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The Department of Defense ran an elaborate "Psy-Op" against the American people when it was selling the invasion of Iraq. The New York Times' David Barstow penned a superb front-page story on Sunday based on thousands of newly released Pentagon emails. Like everything else Iraq-related we learned that it is far worse than even the most cynical among us expected.
What Barstow has revealed is the degree of coordination between these "analysts" and the civilian leadership at the Pentagon as well as the astounding conflicts of interests these former officers had. Not only did these officers who dominated our television screens on Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC, loudly beating the war drums during the months leading up to the U.S. invasion, have special access to Pentagon "talking points" to promote the lies that led us into war (i.e. WMDs, Saddam-Al Qaeda links, etc.) but these men also were poised to line their own pockets through their lobbying firms and by serving on the boards of military contracting corporations that stood to make fortunes if the war became a reality.
Nothing is more despicable than former military officers behaving like a bunch of Enron executives committing treason by knowingly lying to the American people about matters relating to war and peace. I always feared that the "ticket punchers" who climbed the officer ranks during the Vietnam War might not turn out to be men of character (compared to the WW II-Korea era), but now there is empirical proof.
Throughout the Nineties, many governments have spent huge sums on the research, development, procurement and deployment of new technology for their police, para-military and internal security forces. The objective of this development work has been to increase and enhance each agency's policing capacities. A dominant assumption behind this technocratisation of the policing process, is the belief that it has created both a faster policing response time and a greater cost-effectiveness. The main aim of all this effort has been to save policing resources by either automating certain forms of control, amplifying the rate of particular activities, or decreasing the number of officers required to perform them.
The resultant innovations in the technology of political control have been functionally designed to yield an extension of the scope, efficiency and growth of policing power. The extent to which this process can be judged to be a legitimate one depends both on one's point of view and the level of secrecy and accountability built into the overall procurement and deployment procedures. The full implications of such developments may take time to assess. It is argued that one impact of this process is the militarisation of the police and the para-militarisation of the army as their roles, equipment and procedures begin to overlap. This phenomena is seen as having far reaching consequences on the way that future episodes of sub-state violence is handled, and influencing whether those involved are reconciled, managed, repressed, 'lost' or efficiently destroyed.
What is emerging in certain quarters is a chilling picture of ongoing innovation in the science and technology of social and political control, including: semi-intelligent zone-denial systems using neural networks which can identify and potentially punish unsanctioned behaviour; the advent of global telecommunications surveillance systems using voice recognition and other biometric techniques to facilitate human tracking; data-veillance systems which can match computer held data to visual recognition systems or identify friendship maps simply by analysing the telephone and email links between who calls whom; new sub-lethal incapacitating weapons used both for prison and riot control as well as in sub-state conflict operations other than war; new target acquisition aids, lethal weapons and expanding dum-dum like ammunition which although banned by the Geneva conventions for use against other state's soldiers, is finding increasing popularity amongst SWAT and special forces teams; discreet order vehicles designed to look like ambulances on prime time television but which can deploy a formidable array of weaponry to provide a show of force in countries like Indonesia or Turkey, or spray harassing chemicals or dye onto protestors. Such marking appears to be kid-glove lin its restraint but tags all protestors so that the snatch squads can arrest them later, out of the prying lenses of CNN.