governance structures and global governance entities simultaneously. Concurrently, state structures will no longer maintain their democratic facades, as the public state is gutted, where all that remains and is built upon is the state apparatus of oppression. States will become tools of authoritative control, their prime purpose will be in establishing a strong military, as well as police-state apparatus to control the people. This is the dawning of the ‘Homeland Security State’ on a far grander scale than we have previously imagined. The object of ‘totalitarianism’ is to have ‘total control’. In this project of total control, state borders, as we know them today, will have to vanish; the institutions of oppression and control will be globalized.
As society collapses, the social foundations of the middle class will be pulled out from under their feet. When people are thrown to the ground, they tend to want to stand back up again. The middle class will become a rebellious, possibly even revolutionary class, with riots and civil unrest a very likely reality. The lower class itself will likely partake in the unrest; however, the youth of the middle class will be thrown into a ‘poverty of expectations’, where the world as they have known it and the world they had expectations to rise into, will be taken from them. Civil unrest is as inevitable as summer after spring.
When society collapses, the state will close itself over society to prevent the people from overtaking the levers of power and rebuilding a new social foundation. Nation-states are about to reveal to the people of the west their true nature, and that which the people of impoverished lands the world over have been exposed to for so long. At their heart, nations seek and serve power; their skeleton is not the public welfare they speak of espousing, but the apparatus of oppression that they build and expand, regardless of all other considerations.
In February of 2009, Obama’s intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the economic crisis has become the greatest threat to U.S. national security:
I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.
What is being said here is that economic crises (“if they are prolonged for a one or two year period”) pose a major threat to the established powers – the governing and economic powers – in the form of social unrest and rebellion (“regime-threatening instability”). The colonial possessions – Africa, South America, and Asia – will experience the worst of the economic conditions, which “can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have.” This can then come back to the western nations and imperial powers themselves, as the riots and rebellion will spread home at the same time as they may lose control of their colonial possessions – eliminating western elites from a position of power internationally, and acquiescence domestically. Thus, the rebellion and discontent in the ‘Third World’ “can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.”
In this type of scenario, where established western elites are threatened with losing control of vast imperial possessions (resources, key strategic points), while concurrently are threatened with revolt at home, the end result is inevitably the rapid militarization of the foreign and domestic spheres. It is no coincidence that as the economic crisis emerged in late 2007, the Pentagon military Africa Command (AFRICOM) was created in December of 2007, setting the stage for a military-based foreign policy for the entire continent of Africa in an objective aimed at securing its resources.
As the economic crisis continued, the domestic populations of western nations, particularly the United States, were increasingly subjected to further surveillance and police state measures. We have body scanners at airports, legal immunity was granted to corporations that spy on our telephone calls and emails and internet-usage. The Homeland Security State is transnationalizing, following the economic crisis, itself.
The powers of globalization – the state, banks, corporations, foundations, and international organizations – are well aware of the effects this social reorganization will have on the people and the reactions that are likely to arise. After all, these same organized powers have been doing exactly this to the rest of the world for decades and even centuries. What we are about to witness is not entirely new, it’s just being done on an entirely new scale, and it’s largely new to us.
The US Commission on National Security in the 21st Century
In addressing the issue of ‘Homeland Security’, it is important to analyze the origins of the structure, itself. In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was officially formed in 2003 in reaction to the events of 9/11 and with the stated intent of ‘protecting the homeland’ from threats, primarily terrorism. Pushing the official myth aside, we can see that ‘Homeland Security’ was planned in advance of 9/11, and is not about protecting, but rather controlling, the people.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton and the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, established a commission to look at how the United States “provides for its security in a more comprehensive way than had been done in the last half century”:
The Secretary of Defense funded that effort and, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisors, selected 14 prominent Americans to serve on that Commission, and provide the guidance and the strategic direction, and ultimately all of the important policy choices that would be made by the Commission.
The final report was released on January 31, 2001, and was the most comprehensive review of US national security since the National Security Act of 1947, which created the CIA and the National Security Council.
The two Co-Chairs of the Commission were Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. Commissioners included Anne Armstrong, who has served on the boards of American Express, Halliburton, General Motors, as well as the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the premier think tanks in the United States; Norman Ralph Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest weapons manufacturers and military corporations in the world; John Rogers Galvin, a retired General and former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO; Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Pentagon and State Department official; Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank; Lee Hamilton, who would later be Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, a former Congressman for over 30 years who is currently President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and is a long-time member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission; Donald Rice, former CEO of RAND Corporation, a major Pentagon-linked think tank, and has served on the boards of Wells Fargo, Unocal, and Chevron; and James R. Schlesinger, former US Secretary of Defense, former Secretary of Energy, former CIA director, had previously worked with the RAND Corporation, and was more recently a Senior Adviser to Lehman Brothers.
In short, the Commission was made up of key individuals heavily linked to America’s highly influential network of elite think tanks, premier among them, the Council on Foreign Relations, but also including the American Enterprise Institute, CSIS, and the RAND Corporation. This was, without a doubt, an elite-driven commission.
The Commission produced three major reports. The first report, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, was released in September of 1999, and was designed to take a look at the global environment over the next 25 years. The report made 12 key observations, among them were:
1) An economically strong United States is likely to remain a primary political, military, and cultural force through 2025, and will thus have a significant role in shaping the international environment.
4) World energy supplies will remain largely based on fossil fuels.
5) While much of the world will experience economic growth, disparities in income will increase and widespread poverty will persist.
8) Though it will raise important issues of sovereignty, the United States will find in its national interest to work with and strengthen a variety of international organizations.
9) The United States will remain the principal military power in the world.
11) We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.
They give a variety of conclusions in their report. The first among them was that, “America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not entirely protect us.” They state quite emphatically that, “Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.” Another major conclusion stated that, “The national security of all advanced states will be increasingly affected by the vulnerabilities of the evolving global economic infrastructure.” Expanding upon this conclusion, the report stated:
[E]conomic integration and fragmentation will co-exist. Serious and unexpected economic downturns, major disparities of wealth, volatile capital flows, increasing vulnerabilities in global electronic infrastructures, labor and social disruptions, and pressures for increased protectionism will also occur… For most advanced states, major threats to national security will broaden beyond the purely military.
Another major conclusion of the report was that, “Energy will continue to have major strategic significance,” emphasizing that Persian Gulf oil is a necessity to control. Another key conclusion of the Commission was that, “The sovereignty of states will come under pressure, but will endure,” elaborating that:
The international system will wrestle constantly over the next quarter century to establish the proper balance between fealty to the state on the one hand, and the impetus to build effective transnational institutions on the other. This struggle will be played out in the debate over international institutions to regulate financial markets, international policing and peace-making agencies, as well as several other shared global problems. Nevertheless, global forces, especially economic ones, will continue to batter the concept of national sovereignty.
Further conclusions of the Commission include seeing an increase in “the deliberate terrorizing of civilian populations,” military competition in space, and that, “The United States will be called upon frequently to intervene militarily.”
The second report of the Commission, commonly known as the Hart-Rudman Commission, Seeking a National Strategy, was released in April of 2000. In this report, the Commission emphasized the importance of maintaining and expanding the American empire, as “The maintenance of America’s strength is a long-term commitment and cannot be assured without conscious, dedicated effort.”
In focusing on protecting America’s “vital interests,” the report stated that, “U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, economic, financial, and diplomatic means must be effectively integrated for this purpose.” The report also suggests that the United States must control “Persian Gulf and other major energy supplies,” cynically claiming that this would be done to ensure that energy supplies “are not wielded as political weapons directed against the United States or its allies and friends.”
The report further recommends that the United States “needs five kinds of military capabilities”:
* nuclear capabilities to deter and protect the United States and its allies from attack;
* homeland security capabilities;
* conventional capabilities necessary to win major wars;
* rapidly employable expeditionary/intervention capabilities; and
* humanitarian relief and constabulary capabilities.
The third and final report of the Hart-Rudman Commission, Road Map for National Security, was published in February of 2001. The main conclusion of the Commission was that, “significant changes must be made in the structures and processes of the U.S. national security apparatus.” Chief among the recommendations was “Securing the National Homeland.” The report warned prophetically that, “A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century.” Based upon this assumption:
We therefore recommend the creation of an independent National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government activities involved in homeland security. NHSA would be built upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the three organizations currently on the front line of border security—the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the Border Patrol—transferred to it. NHSA would not only protect American lives, but also assume responsibility for overseeing the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure, including information technology.
As a part of the creation of a National Homeland Security Agency, the Commission further recommended the involvement of the Department of Defense in this process and structure, as well as reorganizing the National Guard so that homeland security becomes its “primary mission.”
In March of 2001, six months prior to the 9/11 attacks, Congressman Mac Thornberry proposed a bill to create a National Homeland Security Agency based upon the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission. Hearings were held, but no further action was taken on the bill.
Roughly six months later, the September 11th attacks took place in the United States. On 9/11, a live Fox News report of the Pentagon attacks stated that, “The part of the Pentagon that was struck today by an airliner was in fact undergoing renovation, and as a consequence, not all the offices there were occupied.” Further, the reporter stated that, “A couple of the offices that were in that portion of the Pentagon – or portions that were struck – were offices that deal with trying to deal with counter-terrorism. One is called the Office of Homeland Defense, it’s a newly-created office that was slated to get a big budget increase.”
Warren Rudman, co-Chair of the Commission spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations within days of the September 11th attacks, commenting on how the recommendations of the Commission had not been thoroughly put in place prior to the attacks. He stated that, “Unfortunately, we Americans I guess sometimes have to get hit with a two by four to get with it. I have no doubt that we will get with it.” Senator Gary Hart, the other co-Chair, stated that the events of 9/11 “are in fact the introduction to a totally new century.” Lee Hamilton, another commissioner, told the same audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that the “War on Terror” is “a permanent war, that it is an ongoing war.” He further stated that, “We must strengthen dramatically our defense of the homeland, and that means putting a lot more resources into borders and airports and cities, and protecting the critical infrastructure of the country.”
Eleven days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush announced he would create an Office of Homeland Security in the White House, of which he would appoint Governor Tom Ridge as director. On October 8, 2001, Executive Order 13228 was issued, establishing two agencies within the White House: the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), “tasked to develop and implement a national strategy to coordinate federal, state, and local counter-terrorism efforts to secure the country from and respond to terrorist threats or attacks,” and the Homeland Security Council (HSC), “to advise the President on homeland security matters, mirroring the role the National Security Council (NSC) plays in national security.”
In October of 2001, Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a bill to establish a Department of National Homeland Security, following the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission. While hearings were held, no further action was initially taken. On June 6, 2002, President Bush gave a speech in which he proposed the creation of a permanent Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. On June 18, 2002, Bush formally submitted his proposal for the Department of Homeland Security to Congress as the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The House passed the bill on July 26, 2002, and the Senate on November 19, 2002. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law on November 25, 2002. The Department of Homeland Security thus became operational on January 24, 2003, with Tom Ridge as the first Secretary of Homeland Security.
The 9/11 Commission, formed in November of 2002, issued its final report in July of 2004. In it, the Commissioners, the co-Chair of which was Lee Hamilton, a prominent member of the Hart-Rudman Commission, recommended a number of key strategies aimed at “fighting terrorism.” These essentially amounted to a strengthening of “Homeland Security” and an expansion of a variety of police state measures.
Among the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission were to implement, under the Department of Homeland Security, a “biometric passport” system, and to “exchange terrorist information with trusted allies, and raise U.S. and global border security standards for travel and border crossing over the medium and long term through extensive international cooperation.” Further, the Commission recommended the creation of I.D. cards, as “Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.” It further recommended expanding “no-fly” and various other “watch” lists. As well as this, the “information sharing among government agencies and by those agencies with the private sector” should be expanded.
The USA Patriot Act
The USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks and signed by President Bush into law on October 26, 2001, was in fact written up prior to the attacks of 9/11.
In a 2002 edition of the American University Law Review, an analysis of the effects that the USA Patriot Act has on civil liberties was undertaken. In the introduction, the authors state that:
Americans’ liberties have been trammeled in a variety of different ways. Under the guise of stopping terrorism, law enforcement officials and government leaders have now been given the right to conduct searches of homes and offices without prior notice, use roving wiretaps to listen in on telephone conversations, and monitor computers and e-mail messages, even to the degree of eavesdropping on attorney/client conversations. In addition, the President has made efforts to bring suspected terrorists into military tribunals for prosecution. Finally, a growing sentiment for the establishment of a national identification card system in the United States has emerged, threatening to force all citizens to be “tagged.”
The Patriot Act centralizes law enforcement authority under the Justice Department. Further, it coordinates domestic intelligence gathering from the Justice Department to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and it has thus “given the CIA the central authority to gather and use intelligence information garnered from domestic sources, including intelligence on United States citizens and residents.” This authority “permits the CIA to begin, once again, to spy on American citizens.”
As part of the Patriot Act, the definition of ‘domestic terrorism’ itself has changed, and now “involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State,” as well as activities that “appear to be intended” to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; or to effect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” Ultimately, this can “include any such acts that result in virtually any federal crime of violence,” and “these extensions of the definition of “terrorist” could bring within their sweep diverse domestic political groups.”
The Patriot Act also assaults the First Amendment right to advocate ideas, to speak freely, to associate with whomever one chooses, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. The Patriot Act permits searches and seizures from businesses, and subsequently, “the owners and officers of the business are gagged from disclosing that they have been the subject of an FBI search and seizure, presumably including disclosures to the media.” The Attorney General John Ashcroft referred to civil libertarians who oppose the Patriot Act as “unpatriotic” and “un-American” and said that their “tactics only aid terrorists.” Thus, “the Attorney General’s statements demonstrate an extreme insensitivity to the fundamental American right to dissent without fear of retaliation.”
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, is also violated by the Patriot Act, as it allows for the “the wholesale disregard of the historic constitutional protections of notice, probable cause, and proportionality.” The monitoring of communications is an area that is drastically exploited by the Patriot Act in violation of Constitutional law, as wiretapping was only allowed upon the showing of probable cause, under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, under the Patriot Act, FISA orders are not done under the basis of probable cause, but on the “certification” that “the information sought is related to the professed law enforcement purpose.” The surveillance is not only of telephones, but also of internet-usage: “The ability to monitor Internet sites visited by the subject of a search, in the absence of a showing of probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, is an unprecedented expansion of federal surveillance powers.”
Further, the Patriot Act violates the right to be tried by a jury of your peers, and instead, for terrorism cases, puts in place a system of “military tribunals” to try the accused. Further, attorney-client privilege is now done away with, as correspondence between prisoners and their legal counsel can be monitored, and it “is not limited to alleged terrorists; rather, it extends to all incarcerated individuals.” Further, many of those rounded up after 9/11 – reaching a number over 1,000 – were discouraged from seeking legal counsel, “or have had access to counsel blocked outright.” Amazingly, “On November 13, 2001, President Bush issued an Executive Order suspending the rights of indictment, trial by jury, appellate relief, and habeas corpus for all non-citizen persons accused of aiding or abetting terrorists.” The military commissions will not “apply the principles of law or the rules of evidence that are used in normal criminal cases,” where secret evidence can be used, and “the military will sit as both the adjudicator of fact and arbiter of law. In addition, these tribunals may impose the death penalty, even though only a two-third majority vote, instead of the unanimity mandated in civilian trials, is required for a sentence.”
Suspects will not be granted the writ of habeas corpus – the several-hundred-year old legal writ that guarantees prisoners the right to be found whether they are imprisoned legally or should be released from custody. Immigrants, further, may be detained indefinitely and never granted the writ of habeas corpus to determine if their detention is lawful. The Patriot Act further allows for the monitoring of personal financial transactions, banking records, and educational records. Moreover, it also sets the stage for the building of “biometric identification systems” for citizens, such as fingerprint databases.
Major amendments were added to the Patriot Act in 2003, dubbing it the Patriot Act II. As part of the amendments, the government will be granted the ability to build a massive DNA database of suspects. Jack Balkin, a Yale Law School professor, wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times in which he explained that one “measure would remove existing protections under the Freedom of Information Act, making it easier for the government to hide whom it is holding and why, and preventing the public from ever obtaining embarrassing information about government overreaching.” Further:
Perhaps the most troubling section would strip U.S. citizenship from anyone who gives “material support” to any group that the attorney general designates as a terrorist organization.
Other provisions that the bill would allow for include making it “easier for the government to initiate surveillance and wiretapping of U.S. citizens under the shadowy, top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” and it would further, “Harm Americans’ ability to receive a fair trial by limiting defense attorneys from challenging the use of secret evidence.” In true draconian fashion, it would permit “the sampling and cataloguing of innocent Americans’ genetic information without court order and without consent.”
The Patriot Act was subsequently renewed by Congress in 2006, and in September of 2009, the Obama administration recommended Congress renew the Patriot Act once again. This should come as no surprise, since in 2008, while a Senator, Obama voted for legislation that allowed for warrantless wiretapping of American’s electronic communications, and that same legislation “also immunized the nation’s telecommunication companies from lawsuits charging them with being complicit with the Bush administration’s warrantless, wiretapping program.” In February of 2010, Congress overwhelmingly voted to extend the Patriot Act without adding any protections for civil liberties.
The NSA: Big Brother In Action
In December of 2005, the New York Times ran an article breaking the story of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, as “Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States.” Elaborating:
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years.
The program is obviously illegal, since it does not operate with warrants; however, it is justified under the all-encompassing “War on Terror”. While the New York Times broke the story, they are also complicit in covering it up, as they had the story long before it was published, and in fact the paper delayed the story for over one year, until long after the 2004 Presidential election.
USA Today expanded upon the previous story, and revealed in 2006 that, “The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.” Further:
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime.
One official stated, “It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” and that the goal of the NSA is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the United States:
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
In 2006, an AT&T employee blew the whistle on the spying activities undertaken by the largest telecommunications corporation in the United States on behalf of the NSA. He revealed that AT&T provided the NSA “with full access to its customers’ phone calls, and shunted its customers’ internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center.” Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, was taking part in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T for its part in the illegal surveillance program:
According to a statement released by Klein’s attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T’s #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.
“I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,” Klein wrote. “The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.”
Klein’s job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
In March of 2007, it was revealed that Mark Klein’s efforts to blow the whistle on AT&T’s involvement in the NSA surveillance program were being blocked by U.S. intelligence officials as well as top editors of the Los Angeles Times. In his first broadcast interview with Nightline, Mark Klein revealed that:
[H]e collected 120 pages of technical documents left around the San Francisco office showing how the NSA was installing “splitters” that would allow it to copy both domestic and international Internet traffic moving through AT&T connections with 16 other trunk lines.
Klein attempted to take his documents to the LA Times to blow the whistle publicly on the program, which he referred to as “an illegal and Orwellian project.” However, “after working for two months with LA Times reporter Joe Menn, Klein says he was told the story had been killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-director of the NSA Gen. Michael Hayden.” The decision by the Los Angeles Times to kill the story “was made by the paper’s editor at the time, Dean Baquet, now the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times.” Baquet confirmed he spoke with Hayden and Negroponte, but claimed “government pressure played no role in my decision not to run the story.”
In November of 2007, Keith Olbermann interviewed Mark Klein on MSNBC, where Klein elaborated on the secret program, saying that virtually all internet traffic in the entire country was handed over to the NSA. He appeared on MSNBC at a time when Congress was debating whether or not to grant the telecom companies legal immunity for participating in the NSA program, which would thus shut down all pending legal action being taken against the companies for their involvement in the illegal program. Klein reflected on his job, saying that, “Here I am, being forced to connect the Big Brother machine.”
Total Information Awareness (TIA)
In November of 2002, the New York Times ran a story that revealed the existence of a secret Pentagon program called “Total Information Awareness” (TIA). The director of the program is Vice Admiral John Poindexter, a convicted criminal for his involvement in the the Iran-Contra affair (involving smuggling arms and drugs in order to finance terrorists in South America). Poindexter said that the program:
[W]ill provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant.
Poindexter headed the Information Awareness Office, which was run out of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA): “The office is responsible for developing new surveillance technologies in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.” Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said that, “This could be the perfect storm for civil liberties in America,” and that, “The vehicle is the Homeland Security Act, the technology is Darpa and the agency is the F.B.I. The outcome is a system of national surveillance of the American public.” DARPA, existing within the Pentagon since the late 1950s, has been referred to as the “Department of Mad Scientists.”
After the program was made public, the outcry from civil liberties advocates created enough of a stir for Congress to put a hold on the program. The Pentagon then submitted a change in the program to Congress, and as the Washington Post revealed, it was “a name change.” The word “Total” was replaced with “Terrorism,” and thus, the program would be called, “Terrorism Information Awareness.”
The New York Times summed up the program as such:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as “a virtual, centralized grand database.”
To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ” Total Information Awareness” about every U.S. citizen.
The San Francisco Chronicle published a story on Total Information Awareness in which it opened with the phrase, “Live by the Internet, be enslaved by the Internet.” The article elaborated:
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which funded the development of the Internet, is now funding the Information Awareness Office (IAO) to develop a “large-scale counterterrorism database.” The idea is to keep track of every bit of information on everyone in the country and “detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists.”
Further, as the article pointed out, even the logo of the Total Information Awareness program is eerie, as “the IAO [Information Awareness Office] logo shows an eye on top of a pyramid shining onto a globe.” Beneath the logo, written in Latin, is a phrase that translates into “Knowledge is Power.”
In September of 2003, Congress ended funding for the program. The media then hailed the TIA program as “dead and gone.” Yet, the funding was cut for the specific program as envisaged under the umbrella of TIA. The various programs within TIA could continue as separate projects, with the full funding and support of Congress.
In 2004, the Associated Press reported that, “some of those projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, according to congressional, federal and research officials.” Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks work by U.S. intelligence agencies, stated that, “There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing.”
In 2006, it was revealed that TIA stopped “in name only” and in fact does live on, and it “was moved from the Pentagon’s research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency.” Interestingly, “Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.” The program has heavy involvement from private defense and intelligence contractors, highly secretive corporations that get major contracts from US intelligence agencies to be able to undertake intelligence activities that aren’t subjected to Congressional oversight.
The Modern Surveillance Society
The western world is fast becoming a transnational surveillance society, with the United Kingdom leading the charge. In 2006, the British information commissioner, Richard Thomas, said that Britain was a surveillance society. There were more than 4.2 million CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras in the U.K., about 1 for every 14 people. The Surveillance Studies Network, an organization of academics, released a report on surveillance in which it was revealed that compared to other western nations the U.K. was “the most surveilled country.” One of the lead authors stated that, “We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection.”
In February of 2009, the British House of Lords Constitution Committee “warned that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies is a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights.” The report stated:
The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country.
Increased use of CCTV in public areas, the DNA database, the government’s planned national ID card scheme and the various databases of British children are all threatening traditional freedoms, the report cautioned.
One article in a British newspaper pointed out in 2007 that George Orwell’s nightmare as depicted in 1984 has become a reality, and with a twist:
According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people in the country – and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.
The article pointed out that within 200 yards of Orwell’s old home in North London, “there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.” ‘Big Brother is Watching You.’ In May of 2007, a watchdog group revealed that, “The vast majority of Britain’s CCTV cameras are operating illegally or in breach of privacy guidelines.” The number may be as high as 90% of CCTV cameras being illegal.
In 2008, senior British police officials revealed that with all of the CCTV cameras in the U.K., supposedly under the auspices of ‘preventing crime’, “Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.”
In 2009, it was revealed that, “Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population.” While there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain, 1 for every 14 people, “in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75 million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens.” An official from a pressure group, Privacy International, stated that, “As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century non-democratic regime.”
In August of 2009, it was revealed that the British government had come up with a vast new Orwellian idea, terrifying in its scope and intent:
£400 million ($668 million) will be spent on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs.
It gets worse. The government is also maintaining a private army, incredibly not called “Thought Police”, which will “be sent round to carry out home checks,” according to the Sunday Express. And in a scheme which firmly cements the nation’s reputation as a “nanny state”, the kids and their families will be forced to sign “behavior contracts” which will “set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.”
In November of 2009, it was revealed that, “CCTV cameras are being fitted inside family homes by council ‘snoopers’ to spy on neighbours in the street outside.” In January of 2010, the Guardian reported that, “Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.” Effectively, it will become “CCTV in the Sky.”
There have even been moves to attach microphones to CCTV cameras, “designed to monitor rowdy bars and nightclubs in central London. They will also be installed in housing estates in an attempt to stop nuisance neighbours.” Elaborating on the usage of such microphones, “The devices would be programmed to trigger an automatic alert if noise levels get too high.”
Further, “talking CCTV cameras” which allow for “operators to publicly shame offenders is to be extended across the country.” John Reid, the Home Secretary, stated, “It helps counter things like litter through drunk or disorderly behaviour, gangs congregating.” In a strange psychological twist, “In a bid to shame offenders into acting properly, the Government is drafting in children to provide the admonition.” The government has thus undertaken what all police states and totalitarian societies ultimately do: recruit the children of the nation as spies. The government began competitions at schools:
Activities, such as designing posters that challenge bad behaviour and taking part in neighbourhood litter picks, help educate children about acceptable behaviour while at the same time they are encouraged to use their ‘pester power’ in a positive way – reminding grown-ups how to behave.
The winning schoolchildren will be invited to become the ‘voice’ of the Talking CCTV in their town or city’s CCTV control room for one day – the day of the switch-on – later this year.
Within one week of the previous report, “Britain’s talking CCTV cameras are to issue their first apology for embarrassing a blameless passerby on the day the government announces plans to extend the anti-vandalism scheme to 20 town centres.” Marie Brewster, a young mother, had crumpled up some garbage and put it in her baby carriage, and then heard a voice say, “Please place the rubbish in the bin provided.”
The U.K. has been implementing major surveillance and information databases on its citizens, including a database on Britain’s children, a “£224m directory, called ContactPoint, holds the name, address, date of birth, GP and school of all under-18s, and is aimed at helping professionals reach children they suspect are at risk.” Due to this database, “Doctors, social workers and police can look up details on every child in England.” Britain has also unveiled a National ID Card program, of which a report of the London School of Economics revealed has many problems, including:
[C]ost, renewing the biometric testing, replacing ID cards, enrolling difficulties, difficulties with card reader machines, non-cooperation from the public, civil liberty, privacy and legal implications, problems for disabled users, security concerns and the creation of a new offence of identity theft.
In May of 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown introduced a new law where “Phone and internet companies will soon be forced to keep logs of internet usage to be made available to the police.” Telecom companies, which were already required by the government to keep track of phone calls, would then be required to keep “records of customers’ internet usage, email usage and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) records.”
In October of 2008, it was revealed that GCHQ, the government’s secret eavesdropping agency, “is plotting the biggest surveillance system ever created in Britain.” This would include, “Every call you make, every e-mail you send, every website you visit.” The government expressed an interest in asking companies to monitor how people use social networking sites like Facebook. The government would ask companies “to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of internet sources, from social networks through to chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games.”
Further, “The government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons,” which would “store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers.” One Parliamentarian said, “We are sleepwalking into a surveillance state and should remember that George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint.”
For those that think surveillance is aimed at “protecting” people, more information has come to light which helps identify the true intent of surveillance: control. In 2009, an investigation by the Guardian revealed that, “Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years.” The Guardian reported that, “Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an ‘intelligence system’,” which “lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.” Further, the program is also monitoring reporters and journalists who report on, cover, or attend protests.
In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security began handing out millions of dollars to local governments across the United States “for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a “surveillance society” in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost,” warned the Boston Globe. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has doled out millions on surveillance cameras, transforming city streets and parks into places under constant observation.” The cameras are often extremely high-tech, as “technicians are developing ways to use computers to process real-time and stored digital video, including license-plate readers, face-recognition scanners, and software that detects” unusual behaviour.”
In 2007, it was revealed that there were greatly increased calls for installing surveillance CCTV camera systems in the United States modeled on the U.K., and “In the first such public effort in the U.S., New York is planning to begin the installation of a similar, permanent system for lower Manhattan.” The security cordon around central London is known as the “ring of steel,” which is what New York plans to emulate:
By 2010, as many as 3,000 cameras could be installed. One-third would be owned by the New York Police Department and the other two-thirds by private security agencies working with businesses. All the images would feed into a surveillance center staffed by both the NYPD and private security agents.
The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, as it is known, is being funded by the City of New York, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. In November of 2008, the NYPD officially “flipped the on-switch for their lower Manhattan spy center, where cops monitor surveillance cameras and license plate readers around the clock.” In October of 2009, it was announced that, “Lower Manhattan’s network of security cameras, license plate readers and weapons sensors is coming to midtown.” New York’s “Ring of Steel” will extend “into an area that includes Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station and Times Square.” The Midtown Security Initiative “would use a $24 million federal Homeland Security grant for the project,” which would be expected to be finished in 2011.
In January of 2009, the ACLU warned that, “government-financed surveillance cameras are running rampant across the United States,” as “The federal government has given state and local governments $300 million in grants to fund an ever-growing array of cameras.”
As the Telegraph reported in September of 2009, “The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing ‘Orwellian’ technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for ‘abnormal behaviour’.” One program known as Project Indect, “aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.” The EU marks a growing trend in the transnationalization of surveillance, as “the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database.”
In a further analysis of the trend of the transnationalization of surveillance societies, the European Union’s “new five-year plan for justice and home affairs will export the UK’s database state to the rest of the EU.” In fact, the EU regularly constructs five-year plans for “justice and home affairs affecting many areas of EU citizens’ civil liberties – policing, immigration and asylum, criminal law, databases and data protection.” The Tampere programme was for 2000-2004, which was followed by the Hague programme from 2005-2009, “which included the commitment to bring in biometric passports and ID cards”:
The Tampere programme was drawn up and negotiated by officials of the council of the European Union and the European commission, without any consultation with national or European parliaments, let alone civil society, and adopted in closed sessions by the European council (EU prime ministers).
A report on the new five-year programme being constructed revealed that:
“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations”, leading to behaviour being predicted and assessed by “machines” (their term) which will issue orders to officers on the spot. The proposal presages the mass gathering of personal data on travel, bank details, mobile phone locations, health records, internet usage, criminal records however minor, fingerprints and digital pictures that can be data-mined and applied to different scenario – boarding a plane, behaviour on the Tube or taking part in a protest.
Think that’s as bad as it gets? As the Guardian revealed, “it is proposed that by 2014 the EU needs to create a ‘Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation with the USA in the field of freedom, security and justice’,” which “would go far beyond current co-operation and mean that policies affecting the liberties and rights of everyone in Europe would not be determined in London or Brussels but in secret EU-US meetings.” Of course, this program is cynically said to be about “freedom, security and justice,” as in, freedom from justice and security.
The EU plans to build the “largest 10 fingerprint system in the world,” and dauntingly, “Some of the most controversial changes introduced by the treaty of Lisbon are in the area of freedom, security and justice.” The Lisbon Treaty was eventually adopted by every EU nation, following the second vote in Ireland after the Irish first voted ‘no’. In the EU, democracy only counts if it delivers the desired answer. As a result of the Lisbon Treaty being passed, a variety of police state and surveillance measures can be undertaken for the entirety of the EU:
Other initiatives in the pipeline include a target to train a third of all police officers across the EU in a “common culture” of policing; controversial surveillance techniques including “cyber patrols”; an EU “master plan” on information exchange; the transfer of criminal proceedings among EU member states; access to other member states’ national tax databases; and EU laws on citizens’ right to internet access, among many other things.
The transnationalization of the surveillance society has even expanded vastly into Canada. In 2009, the first independent study of video surveillance was carried out in Canada, in which it revealed that, “At least 14 Canadian municipalities are using surveillance cameras to monitor people in public spaces, and another 16 are considering them or have considered them.” Further, the report identified that, “The use of surveillance cameras has exploded worldwide, especially since the 9/11 attacks.” It concluded that, “the growth of camera surveillance in Canada is undeniable, and is steady.” Further:
Transit officials in Toronto plan to deploy 12,000 cameras on buses, subways and streetcars by the middle . Montreal’s transit system is adding 1,200 cameras to its surveillance network. Nearly 800 cameras monitor all commuter activity on Vancouver’s 28-kilometre Sky Train route.
In 2008, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner gave the green light to an expansion of the use of surveillance in Toronto’s transit system. Toronto transit officials had announced plans to install 12,000 cameras in the bus, streetcar and subway system, which “would enable TTC staff or police to view live video or hear audio from any of the security cameras.”
In preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver, it was announced that the government would vastly expand the use of surveillance cameras in the city. While the City had oft-claimed that this was being done in a “temporary” nature for the Olympics, in 2009 it was acknowledged that in fact, they would be permanent. An estimated 900 cameras were to be watching the crowds in Vancouver during the Olympics.
In January of 2010, a report by an independent organization revealed that, “The use of surveillance cameras on city streets in Canadian cities is “mushrooming,” but so far the public appears unconcerned.” Notable among the measures are the aims by the Ontario Provincial Police in acquiring “surveillance cameras with automated licence-plate-recognition technology, and the RCMP has installed hundreds of cameras at Vancouver Olympic venues and tourist sites.” Further:
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have deployed thousands of surveillance cameras on their transit systems, and half a dozen Canadian cities, including Ottawa, have adopted taxi cameras.
Clearly, this process is not simply a British or American venture, but is endemic of the transnational nature of the surveillance society.
In November of 2008, the National Intelligence Council (which oversees all 16 US intelligence agencies) released a major report analyzing global trends until 2025. It explained that many governments in the west will be “expanding domestic security forces, surveillance capabilities, and the employment of special operations-type forces.” Counterterrorism measures will increasingly “involve urban operations as a result of greater urbanization,” and governments “may increasingly erect barricades and fences around their territories to inhibit access. Gated communities will continue to spring up within many societies as elites seek to insulate themselves from domestic threats.”
Totalitarianism is, “by nature (or rather by definition), a global project that cannot be fully accomplished in just one community or one country. Being fuelled by the need to suppress any alternative orders and ideas, it has no natural limits and is bound to aim at totally dominating everything and everyone.” Further:
The ultimate feature of the totalitarian domination is the absence of exit, which can be achieved temporarily by closing borders, but permanently only by a truly global reach that would render the very notion of exit meaningless. This in itself justifies questions about the totalitarian potential of globalization… Is abolition of borders intrinsically (morally) good, because they symbolize barriers that needlessly separate and exclude people, or are they potential lines of resistance, refuge and difference that may save us from the totalitarian abyss? [Further,] if globalization undermines the tested, state-based models of democracy, the world may be vulnerable to a global totalitarian [centralization].
The totalitarian project is truly a transnational project; it is not merely confined to one or a few nations, but is a project of western society. So while the west rapidly expands their imperial adventures in the ‘global south’ – Africa, Latin America, South and Central Asia – at home the governments of the established western democracies are throwing the notion of democracy overboard and are constructing powerful and pervasive ‘Homeland Security States’. The construction of a ‘Homeland Security State’ is no more about the protection of its citizens than the Gestapo was; it is about the control of their citizens.
The global economic crisis is central to this process of rapid state reformation and the transnationalization of tyranny. Economic collapse and civil unrest are key facets of a changing socio-political economic system, of a move from democracy to despotism. When an economy collapses, the governments throw away their public obligations, and act in the interests of their private owners. Governments will come to the aid of the powerful banks and corporations, not the people, as “The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.” During a large economic crisis:
[The state] rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers. [. . . ] Such maneuvers are difficult under a democratic regime [because people still] have some means of defense [and are] still capable of setting some limit to the insatiable demands of the money power. [In] certain countries and under certain conditions, the bourgeoisie throws its traditional democracy overboard.
The 2008 National Intelligence Council trend report, Global Trends 2025, discussed the decline of democracy in the world as a major trend in the next few decades:
[Advances in democracy] are likely to slow and globalization will subject many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions. [. . . ] The better economic performance of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some about democracy as the best form of government.
[. . . ] Even in many well-established democracies [i.e., the West], surveys show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges.
As I analyzed in Part 2 of this series, “Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis: The Impoverishment of the Middle Class,” the eradication of the middle class has been a long-term process, and so too has the process of constructing a Homeland Security State. As people fall into social despair, governments will resort to political despotism. The Homeland Security State is designed to control populations and protect the power of the political and economic elite. If the elites do not construct a pervasive police state, the people might take over the social, political and economic levers of power and reconstruct a new social system. Therefore, the elites must “do away” with democracy in order to protect their own positions of power.
The construction of a pervasive and powerful Homeland Security State is not simply about the structures of surveillance. The emergence of a Homeland Security State will be marked by a new totalitarianism – not quite fascism and not quite communism – but a new system entirely: it’s not Germany in the Second World War, this is 1984. With that, the state apparatus will become incredibly oppressive and brutal force will likely be employed in order to induce submission to the state. The militarization of society is a central facet in this. This will be the subject of the next part in this series, “When Empire Hits Home,” with a focus on the evolution of a military form of governance in the west, construction of dictatorial and totalitarian societies, the prospects of martial law, and the structures of state oppression, including the use of “detention camps” to imprison “uncooperative” elements of the population.
While this essay focused on the prevalence and evolution of a police state surveillance society in the west, the next part focuses on the militarization of society itself: the descent into dictatorship and despotism. This is the price that is paid for empire. Too long have the people of the west been acquiescent to and ignorant of the rabid imperialism of our nations, the incessant and endless spreading of despotism, poverty, exploitation and death around the world.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the top American imperial strategists in recent history, wrote “The Grand Chessboard”, which was a blueprint for an American empire to control the world. In it, he wrote, “Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization.” In other words, America is and must continue to be an empire, but imperialism and democracy cannot prosper together; it is one or the other. The elites of the west have chosen empire over democracy.
In order to construct a world which is sustainable and prosperous for all of its people, where freedom reins and power is held by all, we cannot afford to ignore the processes that have brought us to this desperate state. What is most evident in the enterprise of empire is the greatest of human weakness: power. Universal equality and freedom for all peoples – not under a global socialist state, but under whatever local systems people choose for themselves – is the only way forward: the struggle of freedom for one is the struggle of freedom for all. Empire is poison and freedom is the antidote, but only if it is freedom for all.
Endnotes [see on site]
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