informazione dal medio oriente
    information from middle east
    المعلومات من الشرق الأوسط

[ home page] | [ tutte le notizie/all news ] | [ download banner] | [ ultimo aggiornamento/last update 28/08/2019 00:45 ] 107299

english italiano

  [ Subscribe our newsletter!   -   Iscriviti alla nostra newsletter! ]  


Uruknet on Alexa

End Gaza Siege
End Gaza Siege


:: Segnala Uruknet agli amici. Clicka qui.
:: Invite your friends to Uruknet. Click here.

:: Segnalaci un articolo
:: Tell us of an article

Opinion How the US institutionalized surveillance

by Kirsten Weld

May 24, 2014

Information is power. This is the logic — or at least the aspiration — behind the U.S. government’s current approach to intelligence gathering: the more data (or metadata) in hand, the more control. The National Security Agency’s surveillance leviathan, funded by a black budget and presided over by a star-chamber court, suctions up almost inconceivable amounts of material from around the world, including your phone and computer. How did this begin, and where will it end?

History shows us that this is a story about empire. For more than a century, major innovations in U.S. intelligence-collection capacity have accompanied major expansions of U.S. influence on the world stage. In some cases, U.S. government agencies used distant theaters to test approaches they would later deploy on the home front. Elsewhere, they helped foreign police build internal surveillance systems. The trainers then returned to work in domestic law enforcement, employing the same practices locally. Either way, U.S. residents should worry. The information-management strategies the U.S. has used in projecting its power abroad have usually come home to roost.

It was during the United States’ bloody occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War that U.S. policymakers first yoked intelligence collection to imperial expansion and then repatriated it. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in "Policing America’s Empire," U.S. colonial police, powered by a nascent information revolution and unfettered by constitutional restrictions, built an elaborate covert surveillance apparatus to help quell resistance. Their system maintained individual file cards on an astonishing 70 percent of the local population.

When the U.S. scaled down the occupation during World War I, veterans of the counterinsurgency effort, including the military intelligence pioneer Ralph Van Deman, returned to lead a large-scale ramp-up of domestic surveillance infrastructure, designed to provide the enforcement muscle for new legislation such as the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act. Among Van Deman’s achievements: a collaboration between his military intelligence division and the American Protective League, a private network of 300,000 citizen spies that even after the war spent decades targeting German-Americans, repressing labor militancy, spying on civil rights activists and identifying Hollywood communists for blacklisting. (Van Deman also amassed a personal archive of file cards on a quarter-million suspected U.S. subversives.)

As fears about fascism and communism escalated during the 1930s, U.S. attentions turned outward again. Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, eager to access the intelligence collected by foreign police forces, directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to develop relationships with its counterparts abroad. The FBI helped countries such as Brazil and Colombia set up secret intelligence services from which the U.S. could profit, both by gaining access to foreign surveillance data and by honing strategies that could later be integrated into domestic police practices.

As the Cold War set in and the Central Intelligence Agency and the NSA were established (in 1947 and 1952, respectively), the U.S. not only stepped up its own intelligence collecting capabilities but also trained police forces in Japan, Greece and Uruguay, among others, in anti-communist counterinsurgency methods. Best dramatized by Costa-Gavras in the film "State of Siege," this proxy training aimed to build on-the-ground surveillance capacity, allowing local allies to share the work of Cold War containment and simultaneously guaranteeing the U.S. government access to the information their allies could now capture.

Take the case of Guatemala. There, soon after the CIA helped orchestrate the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected leftist President Jacobo Arbenz, U.S. trainers arrived to help the new military government consolidate power. Their first order of business, as one U.S. adviser reported back, was to help the Guatemalan police optimize its "almost neurotic hypersensitiveness to communist activity" by updating its "hopelessly inadequate" filing system. Simply put, to hunt down enemies of the state — to track their movements, record their political opinions, identify their associates, map their daily routes and, ultimately, eliminate them — you had to keep good files on them.

U.S. technicians ran daily classes in records management for Guatemalan agents, teaching them the latest information management methods and supervising the creation of a new records bureau. But that wasn’t all. U.S. agencies, most famously the State Department’s now defunct Office of Public Safety, provided filing cabinets for safe document storage, updated the Guatemalans’ dated fingerprinting system, oversaw a transition to the use of three-by-five file cards, compiled blacklists of "subversives" and beefed up the police’s special investigation squads. They also built a telecommunications center (connected to a Central America–wide system) that allowed the country’s various security forces to share intelligence with one another, with neighboring countries and, most important, U.S. officials in the Panama Canal Zone.

Guatemalans soon came to know that center, tellingly, as "the archive." As the government’s counterinsurgency campaign heated up, the police used its new archival capabilities to murder and disappear tens of thousands of students, trade unionists and opposition politicians — a surgical strategy enabled by modern information technology. Arguably, the most lethal tools sent to Guatemala’s police by the United States were not guns, munitions or helicopters but file cards and filing cabinets.

At the same time, the U.S. trainers — back after stints in Guatemala, Vietnam, Colombia or the other countries where this template was used — adapted their expertise to domestic policing, either as private consultants or by integrating into metropolitan police forces in cities like Detroit and Chicago. According to historians Jeremy Kuzmarov and Stuart Schrader, practices developed by the Office of Public Safety at the peripheries of the U.S. empire were repurposed locally to pacify the social unrest of the 1960s and 1970s. The FBI’s Cointelpro, a series of covert projects to spy on, infiltrate and discredit groups and individuals the FBI deemed suspect (including New Left and civil rights organizations), echoed the programs U.S. trainers had set up abroad. Strategies and tactics thus hopscotched across national borders and back, traveling anywhere the U.S. sought to increase its influence.

After 9/11 and the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, the U.S.’s global intelligence-gathering system went into hyperdrive. In Afghanistan, U.S. forces have aimed to collect extensive biometric data on every single living Afghan for counterinsurgency purposes. Civil liberties watchdogs in the U.S., such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Intelligence, are concerned by how this emphasis on high-tech biometric collection has already taken root in domestic law enforcement. (Biometrics aren’t inherently problematic, but their use can present very real privacy threats, and they can easily be repurposed for state or corporate surveillance.)

Enabled by new technologies, a new modus operandi has emerged as well. As one former U.S. intelligence official explained, "rather than look for a single needle in the haystack" — scanning for information on particular cases of interest — the new strategy is now to "collect the whole haystack." This began in earnest with the Real Time Regional Gateway program, implemented in Iraq and then in Afghanistan to vacuum up all possible information. The ethos of RTRG appeared in the U.S. in the form of the PRISM data-mining program. Americans were scandalized to learn from former National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden that the whole haystack included their phone calls and emails. They should understand that this will remain the case for as long as the U.S. is permitted to maintain its amorphous campaign against "terror," the diffuse goals of which are now seen to require a blanket approach to information gathering.

Policing is, at its core, informational and archival in nature. High-octane data mining may have replaced the file card, but the underlying concept is the same. So long as the United States chooses to continue in its self-appointed role as global policeman, it will, necessarily, maintain what Snowden described before fleeing the country as a "massive surveillance machine" — nothing less than an archive of the world, the home front included.

Kirsten Weld is an assistant professor of history at Harvard University and the author of "Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala."


:: Article nr. 107299 sent on 30-may-2014 18:20 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

The section for the comments of our readers has been closed, because of many out-of-topics.
Now you can post your own comments into our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/uruknet

Warning: include(./share/share2.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/25/8427425/html/vhosts/uruknet/colonna-centrale-pagina-ansi.php on line 385

Warning: include(): Failed opening './share/share2.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5_6/lib/php') in /home/content/25/8427425/html/vhosts/uruknet/colonna-centrale-pagina-ansi.php on line 385

[ Printable version ] | [ Send it to a friend ]

[ Contatto/Contact ] | [ Home Page ] | [Tutte le notizie/All news ]

Uruknet on Twitter

:: RSS updated to 2.0

:: English
:: Italiano

:: Uruknet for your mobile phone:

Uruknet on Facebook

:: Motore di ricerca / Search Engine

the web

:: Immagini / Pictures


The newsletter archive

L'Impero si è fermato a Bahgdad, by Valeria Poletti

Modulo per ordini


:: Newsletter

:: Comments

Haq Agency
Haq Agency - English

Haq Agency - Arabic

AMSI - Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq - English

AMSI - Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq - Arabic

Font size
1 2 3

:: All events


[ home page] | [ tutte le notizie/all news ] | [ download banner] | [ ultimo aggiornamento/last update 28/08/2019 00:45 ]

Uruknet receives daily many hacking attempts. To prevent this, we have 10 websites on 6 servers in different places. So, if the website is slow or it does not answer, you can recall one of the other web sites: www.uruknet.info www.uruknet.de www.uruknet.biz www.uruknet.org.uk www.uruknet.com www.uruknet.org - www.uruknet.it www.uruknet.eu www.uruknet.net www.uruknet.web.at.it

:: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
::  We always mention the author and link the original site and page of every article.
uruknet, uruklink, iraq, uruqlink, iraq, irak, irakeno, iraqui, uruk, uruqlink, saddam hussein, baghdad, mesopotamia, babilonia, uday, qusay, udai, qusai,hussein, feddayn, fedayn saddam, mujaheddin, mojahidin, tarek aziz, chalabi, iraqui, baath, ba'ht, Aljazira, aljazeera, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, Palestina, Sharon, Israele, Nasser, ahram, hayat, sharq awsat, iraqwar,irakwar All pictures


I nostri partner - Our Partners:

TEV S.r.l.

TEV S.r.l.: hosting


Progetto Niz

niz: news management



digitbrand: ".it" domains


Worlwide Mirror Web-Sites:
www.uruknet.info (Main)
www.uruknet.us (USA)
www.uruknet.su (Soviet Union)
www.uruknet.ru (Russia)
www.uruknet.it (Association)
www.uruknet.mobi (For Mobile Phones)
www.uruknet.org.uk (UK)
www.uruknet.de (Germany)
www.uruknet.ir (Iran)
www.uruknet.eu (Europe)
wap.uruknet.info (For Mobile Phones)
rss.uruknet.info (For Rss Feeds)

Vat Number: IT-97475012153