Saturday, June 28, 2014

Posted June 28, 2004
CHAPTER 1 EXTRACTS
AMERICA’S TWO CHRONIC AND COSTLY HABITS

America is addicted to two chronic and costly habits, warring and spying. The two are neither unique to America nor to this time in history. They originated when civilization originated, yet for some time the American version has been unparalleled throughout the world. The two are different in that warring takes away lives and spying takes away freedom. Yet they go hand in hand. Both need enemies. In America, the habits began when America began. Let’s start with the first and more costly habit. It also presaged the second if only for a split second. 
 
Brief History of America’s War Habit

America was born in the womb of war and since her birth has never known a significant interlude when there were no overt or covert wars or the preparing for them.

Gestated in War

Before she was even born America had become addicted to the warring habit. The colonists, wanting the land occupied by the Native Americans already there waged war against these people. This was a dress rehearsal for what was to become inevitable, a new nation that over time would muscle its way through wars and other military interventions into becoming the world’s dominant market force, superpower, and rogue nation.

Born in the Womb of War

The costly American Revolution, started by the colonists who were not loyal to the King, gave birth to America. It was an unnecessary war. To be sure, the colonists presented King George a long list of grievances in their Declaration of Independence, but by signing it they obviously had no attention of relying on state craft to seek a non violent resolution. Their “olive branch” petition to the King, moreover, was clearly insincere and the King knew it, since he got it after he was sent the Declaration of Independence. [1]

The Founding Fathers were clearly in no mood for reconciliation. They were already creatures of habit and heritage. Most descended from England, a belligerent and imperialistic country that “during its history---invaded, had some control over, or fought conflicts in 171 of the world's 193 countries that are currently UN member states, or nine out of ten of all countries.” [2] In the 18th century alone the “Mother Country” was embroiled in 15 wars prior to the American Revolution. [3]

Seeking a settlement with “Mad King George” would not have been as ludicrous as it may seem. His troops, fighting far away on foreign soil would never have prevailed in the long run, nor would have his colonial empire. It would have eventually expired from exhaustion, lack of resources, and sense of futility. The American Revolution was a Pyrrhic victory for the revolutionaries, leaving over 25,000 of them dead and as many wounded and predisposing the new nation to a future of warring as a solution to conflicts and as a means to further its own colonizing. [4] 

America’s First Warrior-in-Chief

As the nation’s first president George Washington also became the nation’s first “warrior-in-chief.” He advocated a “regular and standing” army to “awe the Indians, protect our Trade, prevent the encroachment of our Neighbours of Canada and the Florida's---[and] establishing arsenals of all kinds of military stores.” [9] He relied on that army in the Northwest Indian War that resulted in several thousand casualties and also in quelling the so-called “whiskey rebellion.” [10] Why should any different behavior have been expected from a man who was an experienced warrior on numerous occasions even before the American Revolution? [11]

After George Washington

After George Washington left office America continued being a warrior nation without missing a heartbeat except for just two occasions when the hearts of two presidents stopped beating shortly after entering office in the 19th century (see Chapter 2). Since his time the U.S. government has built a massive war bureaucracy, once honestly and officially known as the Department of War before being renamed in 1949 the Department of Defense (DoD).

Since his time America has declared war 11 times and has conducted approximately 13,000 to 14,000 other overt and covert military interventions and there is no sign or chance of them stopping anytime soon. [12] Hardly a spot on the globe has been untouched by the terror of and casualties from America’s show of force.

I need to mention USSOCOM before moving on. Does it draw a blank with you? It certainly is not a garden variety acronym. It stands for the U.S. Special Operations Command that conducts secret operations/wars.

I have Nick Turse, managing editor of Tomdispatch.com and an Investigative Fund Fellow at The Nation Institute to thank for educating me about it. He reports that USSOCOM has implanted operations, or “secret wars” in 134 countries, or nearly 70% of the world’s sovereign states.  He writes prosaically that “They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America. They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa. They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific. They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia.” [13] Mr. Turse’s article drew this cogent comment from a reader, “As a former US ambassador to Canada once put it: "The US doesn't have friends. It has interests." [14]

The Birth of the War on Terror

The tragic attack on American soil by foreign terrorists on September 11, 2001 gave birth to the “war on terror” and has proven to be a boon for the war and spy enterprise. According to Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an official in the Reagan Administration, editor, columnist, and book author, the war on terror is a “hoax:”  “If America were infected with terrorists,” he wrote, “we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars.” [15] He wrote his article before the Boston Marathon bombing but his point remains valid. America is not being invaded by a swarm of terrorists; there is no indication of any pending invasion; and the bungling intelligence community would probably fail to see it coming in any case. A similar point made after that bombing is that the war on terror is a fabrication concocted to defend America’s police state. [16]

Brief History of America’s Spying Habit

America’s declared war on terror can be divided into two “theaters,” the one away that has just been discussed, and the other at home, although it had its beginnings with concerns over foreign invasion.

Besides being America’s first warrior-in-chief, George Washington was her first chief spy. His and his agents’ spying on the British forces were instrumental in the defeat of them. As president, he asked Congress to fund his “Secret Service Fund.” The authorization grew from $40,000 the first year to $1 million within just three years, which amounted to about 12% of the entire U.S. budget. [17]

Unlike the history of her war habit in both its overt and covert forms that never had a lengthy pause or a defining moment, America’s spying was relatively episodic accompanied by almost countless reorganizations along with three defining moments that led to significant expansion. The first was WWII. The second was the Cold War, which, until the third defining moment was credited with giving the biggest boost to the whole spying enterprise. The third, of course,  was the was already mentioned  terrorist attack of September 9, 2001 on America’s homeland, which was an absolute bonanza for the spy enterprise and gave the spy agencies and the White House along with cooperative local law enforcement the excuse to turn America into a police state that unlawfully:

•             Arrests peaceful protestors.
•             Inhibits Constitutionally protected dissent.
•             Builds a huge, ridiculously costly citizens’ “metadata” store house in Utah.
•             Conducts warrantless searches.
•             Considers using drone surveillance in America.
•             Uses the sinister sounding and really sinister “disposition matrix.”
•             Detains citizens without trial.
•             Established an extra judicial court to rubber stamp spy activities.
•             Intimidates the not-free press.
•             Issues “National Security Letters forcing release of customer records.
•             Misuses the already illegal Patriot Act.
•             Monitors Americans’ private communications.
•             Targets for killing Americans suspected of being terrorists.
•             Traces and builds citizens’ “friend-of-friend” networks.
•             Uses cryptic spy tools like “PRISM” and “Boundless Informant.”
•             Uses secret evidence and witnesses in trials.
•             And whatever else. [18]

Naturally the chief spies, and there are many spy agencies to be chiefs of (see Chapter 3), will not admit even under oath that their agencies are monitoring Americans, collecting, analyzing, and storing the mountains of data collected. The Defense Intelligence Chief, for instance, reportedly lied when directly asked in an open Congressional hearing whether NSA was spying on American citizens. [19] It didn’t matter though. The committee members knew the truth but weren’t about to charge the chief with perjury because they themselves are complicit in the spy business since their political careers benefit from the spy industry’s campaign financing. [20]

Yet keeping massive secrets is hard to keep secret when there are thousands of people in the spy community with access to spy data. Just a few months after that testimony, for instance, truth got a measure of revenge when Edward Snowden left his job with a NSA contractor, taking with him 1.7 million classified documents and started leaking them [21]


Occasionally truth has a friend who is not a chief spy but is a senior level spy official. Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer and subsequently Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, wrote in an article that a “top official” stated that, “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”[22] Even if that candid statement was made “without attribution,” it was still made.

TO BE CONTINUED

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