- In 2003, an ACLU report warned that "Big Brother"
no longer is fiction, America having advanced to where total surveillance
is now possible. Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and
Liberty Program said:
- "Given the capabilities of today's technology, the
only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the
legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans. Unfortunately,
the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening
the Constitution will strengthen America."
- As a result, civil liberties fast eroded. In 2007, another
ACLU report warned about America being six minutes to midnight "as
a surveillance society draws near...." Powerful new technologies potentially
make total monitoring possible under a president, a compliant Congress
and courts that believe national security takes precedence over constitutional
- As a result, "we confront the possibility of a dark
future where our every move," transaction, and communication is "recorded,
compiled, and stored away" for ready access for whatever authorities
- One of several earlier articles on institutionalized
spying can be accessed through the following link:
- It reviewed undiscussed police state tools used without
congressional authorization, oversight, or legal standing - state-of-the-art
technology, including satellite imagery, to spy on unsuspecting Americans.
- In his article titled, "Creating the Domestic Surveillance
State," Alfred McCoy explained that Obama embraced the same executive
powers as Bush, including NSA surveillance, CIA renditions, drone assassinations,
indefinite military detentions, and more - virtual lawlessness across the
board. As a result, constitutional Law Professor Jack Balkin believes bipartisan
affirmation of unchecked executive powers could "reverberate for generations,"
subverting constitutional freedoms.
- As concerned, McCoy said Americans are largely unaware
of the "war on terror" toll on their rights. "Think of our
counterinsurgency wars abroad as so many living laboratories for the undermining
of a democratic society at home, a process historians (say) has been going
on for a long, long time."
- In his book titled, "Policing America's Empire:
The United States, the Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State,"
McCoy chronicled over a century of US imperialism from the 1899 - 1902
Philippines conquest to the present.
- As a result, America developed a coercive policing, intelligence,
and surveillance apparatus to ensure absolute imperial domination, using
covert infiltration and violence to curb all remnants of resistance.
- Repressive tactics now include a state-of-the-art coercive
national security/surveillance/counterintelligence apparatus. Established
in the Philippines, it was used:
- -- during the 1920s Red Scare;
- -- for mass WW II incarceration of Japanese Americans;
- -- during post-war McCarthy witch-hunts and secret blacklisting
of suspected communists; and
- -- for many decades against human rights, labor, anti-war
and civil liberties activists.
- Other techniques include:
- -- psychological warfare;
- -- targeted or sweeping assassinations;
- -- death squads killing thousands from Korea to Southeast
Asia, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, and dozens of other countries
covertly and overtly on the ground and overhead by drones and attack aircraft;
- -- FBI subversion from red-baiting to COINTELPRO to later
tactics to disrupt, sabotage and neutralize dissent by surveillance, political
repression, infiltration, disinformation, assassinations, and denigration
of targeted individuals or groups; and
- -- sophisticated forms of intelligence, subversion and
violence throughout the Cold War and thereafter, especially post-9/11 in
the war on terror.
- McCoy's book exposed imperial America's dark side, a
shadowy public/private world of repressive policing, sophisticated surveillance,
active informers, counterintelligence, secret agents, and state terror,
undermining human rights, civil liberties, and democratic freedoms at home
and abroad. It proved Mark Twain right saying you can't have an overseas
empire and democracy at home.
- From 1898, America developed an invasive internal security
blueprint, more sophisticated than ever today. Today's global war on terror
developed a "technological template, (including) omnipresent cameras,
deep data-mining, nono-second biometric identification," global drone
patrols, killer drones, satellite surveillance, and other forms of sophisticated
lawless spying, intelligence, subversion, disruption, and destruction of
- McCoy said America's war on terror involves a "massive
expansion of (FBI, NSA, Pentagon, and CIA) data-mining systems, (amassing
billions of) private documents (on) US citizens" kept in classified
- "Abroad, after years of failing counterinsurgency
efforts in the Middle East, the Pentagon began applying biometrics - the
science of identification via facial shape, fingerprints, and retinal or
iris patterns - to the pacification of Iraqi cities, as well as....electronic
intercepts for instant intelligence and split-second" satellite imagery
use to aid drone assassinations from Africa to South Asia to perhaps America
after a future homeland attack.
- Today, the combination of biometric identification, global
surveillance, and digital warfare makes counterinsurgency more sophisticated
than ever. With everyone in a database, authorities can get instantaneous
feedback from iris, retinal, or other data to identify, target, arrest
- In Iraq under General Stanley McChrystal, "every
tool available....from signal intercepts to human intelligence (was employed
for) lightening quick strikes." The same technology is used in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, dozens of other countries, and perhaps soon, if not already,
in communities across America.
- McCoy explained:
- "While those running US combat operations overseas
were experimenting with intercepts, satellites, drones, and biometrics,
inside Washington....FBI and NSA (operatives) began expanding domestic
surveillance through thoroughly conventional data sweeps, legal and extra-legal,
and - with White House help - several abortive attempts to revive a tradition
that dates back to World War I of citizens spying on suspected subversives."
- In 2002, Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention
System) was launched to have "millions of American truckers, letter
carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees and others"
snitch on other Americans.
- At the same time, the Pentagon developed a Total Information
Awareness program with "detailed electronic dossiers" on millions
of unsuspecting Americans. Public outrage got Congress to ban it, but the
NSA, CIA and FBI continued it, monitoring Americans electronically, including
private email and phone communications as well as access to financial,
medical and other personal information.
- In 2004, the FBI established an Investigative Data Warehouse
"centralized (counterterrorism) repository," and in two years
amassed 659 million individual records, now perhaps double that amount.
It includes social security data, drivers' licenses, financial records,
and virtually any information considered important to monitor - potentially
making everyone's private life an open book to know about and abuse, including
by warrantless wiretaps and other lawless methods.
- Since taking office, Obama advanced the Bush agenda,
endangering Americans more than ever under surveillance. For example, the
FBI's "Terrorist Watchlist" adds 1,600 names daily to hundreds
of thousands already included. A new Lackland Air Base cyber-command is
charged with targeting enemy computers and repelling hostile cyber-attacks
against US networks. Official denials notwithstanding, no one escapes surveillance.
- The combined intelligence/Homeland Security/US Northern
Command (NORTHCOM)/local authorities apparatus constitutes a formidable
force against civil unrest, mass protests, designated terrorists, dissidents,
and other perceived homeland threats - their combined might and sophisticated
technology charged with containing them. Already, constitutional freedoms
have been seriously compromised on their way toward total abolition.
- Moreover, "presidential power has grown relentlessly"
after Bush claimed "unitary Executive" authority, what Chalmers
Johnson called a "ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy dressed
up in legal mumbo jumbo," but it persists under Obama to rule by Executive
Orders and other unilateral directives, unchecked by congressional approval.
- McCoy said it "open(ed) the way to unchecked electronic
(satellite, drone, biometric, and other type) surveillance, the endless
detention of (uncharged) terror suspects (including US citizens), and a
variety of inhumane forms of interrogation" after Bush made torture
official US policy. It continues seamlessly, though quietly, under Obama
more than ever hardening America's police state apparatus.
- Big Brother now watches everyone, including with growing
numbers of digital cameras monitoring streets, commercial areas, airports,
highways, public and private transportation, government and office buildings,
and shopping malls - virtually everywhere people congregate, work, reside,
recreate, or inhabit for any reason. Anti-terrorist SWAT teams are ready
to react against any suspected provocation or threat.
- As a result, American democracy fundamentally changed.
Always more illusion than reality, total surveillance reveals a harshness
too ugly to hide, especially when sophisticated technologies target anyone
for any reason, what McCoy calls "the stuff of dystopian science fiction."
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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