Even though “alternative media” has been covering the story for years, the increasingly vast, inefficient and unaccountable post 9-11 national security and surveillance apparatus is so out of control that now even war-enabling, torture denying, neocon propaganda rags are sounding alarms about it…
The Washington Post published a three part series entitled “Top Secret America”. Part 1, focuses on the explosion of government funding on surveillance and security, Part 2 focuses on the government’s dependence on profit-driven private enterprise, and Part 3 describes one particular office park filled with (privileged and out-of-touch) spys.
Here are some of the highlights of the report:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
Here is a map illustrating the proliferation of public and private work locations in “Top Secret America”:
The report reveals that the situation is so out of control that even Defense Secretary Gates and CIA Director Panetta worry about it in front of reporters – they admit it is out of control. But of course their interests are not the same as the rest of the country.
One of the worst things about the situation is that this secret, inefficient bureaucracy is that it is payed for by taxpayers – in a time of starving schools and home foreclosures, it is basically a jobs program designed to help out people who specialize in surveillance, killing and propaganda services to the government.
I say “one of the worst” because the worst thing is clearly this:
Relying upon profit-driven industry for the defense and intelligence community’s “core mission” is to ensure that we have Endless War and an always-expanding Surveillance State. After all, the very people providing us with the “intelligence” that we use to make decisions are the ones who are duty-bound to keep this War Machine alive and expanding because, as the Post put it, they are “obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest.”
Above are images from some of the “anti-deception” toys developed by private “defense” contractors.
On the left, “a thermal-imaging camera to measure changes in facial temperature, which can help determine whether a person is lying. Some data suggests that a person who is lying may register a temperature increase near the inside corner of the eye. The scientists hope to use such cameras for security screenings at airports, train stations, border crossings, stadiums or large events.”
On the right, “A computer-generated avatar is being developed to test how interviewees respond to different interviewers. Scientists at the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment (DACA) can manipulate the avatar’s physical attributes, including hair and eye color, complexion, skull and forehead shape, and even the sound of the avatar’s voice to create an interviewer of any age, race and gender.”
This is a fruitful line of research because, they claim, “young Hispanic males have a very difficult time lying to older Hispanic females.” So, you know, if you want to do “credibility assessment” on a young Mexican man, you should make the Avatar be a older Mexican woman.
PS: Here are some follow-ups to this story:
the lack of impact this story has had, on