Corporate surveillance - search results
‘Face Surveillance Is a Uniquely Dangerous Technology’ – CounterSpin interview with Shankar Narayan on...
Prior to the recent national elections in
“Repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Indigenous communities have been displaced and reduced to living on the capital's rubbish dumps. This is a crime that we can rightly call genocide - the extinguishment of entire Peoples, their culture, their way of life and their environment.” (19)
Part I: The Wolves of Psycho Street: America’s Economic Enslavement by the Psychopathic Corporate...
In 2013, the Indian defence budget formed over ten percent of total government expenditure. It has been for many years the world’s largest market for imported arms. In 2000,
Apart from ongoing violent conflicts in the ‘tribal belt’ and elsewhere, there is the continuing all pervasive structural violence of crony capitalism, corruption, ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism, which has, among other atrocities, resulted in up to 300,000 farmer suicides and India having over one-third of the poorest people in the world and the world’s largest number of children suffering from malnutrition (6).
There are people who want to do us harm. We need to be protected. There are extremists and wrong doers who want to bend the system for their own narrow agendas against the interests of the many. There always has been. Unfortunately, they have hijacked the machinery of state(s) and are increasingly to be found in positions of authority implementing surveillance and economic terrorism ‘for our own good’.
Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to:
End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global Militarization
The campaign will focus on drone bases, drone research facilities and test sites and drone manufacturers.
The campaign will provide information on:
1. The suffering of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza who are under drone attack, documenting the killing, the wounding and the devastating impact of constant drone surveillance on community life.
2. How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a massive wave of surveillance, clandestine military attacks and militarization generated by the United States to protect a global system of manufacture and oil and mineral exploitation that is creating unemployment and poverty, accelerating the waste of nonrenewable resources and contributing to environmental destruction and global warming.
In addition to cases in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, we will examine President Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, where the United States has already sold and deployed drones in the vanguard of a shift of 60% of its military forces to try to control China and to enforce the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership. We will show, among other things, how this surge of "pivot" forces, greatly enabled by drones, and supported by the US military-industrial complex, will hit every American community with even deeper cuts in the already fragile social programs on which people rely for survival. In short, we will connect drones and militarization with "austerity" in America.
3. How drone attacks have effectively destroyed international and domestic legal protection of the rights to life, privacy, freedom of assembly and free speech and have opened the way for new levels of surveillance and repression around the world, and how, in the United States, increasing drone surveillance, added to surveillance by the National Security Agency and police, provides a new weapon to repress black, Hispanic, immigrant and low-income communities and to intimidate Americans who are increasingly unsettled by lack of jobs, economic inequality, corporate control of politics and the prospect of endless war.
We will discuss how the United States government and corporations conspire secretly to monitor US citizens and particularly how the Administration is accelerating drone surveillance operations and surveillance inside the United States with the same disregard for transparency and law that it applies to other countries, all with the cooperation of the Congress.
The campaign will encourage activists around the world to win passage of local laws that prohibit weaponized drones and drone surveillance from being used in their communities as well as seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
The campaign will draw attention to the call for a ban on weaponized drones by RootsAction.org that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers
and to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), KnowDrones.org and others to achieve an international ban on both weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
The campaign will also urge participation in the World Beyond War movement.
The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call:
Lyn Adamson – Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Dennis Apel – Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California
Judy Bello – Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars
Medea Benjamin – Code Pink
Leah Bolger – Former National President, Veterans for Peace
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Sung-Hee Choi – Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea
Chelsea C. Faria – Graduate student, Yale Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace
Sandy Fessler – Rochester (NY) Against War
Bruce K. Gagnon - Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Holly Gwinn Graham – Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA.
Regina Hagen - Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany
Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition
Tamara Lorincz – Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada
Nick Mottern – KnowDrones.org
Agneta Norberg – Swedish Peace Council
Pepperwolf – Director, Women Against Military Madness
Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases CAAB UK
Mathias Quackenbush – San Francisco, CA
Lisa Savage – Code Pink, State of Maine
Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck- Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany
Lucia Wilkes Smith – Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – Ground Military Drones Committee
David Soumis – Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin
Debra Sweet – World Can’t Wait
David Swanson - WarisACrime.org
Brian Terrell – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
United National Antiwar Coalition
Veterans for Peace
Dave Webb – Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
Curt Wechsler – Fire John Yoo! (a project of World Can’t Wait) – San Francisco, CA
Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s)
Loring Wirbel – Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO)
Women Against Military Madness
Ann Wright – Retired US Army colonel and former diplomat
Leila Zand - Fellowship of Reconciliation
Towards a North American Homeland: U.S.-Canada “Cross-Border” Intelligence Sharing, Law Enforcement, Data Collection and...
Worldwide Militarization and the Weapons Industry: America’s Surveillance and Targeted Assassination Machine
Spying on Journalists: Department of Justice (DOJ) Sets “Guidelines” Concerning Government Surveillance of Members...
Back in 1992, the academic Francis Fukuyama mistakenly informed the world that, with the apparent triumph of western capitalism and the downfall of the
Enter some balance. Enter the internet, Press TV, RT and the ‘alternative media’. The media landscape has been transformed. In recent years, the US has had to face up to the harsh truth that it cannot dominate the global debate to the extent it once did when it comes to shaping the analysis and reporting of news through its compliant media outlets.
Bank of America was accused as being especially strident in attempting to discredit and shut down WikiLeaks with various dirty tricks, including backing a smear campaign that involved the use of false documents, disinformation, and sabotage (4).
In exposing state-corporate secrets and challenging powerful institutions, Assange made many enemies in high places. US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that Assange put the lives of US citizens at risk by leaking diplomatic cables. Dick Cheney calls Snowden a ‘traitor’. Who are the real ‘traitors’? If anyone has placed US lives at risk or has attacked the rights and freedoms of US citizens, it’s not Assange. People like Holder and Dick ‘Halliburton’ Cheney should look at their own actions and unbridled support for and benefits accrued from the robber baron regime they are part of and which they seek to legtimise and protect (6)(7).
“If you are a law-abiding citizen of this country, going about your business and your personal life, you have nothing to fear.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague, responding to the revelations of mass surveillance in the
and the US (BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on 9 June). UK
“We are dependent on being able to act and not being entirely at the mercy of the terrorists. And today, it’s on the Internet that communication takes place.” (6)
“You don’t have to follow conspiracy theories in order to suspect that data collected for fighting terrorism will also be used in other areas.” (6)
Whitehall that really runs the country with a close-knit Mafia-like clique… made up of a handful of powerful, but low-key, City brokers and financiers; the top brains at the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and the Trade Department. Key figures in the security forces… and…at least one key member of the prime minister’s secretariat… the police and judiciary… through the Home Office… can certainly be manipulated. The Super-Establishment’s power is based upon its ability to manipulate the level below it – the individuals that most people believe are governing our country. The elected government is almost irrelevant… The world in which the Super-Establishment exists is a grey and murky world in which sensitive matters of state are planned and executed in gentlemen’s clubs. It is where manipulation plots are hatched, whether it is manipulation of a certain minister towards a certain viewpoint, or the wholesale orchestration of a Foreign Office ploy to bring down a foreign government… It is almost the divine "mission of the secret services to protect the status quo, and hitherto it has been their full intention to thwart anyone who tried to disrupt it. The actual existence of the Super-Establishment is not a flight of fancy. It is entirely manipulative and exercises a great deal of power behind the scenes. (9)
But don’t worry about any of this. There is no need. If that nice Mr Hague says we’ve nothing to fear, he must be right.
Michael Moore, Chris Hedges on Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention and the “Corporate Coup d’État”
The ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial is now back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. On Wednesday, the Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judge's earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. On the same day, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and the case's lead plaintiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, took part in a panel featuring some of those who were in the courtroom opposing the NDAA. We air excerpts of their remarks. [includes rush transcript]
Chris Hedges, senior fellow at The Nation Institute. A former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, he was part of a team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of the new book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, with illustrator Joe Sacco.
Michael Moore, acclaimed Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Amy Goodman: Last week, the ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial was back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists, including Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. Well, last Wednesday, the Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judge's earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. The Obama administration has already won an emergency freeze of the ruling while the case is appealed.
Well, on the same day, Wednesday, an event, just after the court hearing, was held in New York featuring a panel of some of those who were in the courtroom to oppose the NDAA. Joining them was the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. We end today's show with their remarks. The case is known as Hedges v. Obama. Michael Moore began by responding to a question about how he got involved.
Michael Moore: How did I get involved in it? Well, I mean—I mean, I've been involved in this sort of thing for a very long time, in general, in terms of these issues. I was the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union in Flint when I was 19 or 20 years old. And what Chris said in the last panel here about the corporate coup d'état, that's something I've been talking about, trying to talk about, for a couple of decades, since Roger & Me_, that something was afoot here and that we were going to have our democratic way absconded with. And I agree with him that—that it has been successful. But I remain an optimist because I know history, and I know that coup d'états that were successful at first were eventually overthrown. And I just want to use that word "overthrown" here publicly tonight, so this can be replayed at my trial. I — [phone ringing] should we get that? Or—
Matt Sledge: Yeah.
Michael Moore: Who ordered the pizza?
Matt Sledge: Silence your phones, please, if you can.
Natasha Lennard: Really, really. Let's ignore it.
Michael Moore: Well, I—you know, I've had to deal with the issue of the police trying to suppress information or to cause harm or—on any of a number of different levels to those who try to bring out the truth. I had a small alternative newspaper in Flint, Michigan, back in the 1970s. Our printer was raided by the police, and they took the printing plates of our newspaper right off the press and searched and seized everything. And it was because we had done an article on the mayor using federal moneys for his campaign, re-election, and so he went to a local judge, and the judge approved the search warrant, and they grabbed all of our stuff. So, that was, you know, one of my first experiences. Now, that particular incident, along that same year with—a CBS affiliate in Boise, Idaho, was also raided by the police, that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked me to work with them. And a law was passed, a shield law was passed, the following year to essentially prohibit police raids of newsrooms, unless there's an actual crime, like a murder or robbery or something, going on.
So, I know. I mean, I could talk about this all night in terms of my own—what my own personal experience has been, you know, what I have learned since, in terms—within the Bush administration and what they did or were doing or how they tried to deal with Fahrenheit 9/11, all the way from official government things to just the sort of propaganda that they put out on me in order to, you know, I think, stir the pot of the unhinged. And so, I've—I wrote about this in my last book and the number of—not threats, but actual assaults or attempted assaults that I've had to go through, up to and including an individual planning to blow up our house in Michigan, and was only caught because one of his weapons went off at his home, and a neighbor heard it and called the cops, and came in and they found all the fertilizer bomb stuff and a list of—a small list, actually, of, well, liberal, left people that he'd like to assassinate, with me at the top of the list, and then there was Rosie O'Donnell, Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton. So, I don't know how I ended up on the lesbian list, but I'm happy and proud to be there. That's a joke. Just trying to—well, any time I talk about this, it's obviously not a pleasant thing to talk about.
So, I was very happy to hear about this lawsuit that these guys initiated. And Chris, of course, I've been a huge fan of his for a long time. Please read his books. Pass his books around. This man is our—he's our 21st century Noam Chomsky, not that Noam isn't still in the 21st century.
So—and, of course, an honor to sit here with Daniel Ellsberg, who I was thinking about the other day, Daniel. I don't know if you've ever seen the documentary Hearts and Minds about the Vietnam War. It's a great documentary, if you have a chance to see it. And they won the Oscar for best documentary that year. And when they went up on the stage to collect it, they read from a telegram from the North Vietnamese, thanking Americans to, you know—which, of course, as we—in these days, we'd never even think of such a thing. It would be like, you know, in the way that things are conflated now, that you would be reading something from al-Qaeda or whatever. But in this movie, Daniel appears in this movie and provides some very important lessons about Vietnam, not only just what he went through personally, but what—what this country was led through in terms of the lies that were told. And by not having a press that was active at first to expose the lies, we lost a lot of lives, and we participated in the slaughter of anywhere from two to three million Southeast Asians. But he said—he said something, and I was thinking about this, because they're—watching the news on Egypt today, and talking about whether the United States—you know, we were for Mubarak, then we were against Mubarak. You know, we were—and it's like—and somebody asks, you know, "Which side is right? You know, are we on the right side?" And the same question was asked during Vietnam. You know, were we on the right side? Because this was a people's uprising in South Vietnam. And Daniel said, "The question is not whether we're on the right side. The only question or point is, is that we are the wrong side. That's it." We are behind a lot of this madness. Our corporations are benefiting from it greatly. And people who live in the Flint, Michigans of this world are suffering considerably.
So, I'm proud to be part of this and be supportive of it. And I'm very—of course I've been very supportive of Bradley Manning, from the beginning, helping to fund the fight. And I put up some of Julian Assange's bail money.
Audience Member: Thank you, Michael!
Matt Sledge: I think—we'll get to, you know, WikiLeaks and whistleblowing in a minute, of course. Before we do that, I wanted to re-ask my question from the last panel about this drones memo. You know, what's the end game with this—with the lawsuit here? You know, if you win the lawsuit and the administration retains the power to assassinate American citizens, you know, how—is that Pyrrhic victory?
Chris Hedges: The memo is fascinating to read. It looks like it's written—
Matt Sledge: Well, they won't release the memos yet.
Chris Hedges: Yes, well, the free white paper.
Matt Sledge: It's a white paper, the pre-memo white paper.
Chris Hedges: The white paper. Right, the pre-memo white paper. What is—because it's so amateurish. It looks like it's written by a first-year law student. I mean, you know, whatever you think of John Yoo—and I hope he burns in hell—he actually had a much more sophisticated legal argument to torture human beings. Look, the drone wars—this is—it's not an example of—and I think this is true with the NDAA, I think it's true with the FISA Amendment Act, I think—go all the way back. What they're attempting to do is legally justify what they're already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act they have a right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times, and Bruce and Carl did, and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so, what they're seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture. They're essentially looking for kind of legal cover.
And so, I think it's all connected. It's all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism. And that is just writ large across the landscape. And as we go down—and they know we're going down. Look, I mean, you know, they—these forces are cannibalistic. Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and here we're literally watching the death throes of the planet, and these corporations, like Shell, look at it as a business opportunity. They know only one word, and that's "more." They have commodified everything. Human beings are commodities, disposable commodities. The ecosystem is a disposable commodity. And they will—now with no impediments, they will push and push and push. It makes Herman Melville's Moby Dick, which I'm just re-reading, the most prescient study of the American character, because we're all on the Pequod, and Ahab's running the ship. And as Ahab said, "My means and my methods are sane, and my object is mad." And they're not going to stop themselves. The formal mechanisms of power are not going to stop them. It's up to us.
And literally, you know, I have a five-year-old, and his favorite book is Out of the Blue. He'll sit on the floor and look at narwhals and porpoises, and every time I see him do it, it rips my heart out, because I know that if there is not a radical change in our relationship to each other and to the planet, every single one of those sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime. In theological terms, as a seminary graduate, these are forces of death, literally.
Matt Sledge: Well—
Chris Hedges: And it is all—
Matt Sledge: Which is the corporation arguing, you know, or lobbying for Section 1021 of the NDAA?
Chris Hedges: All of them. All of them. Who writes our legislation but corporate lobbyists? The security and surveillance state is the mechanism. Look, we have, not far from here, a few blocks from here, a joint command center with the NYPD and Goldman Sachs. I was arrested in front of Goldman Sachs with the Occupy movement. And let me tell you that when they—when the security came out, it was a mixed security of Goldman Sachs security and NYPD security. These corporations have created 70 percent of our—we have 16 intelligence agencies, and as Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, 70 percent of their work are outsourced corporations. We have handed the capacity for the security and surveillance state to private corporations.
Amy Goodman: Chris Hedges is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times correspondent who has sued President Obama over the National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA. Others involved in that suit are Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg. The suit is known as Hedges v. Obama. Before that, you were listening to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.
If incorporating personal details into an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip implanted into a passport or driver’s license may sound like a “smart” alternative to endless lines at the airport and intrusive questioning by securocrats, think again.
Since the late 1990s, corporate grifters have touted the “benefits” of the devilish transmitters as a “convenient” and “cheap” way to tag individual commodities, one that would “revolutionize” inventory management and theft prevention. Indeed, everything from paper towels to shoes, pets to underwear have been “tagged” with the chips. “Savings” would be “passed on” to the consumer. Call it the Wal-Martization of everyday life.
RFID tags are small computer chips connected to miniature antennae that can be fixed to or implanted within physical objects, including human beings. The RFID chip itself contains an Electronic Product Code that can be “read” when a RFID reader emits a radio signal. The chips are divided into two categories, passive or active. A “passive” tag doesn’t contain a battery and its “read” range is variable, from less than an inch to twenty or thirty feet. An “active” tag on the other hand, is self-powered and has a much longer range. The data from an “active” tag can be sent directly to a computer system involved in inventory control–or surveillance.
But as Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) state in a joint position paper, “RFID has the potential to jeopardize consumer privacy, reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity, and threaten civil liberties.” As these organizations noted:
While there are beneficial uses of RFID, some attributes of the technology could be deployed in ways that threaten privacy and civil liberties:
* Hidden placement of tags. RFID tags can be embedded into/onto objects and documents without the knowledge of the individual who obtains those items. As radio waves travel easily and silently through fabric, plastic, and other materials, it is possible to read RFID tags sewn into clothing or affixed to objects contained in purses, shopping bags, suitcases, and more.
* Unique identifiers for all objects worldwide. The Electronic Product Code potentially enables every object on earth to have its own unique ID. The use of unique ID numbers could lead to the creation of a global item registration system in which every physical object is identified and linked to its purchaser or owner at the point of sale or transfer.
* Massive data aggregation. RFID deployment requires the creation of massive databases containing unique tag data. These records could be linked with personal identifying data, especially as computer memory and processing capacities expand.
* Hidden readers. Tags can be read from a distance, not restricted to line of sight, by readers that can be incorporated invisibly into nearly any environment where human beings or items congregate. RFID readers have already been experimentally embedded into floor tiles, woven into carpeting and floor mats, hidden in doorways, and seamlessly incorporated into retail shelving and counters, making it virtually impossible for a consumer to know when or if he or she was being “scanned.”
* Individual tracking and profiling. If personal identity were linked with unique RFID tag numbers, individuals could be profiled and tracked without their knowledge or consent. For example, a tag embedded in a shoe could serve as a de facto identifier for the person wearing it. Even if item-level information remains generic, identifying items people wear or carry could associate them with, for example, particular events like political rallies. (“Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products,” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, November 14, 2003)
RFID under the skin
As the corporatist police state unfurls its murderous tentacles here in the United States, it should come as no surprise that securocrats breathlessly tout the “benefits” of RFID in the area of “homeland security.” When linked to massive commercial databases as well as those compiled by the 16 separate agencies of the “intelligence community,” such as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) that feeds the federal government’s surveillance Leviathan with the names of suspected “terrorists,” it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the architecture for a vast totalitarian enterprise is off the drawing board and onto the streets.
As last week’s mass repression of peaceful protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul amply demonstrated, the Bush regime’s “preemptive war” strategy has been rolled out in the heimat. As the World Socialist Web Site reports,
On Wednesday eight members of the anarchist protest group the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) were charged under provisions of the Minnesota state version of the Patriot Act with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism.”
The eight charged are all young, and could face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under a provision that allows the enhancement of charges related to terrorism by 50 percent. …
Among other things, the youth, who were arrested last weekend even prior to the start of the convention, are charged with plotting to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers and attack airports. Almost all of the charges listed are based upon the testimony of police infiltrators, one an officer, the other a paid informant. (Tom Eley, “RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act,” World Socialist Web Site, 6 September 2008)
As the ACLU pointed out, “These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the defendants on trial,” said Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. “The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience,” he said.
An affidavit filed by the cops in order to allow the preemptive police raid and subsequent arrests declared that the RNCWC is a “criminal enterprise” strongly implying that the group of anarchist youth were members of a “terrorist organization.”
Which, as we have learned over these last seven and a half years of darkness, is precisely the point: keep ‘em scared and passive. And when they’re neither scared nor passive, resort to police state tactics of mass repression. While the cops beat and arrested demonstrators and journalists outside the Xcel Energy Center, neanderthal-like Republican mobs chanted “USA! USA!” while the execrable theocratic fascist, Sarah Palin, basked in the limelight. But I digress…
Likened to barcodes that scan items at the grocery store check-out line, what industry flacks such as the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) fail to mention in their propaganda about RFID is that the information stored on a passport or driver’s license is readily stolen by anyone with a reader device–marketers, security agents, criminals or stalkers–without the card holder even being remotely aware that they are being tracked and their allegedly “secure” information plundered. According to a blurb on the AIM website,
Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) technologies are a diverse family of technologies that share the common purpose of identifying, tracking, recording, storing and communicating essential business, personal, or product data. In most cases, AIM technologies serve as the front end of enterprise software systems, providing fast and accurate collection and entry of data. (“Technologies,” Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, no date)
Among the “diverse family of technologies” touted by AIM, many are rife with “dual-use” potential, that is, the same technology that can keep track of a pallet of soft drinks can also keep track of human beings.
Indeed, the Association touts biometric identification as “an automated method of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic.” This is especially important since “the need” for biometrics “can be found in federal, state and local governments, in the military, and in commercial applications.” When used as a stand-alone or in conjunction with RFID-chipped “smart cards” biometrics, according to the industry “are set to pervade nearly all aspects of the economy and our daily lives.”
The industry received a powerful incentive from the state when the Government Services Administration (GSA), a Bushist satrapy, issued a 2004 memo that urged the heads of all federal agencies “to consider action that can be taken to advance the [RFID] industry.”
An example of capitalist “ingenuity” or another insidious invasion of our right to privacy? In 2006, IBM obtained a patent that will be used for tracking and profiling consumers as they move around a store, even if access to commercial databases are strictly limited.
And when it comes tracking and profiling human beings, say for mass extermination at the behest of crazed Nazi ideologues, IBM stands alone. In his groundbreaking 2001 exploration of the enabling technologies for the mass murder of Jews, communists, Roma and gays and lesbians, investigative journalist Edwin Black described in IBM and the Holocaust how, beginning in 1933, IBM and their subsidiaries created technological “solutions” that streamlined the identification of “undesirables” for quick and efficient asset confiscation, deportation, slave labor and eventual annihilation.
In an eerie echo of polices being enacted today against Muslims and left-wing “extremists” by the corrupt Bush regime in their quixotic quest to “keep America safe” in furtherance of capitalist and imperialist goals of global domination, Black writes:
In the upside-down world of the Holocaust, dignified professionals were Hitler’s advance troops. Police officials disregarded their duty in favor of protecting villains and persecuting victims. Lawyers perverted concepts of justice to create anti-Jewish laws. Doctors defiled the art of medicine to perpetrate ghastly experiments and even choose who was healthy enough to be worked to death–and who could be cost-effectively sent to the gas chamber. Scientists and engineers debased their higher calling to devise the instruments and rationales of destruction. And statisticians used their little known but powerful discipline to identify the victims, project and rationalize the benefits of their destruction, organize their persecution, and even audit the efficiency of genocide. Enter IBM and its overseas subsidiaries. (IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, New York: Crown Publishers, 2001, pp. 7-8)
As security and privacy analyst Katherine Albrecht writes describing IBM’s patented “Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-Tagged Items in Store Environments,”
…chillingly details RFID’s potential for surveillance in a world where networked RFID readers called “person tracking units” would be incorporated virtually everywhere people go–in “shopping malls, airports, train stations, bus stations, elevators, trains, airplanes, restrooms, sports arenas, libraries, theaters, [and] museums”–to closely monitor people’s movements. (“How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People,” Scientific American, August 21, 2008)
According to the patent cited by Albrecht, as an individual moves around a store, or a city center, an “RFID tag scanner located [in the desired tracking location]… scans the RFID tags on [a] person…. As that person moves around the store, different RFID tag scanners located throughout the store can pick up radio signals from the RFID tags carried on that person and the movement of that person is tracked based on these detections…. The person tracking unit may keep records of different locations where the person has visited, as well as the visitation times.”
Even if no personal data are stored in the RFID tag, this doesn’t present a problem IBM explains, because “the personal information will be obtained when the person uses his or her credit card, bank card, shopper card or the like.” As Albrecht avers, the link between the unique RFID number and a person’s identity “needs to be made only once for the card to serve as a proxy for the person thereafter.” With the wholesale introduction of RFID chipped passports and driver’s licenses, the capitalist panoptic state is quickly–and quietly–falling into place.
If America’s main trading partner and sometime geopolitical rival in the looting of world resources, China, is any indication of the direction near future surveillance technologies are being driven by the “miracle of the market,” the curtain on privacy and individual rights is rapidly drawing to a close. Albrecht writes,
China’s national ID cards, for instance, are encoded with what most people would consider a shocking amount of personal information, including health and reproductive history, employment status, religion, ethnicity and even the name and phone number of each cardholder’s landlord. More ominous still, the cards are part of a larger project to blanket Chinese cities with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. Michael Lin, a vice president for China Public Security Technology, a private company providing the RFID cards for the program, unflinchingly described them to the New York Times as “a way for the government to control the population in the future.” And even if other governments do not take advantage of the surveillance potential inherent in the new ID cards, ample evidence suggests that data-hungry corporations will.
I would disagree with Albrecht on one salient point: governments, particularly the crazed, corporate-controlled grifters holding down the fort in Washington, most certainly will take advantage of RFID’s surveillance potential.
In 2005 for example, the Senate Republican High Tech Task force praised RFID applications as “exciting new technologies” with “tremendous promise for our economy.” In this spirit, they vowed to “protect” RFID from regulation and legislation. Needless to say, the track record of timid Democrats is hardly any better when it comes to defending privacy rights or something as “quaint” as the Constitution.
Under conditions of a looming economic meltdown, rising unemployment, staggering debt, the collapse of financial markets and continuing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. imperialism, in order to shore up its crumbling empire, will continue to import totalitarian methods of rule employed in its “global war on terror” onto the home front.
The introduction of RFID-chipped passports and driver’s licenses for the mass surveillance and political repression of the American people arises within this context.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.
In an in-depth interview, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom discusses the investigation against his now-defunct file-storage site, his possible extradition to the US, the future of Internet freedoms and his latest project Mega with RT’s Andrew Blake.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (C) launches his new file sharing site "Mega", surrounded by dancers, in Auckland January 20, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Marple)
The United States government says that Dotcom, a German millionaire formerly known as Kim Schmitz, masterminded a vast criminal conspiracy by operating the file-storage site Megaupload. Dotcom, on the other hand, begs to differ. One year after the high-profile raid of his home and the shut-down and seizure of one of the most popular sites on the Web, Dotcom hosted a launch party for his latest endeavor, simply called Mega. On the anniversary of the end of Megaupload, Dotcom discusses the year since his arrest and what the future holds in regards to both his court case and the Internet alike. Speaking with RT’s Andrew Blake from his Coatesville, New Zealand mansion, Dotcom weighs in on the US justice system, the death of Aaron Swartz, the growing surveillance state, his own cooperation with the feds and much more.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (2nd R) poseswith actors dessed as police after the launch of his new website at a press conference held inside his home in Auckland on January 20, 2013. (AFP Photo/Michael Bradley)
'Hollywood is a very important contributor to Obama'
RT: You’ve blamed President Obama and the Obama administration for colluding with movie companies in order to orchestrate this giant arrest here in New Zealand. Is this kind of give-and-take relationship between Washington and Hollywood all that you say it is? Or are you just the exception? Does this really exist?
Kim Dotcom: You have to look at the players behind this case, okay? The driving force, of course, is Chris Dodd, the chairman of the MPAA [Motion Picture Association of America]. And he was senator for a long time and he is — according to [US Vice President] Joe Biden — Joe Biden’s best friend. And the state attorney that is in charge of this case has been Joe Biden’s personal counsel, Neil MacBride, and [he] also worked as an anti-piracy manager for the BSA, the Business Software Association, which is basically like the MPAA but for software companies.
And also, the timing is very interesting, you know? Election time. The fundraisers in Hollywood set for February, March [and] April. There had to have some sort of Plan B, an alternative for SOPA [the Stop Online Piracy Act], because the president certainly was aware — and his team at the White House was aware — that if they don’t have anything to give at those fundraisers, to those guys in Hollywood who are eager to have more control over the Internet, they wouldn’t have probably raised too much. And Hollywood is a very important contributor to Obama’s campaign. Not just with money, but also with media support. They control a lot of media: celebrity endorsements and all that.
So I’m sure the election plays an important role. The relationships of the people that are in charge of this case play an important role and, of course, we have facts that we want to present at our extradition hearing that will show some more detail about this and that this is not just some conspiracy theory but that this actually happened.
Local Maori arrive as Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (unseen) launches his new file sharing site "Mega" in Auckland January 20, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Marple)
RT: The US Justice Department wants to extradite you, a German citizen living in New Zealand operating a business in Hong Kong. They want to extradite you to the US. Is that even possible?
KD: That is a very interesting question because the extradition law, the extradition treaty in New Zealand, doesn’t really allow extradition for copyright. So what they did, they threw some extra charges on top and one of them is racketeering, where they basically say we are a mafia organization and we set up our Internet business to basically be an organized crime network that was set up and structured the way it was just to do criminal copyright infringement. And anyone who has every used Megaupload and has any idea about how that website worked knows immediately that it was total nonsense. But they needed to chop that on in order to have even a chance for extradition. But in our opinion, you see, all of that was secondary. The primary goal was to take down Megaupload and destroy it completely. That was their mission and that’s why the whole thing in Hong Kong, for example, they called it Operation Takedown. And I think everything that’s happening now, they are trying on the fly to doctor it around, and found a way to find a case. They probably came here and thought, “We will find something; that these guys have done something wrong.” In the indictment, if you actually read that, it’s more like a press release. There’s nothing in there that has any merits.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom speaks during the launch of his new website at a press conference at his mansion in Auckland on January 20, 2013. (AFP Photo/Michael Bradley)
RT: When the raid happened one year ago today, it got a lot of people talking both about the Internet and about this character, Kim Dotcom. But it was a lot of talking and not so much action, because here it is one year later and this case is still happening. Back up earlier this month, and we saw Aaron Swartz — an online information activist — pass away, and only in his mid-20s. And it got a lot of people talking, so much so that members of Congress have actually asked for changes to federal computer laws so that this doesn’t happen again. What is it actually going to take to get people to stop just talking and to actually start acting?
KD: Our case is going to be the one that will have much more attention down the road because it is a crucial case for Internet freedom. And I think more and more people realize that and the government is quite exposed here because they really went in with completely prosecutorial abuse and overreach and ignoring due process, ignoring our rights, spying on us, illegal search warrants, illegal restraining orders, illegal spying. The whole picture, when you look at it, shows that this was an urgent mission, done on a rush. “Take them down, I want them to go.” And it was a political decision to do that. And the execution was extremely poor, and the case is extremely poor, because that is something they thought that they could worry about later. It was all about the takedown. “Let’s send a strong message to Hollywood that we are on their side.”
RT:And now it’s been a year and nothing has progressed. At least for them. It seems like the case is falling apart day by day.
KD: Let me give you one example of how crazy this is. We have a judge here who said, “Please show us your evidence about your racketeering allegations. Show us that these guys were setting up some sort of organized crime network,” because that’s what the extradition will focus on primarily. They are using the organized crime treaty to get us extradited. So the US appealed that and said, “We don’t want to show you what we have.” And then they appealed to the high court and the high court then said, “We want to see it.” And they just keep appealing it, all the way to the court of appeals and to the Supreme Court. And what does that tell you? If you don’t even want to show us your cards — show us what you have! If you have such a strong case and are seriously interested about getting someone extradited, why waste all this time? Just show your hand. And they don’t have anything because we haven’t done anything wrong. We were law abiding. We were a good corporate citizen. And they knew that the time they came here to do this. They just wanted to take us down.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (C) launches his new file sharing site "Mega", with dancers, in Auckland January 20, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Marple)
'I want to reestablish a balance between a person and the state'
RT :The new program, Mega, is fully encrypted, and you’re touting it as an encrypted program so that people will want to use it. Do you think this is even necessary, right now, that people need encryption on the Internet?
KD: I think it’s important for the Internet that there is more encryption. Because what I have learned since I got dragged into this case is a lot about privacy abuses, about the government spying on people. You know, the US government invests a lot of money in spy clouds: massive data centers with hundreds of thousands of hard drives storing data. And what they are storing is basically any communication that traverses through US networks. And what that means they are not spying on individuals based on a warrant anymore. They just spy on everybody, permanently, all the time. And what that means for you and for anybody is that if you are ever a target of any kind of investigation, or someone has a political agenda against you, or a prosecutor doesn’t like you, or the police wants to interpret something in a way to get you in trouble — they can use all that data, go through it with a comb and find things even though we think we have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong. They will find something that they can nail you with and that’s why it’s wrong to have these kinds of privacy abuses, and I decided to create a solution that overtime will encrypt more and more of the internet. So we start with files, we will then move to emails, and then move to Voice-Over-IP communication. And our API [Application Programming Interface] is available to any third-party developer to also create their own tools. And my goal is, within the next five years, I want to encrypt half of the Internet. Just reestablish a balance between a person — an individual — and the state. Because right now, we are living very close to this vision of George Orwell and I think it’s not the right way. It’s the wrong path that the government is on, thinking that they can spy on everybody.
Actors in police costume mock-arrest Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (C), as he launches his new file sharing site "Mega" in Auckland January 20, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Marple)
RT: Long before Megaupload was ever taken down, the Justice Department was looking into Ninja Video and you actually cooperated with them. People want to know: how is Kim Dotcom, this guy who is incredibly against Washington and hates everything that they’ve done to him, how is this same guy also helping out the Justice Department?
KD: Let me explain to you how this worked, okay? I was a good corporate citizen. My company was abiding to the laws. If we get a search warrant or we get a request by the government to assist in an investigation, we will comply and we have always complied. And that is the right thing to do, because if someone uploads child pornography or someone uploads terrorist stuff or anything that is a serious crime, of course we are there to help. This is our obligation. And I am not for copyright infringement. People need to understand that. I’m against copyright infringement. But I’m also against copyright extremism. And I’m against a business model: the one from Hollywood that encourages piracy. Megaupload is not responsible for the piracy problem, you see? It’s the Hollywood studios that release a movie in the US, and then six months later in other parts of the world. And everyone knows that the movie is out there and fans of a particular actress want to have it right now, but they are not giving them any opportunity to get access to that content even though they are willing to pay. And they are looking for alternatives on the Internet, and then they find them. They are trying to make me responsible for their lack of ability to adapt to a new reality, which is the Internet, where everything happens now. It doesn’t happen three months later. Imagine you go to Wikipedia. You want to find something, research an article, and they tell you to come back in three months, ‘We’ll give it to you then.’ If you find another site where you can get it right now, that’s where you go, right? So it’s really their business model that is responsible for this issue. And if they don’t adopt, they will be left behind on this side of the road of history like many others who haven’t adopted in the past.
Photo by Andrew Blake
'I’m not Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz is my hero. He was selfless'
RT: What about your skeptics who point out this big playboy lifestyle and this giant, elaborate house and say ‘He’s not worried about Internet freedoms, he’s just worried about protecting his profits’?
KD: Let me be clear: I am a businessman, okay? I started Megaupload as a business to make money. I wanted to list the company. I am an entrepreneur, alright? I’m not Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz is my hero. He was selfless. He is completely the opposite of me, but I’m a businessman. I’m driven by the success of achieving something in the business world. That’s not a crime. There is nothing wrong with that. And if you create something that is popular and that people want to use, you automatically make money. And I’ve always been an innovator. I’ve always created products that people like. And that’s why I’m successful. I’m not successful because people have used Megaupload for copyright infringement. And what everyone needs to understand [is] there have been massive amounts of legitimate users on Megaupload. We don’t believe that 50 million users a day are all just transferring piracy. That’s wrong. A lot of people have used it to back up their data, to send a file quickly to a friend. Young artists have used it to get traction, to get downloads, to get known. There was a lot of legitimate use on Megaupload. It’s a dual-use technology, just like the Internet. You can go to any ISP right now, anyone who connects customers to the Internet. And if they are honest to you and you ask them the question ‘How much of your traffic is peer-to-peer piracy?’ anyone who will tell you less than 50 percent is lying to your face. This is a problem of the Internet and not Megaupload.
RT: If you weren’t doing Mega, or Megaupload, what would you be doing? Here’s this businessman who strives to accomplish success. What would you be doing?
KD: I would probably build spaceships and we would probably already be on Mars.
Photo by Andrew Blake
RT: What happens next, though? What are the chances of Mega being shut down. We already saw that radio stations were pulling ads.
KD: The content industry is still very emotional about us.We bought radio ads with one of the major networks here for eight radio stations. Very funny, very cool ads, promoting our service as a privacy service. And the labels called up the radio station, and one advertiser who is in the movie business called up the radio station, and demanded those adds to be taken down or else they will not buy ads from them anymore. And they were forced because they rely, of course, on that advertisement. My campaign was comparably small to the amount that they are sending. So they used their power to interfere in our right to have a media campaign, an ad campaign. And that just shows you that attitude. It’s against the law. They can’t do that. That’s interfering in our business and they have done that many times in the past. Calling payment processors, calling advertisers, telling them, ‘I don’t want you to work with these guys.’ That’s just wrong. If you have an issue with us, go hire a lawyer, sue us, take us to court and then see if you have anything that will give you a judgment against us. But instead, they use that power and their money to get new laws made for them, to lobby politicians, to get the White House to come here and destroy our lives. Destroy 220 jobs. Hardworking innocent people and they don’t give a damn about that. They had an agenda that is about more control over the Internet. And they made a strategic decision to say ‘Who are we going to take out to send a strong message?’ And I was the one.
Photo by Andrew Blake
"If they come to attack us, it’s just going to backfire"
RT: But what happens if Mega is shut down? You are only on day one right now. How long is it going to take before the government steps up again and what are you going to do if that happens? Are you prepared to just start all over again? It’s been one year and here you are, doing this over again, what happens when Uncle Sam puts his foot down and grinds you into the dirt again? Do you get back up?
KD: Here is the thing. This startup is probably the most scrutinized when it comes to legal advice. Every single aspect of it has been under the looking glass by our legal team. So we are confident that it’s fully compliant with the law, and if they come to attack us it’s just going to backfire. Exactly like the Megaupload case did. The shutdown of our site backfired already, massively. And it’s just going to get worse for them. If they think they can pursue this and get away with this, they are dead wrong. Because the society is not on their side. Everyone who uses the Internet knows what’s going on here. They don’t like what’s going on here. They saw it with SOPA and you will see it with our case. People will come together and fight this kind of aggression against innovation and Internet freedom.
Photo by Andrew Blake
"We are all the little puppets that they think they can kick around"
RT: After Megaupload was shut down by the FBI last year, hacktivist with the movement Anonymous retaliated, so to speak. In response, they went and took down the websites for the FBI, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Department of Justice, the Recording Industry Association of America. All of these organizations were shut down by Anonymous in response to what they did to you. These were people who you never met but were so moved by what happened that they had to stand up and do something. Did you ever thank them, and how did you take it? How did you respond to their reaction?
KD: It’s a kind of virtual protest, you know? I think it’s not a good idea to shut down websites. I’ve been a hacker myself. I understand why they are doing it and how they are doing it, but I think there are better ways to protest. Where you organize yourself in a group and do petitions and actually email congressmen, email your local politicians, let them know about what you don’t like. Organize your movement rather than attacking. I had a sense of understanding for them because everyone had stored so much data on Megaupload, and then all of a sudden a site like that disappears and billions of files are taken offline, the majority of them perfectly legitimate. You need to understand one thing: 50 percent of all files that were ever uploaded to Megaupload have not even been downloaded once. That clearly shows the non-infringing use. People just wanted to store their stuff on our site. And of course they were outraged when that disappeared and the government said, ‘We don’t give a care and we don’t give a damn about you people. We don’t care that you have your personal documents there because we have our agenda and we are going to take over the Internet.’ And you know the White House was supporting SOPA, and only when the masses came together — and Aaron Swartz: he stopped SOPA. With his efforts, he stopped SOPA. And he became a target. A political target, okay? And that’s why all these things happened to him. There is no reasonable cause behind going after a young genius like that in the fashion they did. It’s political. Because the White House wanted SOPA. They promised it to Hollywood and they failed and they couldn’t go ahead because the White House was afraid if they keep pushing hard and they keep pushing it forward, that the people who oppose it are not going to vote for Obama in the reelection campaign. So it’s all a game to them really and we are all the little puppets that they think they can kick around. So we need to organize. There needs to be a movement that identifies these things and fights that. Not with shutting down websites but with real protests. Going out on the streets, writing to politicians and especially, most importantly, don’t vote for the guys that are against Internet freedom. Anyone who voted for SOPA, you should have a close look at that guy. Do I want to give him my vote next time around? Because that’s the only language politicians understand is your vote. And if you can bring all these votes together, somehow pooled for Internet freedom, you will see all these efforts disappear. Because at the end of the day, they represent the public. Politicians represent the public. And when they have enough pressure they can’t move forward. And SOPA was the best example for that.
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You can also add to that ten million, countless others whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit, which did not rely on the military to bomb peoples and countries into submission but on the IMF, World Bank and WTO. It begs the question how many lives have been cut short across the world because of the inherent structural violence or silent killing of the everyday functioning of predatory capitalism?
Peddling their high salaried deceptions, they have failed and continue to fail the public and genuinely hold power to account. By shining their ‘investigative’ light on ‘parliamentary procedures’, personalities, the rubber stamping of policies and the inane machinations of party politics, they merely serve to maintain and perpetuate the status quo and keep the public in the dark as to the unaccountable self-serving nature of power broking and the unity ofinterests that enable Big Oil, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Agra and the rest of them via their secretive think tanks and policy initiatives to keep bleeding us all dry.
But that’s the role of the media: to help reinforce and reproduce the material conditions of a divisive social system on a daily basis. It’s called having a compliant, toothless media. It’s what the corporate media itself calls part of ‘liberal democracy’. And in this type of 'liberal democracy', it is people like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange who expose the wrongdoings of the political-corporate elites that are hounded.
MI5 targeted labour correspondents in both newspapers and broadcasting right up to the 80s; they were recruited in droves for their contacts with a wide range of trade union officials and with each other. According to Peter Wright, MI5 always had about twenty senior journalists working for it in the national press. “They were not employed directly by us, but we regarded them as agents because they were happy to be associated with us.”
At the BBC, Brigadier Ronald Stonham liaised with MI5 and Special Branch and advised the corporation on whether or not to employ people. Names of applicants for editorial posts in the BBC were similarly ‘vetted’ by MI5.
“There should be times when the journalist, when he’s examined all the facts and tested all his sources, should come down on the side of the government of the day, the established order and the Establishment as a whole.” - Chairman of the Radio Authority
“We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths… but if we have a highly-educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious conflict. People must be educated to once more know their place.” – from a secret Department of Education Report.
Yet it is Washington that accuses Moscow of invading Ukraine, of having had a hand in the downing of a commercial airliner and of ‘invading’ Ukraine based on no evidence at all – trial by media courtesy of Washington’s PR machine. As a result of this Russian ‘aggression’, Washington slapped sanctions on Moscow.
The mainstream corporate media in the West parrots the accusations against Moscow as fact, despite Washington having cooked up evidence or invented baseless pretexts. As with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and other ‘interventions’ that have left a trail of death and devastation in their wake, the Western corporate media’s role is to act as cheerleader for official policies and US-led wars of terror.
The reality is that the US has around 800 military bases in over 100 countries and military personnel in almost 150 countries. US spending on its military dwarfs what the rest of the world spends together. It outspends China by a ratio of 6:1.
What does the corporate media say about this? That the US is a ‘force for good’ and constitutes the ‘world’s policeman’ - not a calculating empire underpinned by militarism.
By the 1980s, Washington’s wars, death squads and covert operations were responsible for six million deaths in the ‘developing’ world. An updated figure suggests that figure is closer to ten million.
Breaking previous agreements made with Russia/the USSR, over the past two decades the US and NATO has moved into Eastern Europe and continues to encircle Russia and install missile systems aimed at it. It has also surrounded Iran with military bases. It is destabilising Pakistan and ‘intervening’ in countries across Africa to weaken Chinese trade and investment links and influence. It intends to eventually militarily ‘pivot’ towards Asia to encircle China.
William Blum has presented a long list of Washington’s crimes across the planet since 1945 in terms of its numerous bombings of countries, assassinations of elected leaders and destabilisations. No other country comes close to matching the scale of such criminality. Under the smokescreen of exporting ‘freedom and democracy’, the US has deemed it necessary to ignore international laws and carry out atrocities to further its geo-political interests across the globe.
Writing on AlterNet.org, Nicolas JS Davies says of William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II: if you're looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, ‘Killing Hope’ will provide it.
Davies argues that the title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011).
The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) is a recipe for more of the same. The ultimate goal, based on the ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine, is to prevent any rival emerging to challenge Washington’s global hegemony and to secure dominance over the entire planet. Washington’s game plan for Russia is to destroy is as a functioning state or to permanently weaken it so it submits to US hegemony. While the mainstream media in the West set out to revive the Cold War mentality and demonise Russia, Washington believes it can actually win a nuclear conflict with Russia. It no longer regards nuclear weapons as a last resort but part of a conventional theatre of war and is willing to use them for pre-emptive strikes.
Washington is accusing Russia of violating Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, while the US has its military, mercenary and intelligence personnel inside Ukraine. It is moreover putting troops in Poland, engaging in ‘war games’ close to Russia and has pushed through a ‘Russian anti-aggression’ act that portrays Russia as an aggressor in order to give Ukraine de facto membership of NATO and thus full military support, advice and assistance.
Washington presses ahead regardless as Russia begins to undermine dollar hegemony by trading oil and gas and goods in rubles and other currencies. And history shows that whenever a country threatens the dollar, the US does not idly stand by.
Unfortunately, most members of the Western public believe the lies being fed to them. This results from the corporate media amounting to little more than an extension of Washington’s propaganda arm. The PNAC, under the pretext of some bogus ‘war on terror’, is partly built on gullible, easily led public opinion, which is fanned by emotive outbursts from politicians and the media. We have a Pavlov’s dog public and media, which respond on cue to the moralistic bleating of politicians who rely on the public’s ignorance to facilitate war and conflict.
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst has spoken about the merits of the Kiev coup and the installation of an illegitimate government in Ukraine. Last year, he called the violent removal of Ukraine’s democratically elected government as enhancing democracy. Herbst displayed all of the arrogance associated with the ideology of US ‘exceptionalism’. He also displayed complete contempt for the public by spouting falsehoods and misleading claims about events taking place in Ukraine.
"We are now faced with a Russian leader bent not on joining the international rules-based system which keeps the peace between nations, but on subverting it… We are in familiar territory for anyone over the age of about 50, with Russia's aggressive behaviour a stark reminder it has the potential to pose the single greatest threat to our security... Russia's aggressive behaviour a stark reminder it has the potential to pose the single greatest threat to our security."
In a speech that could have come straight from the pen of some war mongering US neocon, the US’s toy monkey Hammond beats on cue the drum that signals Britain’s willingness to fall in line and verbally attack Putin for not acquiescing to US global hegemonic aims.
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“We can draw many very good lessons from the early period of the Industrial Revolution… independent farmers were being driven into the industrial system. Men and women… bitterly resented it… The people driven into the industrial system regarded it as an attack on their personal dignity, on their rights as human beings. They were free human beings being forced into what they called ‘wage labor,’ which they regarded as not very different from chattel slavery.” 
A similar process is occurring in many countries today and is underpinned by an arrogance that privileges the dominant mode of ‘development’ over indigenous knowledge and practices that have by and large allowed people to live sustainably with nature and the environment for thousands of years. Chomsky says:
“This is the first time in human history that we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for decent survival. It is already happening. Look at species destruction. It is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth, ended the period of the dinosaurs and wiped out a huge number of species. It is the same level today. And we are the asteroid… There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe. There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations - the First Nations in
, the aboriginals in Canada , the tribal people in Australia . Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.” India
“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric - a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” 
“Key sectors – traditionally held to be the preserve of the state – such as ports, roads, rail and power have been handed over to corporate capital. This has meant, inevitably, that the government has abdicated all decision making powers, as well as functional and financial control over such projects. Nowhere else in the country has this abdication of responsibility been so total, nowhere else has the state given over the economy so entirely to the corporates and private investors.” (13)
“Since the cross-ownership of businesses is not restricted by the ‘gush-up gospel’ rules, the more you have, the more you can have... corporations buy politicians, judges, bureaucrats and media houses, hollowing out democracy, retaining only its rituals. Huge reserves of bauxite, iron ore, oil and natural gas worth trillions of dollars were sold to corporations for a pittance, defying even the twisted logic of the free market... leading to the siphoning off of billions of dollars of public money. Then there’s the land grab – the forced displacement of communities, of millions of people whose lands are being appropriated by the state and handed to private enterprise.” Arundhati Roy (20).
A petition to the President and the Attorney General has just been posted by several organizations, including one I work for, asking that the Department of Justice stop threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with prison if he refuses to reveal a confidential source.
This story, among other stunning features, I think, threatens to expose an unknown known of the highest magnitude -- by which I mean, not something lying outside Donald Rumsfeld's imagination, but something that everyone paying attention has known all about for years but which would explode the brains of most consumers of corporate media if they ever heard about it.
Here's a great summary of the matter at the Progressive. The focus there and in the petition is on the threat to freedom of the press. But read this offhand bit of the explanation carefully:
"The information concerns a source for a chapter in Risen’s terrific 2006 book, 'State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.' That chapter dealt with a scheme to give the Iranians faulty blueprints for a nuclear weapon."
Not only is the Justice Department (universally understood to take its orders from the White House) trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source, but it's trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source who told him that the United States gave Iran plans for building a nuclear bomb.
Imagine if the general public had a clue that this had happened!
Rather than reporter, I should probably be saying author. And I should stop attaching the insulting modifier "New York Times" in front of "reporter". Because this was a story published in a book. The same book included several interesting stories that I don't think ever made it into major media outlets.
One exception was a story about NSA mass-surveillance. The New York Times had sat on that story for over a year and explained that failure as a desire not to inform the public of what its government was up to prior to an election (the 2004 election). When the book came out, the New York Times finally reported the story. But if the Times or other outlets have informed the public that the CIA gave Iran nuke plans, I've missed it. This shocker certainly has not been extensively covered.
The genius plan was to give Iran nuclear bomb plans with some little portion altered. But reportedly it was quite clear to scientists -- yes, even in Iran they have scientists -- which bit had been altered.
The result was not the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb program. As Gareth Porter's new book documents in detail, Iran has never had a nuclear bomb program, and we've simply been lied to about that fact for 35 years.
But, here's the point: if your Uncle Homer knew the sort of moron stunts the CIA was engaged in with a nation marketed for 35 years as a force of evil, the result would out-do by far the outrage heard last summer when Obama and Kerry proposed joining a war in Syria on the side of al Qaeda (which everyone had been told was Evil Inc. up to that moment).
Don't Obama and Holder risk bringing more attention to this lunacy by prosecuting James Risen? Can they really trust the Press Corpse (sic) to bury the substance of the story?
More to the point: Will we let them? Please sign the petition to the President and the Attorney General.
More Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington. We’re five years into a so-called recovery that’s been a bonanza for the rich but a bust for the middle class. “The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Which is fueling a new populism on both the left and the right. While still far apart, neo-populists on both sides are bending toward one another and against the establishment.
Who made the following comments? (Hint: Not Warren, and not Bernie Sanders.)
A. We “cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street.”
B. “The rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy…”
C. “If you come to Washington and serve in Congress, there should be a lifetime ban on lobbying.”
D. “Washington promoted moral hazard by protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized profits and socialized losses.”
E. “When you had the chance to stand up for Americans’ privacy, did you?”
F. “The people who wake up at night thinking of which new country they want to bomb, which new country they want to be involved in, they don’t like restraint. They don’t like reluctance to go to war.”
You might doubt the sincerity behind some of these statements, but they wouldn’t have been uttered if the crowds didn’t respond enthusiastically – and that’s the point. Republican populism is growing, as is the Democratic version, because the public wants it.
And it’s not only the rhetoric that’s converging. Populists on the right and left are also coming together around six principles:
1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they’re no longer too big to fail. Left populists have been advocating this since the Street’s bailout now they’re being joined by populists on the right. David Camp, House Ways and Means Committee chair, recently proposed an extra 3.5 percent quarterly tax on the assets of the biggest Wall Street banks (giving them an incentive to trim down). Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter wants to break up the big banks, as does conservative pundit George Will. “There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street,” says Rand Paul.
2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking and thereby preventing companies from gambling with their depositors’ money. Elizabeth Warren has introduced such legislation, and John McCain co-sponsored it. Tea Partiers are strongly supportive, and critical of establishment Republicans for not getting behind it. “It is disappointing that progressive collectivists are leading the effort for a return to a law that served well for decades,” writes the Tea Party Tribune. “Of course, the establishment political class would never admit that their financial donors and patrons must hinder their unbridled trading strategies.”
3. End corporate welfare – including subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, big pharma, Wall Street, and the Ex-Im Bank. Populists on the left have long been urging this; right-wing populists are joining in. Republican David Camp’s proposed tax reforms would kill dozens of targeted tax breaks. Says Ted Cruz: “We need to eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism.”
4. Stop the National Security Agency from spying on Americans. Bernie Sanders and other populists on the left have led this charge but right-wing populists are close behind. House Republican Justin Amash’s amendment, that would have defunded NSA programs engaging in bulk-data collection, garnered 111 Democrats and 94 Republicans last year, highlighting the new populist divide in both parties. Rand Paul could be channeling Sanders when he warns: “Your rights, especially your right to privacy, is under assault… if you own a cellphone, you’re under surveillance.”
5. Scale back American interventions overseas. Populists on the left have long been uncomfortable with American forays overseas. Rand Paul is leaning in the same direction. Paul also tends toward conspiratorial views about American interventionism. Shortly before he took office he was caught on video claiming that former vice president Dick Cheney pushed the Iraq War because of his ties to Halliburton.
6. Oppose trade agreements crafted by big corporations. Two decades ago Democrats and Republicans enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then populists in both parties have mounted increasing opposition to such agreements. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, drafted in secret by a handful of major corporations, is facing so strong a backlash from both Democrats and tea party Republicans that it’s nearly dead. “The Tea Party movement does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” says Judson Philips, president of Tea Party Nation. “Special interest and big corporations are being given a seat at the table” while average Americans are excluded.
Left and right-wing populists remain deeply divided over the role of government. Even so, the major fault line in American politics seems to be shifting, from Democrat versus Republican, to populist versus establishment — those who think the game is rigged versus those who do the rigging.
In this month’s Republican primaries, tea partiers continue their battle against establishment Republicans. But the major test will be 2016 when both parties pick their presidential candidates.
Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are already vying to take on Republican establishment favorites Jeb Bush or Chris Christie. Elizabeth Warren says she won’t run in the Democratic primaries, presumably against Hillary Clinton, but rumors abound. Bernie Sanders hints he might.
Wall Street and big business Republicans are already signaling they’d prefer a Democratic establishment candidate over a Republican populist.
Dozens of major GOP donors, Wall Street Republicans, and corporate lobbyists have told Politico that if Jeb Bush decides against running and Chris Christie doesn’t recover politically, they’ll support Hillary Clinton. “The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas or Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would be Clinton,” concludes Politico.
Says a top Republican-leaning Wall Street lawyer, “it’s Rand Paul or Ted Cruz versus someone like Elizabeth Warren that would be everybody’s worst nightmare.”
Everybody on Wall Street and in corporate suites, that is. And the “nightmare” may not occur in 2016. But if current trends continue, some similar “nightmare” is likely within the decade. If the American establishment wants to remain the establishment it will need to respond to the anxiety that’s fueling the new populism rather than fight it.