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“Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianis

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Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003
Chastizing you? Not at all I am just trying to equip you with the basic semantic tools to help you understand the discussion.

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
After a walk through Walmart or Giant Tiger, you'll realize what consumption is. It hit me a few years ago when I was shopping in a U.S.ian Great American Mall just what consumption is. I realized there is stuff you can buy in some American superstores that you just don't see in Canadian stores as big as they are here now. I'm guessing that we must be approaching U.S.ian per person consumption rates though. I've got to exchange my oinkermobile for something more fuel efficient as a start myself.

Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
Yes, Fidel, I understand what consumption is, but I had never heard of a consumption based economy until now. It still sounds stupid to me.

I have never been in a Wal-Mart but it seems to me that they follow some kind of Soviet model, dispensing staples in bulk for use by common folk.

I don't think that you can say people necessarily consume more because of these stores. In fact, there may be less packaging used when you buy in bulk.


Cueball
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What's a "soviet model"? Isn't all production centrally organized, somehow?

Michael Hardner
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quote: What's a "soviet model"? Isn't all production centrally organized, somehow?

There was an image of the Soviet store in the past as dealing with things in huge quantities...


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
I have never been in a Wal-Mart but it seems to me that they follow some kind of Soviet model, dispensing staples in bulk for use by common folk.

The Soviet economy operated on the basis of central planning. As a result of WWI, a civil war, and WWII, there was a shortage of manpower in Russia, something like 8:1 ratio of women to men. Their economies were governed by constraints of manpower and availability of raw materials. Our capitalist economies are said to be ruled by consumer-driven supply and demand to a larger degree. I don't think it's true of all economic sectors though and there is much waste in our system which is just never mentioned by history revisionists and propagandists alike.

Our telecommunications sector in North America essentially has followed the Soviet model. Electronic components used in everything from multimillion dollar telephone switches and routing equipment are often bartered back and forth between companies. The piece of equipment one company produces in all likelihood will be made of hardware and software produced by maybe a handful of preferred equipment manufacturers and silicon chip producers who essentially have enjoyed longterm business relations with one another. It's said that there is very little competition for specialized components because of this arrangement. Accounting in this sector is said to be a nightmare. Canada's own military industrial complex makes high tech components for U.S. weapons makers and the Pentagon, and none of it is figured into our export GDP apprarently.

U.S. military spending amounts to something well over half of annual U.S. budgetary expenditures, and you might be surprised to know just how much of North America's high technology economy originates from publicly-funded research and development. U.S. Defence Department would not pass a federal audit at this time. And it's strange because military spending in the U.S. has been partly responsible to a large degree for contributing to technological achievements and productivity gains in the private sector.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:

There was an image of the Soviet store in the past as dealing with things in huge quantities...

Don't worry about it. It was not a serious question. I was being deliberately obtuse.


jeff house
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Joined: May 7 2001
quote:The Soviet economy operated on the basis of central planning. As a result of WWI, a civil war, and WWII, there was a shortage of manpower in Russia, something like 8:1 ratio of women to men.

OMG! Here you list the reasons there were relatively few men in the USSR under Stalin, and yet fail to mention the Gulag!

Well, surely that's an oversight, and not just airbrushing Stalin again.

For the record, though, here's what U. of T. Professor Michael Marrus, an expert on the Jewish Holocaust, wrote recently about the Gulag:

quote: Death rates reached a high during WW II. More than 350,000 perished in 1942, one in four prisoners, and nearly 268,000, or one in five, in 1943. "In all, well over two million people died in the camps and colonies of the Gulag during the war years, not taking into account those who died in exile and other forms of imprisonment." The total number of prisoner deaths, if I understand Applebaum correctly, is impossible to compute: Official statistics cite 2.75 million, but the true figure is certainly greater. Depending on how and who one counts, and including the executed and non-Soviets, the dead may number 10 million, 12 million or even 20 million. No one knows for sure.

http://www.arlindo-correia.com/gulag1.html


Since you cite figures from World War One (in which perhaps 3 million Russian died)
see stats here, surely the Gulag numbers ought to be figured in!


Michael Hardner
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quote:U.S. military spending amounts to something well over half of annual U.S. budgetary expenditures, and you might be surprised to know just how much of North America's high technology economy originates from publicly-funded research and development. U.S. Defence Department would not pass a federal audit at this time. And it's strange because military spending in the U.S. has been partly responsible to a large degree for contributing to technological achievements and productivity gains in the private sector.

The US has done such a terrible job of managing their country over the past 25 years or so. They spend so much money on the wrong things and their political process focuses on trivial and unimportant issues.

They spend more on healthcare than Canada does, I think, and don't even offer universal coverage. They're spending billions on a war that was intended to keep oil prices low, and we all know how that went.

I would call that mismanaged democracy.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003
quote: The total number of prisoner deaths, if I understand Applebaum correctly, is impossible to compute: Official statistics cite 2.75 million, but the true figure is certainly greater.

According to this account, the total number of deaths could possibly be as high as 300 million, since of course they are "impossible to compute."

But of course these statistics are obviously reidiculous, since of course, all told, including the deaths from the second world war, the great purge, the civil war and WW1 combined would then mean that the total population would have decreased from 1900 to 1945, which it did not. Go find yourself a statistician, instead of an ideologist.

Yet of course, you seem perfectly content to support the wildly innaccurate statistics for Kosavar's killed by Serb in the 1990's, even though forensic scientists have been digging up Kosovo for a decade now, and have not found a single "mass grave."

[ 23 May 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
I would call that mismanaged democracy.

Their's is the most militarized empire in world history. People like Kissinger and Brzezinski have stated that they used mostly passive aggresion to have their way around the world, but the truth is something else as former CIA officials have admitted to employing various dirty tricks and perpetrating terrorism on nations in several continents in recent history.

But the U.S., too, is said to have made extensive use of Soviet-style soft budget constraints in what has been a mixed market economy in America since the 1930's. This mode of stimulating the economy, along with strong public investments in the social service sectors, were what drove U.S. prosperity and economic expansion throughout the cold war and even today despite decades of cutbacks since Reagan. The trouble for American economy began with deregulation of the financial system. FDR's firewall regulations on banking, credit and insurance industries were removed, and now there is a great divide between productive labour economy and that of an expanding money and what British economist JM Keynes first described as "casino economy" since about 1986 or so. Throughout the cold war expansion years, bank interest rates were lower than the rate of North American economic expansion. Today the reverse is true with Canada's money supply approximately 95% privatized since 1991, a watershed year for forcing highly propagandized political and economic ideology on the masses. Trillions of speculative dollars float around the world by stocks and derivatives trades. Meanwhile there are nearly seven billion people in the world, and most of them live in grinding poverty. We need long term investments in green infrastructure and in people not short-term speculation for the sake of "dynamism" in capitalist markets, or however they tend to explain it to us.


contrarianna
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quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:

They're spending billions on a war that was intended to keep oil prices low...

Intended to keep prices low? Who informed you of that, or is it an independent assessment?


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by jeff house:
Since you cite figures from World War One (in which perhaps 3 million Russian died)
see stats here, surely the Gulag numbers ought to be figured in!

What to do, Jeff? What if you knew the same fascist country that attacked Russia, and twice inside of a ten-year span, was using slave labour to accelerate the building of a corporate-sponsored war machine? The Nazis and their friends in the corporate world worked millions of human beings to death, Jeff. At least they tried to feed and pay the Russians. Many Jews said being shipped to Stalin's gulags saved their lives as a result.

quote:On 1998-MAR-4, Elsa Iwanowa filed a federal class action suit against the Ford Motor Company and Ford Werke A.G. She was allegedly employed as a slave laborer in a Ford manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. She seeks "reasonable payment for the work performed and the disgorgement of unfair profits." 4 Records show that slave labor accounted for as many as half the workers at the Cologne plant. Slave workers at the Ford plant allegedly lived in "wooden huts, without running water, heat or storage. Locked in the huts at night, the workers, mostly adolescent children, slept in three-tiered wooden bunks without bedding. Food consisted of two paltry meals a day. Workers who became ill were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Failure to meet production quotas led to beatings from Ford security officers or other plant workers." 5

Ford Motor Company (USA) owned from 55 to 90% of the shares of its subsidiary Ford Werke A.G. during 1933 to 1945. "Edsel Ford and Robert Sorenson, high-ranking officials of Ford Motor Company, served as directors of Ford Werke A.G. throughout the Nazi Third Reich." 4 The lawsuit alleges that the company made immense profits providing the German army with tracked vehicles and other trucks. This was because it worked at peak capacity for many years, and did not have to pay wages to many of its workers. Unlike most American facilities in Germany, Ford was not taken over by the German government during the war. Ford and Hitler seems to have had a friendly relationship. "On Henry Ford's 75th birthday in 1938, Hitler awarded Ford the 'Great Cross of the German Order of the Eagle' for Henry Ford's publication of the notorious anti-Semitic pamphlet, 'The International Jew, a Worldwide Problem' [Berlin, 1921]."

sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL!!! sieg HEIL!!! [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]


Michael Hardner
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quote:Intended to keep prices low? Who informed you of that, or is it an independent assessment?

I'm basing that on a comment made by George W Bush Sr. after Gulf War I. He stated that if that war hadn't happened "we'd be paying xxx for oil now"...

This rationale seems to me to make more sense than either the WMD, "war for Democracy in the Middle East" that were officially offered, or than the various conspiracy theories that are offered on the other side.

[ 26 May 2008: Message edited by: Michael Hardner ]


contrarianna
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quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:

I'm basing that on a comment made by George W Bush Sr. after Gulf War I. He stated that if that war hadn't happened "we'd be paying xxx for oil now"...

This rationale seems to me to make more sense than either the WMD, "war for Democracy in the Middle East" that were officially offered, or than the various conspiracy theories that are offered on the other side.
[ 26 May 2008: Message edited by: Michael Hardner ]


There is a difference between the desire of the US and its oil corporations to control Middle East oil, and a desire to make gas less expensive for the consumer.
The two aren't in anyway the same thing and it would take more gullibility than the average "conspiracy theorist" to think so.
You would do better to look at oil company profits this last year than the consumer crying at the pump.

Michael Hardner
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quote:There is a difference between the desire of the US and its oil corporations to control Middle East oil, and a desire to make gas less expensive for the consumer.

The two aren't in anyway the same thing and it would take more gullibility than the average "conspiracy theorist" to think so.
You would do better to look at oil company profits this last year than the consumer crying at the pump.

"Control oil" to what end ? The US economy is much more than just the oil industry, and everything does better when oil prices are under control.

Reagan's presidency was marked by lower oil prices, for example.

I might be gullible, but please engage me, and explain why they would want oil prices to be high right now.


contrarianna
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quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:


"Control oil" to what end ? The US economy is much more than just the oil industry, and everything does better when oil prices are under control.

Reagan's presidency was marked by lower oil prices, for example.
I might be gullible, but please engage me, and explain why they would want oil prices to be high right now.

My original comment was not that everyone wanted oil prices higher, just that "keeping oil prices low" was not a cause for the war.

I'm not sure who you mean by "they" in your last sentence but if you are referring to the oil industry as I did, then they have only tangential concern for the US economy in general--and certainly not above their corporate bottom lines (which are doing extremely well, thank you). Oil stocks regularly move inversely to US markets, and the oil industry has its own rapidly growing global markets (though that will not protect them too much in a major crash).

If you are including in "they" the US government, then the picture is more complicated. For one thing, as well as the usual battalion of oil lobbyists, this particular government is unusually weighted with oil-connected individuals, so there is already some conflict of interest between oil the wellbeing of general economy (as per the previous paragraph).
Another reason for the US occupation is one of long term hegemony: securing and expanding the empire (which necessitates control of energy reserves). This is laid out not by some "conspiracy theorists" but by the government itself in it's various iterations and final official adoption of it's Strategic Planning Guidance. An good review of this document is provided in the Harper's Oct. 2002 article:

"Dick Cheney's song of America:
Drafting a plan for global dominance
By David Armstrong

An essay exploring the real origins of the Iraq War, written before the war started."

Harpers


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
Surveilling the lives of others

quote:As ACLU Washington Legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said in her denunciation of the proposed "compromise,"

"This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans' communications. The court review is mere window-dressing -- all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole -- 'exigent' circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all."


"The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them." ("ACLU Condemns FISA Deal, Declares Surveillance Bill Unconstitutional," American Civil Liberties Union, Press Release, June 19, 2008)

You sneeze while speaking over your cell phone with your girlfriend, and you hear "gesundheit" twice! "God Bless America, apple pie, whiiiiite picket fences. And hang those ..." - a Cambridge spy in America


George Victor
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Would hate to see this thread disappear with Canada Day, given the importance of contributions like that of N.Beltov , May 21, on morale (see Bad Money thread).

Development of the need to encompass the aspirations of today's "working class" in goals for society's future could perhaps be rounded out in discussion of this scribbler's old hobbyhorse, the "command economy".

Or not. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]


N.Beltov
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Perhaps, George, we can all use the occasion of Canada's political birthday to imagine the sort of Canada we'd like to see, free of current defensive struggles to defend what we have, and let others call us dreamers. Such spiritually uplifting exercises are useful because they recharge our social and political batteries.

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
Netroots against domestic surveillance of the lives of others

quote:Online activists from the right and the left announced an unprecedented campaign Tuesday to hold Democratic lawmakers accountable for caving in to the Bush administration on domestic spying.
A group of high-profile progressive bloggers and libertarian Republicans are rolling out a new political action committee called Accountability Now to channel widespread anger over pending legislation that would legalize much of the president's warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans, and grant retroactive legal immunity to telephone companies that cooperated with the spying when it was still illegal.

"Blue dog Democrats"?


Fidel
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Crazy George II Signs Expanded Wiretap Power into Law

quote:President Bush signed a bill into law Thursday that broadens the government's surveillance power. . . The package includes a controversial clause that grants immunity to telecommunications companies that participate in National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks . . . The new provisions allow the U.S. Justice Department and National Security Agency (NSA) to recruit telephone companies to bug their customers' phone conversations, and prohibit lawsuits against the telecoms for privacy rights violations. The measure also protects the companies against suits for past wiretaps. That means lawsuits will likely be dropped against AT&T and Verizon that charged they had violated privacy rights by tapping their customers phone lines at the request of the NSA

Spying on the lives of others with impunity.

[ 11 July 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


Fidel
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Multibillion "Homeland Security" Market: Telecoms Assist in NSA Spy Operations

quote:And since Sprint, AT&T or Verizon don't actually own their own cellular towers, TowerCo, the company that does, "learns some information on every mobile phone that communicates with one of its towers." But it gets worse, much worse. According to Soghoian, this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

There are companies that provide "backhaul" connections between towers and the carriers, providers of sophisticated billing services, outsourced customer-service centers, as well as Interexchange Carriers, which help to route calls from one phone company to another. All of these companies play a role in the wireless industry, have access to significant amounts of sensitive customer information, which of course, can be obtained (politely, or with a court order) by the government.

As we know, perverse laws such as the USA Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, not to mention FBI National Security Letters come with ready-made gag orders attached that forbid companies--or anyone else so served--from disclosing any information to the public or those whom the state is spying upon. Gidari told CNET,

Exclusive: Widespread cell phone location snooping by NSA?

The lives of others for sure. The East German Stasi were only playing around compared to today's techno-fascistas.


George Victor
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Ronal Wright's What Is America: A Short History of the New World Order is just out. It gallops across 500 years from Columbus - 226 pages of history and 125 pages of notes.

Seems to me a separae look at Wright, but taking off from this thread, is warranted, coming down to the election. Gotta' try to make sense of it, place it in historical context, somehow. Deer Hunting helped.


George Victor
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June 29, 2008 - 6:21am #79 (permalink)

Would hate to see this thread disappear with Canada Day, given the importance of contributions like that of N.Beltov , May 21, on morale (see Bad Money thread).

Development of the need to encompass the aspirations of today's "working class" in goals for society's future could perhaps be rounded out in discussion of this scribbler's old hobbyhorse, the "command economy".

Or not


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

I cannot find a way to add a couple of lines to the above post, so here goes another entry.

This author has been revived in a very interesting political posting on his speculations about the U.S.political future in the face of economic meltdown.

Do our thoughts from last spring (the earlier postings) still make sense?


Fidel
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The Spy Factory: The New Thought Police The NSA Wants to Know How and WHAT You Think
Quote:

The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a tool that George Orwell's Thought Police might have found useful: an artificial intelligence system designed to gain insight into what people are thinking.

With the entire Internet and thousands of databases for a brain, the device will be able to respond almost instantaneously to complex questions posed by intelligence analysts. As more and more data is collected—through phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation, Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records—it may one day be possible to know not just where people are and what they are doing, but what and how they think.

The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.

Getting Aquaint

Known as Aquaint, which stands for "Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence," the project was run for many years by John Prange, an NSA scientist at the Advanced Research and Development Activity. Headquartered in Room 12A69 in the NSA's Research and Engineering Building at 1 National Business Park, ARDA was set up by the agency to serve as a sort of intelligence community DARPA, the place where former Reagan national security advisor John Poindexter's infamous Total Information Awareness project was born. [Editor's note: TIA was a short-lived project founded in 2002 to apply information technology to counter terrorist and other threats to national security.] Later named the Disruptive Technology Office, ARDA has now morphed into the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

Not satisfied with spying on the lives of others, now US shadow feds want to surveil the minds of others


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Democracy Going Dark The FBI's Multi-Billion "High-Tech Surveillance" Program

Quote:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's budget request for Fiscal Year 2010 reveals that America's political police intend to greatly expand their high-tech surveillance capabilities.

According to ABC News, the FBI is seeking additional funds for the development of "a new 'Advanced Electronic Surveillance' program which is being funded at $233.9 million for 2010. The program has 133 employees, 15 of whom are agents."

Known as "Going Dark," the program is designed to beef up the Bureau's already formidable electronic surveillance, intelligence collection and evidence gathering capabilities "as well as those of the greater Intelligence Community," ABC reports. An FBI spokesperson told the network:

"The term 'Going Dark' does not refer to a specific capability, but is a program name for the part of the FBI, Operational Technology Division's (OTD) lawful interception program which is shared with other law enforcement agencies."

"The term applies to the research and development of new tools, technical support and training initiatives." (Jason Ryan, "DOJ Budget Details High-Tech Crime Fighting Tools," ABC News, May 9, 2009)

 

The former East German Stasi werent this spooky


Fidel
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NSA spooks continue to monitor millions of American emails and telephone calls

 

Quote:

Several current and former agents within the National Security Agency (NSA), speaking on condition of anonymity, have told the New York Times that the spy agency likely monitors millions of e-mail communications and telephone calls made by Americans. The new revelations follow the disclosure in April that the NSA's monitoring of domestic e-mail traffic broke the law in 2008 and 2009.

 

Last year, Congress passed legislation providing the NSA greater latitude to spy on the communications of Americans, so long as it resulted inadvertently from the agency's efforts to spy on foreigners or those it "reasonably believed" to be outside US borders. This authorized the NSA to intercept tens of millions of e-mail and phone communications that pass through American telecommunication "gateways." The measure was attached to a congressional law granting immunity to telecommunications companies that turned over private phone records to federal authorities.

 

Among those voting for the bill was then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. In all, 293 members of the House and 69 senators voted to pass the bill.

 


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

FBI Data-Mining Programs Resurrect "Total Information Awareness" [excerpts]

Quote:
From the wholesale use of informants and provocateurs to stifle political dissent, to Wi-Fi hacking and viral computer spyware to follow our every move, the FBI has turned massive data-mining of personal information into a growth industry. In the process they are building the surveillance state long been dreamed of by American securocrats.

A chilling new report by investigative journalist Ryan Singel provides startling details of how the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) is quietly morphing into the Total Information Awareness (TIA) system of convicted Iran-Contra felon, Admiral John M. Poindexter....

...personal details on customers have been provided to the Bureau by the Wyndham Worldwide hotel chain "which includes Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson and Hawthorn Suites." Additional records were obtained from the Avis rental car company and Sears department stores.

Singel reports that the Bureau is planning a massive expansion of NSAC, one that would enlarge the scope, and mission, of the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) and the file-crunching, privacy-killing Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW).

"Among the items on its wish list," Singel writes, "is the database of the Airlines Reporting Corporation - a company that runs a backend system for travel agencies and airlines." If federal snoops should obtain ARC's data-sets, the FBI would have unlimited access to "billions of American's itineraries, as well as the information they give to travel agencies, such as date of birth, credit card numbers, names of friends and family, e-mail addresses, meal preferences and health information."

The publication reports that the system "is both a meta-search engine - querying many data sources at once - and a tool that performs pattern and link analysis." Internal FBI documents reveal that despite growing criticism of the alleged "science" of data-mining, including a stinging 2008 report by the prestigious National Research Council, for all intents and purposes the Bureau will transform NSAC into a low-key version of Adm. Poindexter's Information Awareness Office....

As Antifascist Calling revealed earlier this year, one private security outfit, the now-defunct Highway Watch which worked closely with the FBI, used "social network theory" and "link analysis," and cited the group's legal political organizing, including "increased membership via the internet" and "public appearances at various locations across the US," as a significant factor that rendered the group a "legitimate" target for heightened surveillance and COINTELPRO-style disruption.

Singel also disclosed that NSAC shared data "with the Pentagon's controversial Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office, a secretive domestic-spying unit which collected data on peace groups, including the Quakers, until it was shut down in 2008."


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