Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Thought for the day: the American Empire is not ending, in fact it’s being reborn
by Larry Geller
Here and there one can read arguments that the American Empire is at an end. I don’t buy it. We’re presently at a cusp, a turning point. Drones are part of it. US computer technology has enabled us to multiprocess geographically much like a desktop computer or your pocket smartphone can carry out several tasks at once. We can, in fact, be everywhere and see everything, and even drop the occasional bomb—all at very little cost.
Check out this Washington Post map of drones over the African continent. Drones might fill the skies domestically as soon as police departments figure out how they can be useful to them.
Drones can watch everything cheaply and with no risk of life. This kind of efficiency means the old, expensive way of doing things need not be an obstacle to future expansion. Boots on the ground are not the only way to invade territory.
Similarly, government computers can read and process everything written or spoken, and know who is reading what. Yes, it’s possible that some undefined “they” are reading what I have posted here. And “they” know you are reading it now. The computer power to learn that and file away the information exists and is being used. The capacity to store the information exists. No court is interfering. Private emails are not private, and can be perused without a warrant. I’ll bet the courts are being watched also.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
[Wired Threat Level, The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), 3/5/2012]
You probably know that Obama has set protocols in motion under which anyone can be detained indefinitely, and that torture is still practiced extensively in this country.
So I don’t agree that the Empire is at an end. In fact, it looks very much like a new empire is being born.
For those who want the history of our country's empire building, I recommend, The Untold History of the United States, by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. A real eye-opener even for long time skeptics and activists.