By Kenneth J. Theisen
This week the Washington Post has been running a series of articles entitled “Top Secret America” The series is an investigation into the extensive growth of the U.S. government's massive spy network in the wake of 9/11.
For those of us who have been paying attention, the report comes as no surprise. World Can’t Wait has been reporting on this vast growth in the national security state since our inception, and I and other writers on this site have written many articles on the subject.
Even before 9/11 the U.S. had the largest spy establishment in the world, with agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, the FBI, and the various military branch intelligence agencies spending tens of billions of dollars per year in spying on the world and its people. But 9/11 unleashed the government to greatly increase the massive spying on all of us.
The intelligence budget is now 2 ½ times that of the budget on September 11, 2001. Today the government spies on and collects virtually all electronic communications, including emails, phone calls, financial records, etc. in a vast data mining operation that makes the fiction of George Orwell look trivial in comparison. Most of this is still secret from the public even after the publication of articles such as those in the Washington Post. The government has created a surveillance industrial complex where it not only utilizes its own personnel, but also uses private contractors or even your own phone company or internet service provider to help spy on you.
The Post pieces reveal that the U.S. has a network of secret government agencies with a budget of at least $75 billion that is conducting massive surveillance all over the world, including here in the U.S. Just consider some of the facts revealed in the Post articles to comprehend how massive this “secret” enterprise is.
There are over 1200 government organizations and over 1900 private companies now engaged in work on counterterrorism, “homeland security,” and intelligence. They operate out of over 10,000 locations throughout the nation. Approximately 2/3rds of the intelligence programs are under the Department of Defense. Each day the NSA collects 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other communications. And the NSA is only one of over a thousand of the government agencies collecting data on you.
And all this information goes into reports. Intelligence analysts publish some 50,000 intelligence reports each year. The Post article reveals that the government collects so much information that it is hard for the intelligence agencies or the military to make adequate use of the data collected. For me this is not a bad thing, as we need to consider why the government conducts this massive spying. Despite the propaganda of the government and its supporters, it is not to make you and your family safer from terrorists. The purpose is to protect and expand the U.S. imperialist empire.
The “intelligence” is used to prosecute the U.S. war of terror against the world. It is used to program missiles so that they can kill people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, the Sudan and many other countries where the U.S. military operates. It is used to keep an eye on dissidents here at home and abroad that may inhibit the crimes of the U.S. government. It is used to intimidate people around the world by creating watch lists for travel and for the use of the financial system. It is used to track what books you buy or read.
It is used to track donations to groups such as World Can’t Wait and others who oppose the crimes of the U.S. It is utilized to compose lists of those who will be rounded up in the event that U.S. imperialism needs to stop dissent from challenging its current and future crimes. In short, none of this intelligence benefits the masses of people in the world, but is instead used to support the empire that preys on the people of the world.
Yes, as the Post points out, this intelligence network wastes taxpayer money. Yes, it is redundant and incompetent on many levels. But our job is not to make it more cost effective or more efficient. We have to expose the real purposes of why the government is engaged in such a massive surveillance effort. And we need to oppose the massive spying as the crime that it is, but also how this crime furthers many of the other crimes of this empire, such as imperialist wars and the creation of a massive prison system used to incarcerate and torture those who resist the crimes of empire.
We also need to expose the role of congress and the Obama administration in these crimes. Laws like the PATRIOT Act and other “national security” legislation were passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by a compliant congress which made the creation of the spy network possible. The public was often told that these measures were temporary to deal with the emergency threat. But the draconian laws continue. Obama himself, while a senator, voted for much of this and helped extend these laws. As president he has signed other national security laws that extend the government’s powers to spy on us. Yes, the Bush regime started all this, but the Obama administration is continuing and expanding it. Massive spying has been “legalized” on Obama’s watch and with a Democrat majority in congress. Those who voted for change should know this and reject and oppose these actions.