[ExI] NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 14 19:32:19 UTC 2013

  At the end of world war two, the United States was in thrall to the
military idea.  Addicted to military worship, in love with all things
military.  This irrational devotion was amplified by a perfect storm of
social conditions.  In addition to defeating Nazism and fascism, the war
had also lifted people from the depths of the great depression.  It was a
heady mixture that would lead to the very downfall of the United States.
President Eisenhower was prescient regarding the danger and warned the
country in his 1961 farewell address.

Now, 60 years later we stand on the brink of what is essentially a military
takeover of the United States.

 The first stage was the massive expansion of the military industrial
complex in the postwar years.  Though the United States had been allied
with the Soviet Union in the fight against Germany and Japan, with hugs and
kisses at the Elbe, that all changed in the blink of an eye.  It's hardly
to be argued that a combative instinct is rooted deep within the human
psyche.  Energized by military victory, the US military bureaucracy looked
for and found the enemy it needed in the Soviet Union, and the Soviet
military bureaucracy must have been equally thrilled at the justification
for its own massive expansion.  And this reciprocal self-justification fed
the growth of the two adversarial death machines, depleting the
non-military resources of both nations until finally, with the collapse of
the Soviet Union, the upward spiral of militarization came to an end.

Although the great danger of a nuclear war had been avoided, the loss of
the Soviet Union, the loss of  its adversary, the loss of its
justification, turned the US military bureaucracy into a kind of cancer
ready to metastasize.  Violent drug lords in foreign lands served for the
briefest of moments.  China with the communist taint was considered, but
rejected because it was a substantial trading partner offering valuable
investment opportunities and the promise of massive future export markets.

But then, out of the blue, as if sent by god, came the Pentagon's savior:
Osama bin wonderful.  In a timely partnership with meat puppet Bush and
death worshiper Cheney, they carved a hole in the American psyche and
poured in the sepsis of terrorism.  The pentagon leaped on the opportunity,
along with corporations and media, turning the helpless American populace
into a mob of raging and clueless hysterics to be fed upon.  And feed they
did -- a carnival of cannibals -- until the personal catastrophe of
economic collapse and the fading of phantom terrorism allowed the American
populace to regain a lukewarm awareness of reality.

And what do they see?  A jobless and homeless future for all but the most
talented or the vastly wealthy, and for the rest, a massive police and
surveillance state looming over them dripping with anticipation for any
sign of disrespect.

Best pray that you have some connection to the 1% or that you inhabit a
province far removed from the Gorgan stare of the imperial city.

We're all Harkonens now.

Best, Jeff Davis

"A nation that continues year after year to spend
      more money on military defense than on programs
                      of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

                     Martin Luther King

On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/14/climate-change-energy-shocks-nsa-prism
> Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks
> NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked
> disasters
> could spur anti-government activism
> US domestic surveillance has targeted anti-fracking activists across the
> country. Photograph: Les Stone/REUTERS
> Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the
> Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive
> US-based
> surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google,
> Microsoft
> and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data
> harvested
> by the NSA's Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence
> alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New
> Zealand.
> But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented
> capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic
> crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists,
> especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This
> activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has
> been
> increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by
> catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic
> crisis - or all three.
> Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted
> the
> Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or
> "civil disturbance":
> "Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency
> circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and
> duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to
> engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale,
> unexpected civil disturbances."
> Other documents show that the "extraordinary emergencies" the Pentagon is
> worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
> In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
> "Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic
> mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis.
> Problems
> of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond,
> and
> may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international
> response."
> Two years later, the Department of Defense's (DoD) Army Modernisation
> Strategy described the arrival of a new "era of persistent conflict" due to
> competition for "depleting natural resources and overseas markets" fuelling
> "future resource wars over water, food and energy." The report predicted a
> resurgence of:
> "... anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten
> government stability."
> In the same year, a report by the US Army's Strategic Studies Institute
> warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil
> unrest. The path to "disruptive domestic shock" could include traditional
> threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside "catastrophic natural and
> human
> disasters" or "pervasive public health emergencies" coinciding with
> "unforeseen economic collapse." Such crises could lead to "loss of
> functioning political and legal order" leading to "purposeful domestic
> resistance or insurgency...
> "DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the
> disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to
> domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might
> include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United
> States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for
> the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil
> conflict or disturbance."
> That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force
> who
> would be on-hand to respond to "domestic catastrophes" and civil unrest -
> the
> programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which
> emphasised "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents."
> The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force
> presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.
> Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint
> Forces Command - designed to inform "joint concept development and
> experimentation throughout the Department of Defense" - setting out the US
> military's definitive vision for future trends and potential global
> threats.
> Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:
> "... tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other
> natural
> catastrophes... Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United
> States itself - particularly when the nation's economy is in a fragile
> state
> or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly
> affected - the damage to US security could be considerable."
> The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil output by 2015:
> "A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of
> production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict
> precisely
> what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might
> produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the
> developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate
> other unresolved tensions."
> That year the DoD's Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such concerns,
> while
> recognising that "climate change, energy security, and economic stability
> are
> inextricably linked."
> Also in 2010, the Pentagon ran war games to explore the implications of
> "large scale economic breakdown" in the US impacting on food supplies and
> other essential services, as well as how to maintain "domestic order amid
> civil unrest."
> Speaking about the group's conclusions at giant US defence contractor Booz
> Allen Hamilton's conference facility in Virginia, Lt Col. Mark Elfendahl -
> then chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division - highlighted homeland
> operations as a way to legitimise the US military budget: "An increased
> focus
> on domestic activities might be a way of justifying whatever Army force
> structure the country can still afford."
> Two months earlier, Elfendahl explained in a DoD roundtable that future
> planning was needed:
> "Because technology is changing so rapidly, because there's so much
> uncertainty in the world, both economically and politically, and because
> the
> threats are so adaptive and networked, because they live within the
> populations in many cases."
> The 2010 exercises were part of the US Army's annual Unified Quest
> programme
> which more recently, based on expert input from across the Pentagon, has
> explored the prospect that "ecological disasters and a weak economy" (as
> the
> "recovery won't take root until 2020") will fuel migration to urban areas,
> ramping up social tensions in the US homeland as well as within and between
> "resource-starved nations."
> NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems administrator for
> Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA's IT systems,
> including the Prism surveillance system. According to Booz Allen's 2011
> Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest "for more than a
> decade" to help "military and civilian leaders envision the future."
> The latest war games, the report reveals, focused on "detailed, realistic
> scenarios with hypothetical 'roads to crisis'", including "homeland
> operations" resulting from "a high-magnitude natural disaster" among other
> scenarios, in the context of:
> "... converging global trends [which] may change the current security
> landscape and future operating environment... At the end of the two-day
> event, senior leaders were better prepared to understand new required
> capabilities and force design requirements to make homeland operations more
> effective."
> It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of
> intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic surveillance
> operations against political activists, particularly those linked to
> environmental and social justice protest groups.
> Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a
> "systematic effort" by the agency "to surveil and disrupt peaceful
> demonstrations" linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership
> for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
> Similarly, FBI documents confirmed "a strategic partnership between the
> FBI,
> the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector" designed to
> produce intelligence on behalf of "the corporate security community." A
> spokesperson remarked that the documents show "federal agencies functioning
> as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America."
> In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful
> environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such
> as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the
> People's Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at
> play
> in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the
> extent of the state's involvement in monitoring the environmental direct
> action movement.
> A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on
> confidential
> sources, found that a whole range of corporations - such as McDonald's,
> Nestle and the oil major Shell, "use covert methods to gather intelligence
> on
> activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and
> evade accountability."
> Indeed, Kennedy's case was just the tip of the iceberg - internal police
> documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment
> activists had been routinely categorised as "domestic extremists" targeting
> "national infrastructure" as part of a wider strategy tracking protest
> groups
> and protestors.
> Superintendent Steve Pearl, then head of the National Extremism Tactical
> Coordination Unit (Nectu), confirmed at that time how his unit worked with
> thousands of companies in the private sector. Nectu, according to Pearl,
> was
> set up by the Home Office because it was "getting really pressured by big
> business - pharmaceuticals in particular, and the banks." He added that
> environmental protestors were being brought "more on the radar." The
> programme continues today, despite police acknowledgements that
> environmentalists have not been involved in "violent acts."
> The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could
> provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in
> coming
> years. The revelations on the NSA's global surveillance programmes are just
> the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home
> and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western
> publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be
> policed by the state.
> Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research
> &
> Development and author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And
> How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed
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