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Pentagon Trolls Blogosphere for "Actionable" Data

Posted in the database on Saturday, July 08th, 2006 @ 15:13:14 MST (2093 views)
by Kurt Nimmo    Another Day in the Empire  

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It is now obvious Total Information Awareness, renamed Terrorism Information Awareness, didn’t go away, as reported in September, 2003, but lived on in the murky depths of the intelligence and military community, in particular at the offices of the Advanced Research and Development Activity, or ARDA, run out of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“The whole congressional action looks like a shell game,” Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists told the Associated Press on February 23, 2004. “There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing.” It was, even with the lukewarm protestation of Congress and civil libertarians, an idea too good to simply chuck by the wayside.

Now we learn that the “Air Force Office of Scientific Research has begun funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs,” reports Air Force Link, billed as the official website of the United States Air Force. “Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism.” In other words, many blogs are suspect, although it is absurd to assume these blogs are infested with “al-Qaeda” terrorists. Of course, the Pentagon is not interested in ferreting out bloggers in turbans, but rather more traditional enemies, now well ensconced in the blogosphere.

“Drs. Brian Ulicny, senior scientist, and Mieczyslaw Kokar, president, Versatile Information Systems Inc., Framingham, Mass., will receive approximately $450,000 in funding for the three-year project titled, ‘Automated Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of International Web Logs for the Timely Discovery of Relevant and Credible Information’…. ‘It can be challenging (for information analysts) to tell what’s important in blogs unless you analyze patterns,’ Dr. Ulicny said…. Two key concepts to remember about the program are ‘actionable information’ and the ‘network effect,’ said Maj. (Dr.) Amy Magnus of AFOSR’s Mathematics and Information Sciences Directorate and the Information Forensics and Process Integration program manager…. Actionable information is information associated with consequence such as evidence of a crime or an enemy’s attack plan discovered before its execution. Information forensics is both the identification and authoritative communication of actionable information.”

In her book, Army Surveillance in America, historian Joan M. Jensen notes how the War Department (since doublespeak renamed the Department of Defense) used the cover of World War I and the threat of German saboteurs to snoop antiwar opponents. “What began as a system to protect the government from enemy agents became a vast surveillance system to watch civilians who violated no law but who objected to wartime policies or to the war itself,” writes Jensen.

Gene Healy, writing for the Cato Institute, comments (see previous link): “The Army’s domestic surveillance activities were substantially curtailed after the end of World War I. But throughout the 20th Century, in periods of domestic unrest and foreign conflict, army surveillance ratcheted up again, most notably in the 1960s. During that tumultuous decade, President Johnson repeatedly called on federal troops to quell riots and restore order. To better perform that task, Army intelligence operatives began compiling thousands of dossiers on citizens, many of whom had committed no offense beyond protesting government policy. Reviewing the files, the Senate Judiciary Committee noted that ‘comments about the financial affairs, sex lives and psychiatric histories of persons unaffiliated with the armed forces appear throughout the various records systems.’ Justice William O. Douglas called army surveillance ‘a cancer in our body politic,’” a cancer revisited, as we are now told “homegrown terrorists” are in our midst and we must remain vigilant, that is to say allow the government to snoop every crevice of our personal lives.

As reported by Reuters this past April, the Pentagon is not interested in ferreting out phantom “al-Qaeda” sleeper cells in Des Moines, but rather the “homegrown” threat posed by those of us opposed to the neocon master plan for total and unremitting war.

“Some critics have noted similarities in the Pentagon’s activities during the Iraq War and those of the Vietnam War period, when it spied on antiwar activists…. NBC News and defense analyst William Arkin disclosed at the time a sample of the database containing reports of 1,519 ’suspicious incidents’ between July 2004 and May 2005, including activities by antiwar and anti-military protesters…. This included a military intelligence unit monitoring a Quaker meeting in Lake Worth, Florida, on plans to protest military recruiting in high schools.”

For the Pentagon, such behavior is “actionable,” that is to say worthy of investigation, or snooping, and possibly worthy of subversion and elimination.

As Robert Dreyfuss notes for Rolling Stone, the NSA’s snoop program pales in comparison to the broader efforts of the neocon-controlled Pentagon. According to Dreyfuss, the “Pentagon has already assembled a nationwide domestic spying machine that goes far beyond the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of telephone and e-mail traffic. Operating in secret, the Defense Department is systematically gathering and analyzing intelligence on American citizens at home—and a new Pentagon agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) is helping to coordinate the military’s covert efforts with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” a direct and obvious violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, now effectively a dead letter.

So far, the military’s efforts at domestic spying have caught few, if any, terrorists. But the Pentagon has tracked the activities of anti-war activists across the country who have staged peaceful demonstrations against military bases and defense contractors such as Halliburton. Traditionally restricted to action overseas, America’s armed forces—including the National Guard—are now linked in a growing domestic spying apparatus which, thanks to technology, has far greater power than the Army units that conducted a massive operation to infiltrate, disrupt and destabilize Vietnam and civil rights protests during the 1960s and ’70s. “We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America,” said (Sen. Ron Wyden). “This is a huge leap without even a congressional hearing”…. The broader threat is that military spies will gradually expand their anti-terrorist mission to include more and more ordinary citizens.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research effort to troll and datamine the blogosphere is but another component of this massive undertaking, as blogs represent the cutting edge of the information effort to resist the neocon plan for total war, both abroad and at home. Indeed, we need to be concerned when the Air Force declares it is searching for “actionable information,” that is to say information requiring a military response.

It should be obvious to all but the most stepfordized Bush supporter that this colossal militarized snoop and subversion effort, completely at odds with American tradition and the Constitution, is nothing less than modern, high-tech fascism in action. It is the manifestation of the “total state,” a characteristic of totalitarian fascism, working to control and direct the citizenry in paternalistic fashion. In order to accomplish this, all opposition must be stigmatized as terrorist and systematically rooted out and destroyed.

In the past, the effort to squash opposition was accomplished by the likes of Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (East German Stasi collaborators), but today, with nearly all aspects of life plugged into computer networks, the process is far less obvious.

Information gleaned from trolling the blogosphere will be married with other electronic records, from financial data to library and medical records—including massive petabytes of data grabbed from telephone and email communication—thus producing an “actionable” dossier for the fascist warmongers now in control of the government.

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