Monday, December 20, 2010

Surveillance State Über Alles

Glenn Greenwald spins a marvelous and important article off the latest installment of the Washington Post's "Top Secret America" series. In "Monitoring America," Dana Priest and William M. Arken describe "an alternative geography of the United States, one that has grown so large, unwieldy and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or how many programs exist within it."

The Post also supplies a nice database for your state where you can search for "a detailed profile of counterterrorism efforts in your community."

Greenwald describes how "the Post reporters document how surveillance and enforcement methods pioneered in America's foreign wars and occupations are being rapidly imported into domestic surveillance (wireless fingerprint scanners, military-grade infrared cameras, biometric face scanners, drones on the border)."

What we are observing and the Post article documents, is the process whereby the counterterror state sucks up all dissent into its greedy maw, having developed a full-scale sub-world that threatens to rise up and swallow the entire country in its tyrannical grasp. The example du jour: the U.S. campaign against Wikileaks.
It's crystal clear that the Justice Department is engaged in an all-out crusade to figure out how to shut down WikiLeaks and imprison Julian Assange.  It is subjecting Bradley Manning to unbelievably inhumane conditions in order to manipulate him into providing needed testimony to prosecute Assange.  Recall that in 2008 -- long before anyone even knew what WikiLeaks was -- the Pentagon secretly plotted on how to destroy the organization.  On Meet the Press yesterday, Joe Biden was asked whether he agreed more with Mitch McConnell's statement that Assange is a "high-tech terrorist" than with those comparing WikiLeaks to Daniel Ellsberg, and the Vice President replied:  "I would argue that it's closer to being a high tech terrorist. . . ."  "A high-tech terrorist."  And consider this pernicious little essay from Eric Fiterman -- a former FBI special agent and founder of Methodvue, "a consultancy that provides cybersecurity and computer forensics services to the federal government and private businesses" -- that clearly reflects the Government's view of WikiLeaks:
In the WikiLeaks case, a fringe group led primarily by foreign nationals operating abroad is illegally obtaining, reviewing and disseminating American intelligence information with the stated intent of hurting the United States (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange himself made this declaration). That not only meets the definition of aggressive, hostile and war-like activity, but squarely targets America's diplomatic positions and intelligence interests while inflicting collateral damage against our financial institutions and service providers who cut-off their relationship with WikiLeaks. This, folks, is war.
That's the mindset of the U.S. Government:  everything it does of any significance can and should be shielded from public view; anyone who shines light on what it does is an Enemy who must be destroyed; but nothing you do should be beyond its monitoring and storing eyes.  And what's most remarkable about this -- though, given the full-scale bipartisan consensus over it, not surprising -- is how eagerly submissive much of the citizenry is to this imbalance.  Many Americans plead with their Government in unison:  we demand that you know everything about us but that you keep us ignorant about what you do and punish those who reveal it to us.  Often, this kind of oppressive Surveillance State has to be forcibly imposed on a resistant citizenry, but much of the frightened American citizenry -- led by most transparency-hating media figures -- has been trained with an endless stream of fear-mongering to demand that they be subjected to more and more of it.
This is an awful time in American history, possibly even more dire than in the dark first years of the Bush, Jr. administration. Back then, after an initial post-9/11 stumble, progressives managed to speak out against the worst of what the government was doing, and the beginnings of an opposition were formed. Now, under a Democratic administration, it is being dissembled. Not actually (not yet) because of government repression (at least not directly), but out of political obeisance to the Democratic Party, and maintenance of the status quo.

How long will the virtuous stomach collaborating with those who promote or tolerate war, torture, financial robbery of the commons, and racist attacks on defenseless minorities and immigrants?

The U.S. desperately needs a new political party to challenge the entrenched interests and the power elite. Only a party based on the social power of the mass of working people could stand a chance with that. But that would be socialism, real socialism in action. And that kind of politics is taboo in America. But it's likely not to remain that way. Because at a certain point, it will be the only chance the people will have.

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