Homeland Security magazine, edited by Dan Verton, had an interesting piece on the issue of domestic drones the other day. It mentioned that lower level grass roots opposition had canceled a police drone program in Seattle.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Feb. 6, announced the cancellation of the Seattle Police Department’s controversial surveillance drone program after citizens and civil liberties groups voiced concerns about privacy.
McGinn joins a growing list of state and local officials who are buckling under extreme pressure from their constituents and privacy advocates who argue that police departments are moving too far, too fast, on drone deployments without concrete policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy of law-abiding citizens.
State legislatures around the country are also stepping up activities designed to limit or ban the use of domestic surveillance drones. To date, Florida, Maine, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia have introduced anti-drone bills.
Domestic drones are financed by block grants from the Department of Homeland Security. They are part of a much larger phenomenon, one which has seen national taxpayer dollars pay for the military weaponization of small local police forces.
Locally, a good example was the acquisition of an armored car last year by the South Pasadena police force.
All the hardware, drones now included, becomes appealing to police forces because it appears free. That is, the cost is distributed over the entire population. Like food stamps, only the dollars spent on drones aren’t funneled back into the community as food buys at the local markets.
“It’s a dynamic situation that is subject to change,” said Aftergood. “Industry clearly had a head start, with strong support in Congress and a rosy view of the future full of potential applications for unmanned aerial systems. But privacy values are deeply rooted in society and will have to be addressed by all parties. The debate cannot be avoided indefinitely. It needs to be engaged directly.”
Aftergood is correct. There does need to be a debate and there is already a groundswell of noise on the matter.
However, it comes from all the sources the US government ignores. And nothing good will happen until major news sources start covering drones without just going to the usual experts, chosen from defense think tanks, whose job it is to be fuglemen – wingmen — for whatever the national security machine is pushing.
The argument presented by the side of evil, the forces recommending more and more drones, is one in which they are presented as great and inexorable technological advances, things which make war less bloody.
The technology is not spectacular. And the argument obfuscates by not framing it within an expanded context of American and global reality.
This expanded view recognizes that that the US government/military has moved to take on the role of prosecuting special operations against whomever it thinks necessary in all the desperate and poor corners of the world. War on terror is the rationalization.
This has nothing to do with technology. It is to keep the industries of war moving. It is also is linked to a meme which has become pernicious received wisdom: Technology has advanced so far, the little tribes of really poor people, even single individuals, can develop weapons of mass destruction.
I’ve spent close to a decade as something called a Senior Fellow for GlobalSecurity.Org arguing that’s not true, that it’s a construct that has been passed off because it’s a semantic weapon for the national security industry, one used to steamroll thoughtful discussion.
Drones don’t operate in an environment where the purported adversary has any equivalent technology, or usually, even much of an infrastructure. They are used against populations that cannot mount a conventional defense because they are destitute. Or, as in Pakistan where an air defense could perhaps, theoretically, be mounted, allowed by bribing the government into non-interference over the regions of the poorest with weapon sales and cash assistance.
There is a moral issue in that and the United States is not on the right side of it.
I wrote above that the “debate” on drones has not been such a thing. It is not hard to find dismay and counterargument at the grass roots level.
However, the formal “debate,” what little there is of it, is dominated by the hand puppets of the American government and national security apparatus.
Read an absolutely amazing article today. Entitled “Droning on about Drones,” it was published in the online version of Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper, and written by one Michael Kugelman, identified as the Senior Program Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.
In this piece, the author’s thesis is that all this fuss about America’s drone policy is overdone and perhaps a little hysterical. Yes, he admits, there are some figures that suggest that as many as 900 civilians have been killed in drone strikes between 2004 and 2013. But, he notes, that only averages out to about 100 civilians a year. Apparently, we need to put that number in perspective:
“Now let’s consider some very different types of statistics.”In 2012, measles killed 210 children in Sindh. Karachiites staged numerous anti-drones protests last year, but I don’t recall them holding any rallies to highlight a scourge that was twice as deadly for their province’s kids than drone strikes were for Pakistani civilians.”Nor do I recall any mass action centered around unsafe water. More people in Karachi die each month from contaminated water than have been killed by India’s army since 1947 . . . 630 Pakistani children die from water-borne illness every day (that’s more than three times the total number of Pakistani children the BIJ believes have died from drone strikes since 2004).”
Adds Taibbi: “So there it is, folks. Welcome to the honor of American citizenship. Should we replace E Pluribus Unum with We Don’t Kill as Many Children as Measles? Of course people aren’t mad about bombs being dropped on them from space without reason; they’re mad because anti-Americanism is alluring!”
There’s nothing to add.
Well, there is actually. You can expand the argument to justify drone use just about everywhere in the impoverished world.
Malaria kills [five figures] each year [some country in Africa. Drones, by contrast, have only killed 140.
Roll your own, arguing drone fatalities as something less horrid than many of the world’s most famous diseases. And therefore OK.
Morgan Gliedman, 27, and Aaron Greene, 31, were arrested Saturday in their Manhattan apartment after officers with a search warrant found 7 grams of HMTD, a highly explosive white powder used in bomb making. Police also seized a flare launcher, a sawed-off shotgun, nine rifle magazines and various how-to manuals on building bombs and booby traps.
“They had a terrorist encyclopedia, they had improvised and modified firearms, deadly homemade weapons, a do it yourself machine gun…” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday.
Kelly was unsure how much damage 7 grams of HMTD would cause.
HMTD is homemade explosive similar to TATP, the latter made with hydrogen peroxide and other fairly easily available ingredients. TATP caused a furor in homeland security for a few years even though no terrorists were successful with it in the US. (The Zazi case being the big example.)
The police had the apartment building evacuated. Seven grams of HMTD is not a threat to such a structure.
The preliminary report asserts the couple were heroin users.
What’s worth remembering goes a little deeper than what Americans are comfortable with.
It put the country into a war with the Axis Powers, Japan and Germany (and Il Duce’s Italy), the first two countries possessing militaries that could smash American forces.
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the most powerful naval force in the world on December 7th. And it would remain a dangerous and formidable foe for years.
Even after Midway, the Japanese fleet still had nasty surprises in store for American fighting men. In August of 1942, a Japanese heavy cruiser force utterly destroyed a US cruiser force off Guadalcanal in the Battle of Savo Island. It was the worst surface action group defeat this country has ever suffered.
The Japanese Navy fought at night, had deadly destroyer-launched torpedo tactics, and at Savo achieved complete tactical surprise.
James Hornfischer’s Neptune’s Inferno chronicles that battle and many others off Guadalcanal and in the Solomon’s at a time during the war when US fighting men often went into action out gunned, frequently with the expectation that they would die at the hands of the Japanese.
Today, all that’s lost in the memorial of December 7. To Americans it’s a day when the Japanese sneak attacked the US Navy, achieving a victory that’s flamingly chronicled in old movies.
And then we joined the war, kicked their asses and dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yaaaay!
It’s transformed into another ritual reference with virtually no meaning, particularly when contrasted with the country’s current relationship with its military.
The US military is the most powerful in world history and it never goes into action expecting to lose. And in the last twelve years it has never faced a capable opponent. Not even close.
It exists, and does its thing, whatever the current political leadership asks. This has no linkage relationship with what the US, and everyone, had to do in WWII in cooperating to destroy the Axis powers and preserve freedom in the west. Anyone who believes differently is a fool and insulting to history.
So over the weekend I read All In, Paula Broadwell’s slobberific biography of General David Petraeus. It was nothing special, just a typically crappy piece of fawning, noncritical journalism …
You can pretty much guess the rest of the plot from there. Every environment Petraeus enters is instantly bettered by his majestic personage … We see Petraeus giving stirring speeches, working past midnight until aides tear him away from his desk, and stoically receiving compliments from grateful colleagues …
Then it hit me – it was an interesting book, after all! Because if you read All In carefully, the book’s tone will remind you of pretty much any other authorized bio of any major figure in business or politics …
Which means: it’s impossible to tell the difference between the tone of a reporter who we now know was literally sucking the dick of her subject and the tone of just about any other modern American reporter who is given access to a powerful person for a biography or feature-length profile.
Since Petraeus’ departure both Democrats and Republicans have been mourning the loss of a public servant of extraordinary ability … But thanks to our ever-faster cycle of humiliation and rehabilitation, he has already been punished and paroled. It’s time to let Petraeus get back to work.
A public servant of extraordinary ability.
Others might say you could pick just about anyone to continue the bombing campaign executed by CIA drones in Pakistan, Yemen and anywhere else.
The problems facing the country are still very great. What to do about global warming. How should the country be prepared? How can the United States regain world leadership in health care, equality and the general well-being of its citizenry? How can it restore real educational opportunity in an advancing world? How can it restore an economy that works for everyone and dislodge the grip of predatory big business upon national policy-making?
Whether or not David Petraeus is around is not relevant to any of the above.
Petraeus was a big machine among the other big machines prosecuting a decade long war on terror, an adventure built upon many frauds, all created to further war industries, political agendas and replace the one big enemy lost at the end of the Cold War with a new and never-ending one.
Superciliousness is a reasonable reaction. The scandal is a somewhat fortunate convenience in bringing on his retirement.
The Salon piece informs Petraeus already has gained the services of a DC lawyer famous for getting seven digit book contracts for national figures. As is the pattern, the disgraced CEO, or leader of some kind, is given a compensatory reward in gold to see him off.
Over the objections of its authors, the Department of Homeland Security classified a 2007 report from the National Academy of Sciences on the potential vulnerability of the U.S. electric power system until most of it was finally released yesterday.
The report generally concluded, as other reports have, that the electric grid is lacking in resilience and is susceptible to disruption not only from natural disasters but also from deliberate attack.
But even though the report was written for public release, the entire document was classified by DHS and could not be made available for public deliberation. Amazingly, it took five years for the classification decision to be reviewed and reversed …
The report contains no restricted information.
In the aftermath of the Sandy natural disaster, it has again been made obvious to some that the electrical grid can be damaged. And that electrical power, if it is disrupted for a long enough period of time, can result in death or the serious damage to the health of citizens in our modern world, particularly if they are old, sick and dependent on technological services.
For example, from the opening pages of the report:
“If such large [theoretically terrorism-caused] outages were to occur during times of extreme weather, they could also result in hundreds or even thousands of deaths due to heat stress or extended exposure to extreme cold.”
One of the recurring memes of the Cult of Cyberwar is the insistence that the electrical grid can be disrupted with little effort by cyberattack on the infrastructure.
This pernicious meme has created the impression that catastrophically turning off the electricity in parts or all of the United States can be done by many, simply by pushing software buttons from the internet.
The NAS report has this to say on “cyber vulnerability:”
If they could gain access, hackers could manipulate SCADA systems to disrupt the flow of electricity, transmit erroneous signals to operators, block the flow of vital information, or disable protective systems. Cyber attacks are unlikely to cause extended outages, but if well coordinated they could magnify the damage of a physical attack. For example, a cascading outage would be aggravated if operators did not get the information to learn that it had started, or if protective devices were disabled.
That’s about it, essentially.
The report describes the biggest hazard to the electrical grid as physical, not digital.
Physical attacks by terrorists, which are deemed not likely but possible, could — for example — destroy critical high voltage transformers. (The physical failure of such a transformer serving New York City, by Sandy and rising water levels, was recently and repeatedly on television and preserved on YouTube.)
“Although major terrorist organizations have not attacked the US power system, such terrorist attacks have occurred elsewhere in the world,” reads the report. “Simply turning off the power typically does not terrorize people. However, the United States should not ignore that possibility of an attack that turns off the power before staging a large conventional terrorist event, thus amplifying the latter’s consequences.”
The report lists many instances of cascading power failures worldwide.
Interestingly, it mentions the western United States, from 1998 to 2001, was afflicted by “rotating blackouts because of summer prices.”
Two days of rolling blackouts in June 2000 that marked the beginning of California’s energy crisis were directly caused by manipulative energy trading, according to a dozen former traders for Enron and its rivals.
The blackouts left more than 100,000 businesses and residential customers in the dark for parts of two days, trapped people in elevators and shut down some offices of high-tech companies such as Cisco Systems and Apple Computer, as well as chipmaking plants, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue.
The traders said that Enron’s former president, Jeff Skilling, pushed them to “trade aggressively” in California and to do whatever was necessary to take advantage of the state’s wholesale market to boost the price of Enron’s stock .
The NAS report also discusses the risk posed by such insider attacks and malfeasance. It characterizes these attackers as “Participants in power markets seeking a predatory competitive economic advantage by disrupting the operation of other market players …”
An animated version of the fallen US spymaster [David Petraeus] has a part in what is expected to be the top selling video game of the year – freshly-launched military espionage action title Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Petraeus is promoted to US Secretary of Defence in the game, set in a fictional near-future, serving under a woman president who resembles Hillary Clinton …
Players following the game’s main storyline will come upon Petraeus taking custody of a terrorist prisoner on a virtual aircraft carrier called the USS Barack Obama …
Aside from the strategic implications, the Petraeus myth has inflicted a serious human cost. Since the former general’s flawed strategy was applied in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of American service members have paid for it with their lives, limbs, and emotional well-being.
It’s worth noting that when Gen. William Westmoreland told Congress how well the Vietnam War was going in April 1967, he was hailed as a hero and interrupted by applause 19 times. But years later, when an honest evaluation of his performance was made and the truth was laid bare, his name became a byword for military failure.
Before too many more get carried away lauding Petraeus with such superlatives as “one of the great American battlefield commanders,” let’s look at what actually happened in Afghanistan …
There is a very salient difference between Westmoreland and Petraeus. Westmoreland was brought down by the Tet Offensive. The latter was brought down by his penis and a jealous lover.
Which says more about how bad things have turned in this country, along with the annoying fact that more of the country’s citizens play a silly game about special operations in the war on terror than fight in it.
It couldn’t be clearer now that, from the shirtless FBI agent to the “embedded” biographer and the “other other woman,” the “fall” of David Petraeus is playing out as farce of the first order. What’s less obvious is that Petraeus, America’s military golden boy and Caesar of celebrity, was always smoke and mirrors, always the farce, even if the denizens of Washington didn’t know it.
Until recently, here was the open secret of Petraeus’s life: he may not have understood Iraqis or Afghans, but no military man in generations more intuitively grasped how to flatter and charm American reporters, pundits, and politicians into praising him. This was, after all, the general who got his first Newsweek cover (“Can This Man Save Iraq?”) in 2004 while he was making a mess of a training program for Iraqi security forces, and two more before that magazine, too, took the fall. In 2007, he was a runner-up to Vladimir Putin for TIME’s “Person of the Year.” And long before Paula Broadwell’s aptly named biography, All In, was published to hosannas from the usual elite crew, that was par for the course.
“A physical fitness buff, Petraeus was accidentally shot in the chest at the firing range in Fort Campbell in 1991. His surgeon was Bill Frist . . . –Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
“He’s a fitness fanatic, a PhD in international relations from Princeton, an expert on counterinsurgency tactics and known for his ambition …” –Toronto Globe and Mail
“Petraeus, a counterinsurgency expert and an intensely competitive fitness nut …” –Slate
Lickspittle and bootlicking
“IT WAS A different war back in November 2003 … Petraeus’s office was 100 percent USA, with its military issue desk, topography maps, and his battle gear — a vest, helmet, and boots — mounted on a wooden cross and standing at the ready. His running shoes — Petraeus is a marathon runner — were neatly placed in a corner.
“And in the months that followed the invasion, Petraeus, armed with his Princeton doctorate and his reputation as a ‘warrior scholar,’ was credited with finding perhaps the best balance of hard and soft power in Iraq … Petraeus found a way to use his new assignment — and his intellect — to influence events on the ground despite being stationed in Kansas. –Charles M. Sennott, the Boston Globe
Compared to T.E. Lawrence, Robert E. Lee, Obi Wan Kenobi and Steven Jobs.
“[Petraeus] looks more like the real Colonel T. E. Lawrence, not the too-beautiful version played by Peter O’Toole in the movies. Like Lawrence, Petraeus is a little bit on the plain side, and he’s short like Lawrence, with the slightly stooped posture of a hardcore long-distance runner who simply can’t give it up despite his fifty-three years… A Washington Post article in November 2005 described Petraeus’s recall from Iraq as akin to Jefferson Davis deciding to pull General Robert E. Lee from the field of battle early in the Civil War…[Petraeus presided] over the Jedi Knights, which is the nickname given to the students of the college’s elite School of Advanced Military Studies—sort of the Army’s version of Top Gun. These are the guys whom the generals turn to when they want to take down some Death Star.” –Esquire
“By naming Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus as the top American military commander in Iraq, President Bush has done roughly what Apple Computer’s board of directors did when they brought back Steve Jobs in 1996: turned to a popular figure with a reputation for brilliant innovation to solve seemingly intractable problems.” –San Francisco Chronicle
PowerPoint slides of wisdom
“And so Petraeus also has his own version of [T.E. Lawrence's] Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which in his case number thirteen. It’s a simple PowerPoint package of thirteen slides of lessons learned in the war.” –Esquire, again
A brilliant scholar. Did we say brilliant enough times? Well, he’s brilliant!
“Petraeus is regarded as an incisive leader and a ‘warrior-scholar.’ The 1974 West Point graduate also has a doctorate from Princeton University.” –CNN
“You see, David Petraeus is one of a rare breed of senior scholar-soldiers who knows—and can convince others, drawing on extensive historical facts…” –Family Security Matters
“Petraeus is a Warrior/Scholar in the classic tradition…” –typical random dimwit at a newspaper, the name of which I forgot to jot down
“There is no question that General Petraeus, your new military commander in Iraq, is a brilliant scholar and military mind … ” –Westwood Press
“David Petraeus. This man is probably the most brilliant person in uniform, genius IQ and Ph.D. from Princeton.” –Bloomington Pantagraph
“Members of his staff, that I know, say that he is the most brilliant man they know…” –The American Thinker
“Petraeus truly is a brilliant talent…” –The One Republic
“A guy like Petraeus is so ferociously creative and brilliant, sometimes that makes the buttoned-down senior military leadership nervous…” –The Guardian
“He’s a brilliant general who has already spent years in Iraq.” –Robertson County Times
“His cordial relations with the media, and the Newsweek cover story that depicted him as a potential savior for the Bush administration, rankled some of his superiors in the Pentagon…” Eudora News, Kansas, originally from the WaPost.
The hometown newspaper, overjoyed that someone, now a big deal, who lived there a long time ago will go to Iraq
” ‘David was always well groomed, one of the guys who had the right personality …’He was always on time, always had his homework done, always had a smile.’”
“…[A] flip through the general’s high school yearbook reads like a U.S. Military Academy admissions brochure: President of the ski club; striker on the 1969 championship soccer team; National Honor Society scholar; actor; linguist.
“In his West Point yearbook four years later, Petraeus was remembered as ‘always going for it in sports, academics, leadership, and even his social life.’ The accolades have continued. These days, Petraeus is seen as one of the Army’s premier intellectuals, with a doctorate from Princeton to bookend his West Point education. His drive and physical toughness — he’s an obsessive athlete and survived an accidental M-16 round to his chest…At 5 feet 9 and 155 pounds, the general has been compared to ‘an intensely compacted hank of steel wire.’” –The Cornwall Record
Hey, here’s a bit of wisdom from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Your horse would trot as well were some of the brags dismounted.
Rude, and it totally rules. The Echoplex effect is particularly cool.
The Forum is an annual summer gathering at our signature “Aspen Meadows” campus in Colorado of top-level present and former government officials from all relevant homeland security/counterterrorism agencies (the White House; Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, Justice, and Treasury; the intelligence community; and Congress); industry leaders (large and small homeland security/counterterrorism-related companies, as well as private equity investors, merchant and investment bankers, venture capitalists, and other financiers); leading thinkers (in other think tanks and academe); nationally noted print and broadcast journalists; and concerned citizens. During three days of in-depth conversation, participants explore various aspects of aviation security; maritime security; border security; mass transit security; critical infrastructure protection; “soft targets” security; cyber-security; intelligence; counterterrorism strategy; terrorism finance; and more.
Or, more succinctly, one of the high-button places where the upper class in the national security industry convene to network and advance their careers and standing in the business of endless war.
Ronald Bullock made MacDill Air Force Base his home even though he was no longer in the military.
Decades had passed since a grenade blew up on him in Vietnam, rendering him disabled, his brother said. But as a veteran with a military ID, he could stay at the base’s campground for six months at a time.
Bullock, 61, didn’t have a family or a job. He told his uncle he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He took a mess of pills to keep him going, to keep him cool,” said his uncle, Phil Sullivan, 80, of Tampa.
Ever since Vietnam, he struggled with drugs and alcohol, his brother said. In 1994, Bullock got four years of probation for aggravated assault on a public servant in Texas. Three years later, he was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance.
Still, his family never thought it would come to this.
Humphries, not named in the original news article, was apparently one of a number of security men involved in the shooting of the fellow:
Then, Wednesday evening, an altercation broke out at the camp. Bullock took off on a motorcycle with security officials in pursuit, according to Col. Larry Martin, the 6th Air Mobility Wing commander.
He became aggressive, and the pursuit continued, Martin said. When Bullock arrived at the gate on S Dale Mabry Highway, he got off the motorcycle and pulled a knife on the FBI agent.
The agent opened fire, hitting Bullock at least once, Martin said.
No one named in the scandal inspires confidence. It will make a cheap but entertainingly tawdry movie fit for cable.
“Having a bunch of medals and badges doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve accomplished anything, you’ve got to do something beyond yourself to make a difference in life. Seek to be consequential in whatever you do.” – Paula Broadwell
Always seek to be consequential. Sounds good. Like some hooey expressly for impressing the peons. Wish I’d seen it before I made the video for the tune.
As old CREEM magazine might have captioned: “Tee-Hee. Soon we’ll be consequential together.”
Ally Financial on Thursday became the latest U.S. financial institution to face cyber attacks that may stem from hackers in Iran …
Regional bank BB&T and credit card issuer Capital One confirmed disruptions earlier this week. A spokeswoman for Ally, the former auto lending arm of General Motors, said the bank was investigating the “unusual traffic” on its website.
Sources have previously told Reuters and NBC News that the attacks could be part of a year-long cyber campaign waged by Iranian hackers against major U.S. financial institutions and other corporate entities.
The number of cyber attacks on U.S. banks is rising …
Larry Castro, a managing director of The Chertoff Group (yes, that Chertoff), tells The Daily Ticker, that there’s been no breach of customer personal data or financial information as a result of these attacks, according to bank reports. Castro, who spent 44 years at the National Security Agency, says these “denial of service” attacks are “a significant nuisance” but not as serious as a loss of actual personal data.
Earlier this month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned about a possible “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” saying it could potentially wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system, power grid, transportation system and government.
It’s always worth repeating that, as a nation, the US has put itself in a situation where it’s in no position to complain about cyberattacks from Iran. And that is because we have been attacking Iran and other Middle Eastern nations with malware produced by a state-run virus-writing lab (or labs).
However, the current round of news has been a convenience — in terms of publicity — for both sides. Those launching the attacks get the gratification of seeing stories which tend to exaggerate their impact in the mainstream press. And US government officials, anonymous and publicly, get to use them in scare statements meant to grab attention.
As near as I can figure, it’s a threat because because people say it’s a threat and because they don’t like President Ineedashaveabad’s manners.
*Loopy theories about “cyberterrorism” are not admitted as legitimate arguments. They are part of the “full employment for security consultants” movement and aren’t taken seriously by persons who know how computers and networks actually work.
The persistent meme from the Cult of Cyberwar is that nothing of the infrastructure is safe. Especially the financial system.
Earlier in the year, the National Security Agency’s Keith Alexander tried to get people to believe that cyberattacks on the US have constituted “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”
The amount of damage being inflicted on countries around the world by bad economic policy is astounding. As a result of unemployment or underemployment, millions of people are seeing their lives ruined. The current policies have led to trillions of dollars of lost output. From an economic standpoint this loss is every bit as devastating as if a building had been destroyed by tanks or bombs. And people have lost their lives, due to inadequate health care, food and shelter, or as a result of the depression associated with their grim economic fate.
If an enemy had inflicted this much damage on the United States, the countries of the European Union, or the countries elsewhere in the world that have been caught up in this downturn, millions of people would be lining up to enlist in the military, anxious to avenge this outrage. But, there is no external enemy to blame. The villains are the economists, still mostly men, in business suits …
the United States is also losing close to $1 trillion in output each year, with close to 23 million unemployed, underemployed or out of the workforce altogether because of poor job prospects.
The economists in policy positions are doing their best to convince the public that the economic catastrophe that they are living through is a natural disaster that is beyond human control. But that is what Vice President Biden would call “malarkey.” This is a disaster that is 100 percent human caused and is being perpetuated by bad policy.
The original collapse was the result of central bankers who were at best asleep at the wheel, or at worst complicit in the financial sectors’ wheeling and dealing, ignoring the risks that massive housing bubbles obviously posed to the economy. However the response to the downturn has made a bad situation far worse than necessary.
Read the entire piece. It makes sense, encapsulating the story of economic collapse and continued suffering, all due to western financial systems and easily verified economic policies.
It is not some arrant and callow bullshit about cyberwar catastrophe emitted for the benefit of stenographers on the security beat in the mainstream media.
In 1998 I wrote “Electronic Pearl Harbor, Not Likely” for the National Academy of Science published magazine, Issues in Science and Technology.”
That was fourteen years ago. When I mention to reporters who call how long I’ve actually been looking at these issues they seem to have a hard time getting their brains around such a fact.
While all the technology mentioned in the piece has dated, as a general prediction, it’s still pretty great. I was right.
And that was an unpopular position then, as it is now. What’s perhaps more surprising is that genuine education and debate on these matters has become much worse.
You can’t write critical things like this at big venues, or even publicize them very much anymore.
Cyberwar, like many other topics in national security, has been converted into a third rail issue. There is only one way it is discussed or publicized: Catastrophe is looming, always coming, imminent.
Call it the radioactive fallout of the war on terror. Careful thinking on national security was washed away in favor of compiling enemies lists and creating a great professional corps of paranoids and salesmen to develop cant on how easy it would be for just about anyone, anywhere, to bring down the US or kill tens of thousands, at any time.
Yes, we are all going to die someday. That’s certainly true.
In 1998, me:
Another reason to be skeptical of the warnings about [cyberwar] is that those who are most alarmed are often the people who will benefit from government spending to combat the threat. A primary author of a January 1997 Defense Science Board report on information warfare, which recommended an immediate $580-million investment in private sector R&D for hardware and software to implement computer security, was Duane Andrews, executive vice president of SAIC, a computer security vendor and supplier of information warfare consulting services.
Assessments of the threats to the nation’s computer security should not be furnished by the same firms and vendors who supply hardware, software, and consulting services to counter the “threat” to the government and the military. Instead, a true independent group should be set up to provide such assessments and evaluate the claims of computer security software and hardware vendors selling to the government and corporate America. The group must not be staffed by those who have financial ties to computer security firms. The staff must be compensated adequately so that it is not cherry-picked by the computer security industry. It must not be a secret group and its assessments, evaluations, and war game results should not be classified.
Quaint. And where did that reasonable suggestion go?
The exact opposite is what we have today: A national security infrastructure totally permeated with conflicts of interest in threat assessment and revolving doors in which people routinely go from positions of oversight to the national security private sector and vice versa.
Trivia: Bill Clinton was president in 1999. And Leon Panetta, who probably did not even know the word cyberwar at the time, was the White House Chief of Staff.
The Clinton administration’s “digital Pearl Harbor” man was Assistant Secretary of Defense John Hamre. Hamre is now CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one of those many think tanks now responsible for finding and analyzing all the many enemies we must build our fortresses against.
Now be good people and listen to Binders Full of Women Blues. That’s not faked, either.