Category Archives: Military Industrical Complex

Yikes! WMDs! Atack, attack, ATTACK!!!

The CIA, the same agency that erroneously claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) which led to the U.S. invasion and nearly decade-long occupation of Iraq is now claiming that Syria has crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons.  According to CNN, “the intelligence community” estimates that chemical weapons account for as many as 100-150 of the approximately 90,000 deaths since the rebellion began.

If the CIA can be believed, Assad called Obama’s bluff and now the U.S. is getting ready to embark on a new chapter in the epic struggle to make even more enemies in the Arab world while providing a stimulus package to the U.S. Military Industrial Complex.  Obama certainly can’t back out now, not that he would want to, because it would make him look like a sissy idiot.

So, here we are again with a big story about WMDs and just in time to displace all those headlines about embarrassing revelations of domestic spying by the NSA.  It’s probably just coincidence…

With luck, the thing in Syria will be over by the time Iran crosses their red line.

NSA director promises more details on surveillance

From the New York Times:

“We have pledged to be as transparent as possible,” he said after emerging from a classified briefing with House members. “I think it’s important that you have that information. But we don’t want to risk American lives in doing that. So what we’re being is very deliberate in this process so that we don’t end up causing a terrorist attack by giving out too much information.”

I think the director of the NSA is a little confused.  Providing details on NSA surveillance of Americans does not cause terrorist attacks.  I’m no expert, but my guess is that the terrorist threat stems more from our military involvement in a number of middle eastern countries, including a couple of invasions, multiple wars, trade sanctions (which themselves would constitute an act of war were they directed at any western country), support for despotic and corrupt governments, the stationing of huge numbers of troops there, and the continued killing of innocent people (including children) with drone attacks.  Apparently Muslims have a very low tolerance for that kind of thing and it makes them want to retaliate.

But, repeatedly telling people that the truth constitutes a security risk while all of the above makes us safer may just be a big enough lie that most people will believe it.

As Joseph Goebbels used to say…

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

An inspiration for whistle blowers worldwide

It’s stunning how the establishment media and politicians have, over night, transformed the new revelations and discussion about the U.S. surveillance state into a partisan issue.  The republicans point the finger at Obama as if he is actually doing something even more sinister than what Bush did and the democrats, as mindless worshipers of their hero, Obama, claim that what the NSA is doing is a non-issue and that republicans are simply hyping the recent stories to play party politics (which of course, is true).  Aside from a few individual exceptions, neither republicans nor democrats have any wish to roll back the power of government to snoop on citizens.  If they did, it would have already happened long ago.  If there are really two parties in the U.S, it’s the party of government and the party of the governed.  Them and us.  The biggest threat to individual freedom is, and always will be, the government.

Below, Glen Greenwald interviews Edward Snowden, the whistle blower responsible for the recent leaks regarding the out-of-control nature of the U.S. government and its intelligence apparatus.  Two things immediately stand out.  First, this guy is no nut case and second, he is no enemy of the U.S. out to harm the country.  At this point, I would have to say he stands out, not only as a hero, but as an inspiration and roll model to potential whistle blowers worldwide in every country on the planet.   Democracy cannot exist in a country where the government knows everything about its citizens, but its citizens know nothing about the government.

[Update]

Unfortunately, if the early reaction of the establishment press is any indicator, Snowden’s message about the power and coverage of the U.S. surveillance state won’t even become part of the discussion, being swamped out completely by the illegality of the actions of Snowdon and the “harm” he has wrought upon U.S. national security and, by extension, the U.S. itself.  This would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the array of alternative news sources available on the web.

The CIA often doesn’t know who their drones are killing, but they are certain about them being enemy combatants

NBC News has received classified documents that apparently show that one in four of those killed in drone attacks are not necessarily affiliated with any enemy group.   Apparently, they are classified as “other militants” based solely on the fact that they were killed by U.S. drone attacks.  This harkens back to the days of the Vietnam war when the U.S. gauged its success by the number of Vietnamese they killed, classifying them all as enemy simply on the basis of having killed them.

Though the Obama administration has previously said it targets al Qaeda leaders and senior Taliban officials plotting attacks against the U.S. and U.S. troops, officials are sometimes unsure of the targets’ affiliations. About half of the targets in the documents are described as al Qaeda. But in 26 of the attacks, accounting for about a quarter of the fatalities, those killed are described only as “other militants.” In four others, the dead are described as “foreign fighters.”

In some cases, U.S. officials also seem unsure how many people died. One entry says that a drone attack killed seven to 10 people, while another says that an attack killed 20 to 22.

Yet officials seem certain that however many people died, and whoever they were, none of them were non-combatants. In fact, of the approximately 600 people listed as killed in the documents, only one is described as a civilian. The individual was identified to NBC News as the wife or girlfriend of an al Qaeda leader.

Given that teh U.S. is not exactly at war with Pakistan, one would think that the CIA would be a little more careful about indiscriminate killing.  Of course, if the mission is to perpetuate the war on terror by creating as much ill will toward the U.S. as possible, then the CIA is doing a commendable job.  The beneficiaries of perpetual war are probably quite pleased.

According to the NYT article there are two kinds of drone attacks.  “Personality” strikes target known targets. “Signature” strikes are different:

In so-called “signature” strikes, intelligence officers and drone operators kill suspects based on their patterns of behavior — but without positive identification. With signature strikes, the CIA doesn’t necessarily know who it is killing. One former senior intelligence official said that at the height of the drone program in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010, as many as half of the strikes were classified as signature strikes.

The war on terror = perpetual war

Glenn Greenwald discusses the administration position that the war on terror is expect to continue for and, in terms of importance, why that should be teh lead story in the news instead of the Benghazi, IRS, or DOJ/AP scandals.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

He makes a good point.  Attacks on the U.S. by foreign terror organizations have universally been in response to perpetual Western (especially U.S.) interference in the affairs of middle eastern countries.  The U.S. then uses that as an excuse to further ramp up and broaden that interference which leads to broader foreign support for the very terrorist organizations we claim to be fighting.  Contrary to the common belief that wars happen to the U.S., the real fact of the matter is that the U.S. pursues war.

Greenwald continues:

…the “war on terror” cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: (1) it is designed by its very terms to be permanent, incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US (the operational definition of “terrorism”), and (2) the nation’s most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its phentermine continuation. Whatever else is true, it is now beyond doubt that ending this war is the last thing on the mind of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and those who work at the highest levels of his administration. Is there any way they can make that clearer beyond declaring that it will continue for “at least” another 10-20 years?

If the past is any measure, public opposition to war is only roused by flag-draped caskets of American soldiers, the institution of the draft, and burdens that bring the actual cost of war directly to their front to in a highly visible way.  Neither political party is against war.  Blind patriotism is becoming just as widely embraced by the left as the right.

Another factor affecting the public reaction to the permanent war on terror is the stunning lack of understanding of (or interest in ) how U.S. military activities in the Middle East provoke a terrorist response.  Furthermore, Americans think that terrorism violates the ethics of war, so it’s easy to demonize the terrorists who are simply retaliating with the only methods that make sense against an opponent that could easily crush them in a conventional conflict.

The U.S. is engaged in a global war with objectives that have never been defined  against an enemy that is perpetually being redefined and with no idea what constitutes winning or losing or how to know when it’s over.  If war is the health of the state, then this state has truly arrived.

Domestic drone surveillance receives enthusiastic welcome

The Federal Aviation Administration is planning to establish six drone test sites within the U.S. and Huntsville, Alabama is actively engaged in competing to attract one of those sites to the “Rocket City” area.  According to local TV station, WAFF:

Redstone Arsenal is already the hub for development and management of unmanned aerial vehicles for the army, so if you add testing into the mix, it puts Redstone and the Huntsville area on the map for everything behind drones.

And the competition is going to be tough.

Because more jobs come with the testing of drones, Huntsville is not the only city vying for the opportunity. There is already interest from cities in more than 30 states to be one of six testing sites that the FAA will designate.

Drones have, of course, been in the news because the U.S. routinely uses them to to carry out targeted attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing thousands, many of whom were innocent.  It was recently revealed that the U.S. has built a new drone base in northern Africa presumably to support American operations in Libya, Egypt, and Mali.  In terms of domestic use, the White House has been criticized for assuming the power to use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil ignoring  due process requirements of the Constitution.    In this context, the comments of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle regarding the intended purpose of domestic drones seem stunningly naive:

“It looks at the landfill and makes sure it has the right compaction there and uses a sensor to tell you. It may follow a pipeline and makes sure there is no leakage out of that pipeline,” he said. “That’s the kind of technology you are looking at and the commercial applications that you are looking, which means jobs, money to the area. There is really not enough money in watching people.”

Actually, the largest share of the $75B (by 2025) drone market is expected to be in the agriculture industry.  Law enforcement is expected to account for $3.2B and “all other applications” (including the environmental uses mentioned by Battle) account for another $3.2B.   By Battle’s compass, the militarization of law enforcement and the growing surveillance state are inconsequential to the discussion because that’s not where the big money is.

 

Raytheon is watching you

Raytheon has developed software that mines information from social networks to track what  you’re been doing and what you might do in the future.

The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a “Google for spies” and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.

Ratheon doesn’t have a customer yet, but it has shared the technology with the U.S. government.  Luckily, we don’t need to worry about that because the U.S. government are the good guys.  If you don’t believe me, just ask them.