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Shockfront

Monday, 07 September 2009

Black Budgets and Globalized Blowback

[Ed. Note, this was written some weeks ago, during the Iranian election protests and the repressive measures that were being exposed during that time.]



"This looks like a step beyond what any other country is doing, including China."


Remember those marvelous tales about how globalization would "democratize" the world, make it "flat"?

Rather, the world insists on remaining quite bumpy.
The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.

… the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

"If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them," said Mr. Roome.
Well, we certainly know that.

(Oddly enough, or perhaps not oddly at all, it later was revealed that Iran's internet censor capabilities were "developed with the initial justification of blocking online pornography".  Remember this the next a simpering Joe Lieberman starts whingeing about internet p-o-r-n-o-g-r-ap-h-y, jowls sloshing to and fro in sympathetic, syllabic rhythm. Happily, the job of State has pried Clinton off of her senatorial internet porn fetish.)


Iranians reported that internet speeds had slowed to a crawl, entirely expected under a DPI protocol, but connections were not severed. Bradley Anstis, director of technical strategy with Marshal8e6 Inc., tells us this is because the Iranian government is "drilling into what the population is trying to say."

Well, it's pretty bloody obvious what the population is "trying to say," so why drill? Because they're looking for targets, trying to determine who these people are, or who some of these people are.  Knowing what the Iranians surely know would mean searching, at least in part, for tell tale State Dept./NED-front*/CIA-front chatter.  The Pentagon's preferred loony in the Middle East, the MeK, are even making themselves known during this episode, which the Iranian government is exploiting with abandon.  Presumably, the $400 million Bush requested, and Congress authorized last year, along with the $85 million Condoleezza Rice asked for prior to that, to destabilize the Iranian government is producing some internet traffic in Iran.

And therein lies the morose beauty of the insane pursuit of the national security state within a context of a globalized world and "private-public" partnerships.  Pretty soon, everyone has all the best toys and tools, not only of counter espionage, but of repression.  The Iranians are using highly sophisticated western technologies -- often developed under the auspices of the Pentagon and other western military agencies -- to snoop for American, British, and other western assets in Iran.

The other, the far darker aspect of the surveillance, of course, is that the Iranian government is more broadly searching the population with the new technologies, the purpose for which they are really intended.

"Go massive. Sweep it all. Things related and not."

Those words of Donald Rumsfeld ought to ring in our ears these days, because they embody these high surveillance times.  The quote at the top of the post appears ironical in this context.  The fellow who said it didn't think it was.  Certainly, China is bad about censorship, surveillance, and protest.  But how much better is the US?  How many Americans are familiar with the details of police tactics and behaviour toward protesters at the RNC convention?  How about the ILWU May Day strike that shut down west coast shipping in protest of the Iraq war?  How was the coverage of the anti-war protests?  Getting your Al Jazeera fix on Comcast yet?  Mild examples, yes.  But there is surely much in store.

US taxpayers are funding a lurid palette of next generation surveillance, target, and hit technologies, technologies that are designed to be used on unruly populations ("death chips" anyone?)  In all likelihood, Americans have no idea about this, because they cannot know about this.

It is often said that the Pentagon's $50 billion "black budget" is the second biggest military on earth.  But what it also is, is a secret way to develop "intelligence" technologies without too many people knowing about it, and certainly not that gross societal affliction known as "the public."  Spookier and spookier things are developed for use against the citizens who are unknowingly paying for them.

But Americans are already under surveillance by their own government.  We know of NSA's massive electronic surveillance sweeps.  The FBI's abuse of national security letters, not to mention their massive "biometric database."  The surveillance state has been locally demonstrated by the preemptive arrests at the RNC convention last year. Such thuggish police tactics and phony charges come naturally to people predisposed to believe their surveillance target is actually guilty of something.  This behaviour, rather than being reprimanded, has been rewarded, for the Pentagon recently classified public protest as "low level terrorism." And you know, when terrorism is involved, well, the gloves come off.

Whether the Pentagon will get away with this latest stunt remains to be seen.  But what is important here is the mentality behind the desire to both "cross correlate databases" (as I imagine they think of it), and grow the databases (think of intelligence databases like sharks: they must constantly churn the sea of SIGINT).  That mentality does not go away; not in the Pentagon nor the CIA nor the NSA nor any other intelligence agency.

And it certainly doesn't go away in the corridors of the sleazy grifters known as defense and homeland security contractors, who never need to face lawsuits from the ACLU about calling public protest "low level terrorism."  Besides, they know it is.  And for billions, they will help America pacify that threat.  America is doling it out.  Secretly, of course.


_________________________

* NED has funded the US-based Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI), headed by Ken Timmerman, Peter Rodman and Joshua Muravchick.  NED and the FDI have dumped millions into Iranian oppositions groups since 1995, the year FDI was founded, directly funding teachers unions, labor groups, political parties, oppositional media, etc.  Hilariously, Timmerman then became the author of an article decrying the Obama presidential campaign because "secret, foreign money," was "flooding" his campaign.

  A human stool if ever there was one, Muravchick is the infamously growly neo-con who authored the infamously growly "Bomb Iran" editorial, wherein he proclaimed that a "show of force was the only answer," and promised that turning Iranians into glass figurines would halt the nuclear program, unseat the regime, and bring on world peace.  It remains impossible to know whether they believe this, or if they realize that their first instincts -- blow shit up -- must be publicly tempered with happy talk about democracy, something they clearly see as their best defense against charges of war-mongering imperialism.
Posted in 4GW, IO & Intel by Anderson at 2:12 PMPermalink

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