Sunday, March 28, 2010

Leaked Document Discloses CIA Plans to Target European Public Opinion over Afghan War

Since their 2007 launch, the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks have been the subject of "hostile acts" by state and private security services for spilling the beans on crime, corruption and violence perpetrated by the capitalist deep state.

But rather than being deterred by government threats or overt acts of violence, including the murder of two human rights attorneys in Nairobi last March, who provided the whistleblowers with reports on extrajudicial killings by Kenyan police, WikiLeaks have turned the tables on the CIA.

On March 26, the group published a remarkable document that lays out the Agency's strategy to manipulate European public opinion over waning support for the Afghanistan war.

Classified "Confidential/NOFORN" (No Foreign Nationals) the 11 March 2010 document is titled, "Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission--Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough."

Prepared by the CIA Red Cell, the entity is described in the text as an Agency subunit "charged by the Director of Intelligence with taking a pronounced 'out-of-the-box' approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues."

According to WikiLeaks staff, "The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany's standing in the NATO. The memo is an recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA."

Curiously, in an echo of capitalism's real and not imagined, living social content, the CIA evokes Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. After all, it was Debord who, commenting on the ability of contemporary societies to produce and reproduce a monstrous world "mediated by images," first identified the media as a central locus for managing reality itself.

Langley's best and brightest now counsel America's political masters that although "apathy" may be their strongest ally in waging the endless "war on terror," it cannot be counted upon indefinitely to sustain the imperial project.

Contrast the CIA's evocation of "apathy" as a "warfighting" tool with Debord's insight that "the spectacle ... expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep." One might add that the Agency's proposed media assault on Western public opinion is being prepared precisely to guarantee that the masses continue to slumber.

France and Germany: Heading Towards the Exits?

Last month's fall of the neoliberal Dutch government over their continued support for the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan was a wake-up call for Washington.

The news was greeted with dismay by partisans of the Afghan intervention and their media sycophants. The New York Times reported February 21, that when a "last-ditch effort" to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan failed, it immediately raised "fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war was increasingly at risk."

As U.S. and British forces step-up operations across the entire "AfPak" theatre, launching murderous and indiscriminate drone strikes in Pakistan and "targeted killings" and massacres in Afghanistan, the spectre of a significant climb-down by the French and German governments set alarm bells ringing in the Pentagon.

The planned withdrawal by December of some 2,000 Dutch troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), would undoubtedly throw a spanner in the works. The Dutch are currently operating in the restive southern province of Oruzgan, north of the Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces where major military operations are underway; their imminent departure will significantly alter NATO plans.

While the cover-story for stepped-up operations in Afghanistan by Washington is ostensibly to destroy the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda, and halt the avalanche of drugs from reaching Western consumers, this is, and always has been, a ludicrous fairy-tale.

As we know through countless investigations and exposés across the decades, from Vietnam through Watergate and from Iran-Contra to the endless "War on Terror," the international drugs trade is the handmaiden of Pentagon counterinsurgency campaigns, CIA operations and elite violence world-wide.

The New York Times reported March 21 that Afghanistan's lucrative opium crop is no longer a target of military operations. According to the Times, "the military's position is clear: 'U.S. forces no longer eradicate,' as one NATO official put it. Opium is the main livelihood of 60 to 70 percent of the farmers in Marja, which was seized from Taliban rebels in a major offensive last month. American Marines occupying the area are under orders to leave the farmers' fields alone."

But with the biggest players in Afghanistan's drug rackets linked to America's close allies in the corrupt Karzai government, the subtext is clear; as analysts Michel Chossudovsky and Peter Dale Scott have long argued, American interventions tend to manage, not eliminate, global drug flows, favoring narcotraffickers who play ball whilst targeting for destruction those who don't.

As Scott reported in January for Global Research, none other than Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, claimed that "drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the [2008] global crisis." Indeed, Costa told The Observer last December that he has seen evidence that "the proceeds of organised crime were 'the only liquid investment capital' available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year."

And as Chossudovsky revealed back in 2005, according to a U.S. Senate report "some $500 billion to $1 trillion in criminal proceeds are laundered through banks worldwide each year, with about half of that amount moved through United States banks."

Above all else, the CIA's strategy is meant to head-off any attempt by Europe's citizens to corral their governments and force an end to their participation in U.S.-led efforts to recolonize Central- and South Asia.

One wag, Julian Lindley-French, a professor of defense strategy at the Netherlands Defense Academy in Breda told the New York Times, "If the Dutch go, which is the implication of all this, that could open the floodgates for other Europeans to say, 'The Dutch are going, we can go, too'."

Given these sentiments, the CIA and Pentagon will turn to "other means" to stop their NATO partners heading towards the exits.

A Cynical Media Operation

CIA media operations are fully consonant with the aims and methods employed by U.S. war planners; indeed, the manipulation of public opinion by battalions of public relations specialists, pollsters and former high-ranking military officers, often employed by giant defense and security corporations with "dogs in the hunt," are part of the secret state's army of "message force multipliers."

That such operations have disastrous consequences for functioning democracies, not to mention the victims of NATO's tender mercies, cannot be stressed often enough. To ensure that the bombs continue falling and Western control over access to vital Central Asian gas and petroleum reserves continue, public opinion, treated as an essential front of the imperial "battlespace," must be "softened up."

Accordingly, the CIA found that "Afghanistan mission's low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Berlin and Paris currently maintain the third and fourth highest ISAF troop levels, despite the opposition of 80 percent of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments, according to INR polling in fall 2009."

State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) pollsters found:

• Only a fraction (0.1-1.3 percent) of French and German respondents identified "Afghanistan" as the most urgent issue facing their nation in an open-ended question, according to the same polling. These publics ranked "stabilizing Afghanistan" as among the lowest priorities for US and European leaders, according to polls by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) over the past two years.

• According to INR polling in the fall of 2009, the view that the Afghanistan mission is a waste of resources and "not our problem" was cited as the most common reason for opposing ISAF by German respondents and was the second most common reason by French respondents. But the "not our problem" sentiment also suggests that, so for, sending troops to Afghanistan is not yet on most voters' radar. (CIA Red Cell, Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission--Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough, 11 March 2010)

"If some forecasts of a bloody summer in Afghanistan come to pass," CIA planners write, "passive French and German dislike of their troop presence could turn into active and politically potent hostility. The tone of previous debate suggests that a spike in French or German casualties or in Afghan civilian casualties could become a tipping point in converting passive opposition into active calls for immediate withdrawal."

This must be avoided at all costs. Cynically, CIA analysts conclude that "tailoring messaging could forestall or at least contain backlash."

From the looks of things on the ground, the CIA will have much "tailoring" to do in order to stitch-up NATO's fraying pretext for the Afghanistan intervention.

As an investigation by journalist Jerome Starkey revealed in The Times on March 13, "a night raid carried out by US and Afghan gunmen led to the deaths of two pregnant women, a teenage girl and two local officials in an atrocity which Nato then tried to cover up."

According to Starkey, when details of the botched raid came to light, NATO officials claimed the force had found the women's bodies "tied up, gagged and killed" in a room, implying the gruesome murders were the work of insurgents.

"A Times investigation" Starkey writes, "suggests that Nato's claims are either wilfully false or, at best, misleading. More than a dozen survivors, officials, police chiefs and a religious leader interviewed at and around the scene of the attack maintain that the perpetrators were US and Afghan gunmen. The identity and status of the soldiers is unknown."

As with the roll-out of any new product line, or moves to increase flagging interest in an existing commodity, niche consumers, French and German public opinion in the case of the Afghan intervention, are now subjects of a targeted marketing strategy by the CIA.

Accordingly, since INR surveys have found that the "French [are] focused on civilians and refugees," CIA analysts aver that "citing examples of concrete gains could limit and perhaps even reverse opposition to the mission. Such tailored messages could tap into acute French concern for civilians and refugees." Indeed, "contradicting the 'ISAF does more harm than good' perception is clearly important, particularly for France's Muslim minority."

Such cynical constructs are all the more remarkable considering that "France's Muslim minority" are cast by the French state, its far-right supporters and American secret warriors as a veritable "fifth column" to be closely surveilled and when necessary, repressed, lest an alleged "Islamist contagion" take root in the heart of Europe itself!

In this respect, "messaging that dramatizes the potential adverse consequences of an ISAF defeat for Afghan civilians could leverage French (and other European) guilt for abandoning them. The prospect of the Taliban rolling back hard-won progress on girls' education could provoke French indignation, become a rallying point for France's largely secular public, and give voters a reason to support a good and necessary cause despite casualties."

Never mind, that the warlord and Islamist/Mafia-backed coalition that comprises the Karzai government, as documented by innumerable human rights' organizations and Afghan women themselves, such as ousted parliamentarian Malalai Joya, have found that the same brutal conditions persist for women today as under the retrograde U.S./Pakistan-backed Taliban regime of the 1990s.

For Germans however, xenophobic and nationalist cards will be played. "Messages that dramatize the consequences of a NATO defeat for specific German interests could counter the widely held perception that Afghanistan is not Germany's problem. For example, messages that illustrate how a defeat in Afghanistan could heighten Germany’s exposure to terrorism, opium, and refugees might help to make the war more salient to skeptics."

Additionally, CIA analysts stress that "emphasis on the mission's multilateral and humanitarian aspects could help ease Germans' concerns about waging any kind of war while appealing to their desire to support multilateral efforts. Despite their allergy to armed conflict, Germans were willing to break precedent and use force in the Balkans in the 1990s to show commitment to their NATO allies. German respondents cited helping their allies as one of the most compelling reasons for supporting ISAF, according to an INR poll in the fall of 2009."

Considering that U.S./NATO allies jumped into the Balkans only when it became clear that German imperialism under the bankrupt government of Helmut Kohl, was intent on destroying the multicultural Yugoslav socialist state, and did so only not to be left in the dust by a resurgent unified German state with eyes clearly focused on lucrative East European markets, is a remarkable rewriting of history!

Another card which the CIA clearly intends to play is the alleged "confidence of the French and German publics in President Obama's ability to handle foreign affairs in general and Afghanistan in particular."

Indeed, appeals from America's new capo tutti capo "suggest that they would be receptive to his direct affirmation of their importance to the ISAF mission--and sensitive to direct expressions of disappointment in allies who do not help." Such direct appeals from the global Godfather "might provide at least some leverage for sustaining contributions to ISAF."

GMF polling data cited by the CIA found that "when respondents were reminded that President Obama himself had asked for increased deployments to Afghanistan, their support for granting this request increased dramatically, from 4 to 15 percent among French respondents and from 7 to 13 percent among Germans. The total percentages may be small but they suggest significant sensitivity to disappointing a president seen as broadly in sync with European concerns."

Another exploitable bullet point cited by the CIA are Afghan women. Accordingly, "Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women's ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory."

However, as I pointed out above, only some "Afghan women" would be viewed as "ideal messengers" in these media operations. Leftist, feminist or other internal critics of the Karzai Warlord-Mafia-Islamist regime would, by definition, be excluded from such forums. For the chosen few who pass muster, "outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission."


The United States and their NATO allies are encountering stiff resistance in Afghanistan. In order to buttress political support from skeptical North American and European citizens, the CIA and their "friends" amongst the giant media conglomerates are pulling out all the stops.

The publication of the CIA's analytical document by Wikileaks, provides the antiwar movement with insight into how imperialism intends to sell the wretched Afghan war to the public.

Counterstrategies that leverage this knowledge can potentially provide critics with ammunition that directly challenge American propaganda, disarm academic, media and political sycophants and more importantly, derail the policy of waging aggressive, "preemptive" wars well into the future.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheneyism with a Human Face: Obama's New Imperial Presidency

Call me a cynic, but I was hardly surprised to learn that the "change" regime is threatening to veto the 2010 intelligence authorization bill "over a provision that would force the administration to widen the circle of lawmakers who are informed about covert operations and other sensitive activities," The Washington Post reported.

Never mind that churlish congressional Democrats, like their corporatist Republican colleagues across the aisle, would crush each other in a stampede to see who'd be first in handing the Executive Branch whatever it wants.

Under the proposed bills (S. 1494 and H.R. 2701), the White House would have to inform all members of both House and Senate intelligence committees of the "main features" of covert operations disclosed to the all-too-pliable "Gang of Eight." Whether this would include specific disclosure to Congress of CIA or Pentagon "black programs," identified in budget authorizations only by code words or cryptonyms, is unknown.

Comprised of the Speaker and minority leader of the House, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and the chairman and ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, this "Gang"--torture and aggressive war enablers all--have earned a place in the dock alongside Executive Branch criminals--for their facilitation of every law-breaking, constitution-shredding practice of the Bush and now, Obama governments.

According to the Post and other published reports, in a letter sent to "senior members" of the intelligence panels March 15, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag affirmed that "Gang of Eight notifications are made in only 'the most limited of circumstances' affecting 'vital interests' of the United States, arguing that the new requirement would 'undermine the president's authority and responsibility to protect sensitive national security information'."

"Sensitive" as in criminal operations designed to advance the geopolitical agenda of America's multinational corporations, particularly the giant energy, weapons and financial conglomerates who rule the roost.

Orszag is a close confidant of Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary and CEO at the criminal financial enterprise known as Citigroup. In a series of extraordinary reports, Narco News investigative journalist Al Giordano described how Citigroup "has been caught time and time again in narco-money laundering trails in our América and across the globe."

In December 2008, Reuters reported that a group of investors filed a lawsuit against the firm, charging Citigroup executives, including Rubin, with selling shares at inflated prices whilst concealing the firm's risks. Both Orszag and Rubin were "senior fellows" at the neoliberal Brookings Institution where Orszag directed The Hamilton Project before joining the "change" regime as OMB Director.

The deal killer according to Orszag comprise several items "of serious concern to the Intelligence Community (IC)." If implemented by Congress "the President's senior advisors" would then recommend the bill be vetoed. These include: "the Congressional notification provisions, GAO provisions, and provisions regarding the amounts authorized for the National Intelligence Program."

According to Secrecy News security analyst Steven Aftergood, the "dispute over an increased role for GAO in intelligence oversight is particularly illustrative of the disparate and conflicting interests of the legislative and executive branches."

The answer to Aftergood's rhetorical question, whether the "status quo is good enough?" when it comes to increased oversight, given Executive Branch malfeasance in crafting make believe intelligence during the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, would inevitably be "no."

Recall the oft-quoted statement by the former Director of the British intelligence agency MI6, Richard Dearlove, who infamously told the Blair regime in the leaked Downing Street Memo that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed (by the U.S.) around the policy."

A million dead Iraqis later, Dearlove's grim assessment still stands.

Indeed, following a script written by Bushist war and torture enablers John Yoo, Jay Bybee and David Addington, Orszag alleges that "allowing GAO to conduct intelligence oversight ... would fundamentally change the statutory framework for oversight of the IC through the intelligence oversight committees and alter the long-standing relationship and information flow between the IC and intelligence committee members and staff."

In other words, despite fundamentally restrictive and opaque methods deployed by the Executive Branch to conceal covert operations, including blatantly illegal programs barred by U.S. and international law, Salon's Glenn Greenwald notes that so-called "Gang of Eight" briefings are a "sham process."

According to Greenwald, the current rigged game "allowed the administration to claim that it 'briefed' select Congressional leaders on illegal conduct, but did so in a way that ensured there could be no meaningful action or oversight, because those individuals were barred from taking notes or even consulting their staff and, worse, because the full Intelligence Committees were kept in the dark and thus could do nothing even in the face of clear abuses."

As readily apparent, particularly where Bush's torture and warrantless wiretapping programs were concerned, the former, and now current, administration can claim they had "informed" congressional leaders of secret administration policies. Never mind that the allegedly "co-equal" branch of government, Congress, can do nothing to stop these dubious programs; not to worry, our "representatives" are "in the loop"!

Regardless of whether or not these programs violated the law--under international treaty obligations and U.S. law in the case of torture or the protection of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights with respect to illegal spying--the administration has simply declared that abiding by any statutory requirements vis-à-vis Congress's lawful oversight of the Executive Branch are simply null and void.

"Team B" Nation

The Obama administration, like their Bushist predecessors, have also declared that Federal Courts are also off-limits when it comes to reeling in abuses by the "unitary executive," a novel constitutional theory promulgated by the ultrarightist Federalist Society and wholly embraced by the current government.

In the wake of 1970s revelations of widespread spying and other abuses against the American people by successive administrations--COINTELPRO (FBI), Operation CHAOS (CIA), Project MINARET (NSA)--Congress briefly asserted its prerogatives to rein-in the Executive Branch by creating the FISA court (a rubber-stamp to be sure) that on paper at least if not in practice, would oversee the surveillance activities of the secret state.

Push-back wasn't long in coming, however. With the rise of the Reagan administration, neoconservative corporate toadies such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others asserted that the hypermilitarized American capitalist state was "under siege" by a "resurgent" Soviet Union (already in the throes of collapse) and that the intelligence agencies had been "gutted" by "overzealous" civil liberties "extremists."

As investigative journalist Robert Parry has pointed out, under former CIA Director and future President George H.W. Bush, the "Team B" concept for ginning-up intelligence gained favor in the corridors of power.

Scary assessments of Soviet power and U.S. weakness also fueled Ronald Reagan's campaign in 1980, and after his election, the Team B hard-liners had the keys to power. As Reagan and his vice presidential running mate, George H.W. Bush, prepared to take office, the hard-liners wrote Reagan's transition team report, which suggested that the CIA analytical division was not simply obtuse in its supposed failure to perceive Soviet ascendancy, but treasonous. (Robert Parry, "Why U.S. Intelligence Failed," Consortium News, October 22, 2003)

Gone were the secret, though brutally frank assessments, made by security and intelligence analysts across government as revealed by Daniel Ellsberg's 1971 leaking of the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. Such appraisals as Parry averred were now considered "treasonous," indeed, were grounds for witchhunts and purges of intelligence officials who didn't toe the neocon party line during the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

With the lies of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations exposed by Ellsberg and his colleagues, and the basis for the American invasion of Southeast Asia revealed for what it was, a monumental fraud, elite managers were thrown into crisis.

As a transcript of President Nixon's June 14, 1971 Oval Office tape disclosed, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman described the situation thusly: "To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: You can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment; and the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be wrong."

Haldeman's bleak assessment has now become the basis for the capitalist state's descent into presidential dictatorship; after all, as the "democratically elected" leader of the "free world," one must enforce, by all means necessary "the implicit infallibility of presidents."

A decade after Pentagon Papers' revelations, the ascendance of Reagan regime neocons laid the ideological foundations for the assault on America's republican form of governance, by many of the same players who are now permanent embeds, in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Presidential Dictatorship

Subverting the long-standing notion of "judicial supremacy" articulated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, that the Court is the "final arbiter" of what is and what is not the law, Bushist doctrine (firmly embraced by Obama "change" mavens) asserts that the "unitary executive" has full license to overrule, indeed bypass Congress and the Courts, based on the thinnest of reeds: that the President can interpret the Constitution and even violate long-established laws and treaties in his role as "Commander-in-Chief."

This was made clear most recently when the Federal District Court in San Francisco dismissed the Electronic Frontier Foundation's landmark Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA lawsuits.

Currently, the Obama administration is challenging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals April 2009 ruling that the ACLU's lawsuit against the CIA's illegal torture flights, facilitated by a Boeing Corporation subsidiary, in Mohamed et. al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. can go forward. Like Bush's Justice Department, the Obama administration is arguing that the suit cannot go to court, thereby denying CIA torture victims a measure of justice, on grounds that privileged "state secrets" would be disclosed.

EFF filed an appeal with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco March 19, citing the dangerous precedent set by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled in January that "that because so many people have been impacted by the widespread surveillance, no individual person has a 'particularized injury'."

In other words, precisely because illegal driftnet spying, data mining and national security indexing of "U.S. persons" are so pervasive, mere background noise as the secret state's noose tightens around all our necks, citizens and legal residents alike will no longer be afforded a legal remedy to challenge specious national security claims made by Executive Branch repressors.

EFF's Legal Director Cindy Cohn writes: "This ruling is not only wrong--the NSA's interception of your private emails with your doctor, spouse or child is an individual harm to you regardless of whether it also happened to other people too--but also extremely dangerous because it would have the courts blind themselves to massive violations of the law and the Constitution on the grounds that they impact too many people."

Not that congressional grifters in either capitalist political party, "liberal" Democrats or "conservative" Republicans give a damn about our rights, as they amply demonstrated when they passed the scurrilous FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA).

That onerous piece of legislative flotsam legalized Bush regime warrantless wiretapping whilst providing the giant telecommunications firms and Internet service providers with retroactive immunity for their profitable role as partners alongside America's secret state.

Recall that feckless Senator and now President, Barack Obama, who might have said he "opposed FAA before he supported it," has embraced, indeed expanded every single illegal maneuver--from aggressive war to wholesale spying--as his Bushist counterparts. One might even say, if "only Nixon could go to China," then only an Obama (covered by his "progressive" acolytes) could enlarge the repressive writ of the intelligence agencies!

As Federal Computer Week reported March 17, the public-private enterprise fueling domestic repression known as "fusion centers" are expanding rapidly as a result of cold, hard cash pumped into the system by the federal government.

According to FCW journalist Patrick Marshall, "DHS and the Justice Department have driven the development of fusion centers." Both departments have provided a "variety of resources, including personnel and grants" that have seen such data mining centers balloon from 38 in 2006 to some 72 currently in operation nationwide, with more on the horizon.

But as the ACLU revealed in two incisive reports in 2007 and 2008, the "types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector."

According to the civil liberties' watchdog, their proliferation "raise very serious privacy issues at a time when new technology, government powers and zeal in the 'war on terrorism' are combining to threaten Americans' privacy at an unprecedented level." Indeed, the ACLU reported in September 2009 that fusion centers have been caught spying on antiwar, environmental and religious groups and will, under Obama, now receive access to classified military intelligence.

That Congress will roll-over and accede to administration demands over the issue of intelligence oversight is a foregone conclusion. One would expect nothing less from the best Congress money can buy! But these legislative vampires are now planning to take things a step further.

Arizona Senator and failed presidential candidate, John McCain, introduced the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010 (S. 3081) in the Senate on March 4.

McCain, and co-sponsors Scott Brown (R-MA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK), George LeMieux (R-FL), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are crafting legislation that Glenn Greenwald has described as "the single most extremist, tyrannical and dangerous bill introduced in the Senate in the last several decades, far beyond the horrific, habeas-abolishing Military Commissions Act."

Greenwald writes that the bill literally "empowers the President to imprison anyone he wants in his sole discretion by simply decreeing them a Terrorist suspect--including American citizens arrested on U.S. soil."

The bill mandates that all such individuals "be placed in military custody," and explicitly states that they "may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

As The Atlantic's national security correspondent Marc Ambinder writes, although the bill is being treated by the "national security community" as a "standard proposal" and a simple response "to the administration's choices in the aftermath of the Christmas Day bombing attempt," a closer reading reveals that it would allow the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens without trial indefinitely in the U.S. based on "suspected activity."

Welcome to the Orwellian world of Precrime. It can't happen here? It already has.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beyond Orwell: The Electronic Police State, 2010

A truism perhaps, but before resorting to brute force and open repression to halt the "barbarians at the gates," that would be us, the masters of declining empires (and the chattering classes who polish their boots) regale us with tales of "democracy on the march," "hope" and other banalities before the mailed fist comes crashing down.

Putting it another way, as the late, great Situationist malcontent, Guy Debord did decades ago in his relentless call for revolt, The Society of the Spectacle:

"The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender 'lonely crowds.' With ever-increasing concreteness the spectacle recreates its own presuppositions."

And when those "presuppositions" reproduce ever-more wretched clichés promulgated by true believers or rank opportunists, take your pick, market "democracy," the "freedom to choose" (the length of one's chains), or even quaint notions of national "sovereignty" (a sure fire way to get, and keep, the masses at each others' throats!) we're left with a fraud, a gigantic swindle, a "postmodern" refinement of tried and true methods that would do Orwell proud!

Ponder Debord's rigorous theorem and substitute "cell phone" and "GPS" for "automobile," and "Internet" for "television" and you're soon left with the nauseating sense that the old "infobahn" isn't all its cracked up to be. As a seamless means for effecting control on the other hand, of our thoughts, our actions, even our whereabouts; well, that's another story entirely!

In this light, a new report published by Cryptohippie, The Electronic Police State: 2010 National Rankings, delivers the goods and rips away the veil from the smirking visage of well-heeled corporate crooks and media apologists of America's burgeoning police state.

"When we produced our first Electronic Police State report" Cryptohippie's analysts write, "the top ten nations were of two types:

1. Those that had the will to spy on every citizen, but lacked ability.
2. Those who had the ability, but were restrained in will.

But as they reveal in new national rankings, "This is changing: The able have become willing and their traditional restraints have failed." The key developments driving the global panopticon forward are the following:

● The USA has negated their Constitution's fourth amendment in the name of protection and in the name of "wars" against terror, drugs and cyber attacks.
● The UK is aggressively building the world of 1984 in the name of stopping "anti-social" activities. Their populace seems unable or unwilling to restrain the government.
● France and the EU have given themselves over to central bureaucratic control.

In France, the German newsmagazine Spiegel reported that a new law passed by the lower house of Parliament in February "conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the surveillance state."

Similar to legislation signed into law by German president Horst Köhler last month, police and security forces in France would be granted authority to surreptitiously install malware known as a "Trojan horse" to spy on private computers. Remote access to a user's personal data would be made possible under a judge's supervision.

While French parliamentarians aligned with right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy insist the measure is intended to filter and block web sites with criminal content or to halt allegedly "illegal" file sharing, civil libertarians have denounced the legislation.

Sandrine Béllier, a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, said that "when it comes to restrictions, this text is preparing us for hell."

Additionally, the new law will include measures that will further integrate police files and private data kept by banks and other financial institutions. French securocrats cynically insist this is a wholly innocent move to "maintain the level and quality of service provided by domestic security forces," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told Spiegel.

Generalized political measures such as these that hinder free speech and expression, whilst enhancing the surveillance capabilities of the state, also indicate that so-called "Western democracies" are not far behind beacons of freedom such as China, North Korea, Belarus and Russia when it comes to repressive police measures. Indeed, Cryptohippie's rankings place the United States a mere 2/100ths of a point behind Russia when it comes to Internet and other forms of electronic spying.

The top ten scofflaws in 2010 are: 1. North Korea; 2. China; 3. Belarus; 4. Russia; 5. United States; 6. United Kingdom; 7. France; 8. Israel; 9. Singapore and, 10. Germany.

A Profit-Driven Panopticon

In a capitalist "democracy" such as ours where the business of government is always business and individual liberties be damned, grifting North American and European telecommunications and security firms, with much encouragement and great fanfare from their national security establishments and a lap-dog media blaze the path for Western versions of the sinister "Golden Shield."

Recently in the United States, whistleblowing web sites such as Cryptome and Slight Paranoia have come under attack. Both sites have been hit by take down notices under the onerous Digital Millennium Copyright Act for posting documents and files that exposed the close, and very profitable arrangements, made by giant telecommunications firms and ISPs with the American secret state.

In Cryptome's case, administrator John Young had his site shuttered for a day when the giant software firm, Microsoft, demanded that its so-called "lawful spying guide" be removed by Young. All five files are currently back on-line as Zipped files at Cryptome and make for a very enlightening read.

But the harassment didn't stop there. When Young published PayPal's "lawful spying guide," the firm froze Cryptome's account, in all likelihood at the behest of America's spy agencies, allegedly for "illegal activities," i.e., offering Cryptome's entire archive for sale on two DVDs!

Why would the secret state's corporate partners target Young? Perhaps because since 1996, "Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance--open, secret and classified documents--but not limited to those. Documents are removed from this site only by order served directly by a US court having jurisdiction. No court order has ever been served; any order served will be published here--or elsewhere if gagged by order. Bluffs will be published if comical but otherwise ignored."

In previous reports, Cryptohippie characterized an electronic police state thusly:

1. It is criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.
2. It is gathered universally ("preventively") and only later organized for use in prosecutions.

Silent and seamless, our political minders have every intention of deploying such formidable technological resources as a preeminent--and preemptive--means for effecting social control. Indeed, what has been characterized by corporate and media elites as an "acceptable," i.e. managed political discourse, respect neither national boundaries, the laws and customs of nations, nor a population's right to abolish institutions, indeed entire social systems when the governed are reduced to the level of a pauperized herd ripe for plunder.

How then, does this repressive metasystem work? What are the essential characteristics that differentiate an Electronic Police State from previous forms of oppressive governance? Cryptohippie avers:

"In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email sent, every Internet site surfed, every post made, every check written, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping... are all criminal evidence, and all are held in searchable databases. The individual can be prosecuted whenever the government wishes."

"Long term" Cryptohippie writes, the secret state (definitionally expanded here to encompass "private" matters such as workplace surveillance, union busting, persecution of whistleblowers, corporate political blacklisting, etc.), "the Electronic Police State destroys free speech, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and other liberties. Worse, it does so in a way that is difficult to identify."

As Antifascist Calling and others have pointed out, beside the usual ruses deployed by ruling class elites to suppress general knowledge of driftnet spying and wholesale database indexing of entire populations, e.g., "national security" exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, outright subversion of the rule of law through the expansion of "state secrets" exceptions that prohibit Courts from examining a state's specious claims, one can add the opaque, bureaucratic violence of corporations who guard, by any means necessary, what have euphemistically been christened "proprietary business information."

In a state such as ours characterized by wholesale corruption, e.g., generalized financial swindles, insider trading, sweetheart deals brokered with suborned politicians, dangerous pharmaceuticals or other commodities "tested" and then certified "safe" by the marketeers themselves, the protection of trade secrets, formulas, production processes and marketing plans are jealously guarded by judicial pit bulls.

Those who spill the beans and have the temerity to reveal that various products are harmful to the public health or have deleterious effects on the environment (off-loaded onto the public who foot the bill as so-called "external" costs of production) are hounded, slandered or otherwise persecuted, if not imprisoned, by the legal lackeys who serve the corporatist state.

How does this play out in the real world? According to Cryptohippie, the objective signs that an electronic net has closed in to ensure working class compliance with our wretched order of things, are the following:

Daily Documents: Requirement of state-issued identity documents and registration.

Border Issues: Inspections at borders, searching computers, demanding decryption of data.

Financial Tracking: State's ability to search and record all financial transactions: Checks, credit card use, wires, etc.

Gag Orders: Criminal penalties if you tell someone the state is searching their records.

Anti-Crypto Laws: Outlawing or restricting cryptography.

Constitutional Protection: A lack of constitutional protections for the individual, or the overriding of such protections.

Data Storage Ability: The ability of the state to store the data they gather.

Data Search Ability: The ability to search the data they gather.

ISP Data Retention: States forcing Internet Service Providers to save detailed records of all their customers' Internet usage.

Telephone Data Retention: States forcing telephone companies to record and save records of all their customers' telephone usage.

Cell Phone Records: States forcing cellular telephone companies to record and save records of all their customers' usage, including location.

Medical records: States demanding records from all medical service providers and retaining the same.

Enforcement Ability: The state's ability to use overwhelming force (exemplified by SWAT Teams) to seize anyone they want, whenever they want.

Habeas Corpus: Lack of habeas corpus, which is the right not to be held in jail without prompt due process. Or, the overriding of such protections.

Police-Intel Barrier: The lack of a barrier between police organizations and intelligence organizations. Or, the overriding of such barriers.

Covert Hacking: State operatives copying digital evidence from private computers covertly. Covert hacking can make anyone appear as any kind of criminal desired, if combined with the removing and/or adding of digital evidence.

Loose Warrants: Warrants issued without careful examination of police statements and other justifications by a truly independent judge.

Sound familiar? It should, since this is the warped reality manufactured for us, or, as Debord would have it: "The spectacle cannot be understood as a mere visual excess produced by mass-media technologies. It is a worldview that has actually been materialized, a view of a world that has become objective."

That such a state of affairs is monstrous is of course, an understatement. Yet despite America's preeminent position as a militarist "hyperpower," the realization that it is a collapsing Empire is a cliché only for those who ignore history's episodic convulsions.

If, as bourgeois historian Niall Ferguson suggests in the March/April 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, the American Empire may "quite abruptly ... collapse," and that this "complex adaptive system is in big trouble when its component parts lose faith in its viability," what does this say about the efficacy of an Electronic Police State to keep the lid on?

Despite the state's overwhelming firepower, at the level of ideology as much as on the social battlefield where truncheons meet flesh and bullets fly, Marx's "old mole" is returning with a vengeance, the "specter" once again haunting "rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations," as Churchill described the West's system of organized plunder.

Against this loss of "faith" in the system's "viability," Debord points out, although the working class "has lost its ability to assert its own independent perspective," in a more fundamental sense "it has also lost its illusions." In this regard, "no quantitative amelioration of its impoverishment, no illusory participation in a hierarchized system, can provide a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction."

Forty years on from Debord, sooner rather later, an historical settling of accounts with the system of global piracy called capitalism will confront the working class with the prospect of "righting the absolute wrong of being excluded from any real life."

As that process accelerates and deepens, it will then be the "watchers" who tremble...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Obama's National Cybersecurity Initiative Puts NSA in the Driver's Seat

On March 2, the Obama administration issued a sanitized version of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), releasing portions that discussed intrusion detection systems on federal networks.

The announcement was made by former Microsoft executive Howard A. Schmidt, appointed cybersecurity coordinator by President Obama in December. The partial unveiling came during the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, an annual industry conference for security professionals.

CNCI's 2008 launch was shrouded in secrecy by the Bush administration. Authority for the program is derived from a classified order issued by President Bush. However, the contents of National Security Presidential Directive 54, also known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) have never been released for public scrutiny.

"Virtually everything about the initiative is highly classified," the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in a 2008 report, "and most of the information that is not classified is categorized as 'For Official Use Only.'"

The Armed Services Committee joined their colleagues on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and urged that CNCI "should be scaled back because policy and legal reviews are not complete, and because the technology is not mature."

The Senate questioned the wisdom of a highly-secretive program that "preclude public education, awareness and debate about the policy and legal issues, real or imagined, that the initiative poses in the areas of privacy and civil liberties. ... The Committee strongly urges the [Bush] Administration to reconsider the necessity and wisdom of the blanket, indiscriminate classification levels established for the initiative."

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the government in federal court after EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency was rejected by NSA.

According to EPIC's complaint, CNCI has been described as "a multi-agency, multi-year plan that lays out twelve steps to securing the federal government's cyber networks." The agency refused to release the documents, stating that they "have been withheld in their entirety" because they are "exempt from release" on grounds of "national security."

Tuesday's summary provided no additional information on NSPD 54/HSPD 23, nor did the Obama administration release information on the Pentagon's strategy for waging offensive cyberwarfare.

The declassified portion of CNCI published March 2 discussed previously acknowledged intrusion protection programs, specifically Einstein 2 and Einstein 3, designed to inspect internet traffic entering government systems to detect potential threats.

As Antifascist Calling disclosed last July, the Einstein program in all probability is related to the much larger, ongoing and illegal NSA communications intercept program known as Stellar Wind, first exposed in 2005 by The New York Times.

And Stellar Wind, as I reported in another piece last July, is intimately related to what has come to be known as the "President's Surveillance Program," or PSP.

According to a 38-page declassified report by inspectors general of the CIA, NSA, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, presidential authorization for the secret state's driftnet surveillance program was derived by an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Memorandum penned November 2, 2001, by torture-enabler John C. Yoo.

Despite long-standing prohibitions on military and CIA involvement in civilian law enforcement activities, Yoo wrote that electronic surveillance in "direct support of military operations" did not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures, because the Fourth Amendment "is primarily aimed at curbing law enforcement abuses."

Yoo's tortured reading of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) claimed that the law "cannot restrict the President's ability to engage in warrantless searches that protect the national security."

While this particular memorandum was withdrawn, Congress granted the Executive Branch carte blanche for illegal spying under provisions of the despicable FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), supported by then-candidate and now president, Barack Obama.

Indeed, the administration has yet to lay out for the American people current guidelines that would guarantee such abuses are not continuing. Why? Because the PSP is ongoing and now, under the rubric of "cybersecurity," illegal spying by NSA and other secret state agencies continues apace.

As it now stands according to CNCI, Einstein will be tied directly into giant NSA data bases that contain the trace signatures of previous cyberattacks. The agency's immense electronic warehouses will continue to be fed information streamed to the agency by the nation's telecommunications providers.

Under FAA, telecommunications and internet firms are not liable for past or future violations of Americans' constitutional guarantees; indeed, these firms are partners in state-sanctioned surveillance operations.

Like their predecessors in the Oval Office, the Obama administration has obstructed the federal courts from examining the nature of the PSP, or lawbreaking by high government officials. In case after case brought by civil libertarians and privacy advocates, Obama's Justice Department has successfully argued that citizen lawsuits cannot be heard or Executive Branch programs reviewed by any court on grounds that sensitive "state secrets" would be disclosed.

The Washington Post disclosed last July, that under a classified Bush administration program "NSA data and hardware would be used to protect the networks of some civilian government agencies. Part of an initiative known as Einstein 3, the plan called for telecommunications companies to route the Internet traffic of civilian agencies through a monitoring box that would search for and block computer codes designed to penetrate or otherwise compromise networks."

Despite President Obama's pledge in May 2009 announcing White House cybersecurity policy, that his administration will not continue Bush-era surveillance practices under the PSP, Tuesday's partial release of CNCI signals just the opposite.

Indeed, Einstein 3 is based on technology developed for a NSA program called Tutelage that detects and halts security breaches. However, its filtering software can read the content of email and other electronic communications.

While the White House claims that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the lead agency overseeing government efforts to protect state networks and critical infrastructure--the electrical grid, telecommunications networks, internet service providers, and the banking and financial sectors from malicious attacks--NSA's role has raised red flags amongst privacy and civil liberties advocates.

As EPIC pointed out in their lawsuit, in March 2009 Rod Beckstrom resigned from his position as DHS National Cybersecurity Center director, citing the secretive role that NSA will play in these efforts, stating that "NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts."

This is a critical point. As a Defense Department agency, NSA's primary role is the interception of Communications- and Signals Intelligence (COMINT/SIGINT). As an Executive Branch agency answerable not to Congress but to the Secretary of Defense and the President, the near nonexistent democratic oversight of NSA will be further undermined by CNCI.

This is made clear in the document released Tuesday by the White House: "The EINSTEIN 3 system will also support enhanced information sharing by US-CERT with Federal Departments and Agencies by giving DHS the ability to automate alerting of detected network intrusion attempts and, when deemed necessary by DHS, to send alerts that do not contain the content of communications to the National Security Agency (NSA) so that DHS efforts may be supported by NSA exercising its lawfully authorized missions."

DHS claims are undermined by Einstein 3's ability to perform deep packet inspections that "read the content of email and other communications" as The Wall Street Journal reported last summer.

The document claims that "Information sharing on cyber intrusions will be conducted in accordance with the laws and oversight for activities related to homeland security, intelligence, and defense in order to protect the privacy and rights of U.S. citizens."

This assertion is undercut however, when the White House states that "DHS will be able to adapt threat signatures determined by NSA in the course of its foreign intelligence and DoD information assurance missions for use in the EINSTEIN 3 system in support of DHS’s federal system security mission." (emphasis added)

In practice, the same sources and methods deployed by NSA to conduct foreign intelligence, unrestricted by the agency's charter or U.S. law, will most certainly continue to target communications by U.S. citizens.

Although White House cybersecurity coordinator Schmidt states that "transparency is particularly vital in areas, such as the CNCI, where there have been legitimate questions about sensitive topics like the role of the intelligence community in cybersecurity," as Secrecy News points out "without a clear delineation of legal authorities and implementation mechanisms, the scope for meaningful public discussion seems limited."

Despite the fact that Congress stood up the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board as an independent agency in 2007 "to monitor and defend civil liberties in information sharing and counterterrorism activities," Secrecy News' Steven Aftergood disclosed that the Board "has remained vacant since that time" and thus, is "unable to fulfill its assigned task;" a telling commentary on the administration's largely rhetorical promise of "openness"!

Cybersecurity: Another Day, Another Endless "War"

As long time readers of Antifascist Calling are well aware, while hacking, online thievery and sociopathic behavior by criminals is a troubling by-product of the "information superhighway," state officials and shadowy security corporations have framed the debate in terms of yet another in a series of endless "wars."

Mike McConnell, a former NSA Director, Bush regime Director of National Intelligence and currently an executive vice president with the spooky Booz Allen Hamilton corporation (a post he held for a decade before signing-on for the "War on Terror") penned an alarmist screed for The Washington Post February 28.

McConnell, whose firm stands to reap billions of dollars in taxpayer largesse under CNCI, claimed that "The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing."

Drawing a spurious and half-baked (though self-serving) parallel between the Cold World nuclear stand-off with the former Soviet Union and today's cybercriminals, McConnell declared that a "credible" cyber-deterrent analogous to the doctrine of Mutually-Assured Destruction (MAD) would serve the United States "well."

Ever the Cold warrior, McConnell avers that the U.S. needs to "develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options."

"More specifically," McConnell writes, "we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment--who did it, from where, why and what was the result--more manageable."

In other words, the secret state's role in monitoring each and every electronic communication, email, text message, web search, phone conversation or financial transaction must be subject to a pervasive and all-encompassing surveillance by securocrats or we won't be "safe."

Indeed, as McConnell and his shadowy firm are well aware since they helped develop them, "the technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same."

Reckless advocacy such as this is the kiss of death for any notion of privacy, let alone the constitutional right to dissent. As Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel wrote last week, "The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it's Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence."

Why? Singel insists, "McConnell's not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering." And during his stint as DNI, "scared President Bush with visions of e-doom, prompting the president to sign a comprehensive secret order that unleashed tens of billions of dollars into the military's black budget so they could start making firewalls and building malware into military equipment."

Self-serving rhetoric by the likes of McConnell about an alleged "cyber-armageddon" are not only absurd but the height of corporatist venality.

As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock revealed in his essential book Spies for Hire and for CorpWatch, Booz Allen Hamilton, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the shadowy private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, "is involved in virtually every aspect of the modern intelligence enterprise, from advising top officials on how to integrate the 16 agencies within the Intelligence Community (IC), to detailed analysis of signals intelligence, imagery and other critical collections technologies."

Clocking-in at No. 10 on Washington Technology's "Top 100" list of Federal Prime Contractors, Booz Allen pulled down some $2,779,421,015 in contracts in 2009.

According to Shorrock, "BAH is one of the NSA's most important contractors, and owes its strategic role there in part to Mike McConnell, who was Bush's director of national intelligence." During an earlier stretch with BAH, "McConnell and Booz Allen were involved in some of the Bush administration's most sensitive intelligence operations, including the infamous Total Information Awareness (TIA) program run by former Navy Admiral John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame."

In his Washington Post op-ed, McConnell wrote that "we must hammer out a consensus on how to best harness the capabilities of the National Security Agency," and that the "challenge" is to shape "an effective partnership with the private sector so information can move quickly back and forth from public to private--and classified to unclassified--to protect the nation's critical infrastructure."

Super spook McConnell claims this will be accomplished by handing "key private-sector leaders (from the transportation, utility and financial arenas) access to information on emerging threats so they can take countermeasures." However, the "private" portion of the "public-private" surveillance "partnership" must have a quid pro quo so that private sector sharing of privileged, highly personal, network information with the secret state doesn't invite "lawsuits from shareholders and others."

In other words, privacy and civil liberties be damned!

As Ryan Singel points out, "the contractor he works for has massive, secret contracts with the NSA" and McConnell now proposes that NSA "take the lead in guarding all government and private networks."

But McConnell, and Booz Allen's advocacy goes far further than simple advocacy in developing a defensive cyber strategy. Indeed, BAH, and a host of other giant defense and security firms such as Lockheed Martin, are actively developing offensive cyber weapons for the Pentagon.

According to Washington Technology, Lockheed Martin will continue to work with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in that Pentagon agency's development of a National Cyber Range under CNCI.

That program is suspected of being part of Pentagon research to develop and field-test offensive cyber weapons. According to DARPA, "the NCR will provide a revolutionary, safe, fully automated and instrumented environment for U.S. cybersecurity research organizations to evaluate leap-ahead research, accelerate technology transition, and enable a place for experimentation of iterative and new research directions."

"Now the problem with developing cyberweapons--say a virus, or a massive botnet for denial-of-service attacks," Singel writes, "is that you need to know where to point them."

"That's why," the Wired journalist avers, "McConnell and others want to change the internet. The military needs targets."

Add to the mix a Senate bill that would hand the president "emergency" powers over the Internet and a clear pattern of where things are headed begins to emerge.

With giant ISP's such as Google already partnering-up with the NSA and other secret state agencies, the question is how long will it be before an American version of China's Golden Shield enfolds the heimat within its oppressive tentacles?

Described by privacy advocates as a massive, ubiquitous spying architecture, the aim of the Golden Shield is to integrate a gigantic online data base with an all-encompassing surveillance network, one that incorporates speech and face recognition, closed-circuit television, smart cards, credit records, and Internet surveillance technologies.

And considering that the Empire has reportedly stood-up a giant data base of dissidents called "Main Core," whose roots lie in programs begun during the Reagan administration, assurances by the Obama administration that Americans' privacy rights will be protected as CNCI is rolled-out ring hollow. According to exposés by investigative journalists Christopher Ketchum and Tim Shorrock, writing respectively in Radar Magazine and Salon, Main Core is a meta data base that contains personal and financial data on millions of U.S. citizens believed to be threats to national security.

The data, which comes from the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other secret state sources, is collected and stored with neither warrants nor court orders. The name is derived from the fact that it contains "copies of the 'main core' or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community," according to Salon.

While the total cost of CNCI is classified, rest assured it will be the American people who foot the bill for the destruction of our democratic rights.