BIG BROTHER: Mass surveillance, political dissent, and the coming open source revolution – By Nafeez Ahmed

Source –
– Over the last two weeks, I’ve authored a series of investigative Guardian articles connecting up the increasing propensity of the national security system to criminalise political dissent with the growing recognition of environmental, economic and energy crises. My latest post follows up those somewhat disturbing stories with an immensely powerful and positive vision for ‘open source everything’, articulated by former senior CIA spy Robert David Steele, widely recognised in the international intelligence community as the pioneer of the practice of Open Source Intelligence.

The first piece in this series focuses on the US. The story investigates how a little-known Pentagon-funded social science research programme partnering with universities up and down the United States (and around the world) is sponsoring academic research to track the danger of new threats in an age of uncertainty due to new risks. Most prominent in this programme is the tendency of the research to view all political dissent as a source of potential terrorism. Social science is being co-opted to develop innovate new research, analytical and data-mining tools that can be mobilised quickly in field operations to track peaceful activists, social movements, and NGOs.

The second story extends this investigation to the UK, highlighting how Britain’s major research councils have been co-opted by Ministry of Defence and related UK government officials, once again with a view to fund research which is demonstrably concerned with generating information that can be operationally useful for government defence priorities, as opposed to supporting the sort of sound, critical and independent scholarship so sorely needed in the social sciences (and particularly in social science research on government counter-terrorism policies). As with the US case, analysis of little-known official government planning documents demonstrates that the Ministry of Defence’s thinking in response to the convergence of major global environmental, energy and economic crises is increasingly regressive. Lacking a holistic, systemic and causal approach to gauging the nature of these crises, the MoD ends up projecting anti-capitalist activists, black and ethnic minority groups, immigrants, Muslim minorities, and Muslim-majority populations abroad all as potential security threats to the integrity of the functioning of global capitalism.

The third story in this series is an extended interview with Robert Steele, former CIA case officer and co-founder of the US Marine Corps Intelligence Command, where he was civilian deputy director. Steele, the author of The Open Source Everything Manifesto (North Atlantic Books, 2012), offers his insights on what he believes are the preconditions for revolution in the US and UK (and much of the west), and the prospects for challenging state corruption and corporate domination of the global commons. Steele’s vision is an exciting one, and demonstrates that the counter-movement of open source everything holds the real possibility of transforming the current order for the benefit of all. Most striking is his expert assessment that the pre-conditions for revolution in the west already exist – all we need, he says, is our ‘Tunisian fruitseller’.
Posted by Nafeez Ahmed at 10:36 am 1 comment:
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Labels: activism, challenges dissent, CIA, climate, dod, economy, energy, globalisation, inequality, Ministry of Defence, MoD, NSA, Pentagon, racism, resource, risks, security studies, surveillance, terrorism, uncertainty
30 May 2014
Who the hell are the Henry Jackson Society?

When I tell people about the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), most of them give me a blank look. Henry who? And why should a whole society be erected around some dude called Henry?

When I explain to them that HJS is actually a little known but powerful right-wing British think-tank set up with the support of American neoconservatives, understanding begins to dawn.

Except, just how much influence HJS wields in policymaking circles is an open question, the fact that it is extremely well-connected with the financial, business, political, security and energy industry elite in the US and UK speaks volumes about their agenda and objectives.

While touting their support for freedom, liberalism and democratisation as their core organisational remit, in practice they appear to be a neocon trojan horse for the very opposite: state-expansionism, state-militarisation, interventionism, rampant market deregulation and privatisation in the interests of Western investors, coupled with anti-Muslim hostility and white supremacism.

What’s particularly shocking is that their pursuit of the latter is not exactly something deeply hidden, but is – for the most part – easily verifiable from the public record, with a little digging. The kind of digging that sadly my media colleagues seem to have not considered to be very important.

Recently, I’ve put out three major pieces linked to the Henry Jackson Society’s dubious ‘freedom promotion’ via The Guardian. I collect them all here for your reference as they form a coherent whole that demonstrates HJS’ pivotal coordinating role within a wide Anglo-American web of neoconservative power which is increasingly attempting to steer the ideology and policy decisions of global leaders in the regressive and counterproductive direction that apparently suits a tiny minority, but not the rest of us.

The first, ‘What climate denial, oil addiction and xenophobia have in common: neocons’, points out the connection between HJS and the American far-right nutty ‘news’ service known as ‘Breitbart’. The second, ‘Think tank behind Tory foreign policy promotes Arab world fossil fuel hegemony’, focuses squarely on HJS, the neocon social networks it represents, and the narrow interests it caters for. The third, ‘Inclusive capitalism is Trojan Horse to quell coming global revolt’, drives a stake into the heart of HJS’ claims to be seeking meaningful economic ‘reforms’ in the public interest, as opposed to token PR schemes to continue corporate profit-maximisation while manufacturing public consent. Many didn’t know that HJS was a key coordinator of the ‘Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism’ which brought together global financial leaders from across the spectrum to voice recognition of the urgent need for change (notably without, however, offering meaningful mechanisms for actual change beyond flowery verbiage).

That is not to say that everyone associated with HJS necessarily understands or agrees with their narrow, regressive and xenophobic vision. Indeed, part of the problem here – one that those who have studied the rise of the neoconservative movement in the US are well aware of – is that there has been a concerted effort by this disparate network of movers and shakers to influence public policy in the direction of their favoured ideology. That neocon movement continues to be active in the Obama administration, despite its Democrat colours, precisely due to the success of this neocon endeavour over the last decades to consolidate access to key institutions and structures.

This is why it is hugely important to understand that HJS and the interests it represents are so out of whack with not only what the vast majority of the public would agree with or desire, but even what most policymakers would want to see happening in the world

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