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War on Terror is Very Big Business

So
what is it about the ‘war on terror’—a phrase just as idiotic
as the ‘war on drugs’—what is it about our newfound war that
has a funny smell to it? It is this: history proves that when great
powers employ the murderous, illegal tactics of the terrorists that
those great powers eventually lose legitimacy and therefore lose
their power, and fade or crumble.

In
our anger, vehemence and warrior spirit there is always the
temptation to ‘do as the terrorists do’: engaging in torture;
deliberately killing innocent civilians. These are the dangers of
fighting terrorists: that we become terrorists ourselves. History
is full of the ashes of great powers who lost their legitimacy
through exactly these ways.

And
our new enemy—terrorists—is a profitable one.

The
Washington Post did an expose on the mega-industries that have sprung
up around the so-called ‘war-on-terror’. Like shouting ‘fire’
in a crowded theatre, Big Brother has learned that shouting
‘terrorist’ causes the American people to let go of their
critical faculties and open their wallets no matter how ridiculous
the amount. And the amounts in the so-called ‘war on terror’ are
truly gargantuan—in the hundreds of billions of dollars with much
of it going to over-complicated, unnecessary agencies, companies,
fiefdoms, and technology all of which duplicates what the others are
doing without even knowing what the others are doing–all of which
has done little more than confuse and confound any chance at a
coherent, thoughtful approach to dealing with failed states and
terrorists.

a
few essential facts from the articles:

“…in a series of three
articles totalling some thirteen thousand words, the paper explored
the immense national-security industry created since 9/11—a
bureaucratic behemoth, substantially privatized but awash in public
money, that “has become so large, so unwieldy, and so secretive”
that it “amounts to an alternative geography of the United States,
a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough
oversight.”

*” Some 1,271
government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs
related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in
about 10,000 locations across the United States.

*” An estimated
854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in
Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

*” In Washington and
the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret
intelligence work are under construction or have been built since
September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three
Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings—about 17 million square feet
of space.

* “Many security and
intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and
waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands,
operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from
terrorist networks.

* “Analysts who make
sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic
spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports
each year—a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Beyond the numbing
numbers, the
Post
describes a vast archipelago of gleaming new office parks,
concentrated in the Washington suburbs but also scattered throughout
the country, protected by high fences and armed security guards,
bland-looking but inaccessible, and filled with command centers,
internal television networks, video walls, armored S.U.V.s, and inner
sanctums called SCIFs, short for “sensitive compartmented
information facilities.” How much of this—“the bling of
national security,” the
Post
calls it—is necessary or even useful may be doubted, but it is
undeniably expensive. Much of it is there because the taxpayer cash
to buy it is there—an unending, ever-growing, BP-worthy fiscal
blowout that, beginning just after 9/11 and continuing to this day,
flooded the agencies with “more money than they were capable of
responsibly spending,” the
Post
writes. “They’ve got the penis envy thing going,” a contractor
whose business specializes in building SCIFs says. “You can’t be
a big boy unless you’re a three-letter agency and you have a big
SCIF.”

https://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2010/08/02/100802taco_talk_hertzberg

Posted by: Harrell Graham
Views: 4375
Topic:14

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