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Columns: War on Terror is Very Big Business   (Views: 4,483)
Contributed by Harrell Graham on November 15th, 2010

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

War on Terror is Very Big Business
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