Posts Tagged ‘Militarization’

The Militarization of Outer Space: The Pentagon’s “Space Warriors”

By Tom Burghardt – BLN Contributing Writer

It’s not as if things aren’t bad enough right here on planet earth.

What with multiple wars and occupations, an accelerating economic meltdown, corporate malfeasance and environmental catastrophes such as the petroleum-fueled apocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d say we have a full plate already.

Now the Defense Department wants to up the stakes with new, destabilizing weapons systems that will transform low- and high-earth orbit into another “battlespace,” pouring billions into programs to achieve what Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has long dreamed of: “space dominance.”

Indeed, Pentagon space warriors fully intend to field a robust anti-satellite (ASAT) capability that can disable, damage or destroy the satellites of other nations, all for “defensive” purposes, mind you.

Back in 2005, The New York Times reported that General Lance W. Lord, then commander of AFSPC, told an Air Force conference that “space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. … Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.”

Five years on, that “mission” is still a top priority for the Obama administration. While some might call it “net-centric warfare” on steroids, I’d choose another word: madness.

SEE ALSO:
*Why a pro-draft Chief of Staff is a big deal.

-”America’s Army” war recruitment tool video games going to US high schools.

The story didn’t surprise me when I seen this the other night, but I found these NYTimes photos mindblowing:

“Before it was more about the basics,” said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. “But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling.”

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.


That said, the Explorers have faced problems over the years. There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them.


The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average, but there seems to be some wiggle room. “I will take them at 13 and a half,” Deputy Lowenthal said. “I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid.”

Of course they make children being trained as domestic military officers as a good thing:

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

“Our end goal is to create more agents,” said April McKee, a senior Border Patrol agent and mentor at the session here.

They have 2,000 “law enforcement posts” nationwide, with 35,000 stooges.

Infowars:

Given recent concerns over the DHS definition of “right wing extremists” and the agency’s penchant to affiliate veterans, gun owners, Ron Paul supporters and even those who question the mainstream media with terrorists, one wonders exactly who the boy scouts are being trained to target.

The Explorer program also touches close to home with recent concerns regarding President Barack Obama’s promised “civilian national security force”.

In Nazi Germany, the Hitler Youth succeeded the Boy Scout movement. Hitler Youth training was militarized in comparison to the Boy Scout network, which was largely based around education. Boys aged fourteen and upwards, as well as a separate branch aged 10-14, were trained at preparatory schools to become future Nazi leaders. At its height in 1940, and after it had become mandatory to join, the Hitler Youth boasted no less than 8 million members.

Apparently in a shift away from the traditional Boy Scouts activities of sports, camping, survival skills and team leadership, the government is now training children “to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence” under the banner of the Explorers program, with the aid of military-style exercises aimed at subduing insurgents.

The 2007 film, Riddles In Stone” sheds interesting light on the founder of the Boy Scouts of America.

MORE:

Boy Scouts Train to Become Homeland Gestapo


Ignorance Is Futile:

Bush’s former Chief of Staff Andrew Card unwittingly explains why Obama’s CoS being a supporter of a “civilian national security force” might even be worse than Obama supporting it.

In an old Daily Show interview Andy Card explains how a CoS literally serves as the gate-keeper to what the president is told and who he talks to. Click for video. So what this means with Obama, in the sense that maybe the “civilian national security force” he mentioned isn’t an actual agenda, if it is his CoS’s agenda then he may help guide Obama’s perceptions into unwittingly but consciously entering into the same agenda.

Now with Obama‘s CoS-elect, Rahm Emanuel, it turns out that that’s been his agenda for several years. In fact, that seems to be the sort of thing that has gotten him spots, in the past before Obama, on the news. Besides, Obama did explain that as an agenda, so even if some of the other cabinet members might be able to guide other perceptions from outside of the bubble, it’s irrelevant anyways.

So it’s as simple as that, just so long as you’re aware of the details in the other links in this post.

Danger Room:

Today, only experienced Air Force pilots are allowed to remotely-operate the American fleet of killer drones. Tomorrow, the heavily-armed robotic planes could be flown by 19 year-olds, barely out of basic training.

The Army and Marine Corps use Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spy on suspected militants. Not only are they smaller, cheaper, lighter, and lower-flying than the Air Force’s array of missile-laden Predator and Reaper drones. But Shadows are considered a “tactical assets,” meant to watch over relatively small patches of ground, for relatively small units. Predators, on the other hand, are “theater” or “operational-level” assets — controlled by generals, and sent all over.

Continue reading “New Killer Drones Could be Piloted by Teenagers” »

Italian Translation HERE.

By Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

Amidst all the potential nasties, I fear one thing most. And this one reason alone is why I’ve deeply felt for some time that he will surely be the one “elected”. And I’ll premptively point out that the list of reasons that precedes this one thing almost wholeheartedly applies to McCain as well (worse in many cases).This won’t be a reason any Liberal or Conservative would ever expect, nor is the preceding list hardly particular in any ‘wedge issue’ topic. Vote None of the Above!

So is it…

…because Obama & Biden voted on the economic bailout bill ?
This is so massive I don’t even know where to begin.

…because Obama has set campaign funding record history in donations from the corporate & banking establishment(s) ?
It’s striking that for the first time a Democrat has recieved more investments in these areas than the Republicans. Why would they invest in him?

…because Obama constantly talks about ‘giving the little guy (YOU) a fair shot’, and then refuses to attend a Presidential debate featuring nominees from the other ‘third’ parties ?

…because he’s calling for a Stasi-like “national security force” consisting of middle & high school children that is larger than the US military ?

…because Obama’s proposal for a civilian national security force “just as well funded” as the US military means costs somewhere towards the $1trillion per year that the Pentagon already enjoys ?

…because he “believes” in the delusional “War on Terror” ? Link 1 Link 2 Link 3

…because Joe Biden is a “War on Terror” fearmonger who during the Dem debates spouted off the same fearmongering rhetoric as the GOP’s Neocons were using ?

…because Obama lies about al Qaeda being “stronger than ever” in order to fear-monger the population into supporting the Establishments foreign policy with him as the only solution ?

…because Obama is just another pawn of the privately-owned tyrannical Federal Reserve ?
The FR has devalued the dollar to being worth less than 4 cents since its inception in 1913. The monetary system orchestrated by the FR is designed to suck the wealth from the lower & middle classes while preserving the riches of the wealthy. When the system is designed to exploit the weaker, limited tax cuts for the poor have a marginal effect, meanwhile an expanded war machine adjusts the tax losses for a marked portion of the elite, and an ever increasing National Debt ensures more profits for the bulk of the national bankers.
The Federal Reserve helped create the original Great Depression, and now they’ve done the same by helping to cause the ‘New Great Depression’ via the Subprime Mortgage disaster. Now “the Fed” is gaining more power in the fallout.

…because Obama, like McCain, supports the notion of a military draft (sounds similar to annual legislative proposals from another Democrat -who endorsed him- for a ‘universal’ military draft that includes all women ages 18-40) ?
“If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some” – Barack Hussein Obama.

…because VP Biden is a War on Drugs hawk, a “war” which in practice undermines and persecutes minorities in particular ?

…because Obama gloats about mentioning the Middle Class while ignoring the ‘Lower Class’ in the same event and showing disdain for them on other occasions ?

…Biden voted for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which abolished education grants for prisoners ?

…because Obama voted for the new FISA Act, which granted immunity to telecommunication corporations for illegal wiretapping , and runaway governmental wiretapping ?

…because Barack didn’t support Dennis Kucinich’s drive to impeach Bush & Cheney, stating that “impeachment is not acceptable” ?

…because Obama has pledged to let Bush’s crimes remain buried for all time ?

…because Obama & Biden disregard the fact that the primary motivation for 9/11 terror attacks on the US is US foreign policy itself (meaning that continuing the perpetual war policy literally means never ending perpetual war) ?

…because Obama talks about ending the occupation of Iraq, but then votes to fund it ?

…because Obama claims to advocate closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but has not supported two specific bills that would have done so ?

…because Obama wants to expand taxes in general, but in particular implement a “global tax” ?

…because Zbignew Brzezinski, his chief foreign policy adviser, is a flagrant neoliberal global imperialist who essentially created “Osama Bin Laden” and the “War on Terror” ?

…because he supports BushCo.’s Russian border missile “defense shield”, which is their ‘solution’ of creating a “New Cold War” to ensure perpetual wars even with an eroding notion of a never-ending “War on Terror” ?
Link

…Obama & Biden voted for the PATRIOT Act, which dissolved majority of the Bill of Rights ?

…because Biden drafted legislation after the Oklahoma City Bombing, which was defeated for being too radical, and later claimed the PATRIOT Act was virtually the same bill ?

…because Obama told his supporters to “I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face ?

…because Joe Biden supports what amounts to runaway copyright laws expanding “Big 5” media content protection ? Because Biden bends over for expanded FBI powers, and supports banning private citizens rights to using software encryption ? Because Biden has about the most dismal Cyber Rights voting record possible including Dept. of Justice prosecution of file sharers and making it a felony to record Internet radio ? Link

…because Obama was soft on HR1951 / S1959, which was the open embracement of the modern day COINTELPRO which was used to violently repress civil rights groups (Black Panthers, etc) in the 60’s and 70’s ?

…because Joe Biden supports stripping US citizens rights & ability to defend itself (from tyrannical government) with firearms ?

…because Obama in Illinois as a state legislator supported banning the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic firearms, and then some ?

…because VP Joe Biden promised a Supreme Court ruling on mandatory “Verichip” implants for the US population ?

…because he’s just another front for NAFTA, even though he pretends he isn’t ?

…because despite criticising the “Politics of Fear”, he still supports both the War on Terror & Global Warming ?
After years of propaganda from each side on these matters he doesn’t even have to directly engage in pure fearmongering. He merely needs to mention the issues and support them. The effects of others fearmongering is already there to invoke. FACT: there isn’t an actual consensus on man made “Global Warming”.

…because he’s for an expanded global government UN ?
(This goes without saying)

…because Obama is a first term Senator, meaning we don’t even have a clear record of who we’re dealing with ?

…because he doesn’t speak about nor does his campaign respond to the Depleted Uranium US munitions issue ?
It turns out that most US military tank rounds -amongst many other munition types- are made from DU, which has a 4 billion year half-life and causes birth defects in now multiple countries where it has been used by US forces since the first Gulf War.

…because Obama hasn’t answered the question whether or not the President can declare war without the Congress ?
US Constitution says that “Congress shall have the power.. to declare war”. After WW2 the 2 Party System hasn’t declared a single war although fighting in dozens, arguably hasn’t won any, and many of them last to this day (Korea for example). The “Authorization” process has resulted in Vietnam & Iraq as prime examples.

…because, despite all the ‘Strengthening the Middle Class” & “regulations” rhetoric, Obama fronts for Wall Street’s corrupt infrastructure ?
The old axiom ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ sure comes to mind, but it goes further than just that. Link 1 Link2 Link 3 Link 4 Link 5

…because Obama dodges the new 9/11 investigation issue, and for sure doesn’t speak about it whatsoever ? Or because Joe Biden rabidly opposes a real investigation ?
Regardless of your view, it doesn’t take much research to conclude that the 9/11 Commission “investigation” was a total farce, and that the stakes are so high in this regard that to not insist on a full investigation goes beyond mere national suicide.
UPDATE: The day before 9/11, Joe Biden predicted 9/11’esque attacks, and then, in the days following Sept. 11th, he met with the Pakistani General who funded Mohammed Atta. Mahmood Ahmed, the General and head of the CIA-linked ISI, that was in Washington DC meeting with majority leaders of Congress during the attacks of 9/11, was never even mentioned during the 9/11 Commission hearings.

…because his wife and he are both Council on Foreign Relations members ?
The CFR is the ideological powerhouse organization in which te past 90 years worth of never ending “American Imperialism” perpetual war may be mostly to attributed to. The list of some members of this group should speak for itself: George H. W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Allen Welsh Dulles, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Walter Lippmann, John McCain, David Rockefeller, Fred Thompson, Herbert Hoover, Michael R. Bloomberg, Sandy Berger, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Robert M. Gates, Gary Hart, John Kerry, Irving Kristol, John D. Negroponte, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Gerald Ford, Rupert Murdoch, Porter J. Goss & Newt Gingrich. BUT, not only does the CFR steer American Imperialism, its the powerhouse driving one world government. One example is the whole “North American Union” controversy. The NAU is driven almost completely by the CFR, whose mission resembles the dictatorial European Union. Much more can be said of this but these entries are meant to be short. NAU Link 1 NAU Link 2 NAFTA Link 1 SPP Link 1

…because he preached fearmongering to a foreign crowd in Germany about rampant border-less ‘threats’, where he in effect called for a “New World Order” without using those particular words ?

…because Obama and Dick Cheney of all people on earth are cousins (in a similar vein to how Bush & John Kerry are cousins) ?
So a few of these might seem flimsy, but that doesn’t discount my other points while when you add them in its just gets uglier and uglier.

…because his economic adviser (since Barack’s Illinois Senate campaign), Austan “the ghoul” Goolsbee, is Skull & Bones the same as the Bush’s and even John Kerry, despite there not being more than 900 living members of this nefarious organization at any giving time ?
At one point, during its rule, the Bush administration contained 11 S&B members, not to mention his dad and brother Jeb.

…because he’s another in a long line of Israel Lobby politicians ?
This is another touchy subject, but the fact remains that the Palestinians weren’t the ones who expelled the Jews from Israel, and in the modern sense there are ‘private citizen’ Zionist terrorists who commit the same atrocities as the Muslim extremists. And even though the Israeli government performs ‘Big Brother’ operationsagainst the Zionist terrorists -who literally call for genocide against their enemy- the vast majority of policies and actions by said Israeli government still complement their work just the same. The legacy of the Israeli government has been compared to the ‘apartheid’ South African regimes of decades past, but name calling happened in those decades. So for Obama to support the Israeli government has rammifications paralleling supporting the confederate leadership during the US “Civil” War. Now for the touchy side, Israel means lots of things for lots of different people.There are lots of different justificiations or rather rationalizations for continuing blind support for Israeli policies , that I don’t have time to get into here. But suffice to say, many assume it has to do with Biblical scripture, but the part that doesn’t make sense is we still find the same support by the so-called ‘heathen’ Liberal elitists. The answer to this paradox is the key to understanding the whole point of Israel: Israel is simply a US imperial beach-headfortress in the Middle East, to ensure American Imperialism over the Middle East. Which means their tyrannical policies get the blind eye, not that the Israeli Lobby runs the United States.

…because advanced computer analysis of his speeches has him as the “king of spin” compared to even the likes of Bush and Giuliani ?

…because BushCo. has already spent 8 years on turning the White House and the Imperial Presidency into a centralized dictatorial powerhouse, but Obama has failed to make sweeping & itemized promises to undo it all while he’ll be quite busy doing all of his other “change” to assume he’ll actually focus on cleaning up the dictatorial presidential executive orders, congressional legislation and over 1100 executive signing statements ?

NO! None of those are the reason.

I’m quite ‘used to’ those sorts of travesties & tyrannies already.

The reason is actually more simple and subtle: Crowd Control.

The Answer: Nobody can possibly subdue the masses like Obama can. That’s why he’s the Ruling Establishment’s man. After 8 years of BushCo. over half the population aren’t just pissed, they’re in complete distrust of the government in general. The control scheme to keep us ignorant and asleep is falling apart at the seams. And even more important than just having a pissed off political party the nations youth are waking up at an ‘alarming’ rate. The youth are the ones who protest. And Black’s have a history of rioting, while the current economic meltdown promises to underhand Blacks in particular.

Only Obama can can get the bulk Democrat’s, The Youth and Minorities under his wing, while at the same time not having too much of the GOP base pissed to all whits end. Consider if Hillary would have “won”: virtually the entire GOP base would have been up in arms. While there will still be an us vs. them sense of defeat and so forth, the same amount of hate wouldn’t exist, especially not right away. And since Obama is apparently in a position to start taking on Neocon foreign policy positions he seems poised keep even some of the staunchest Neocon types content.Besides Hillary wouldn’t have ever had the Obama effect on The Youth.

Meanwhile, it’s The Youth in particular that must be put under wraps. Further, considering African American voter disfranchisement in the past 2 presidential elections, I’d say that they’re already a whits end. What better way to garner their unbridled support than to allow them to ‘vote’ for a ‘Black’ man? For the majority of the population to be willingly controlled, we must trust, we must “Believe In” the system in general and the election process in particular.

————

Let’s say you happen to be amongst the puppeteers who run the big show from behind the scenes. Like if you were one of the many deeply embedded in the Military Industrial Complex, the central banking scheme, the Big 5 Media, etc. You know, the people that steer (electioneer) and even rig the elections. The “Disaster Capitalists” whose portfolios are set to make profits off of any and nearly all disasters. The people who seek world government aka global domination, and who use the United States as the machine to make that a reality.

Well if you’re one of these people then you face a serious problem: you can’t control a system when most of its population doesn’t trust you. Likewise, you can’t control an alert population. Most importantly: you can’t maintain a system of quiet domination when the youth of it are angry, and are making noise in the streets. Enter Obama.

To maintain a hegemonic system of never ending perpetual war -bent on global domination- you need a subdued and dumbed down citizenry. In particular, you need the youth not only ignorant to the hard truth, but you also need them to believe in your government. Therefore, the more cult-like you can get them the better.

For a spell Bush enjoyed such a scenario. But where it lacked, especially after the invasion of Iraq, was only about half the population idolized he and ‘his’ government. It wasn’t too long before one half of the population cursed his name to the ranks of Hitler, and nowadays maybe half of his own ‘cult’ doesn’t dodge him like the plague. Many who once gobbled up his every breathe as truth handed down from God Almighty now have awoken to the morbid truth of a nightmare that runs much deeper than Bush and his cronies. That nightmare is best known as the “American Dream”.

Back to the ‘criminal profiler’ view, as central social engineering planners, by necessity of career and worldview, you see the ’08 election coming. You’ve had several years to study ‘your’ ‘market’ and ‘your’ ‘audience’. So as you and your think-tanks contemplate the best way to ensure your future goals, it would already be obvious that you need your masses truly on board. Total subservience; Total acquiescence; Or at least as close as possible.

But now, during the final stages of your plot for world control, of true militaristic technological totalitarianism, you face the youth in new ways. Many things, but 2 things in particular, besides ‘the war’ itself, compel them. First, the nation is barreling towards being $10 trillion in national debt, which means its the youth in particular in trouble. Second, there’s this pesky new thing known as the Internet helping the masses wake up to the reality that your controlled media ‘pentopoly’ would normally divert them from.

In this 21st Century reality you need a 21st Century ‘leader’ to whip the 21st Century masses into an all-time cultish fervor. The obvious choice would be Barack Hussein Obama. You really couldn’t ask for more from your position. It’s the best of both worlds, and after-all, thanks to careful engineering over many decades, there are only 2 realities for the masses to pick from (Left or Right).

After nearly 8 years of rabid hatred from most of the one half, and the youth of the typically marginalized masses beginning to wake up, you must get these segments of your control scheme under wraps. Especially considering each have the War doctrine among the top items of their lists. When you’re executing Vietnam’esque policy you can’t have a repeat of the response to such. You’ve already learned that lesson.

The solution to maintaining your policy goals is not to actually strip away the policies, but rather send in the perfect man to convince the masses that the policies will “change” and therefore they can go back to bed. You need the perfect oratory hitman, from your own ranks, of course. And the masses need him, because after most of a lifetime of deep-concerns revolving around ballgames, TV commercials and power-shopping they are a strained citizenry in light of the painful truth of modern years.

So with Obama its a slam dunk. By gearing the foreign policy just right, you’ll be able to keep much of the Right at least content. You will only be able to please the some of the staunchest pro-war-mongers so far, but that’s ok because many of them are already over with “BushCo.” obsession. Meanwhile, again, most Youth & Democrats & Minorities will be put back to sleep.

Recently in my posting of the Obama Calls For National Civilian Stasi story I pointed how how his calling for all middle & high school children to perform every year in a “National Security Force” (spy on your neighbors, etc) I pointed out the parallels with Democrat Charley Rangel’s annual legislative push (since Iraqi invasion, besides the ’08 election year) for a “Universal National Service Act” requiring all men and women ages 18-42 to serve in military or homeland security service.

History of Rangel’s legislative military draft endeavors.

Well I’ll be damned that sure enough Obama is now supporting the notion of a military draft.

WSWS:

In remarks that clearly pointed toward the restoration of the military draft under an Obama administration, the Democratic candidate said Thursday night that his job as president would include demanding that the American people recognize an “obligation” for military service. “If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some,” Senator Barack Obama declared.

Obama’s comments came as he and his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, took part in a forum on national service at Columbia University in New York City. Earlier in the day, both candidates joined in a memorial service at the site of the World Trade Center, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While “national service” encompasses more than the military, including such government-run programs as the Peace Corps, Americorps and Teach for America, as well as private and religious programs, both McCain and Obama focused on expanding the US Armed Forces as a major goal of the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican.

In an indication of the bipartisan support for the increasing militarization of American society, McCain jokingly offered to name Obama his coordinator for national service if the Republican were to win the election, and Obama reciprocated.

The forum was co-hosted by Judy Woodruff of the Public Broadcasting Service and Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine. Woodruff introduced Stengel as the man responsible for the magazine’s 2007 cover story, “The Case for National Service,” which Woodruff said had “ignited this movement.”

McCain was the first of the two candidates to appear at the forum. In response to a direct question from Woodruff, he rejected the restoration of the draft, voicing support for maintaining an all-volunteer army. Such a disavowal is to be expected 55 days before a presidential election, and no doubt Obama would have given a similar response had he been asked the same question.

But in the course of his discussion with Woodruff and Stengel, McCain repeatedly connected the imperative of “national service” with the outbreak of international crises in which an American military role would be posed. Citing the Russian intervention in Georgia and the deteriorating position of the US-backed regime in Afghanistan, he said the American people could “see a whole lot of things happening in the world that’s going to require us to serve.”

McCain also said that he would sign the bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Edward Kennedy and Republican Orrin Hatch, to triple the size of Americorps, the domestic version of the Peace Corps.

Obama’s comments were even more directly related to building up the US military. He spoke at some length to offer effusive praise for the armed forces. Woodruff asked him about the record number of Army officers leaving the military because of repeated, lengthy overseas deployments.

The candidate responded, “Well, first of all, as commander-in-chief, my job is to keep America safe. And that means insuring that we’ve got the best military on Earth. And that means having the best persons in uniform on Earth. We have that right now, but as a consequence of these wars, they have been strained incredibly. I think it’s important for us to increase the size of our Army and our Marines so we can reduce the pace of tours that our young men and women are on.”

After recalling his grandfather’s service in World War II, in the army of General George Patton, he noted that his grandfather was eligible for GI Bill education benefits and Federal Housing Administration loans to help purchase a home because of government policies favoring the discharged veterans. “There was that sense of sacred obligation that, frankly, we have lost during these last two wars,” Obama said. “I want to restore that.”

Obama went on to make his most direct statement of the campaign about expanding military service, declaring: “But it’s also important that a president speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19 months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not always the case in other parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it’s important for the president to say, this is an important obligation. If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some.”

Taken in the context of a forum on national service, these comments have an unmistakable and ominous implication. Military service in the volunteer army is undertaken disproportionately by small-town and rural youth, for both economic and cultural reasons. It is far less common for middle class and working class youth in large cities, and especially their suburbs, to enlist in the military.

Obama holds out the prospect that, at least initially, his demand for wider participation in military service would consist of encouraging more enlistments in the volunteer army. When that failed, as it undoubtedly would, to produce sufficient cannon fodder for the next round of imperialist wars, the logical next step would be reactivation of the Selective Service System, which still exists, albeit in mothballed form.

In political terms, Obama’s appearance at Columbia was aimed at demonstrating to the American political establishment that he is prepared to reject any pressure from antiwar college students, who are a major component of his campaign’s personnel and volunteers. To that end, Obama not only called for expanded military service, he directly attacked the exclusion of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) from many college campuses.

Stengel noted that Columbia had invited President Ahmadinejad of Iran to speak on the campus, but “haven’t invited ROTC to be on campus since 1969.”

Obama replied, “Yes, I think we’ve made a mistake on that. I recognize that there are students here who have differences in terms of military policy. But the notion that young people here at Columbia or anywhere, in any university, aren’t offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake.”

The suggestion that young people at Columbia or anywhere else are denied “the option of participating in military service” is preposterous. In no country in the world is there so much media advertising and societal pressure—largely, at this point, economic—to impel young people into the military.

ROTC became a focus of hostility on hundreds of campuses during the Vietnam War era, and was in many cases banned as a student organization. These restrictions largely ended after 1975, but they were continued or reestablished on a handful of campuses after the Clinton administration established the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, reaffirming the longtime Pentagon ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Such a ban violates the non-discrimination rules imposed by many campuses on corporate recruiters.

In response to a further question from Woodruff, Obama elaborated on his efforts to recruit young people to become participants in, and potential victims of, military violence. “Inspiring young people to serve is something that the president is uniquely positioned to do,” he said, adding that this could be for civilian positions that are adjuncts to US military operations overseas, such as the State Department, USAID or civil engineering.

Obama returned to the subject of widening participation in military service in words that were cautiously phrased but deeply reactionary. “I think there are special obligations during wartime,” he said. “We always have potential conflicts around the world, and our military has to remain strong and ready. And so I want to encourage military service, as well as other ways of serving, regardless of whether there’s war or not. But I do think that over the last several years, the fact that the burden has been shouldered by such a narrow group is a problem.”

In a closely balanced election, with the outcome still very much in doubt, Obama hopes to win the support of the real decision-makers—the topmost levels of the financial, political and military elite. Only a Democrat, he is suggesting, with the smokescreen of “equal sacrifice” and “fairness,” can provide the millions of recruits for the US military machine that will be required for wars against countries such as Iran, Russia and China.

While utilizing the occasional high-flown phrase to appeal to the idealism of youth and students, Obama is offering the ruling class a brutal bargain: Select me as president, and I will repay you in blood.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/view.asp?ID=4952

A new intelligence institution to be inaugurated soon by the Bush administration will allow government spying agencies to conduct broad surveillance and reconnaissance inside the United States for the first time. Under a proposal being reviewed by Congress, a National Applications Office (NAO) will be established to coordinate how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and domestic law enforcement and rescue agencies use imagery and communications intelligence picked up by U.S. spy satellites. If the plan goes forward, the NAO will create the legal mechanism for an unprecedented degree of domestic intelligence gathering that would make the United States one of the world’s most closely monitored nations. Until now, domestic use of electronic intelligence from spy satellites was limited to scientific agencies with no responsibility for national security or law enforcement.

The intelligence-sharing system to be managed by the NAO will rely heavily on private contractors, including Boeing, BAE Systems, L-3 Communications and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). These companies already provide technology and personnel to U.S. agencies involved in foreign intelligence, and the NAO greatly expands their markets. Indeed, at an intelligence conference in San Antonio, Texas, last month, the titans of the industry were actively lobbying intelligence officials to buy products specifically designed for domestic surveillance.

The NAO was created under a plan tentatively approved in May 2007 by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell. Specifically, the NAO will oversee how classified information collected by the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and other key agencies is used within the United States during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other events affecting national security. The most critical intelligence will be supplied by the NSA and the NGA, which are often referred to by U.S. officials as the “eyes” and “ears” of the intelligence community.

The NSA, through a global network of listening posts, surveillance planes, and satellites, captures signals from phone calls, email and internet traffic, and translates and analyzes them for U.S. military and national intelligence officials.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which was formally inaugurated in 2003, provides overhead imagery and mapping tools that allow intelligence and military analysts to monitor events from the skies and space. The NSA and the NGA have a close relationship with the supersecret National Reconnaissance Agency (NRO), which builds and maintains the U.S. fleet of spy satellites and operates the ground stations where the NSA’s signals and the NGA’s imagery are processed and analyzed. By law, their collection efforts are supposed to be confined to foreign countries and battlefields.

The National Applications Office was conceived in 2005 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which Congress created in 2004 to oversee the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community. The ODNI, concerned that the legal framework for U.S. intelligence operations had not been updated for the global “war on terror,” turned to Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va., one of the largest contractors in the spy business. The company was tasked with studying how intelligence from spy satellites and photoreconnaissance planes could be better used domestically to track potential threats to security within the United States. The Booz Allen study was completed in May of that year and has since become the basis for the NAO oversight plan. In May 2007, McConnell, the former executive vice president of Booz Allen, signed off on the creation of the NAO as the principal body to oversee the merging of foreign and domestic intelligence collection operations.

The NAO is “an idea whose time has arrived,” Charles Allen, a top U.S. intelligence official, told the Wall Street Journal in August 2007 after it broke the news of the NAO’s creation. Allen, the DHS’s chief intelligence officer, will head the new program. The announcement came just days after President George W. Bush signed a new law approved by Congress to expand the ability of the NSA to eavesdrop, without warrants, on telephone calls, email and faxes passing through telecommunications hubs in the United States when the government suspects agents of a foreign power may be involved. “These [intelligence] systems are already used to help us respond to crises,” Allen later told the Washington Post. “We anticipate that we can also use them to protect Americans by preventing the entry of dangerous people and goods into the country, and by helping us examine critical infrastructure for vulnerabilities.”

Donald Kerr, a former NRO director who is now the No. 2 at ODNI, recently explained to reporters that the intelligence community was no longer discussing whether or not to spy on U.S. citizens: “Our job now is to engage in a productive debate, which focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety,” Kerr said. ”I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up, in terms of anonymity, but [also] what safeguards we want in place to be sure that giving that doesn’t empty our bank account or do something equally bad elsewhere.”

What will the NAO do?

The plan for the NAO builds on a domestic security infrastructure that has been in place for at least seven years. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NSA was granted new powers to monitor domestic communications without obtaining warrants from a secret foreign intelligence court established by Congress in 1978 (that warrantless program ended in January 2007 but was allowed to continue, with some changes, under legislation passed by Congress in August 2007).

Moreover, intelligence and reconnaissance agencies that were historically confined to spying on foreign countries have been used extensively on the home front since 2001. In the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, for example, the Bush administration called on the NGA to capture imagery from lower Manhattan and the Pentagon to help in the rescue and recovery efforts. In 2002, when two deranged snipers terrified the citizens of Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs with a string of fatal shootings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked the NGA to provide detailed images of freeway interchanges and other locations to help spot the pair.

The NGA was also used extensively during Hurricane Katrina, when the agency provided overhead imagery — some of it supplied by U-2 photoreconnaissance aircraft — to federal and state rescue operations. The data, which included mapping of flooded areas in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowed residents of the stricken areas to see the extent of damage to their homes and helped first-responders locate contaminated areas as well as schools, churches and hospitals that might be used in the rescue. More recently, during the October 2007 California wildfires, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the NGA to analyze overhead imagery of the fire zones and determine the areas of maximum intensity and damage. In every situation that the NGA is used domestically, it must receive a formal request from a lead domestic agency, according to agency spokesperson David Burpee. That agency is usually FEMA, which is a unit of DHS.

At first blush, the idea of a U.S. intelligence agency serving the public by providing imagery to aid in disaster recovery sounds like a positive development, especially when compared to the Bush administration’s misuse of the NSA and the Pentagon’s Counter-Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA) to spy on American citizens. But the notion of using spy satellites and aircraft for domestic purposes becomes problematic from a civil liberties standpoint when the full capabilities of agencies like the NGA and the NSA are considered.

Imagine, for example, that U.S. intelligence officials have determined, through NSA telephone intercepts, that a group of worshipers at a mosque in Oakland, Calif., has communicated with an Islamic charity in Saudi Arabia. This is the same group that the FBI and the U.S. Department of the Treasury believe is linked to an organization unfriendly to the United States.

Imagine further that the FBI, as a lead agency, asks and receives permission to monitor that mosque and the people inside using high-resolution imagery obtained from the NGA. Using other technologies, such as overhead traffic cameras in place in many cities, that mosque could be placed under surveillance for months, and — through cell phone intercepts and overhead imagery — its suspected worshipers carefully tracked in real time as they moved almost anywhere in the country.

The NAO, under the plan approved by ODNI’s McConnell, would determine the rules that will guide the DHS and other lead federal agencies when they want to use imagery and signals intelligence in situations like this, as well as during natural disasters. If the organization is established as planned, U.S. domestic agencies will have a vast array of technology at their disposal. In addition to the powerful mapping and signals tools provided by the NGA and the NSA, domestic agencies will also have access to measures and signatures intelligence (MASINT) managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the principal spying agency used by the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(MASINT is a highly classified form of intelligence that uses infrared sensors and other technologies to “sniff” the atmosphere for certain chemicals and electromagnetic activity, and “see” beneath bridges and forest canopies. Using its tools, analysts can detect signs that a nuclear power plant is producing plutonium, determine from truck exhaust what types of vehicles are in a convoy, and detect people and weapons hidden from the view of satellites or photoreconnaissance aircraft.)

Created by contractors

The study group that established policies for the NAO was jointly funded by the ODNI and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), one of only two domestic U.S. agencies that is currently allowed, under rules set in the 1970s, to use classified intelligence from spy satellites. (The other is NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.) The group was chaired by Keith Hall, a Booz Allen vice president who manages his firm’s extensive contracts with the NGA and previously served as the director of the NRO.

Other members of the group included seven former intelligence officers working for Booz Allen, as well as retired Army Lt. Gen. Patrick M. Hughes, the former director of the DIA and vice president of homeland security for L-3 Communications, a key NSA contractor; and Thomas W. Conroy, the vice president of national security programs for Northrop Grumman, which has extensive contracts with the NSA and the NGA and throughout the intelligence community.

From the start, the study group was heavily weighted toward companies with a stake in both foreign and domestic intelligence. Not surprisingly, its contractor-advisers called for a major expansion in the domestic use of the spy satellites that they sell to the government. Since the end of the Cold War and particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, they said, the “threats to the nation have changed, and there is a growing interest in making available the special capabilities of the intelligence community to all parts of the government, to include homeland security and law enforcement entities and on a higher priority basis.”

Contractors are not new to the U.S. spy world. Since the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the modern intelligence system in 1947, the private sector has been tapped to design and build the technology that facilitates electronic surveillance. Lockheed, for example, built the U-2, the famous surveillance plane that flew scores of spy missions over the Soviet Union and Cuba. During the 1960s, Lockheed was a prime contractor for the Corona system of spy satellites that greatly expanded the CIA’s abilities to photograph secret military installations from space. IBM, Cray Computers and other companies built the supercomputers that allowed the NSA to sift through data from millions of telephone calls and analyze them for intelligence that was passed on to national leaders.

Spending on contracts has increased exponentially in recent years along with intelligence budgets, and the NSA, the NGA and other agencies have turned to the private sector for the latest computer and communications technologies and for intelligence analysts. For example, today about half of staff at the NSA and NGA are private contractors. At the DIA, 70 percent of the workers are contractors. But the most privatized agency of all is the NRO, where a whopping 90 percent of the work force receive paychecks from corporations. All told the U.S. intelligence agencies spend some 70 percent of their estimated $60 billion annual budget on contracts with private companies, according to documents this reporter obtained in June 2007 from the ODNI.

The plans to increase domestic spying are estimated to be worth billions of dollars in new business for the intelligence contractors. The market potential was on display in October at GEOINT 2007, the annual conference sponsored by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), a nonprofit organization funded by the largest contractors for the NGA. During the conference, which took place in October at the spacious Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio, many companies were displaying spying and surveillance tools that had been used in Afghanistan and Iraq and were now being rebranded for potential domestic use.

BAE Systems Inc.

On the first day of the conference, three employees of BAE Systems Inc. who had just returned from a three-week tour of Iraq and Afghanistan with the NGA demonstrated a new software package called SOCET GXP. (BAE Systems Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of the U.K.-based BAE, the third-largest military contractor in the world.)

GXP uses Google Earth software as a basis for creating three-dimensional maps that U.S. commanders and soldiers use to conduct intelligence and reconnaissance missions. Eric Bruce, one of the BAE employees back from the Middle East, said his team trained U.S. forces to use the GXP software “to study routes for known terrorist sites” as well as to locate opium fields. “Terrorists use opium to fund their war,” he said. Bruce also said his team received help from Iraqi citizens in locating targets. “Many of the locals can’t read maps, so they tell the analysts, ‘there is a mosque next to a hill,'” he explained.

Bruce said BAE’s new package is designed for defense forces and intelligence agencies but can also be used for homeland security and by highway departments and airports. Earlier versions of the software were sold to the U.S. Army’s Topographic Engineering Center, where it has been used to collect data on more than 12,000 square kilometers of Iraq, primarily in urban centers and over supply routes.

Another new BAE tool displayed in San Antonio was a program called GOSHAWK, which stands for “Geospatial Operations for a Secure Homeland — Awareness, Workflow, Knowledge.” It was pitched by BAE as a tool to help law enforcement and state and local emergency agencies prepare for, and respond to, “natural disasters and terrorist and criminal incidents.” Under the GOSHAWK program, BAE supplies “agencies and corporations” with data providers and information technology specialists “capable of turning geospatial information into the knowledge needed for quick decisions.” A typical operation might involve acquiring data from satellites, aircraft and sensors in ground vehicles, and integrating those data to support an emergency or security operations center. One of the program’s special attributes, the company says, is its ability to “differentiate levels of classification,” meaning that it can deduce when data are classified and meant only for use by analysts with security clearances.

These two products were just a sampling of what BAE, a major player in the U.S. intelligence market, had to offer. BAE’s services to U.S. intelligence — including the CIA and the National Counter-Terrorism Center — are provided through a special unit called the Global Analysis Business Unit. It is located in McLean, Va., a stone’s throw from the CIA. The unit is headed by John Gannon, a 25-year veteran of the CIA who reached the agency’s highest analytical ranks as deputy director of intelligence and chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Today, as a private sector contractor for the intelligence community, Gannon manages a staff of more than 800 analysts with security clearances.

A brochure for the Global Analysis unit distributed at GEOINT 2007 explains BAE’s role and, in the process, underscores the degree of outsourcing in U.S. intelligence. “The demand for experienced, skilled and cleared analysts — and for the best systems to manage them — has never been greater across the Intelligence and Defense Communities, in the field and among federal, state and local agencies responsible for national and homeland security,” BAE says. The mission of the Global Analysis unit, it says, “is to provide policymakers, warfighters and law enforcement officials with analysts to help them understand the complex intelligence threats they face, and work force management programs to improve the skills and expertise of analysts.”

At the bottom of the brochure is a series of photographs illustrating BAE’s broad reach: a group of analysts monitoring a bank of computers; three employees studying a map of Europe, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa; the outlines of two related social networks that have been mapped out to show how their members are linked; a bearded man, apparently from the Middle East and presumably a terrorist; the fiery image of a car bomb after it exploded in Iraq; and four white radar domes (known as radomes) of the type used by the NSA to monitor global communications from dozens of bases and facilities around the world.

The brochure may look and sound like typical corporate public relations. But amid BAE’s spy talk were two phrases strategically placed by the company to alert intelligence officials that BAE has an active presence inside the United States. The tip-off words were “federal, state and local agencies,” “law enforcement officials” and “homeland security.” By including them, BAE was broadcasting that it is not simply a contractor for agencies involved in foreign intelligence but has an active presence as a supplier to domestic security agencies, a category that includes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI, as well as local and state police forces stretching from Maine to Hawaii.

ManTech, Boeing, Harris and L-3

ManTech International, an important NSA contractor based in Fairfax, Va., has perfected the art of creating multiagency software programs for both foreign and domestic intelligence. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it developed a classified program for the Defense Intelligence Agency called the Joint Regional Information Exchange System. DIA used it to combine classified and unclassified intelligence on terrorist threats on a single desktop. ManTech then tweaked that software for the Department of Homeland Security and sold it to DHS for its Homeland Security Information Network. According to literature ManTech distributed at GEOINT, that software will “significantly strengthen the exchange of real-time threat information used to combat terrorism.” ManTech, the brochure added, “also provides extensive, advanced information technology support to the National Security Agency” and other agencies.

In a nearby booth, Chicago-based Boeing, the world’s second largest defense contractor, was displaying its “information sharing environment” software, which is designed to meet the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s new requirements on agencies to stop buying “stovepiped” systems that can’t talk to each other. The ODNI wants to focus on products that will allow the NGA and other agencies to easily share their classified imagery with the CIA and other sectors of the community. “To ensure freedom in the world, the United States continues to address the challenges introduced by terrorism,” a Boeing handout said. Its new software, the company said, will allow information to be “shared efficiently and uninterrupted across intelligence agencies, first responders, military and world allies.” Boeing has a reason for publishing boastful material like this: In 2005, it lost a major contract with the NRO to build a new generation of imaging satellites after ringing up billions of dollars in cost overruns. The New York Times recently called the Boeing project “the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects.”

Boeing’s geospatial intelligence offerings are provided through its Space and Intelligence Systems unit, which also holds contracts with the NSA. It allows agencies and military units to map global shorelines and create detailed maps of cities and battlefields, complete with digital elevation data that allow users to construct three-dimensional maps. (In an intriguing aside, one Boeing intelligence brochure lists among its “specialized organizations” Jeppesen Government and Military Services. According to a 2006 account by New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, Jeppesen provided logistical and navigational assistance, including flight plans and clearance to fly over other countries, to the CIA for its “extraordinary rendition” program.)

Although less known as an intelligence contractor than BAE and Boeing, the Harris Corp. has become a major force in providing contracted electronic, satellite and information technology services to the intelligence community, including the NSA and the NRO. In 2007, according to its most recent annual report, the $4.2 billion company, based in Melbourne, Fla., won several new classified contracts. NSA awarded one of them for software to be used by NSA analysts in the agency’s “Rapidly Deployable Integrated Command and Control System,” which is used by the NSA to transmit “actionable intelligence” to soldiers and commanders in the field. Harris also supplies geospatial and imagery products to the NGA. At GEOINT, Harris displayed a new product that allows agencies to analyze live video and audio data imported from UAVs. It was developed, said Fred Poole, a Harris market development manager, “with input from intelligence analysts who were looking for a video and audio analysis tool that would allow them to perform ‘intelligence fusion'” — combining information from several agencies into a single picture of an ongoing operation.

For many of the contractors at GEOINT, the highlight of the symposium was an “interoperability demonstration” that allowed vendors to show how their products would work in a domestic crisis.

One scenario involved Cuba as a rogue nation supplying spent nuclear fuel to terrorists bent on creating havoc in the United States. Implausible as it was, the plot, which involved maritime transportation and ports, allowed the companies to display software that was likely already in use by the Department of Homeland Security and Naval Intelligence. The “plot” involved the discovery by U.S. intelligence of a Cuban ship carrying spent nuclear fuel heading for the U.S. Gulf Coast; an analysis of the social networks of Cuban officials involved with the illicit cargo; and the tracking and interception of the cargo as it departed from Cuba and moved across the Caribbean to Corpus Christi, Texas, a major port on the Gulf Coast. The agencies involved included the NGA, the NSA, Naval Intelligence and the Marines, and some of the key contractors working for those agencies. It illustrated how sophisticated the U.S. domestic surveillance system has become in the six years since the 9/11 attacks.

L-3 Communications, which is based in New York City, was a natural for the exercise: As mentioned earlier, retired Army Lt. Gen. Patrick M. Hughes, its vice president of homeland security, was a member of the Booz Allen Hamilton study group that advised the Bush administration to expand the domestic use of military spy satellites. At GEOINT, L-3 displayed a new program called “multi-INT visualization environment” that combines imagery and signals intelligence data that can be laid over photographs and maps. One example shown during the interoperability demonstration showed how such data would be incorporated into a map of Florida and the waters surrounding Cuba. With L-3 a major player at the NSA, this demonstration software is likely seeing much use as the NSA and the NGA expand their information-sharing relationship.

Over the past two years, for example, the NGA has deployed dozens of employees and contractors to Iraq to support the “surge” of U.S. troops. The NGA teams provide imagery and full-motion video — much of it beamed to the ground from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) — that help U.S. commanders and soldiers track and destroy insurgents fighting the U.S. occupation. And since 2004, under a memorandum of understanding with the NSA, the NGA has begun to incorporate signals intelligence into its imagery products. The blending technique allows U.S. military units to track and find targets by picking up signals from their cell phones, follow the suspects in real time using overhead video, and direct fighter planes and artillery units to the exact location of the targets, and blow them to smithereens.

That’s exactly how U.S. Special Forces tracked and killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the NGA’s director, Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, said in 2006. Later, Murrett told reporters during GEOINT 2007, the NSA and the NGA have cooperated in similar fashion in several other fronts of the “war on terror,” including in the Horn of Africa, where the U.S. military has attacked Al Qaeda units in Somalia, and in the Philippines, where U.S. forces are helping the government put down the Muslim insurgent group Abu Sayyaf. “When the NGA and the NSA work together, one plus one equals five,” said Murrett.

Civil liberty worries

For U.S. citizens, however, the combination of NGA imagery and NSA signals intelligence in a domestic situation could threaten important constitutional safeguards against unwarranted searches and seizures. Kate Martin, the director of the Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has likened the NAO plan to “Big Brother in the Sky.” The Bush administration, she told the Washington Post, is “laying the bricks one at a time for a police state.”

Some Congress members, too, are concerned. “The enormity of the NAO’s capabilities and the intended use of the imagery received through these satellites for domestic homeland security purposes, and the unintended consequences that may arise, have heightened concerns among the general public, including reputable civil rights and civil liberties organizations,” Bennie G. Thompson, a Democratic member of Congress from Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote in a September letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Thompson and other lawmakers reacted with anger after reports of the NAO and the domestic spying plan were first revealed by the Wall Street Journal in August. “There was no briefing, no hearing, and no phone call from anyone on your staff to any member of this committee of why, how or when satellite imagery would be shared with police and sheriffs’ officers nationwide,” Thompson complained to Chertoff.

At a hastily organized hearing in September, Thompson and others demanded that the opening of the NAO be delayed until further studies were conducted on its legal basis and questions about civil liberties were answered. They also demanded biweekly updates from Chertoff on the activities and progress of the new organization. Others pointed out the potential danger of allowing U.S. military satellites to be used domestically. “It will terrify you if you really understand the capabilities of satellites,” warned Jane Harman, a Democratic member of Congress from California, who represents a coastal area of Los Angeles, where many of the nation’s satellites are built. As Harman well knows, military spy satellites are far more flexible, offer greater resolution, and have considerably more power to observe human activity than commercial satellites. “Even if this program is well-designed and executed, someone somewhere else could hijack it,” Harman said during the hearing.

The NAO was supposed to open for business on Oct. 1, 2007. But the congressional complaints have led the ODNI and DHS to delay their plans. The NAO “has no intention to begin operations until we address your questions,” Charles Allen of DHS explained in a letter to Thompson. In an address at the GEOINT conference in San Antonio, Allen said that the ODNI is working with DHS and the Departments of Justice and Interior to draft the charter for the new organization, which he said will face “layers of review” once it is established.

Yet, given the Bush administration’s record of using U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on U.S. citizens, it is difficult to take such promises at face value. Moreover, the extensive corporate role in foreign and domestic intelligence means that the private sector has a great deal to gain in the new plan for intelligence sharing. Because most private contracts with intelligence agencies are classified, however, the public will have little knowledge of this role. Before Congress signs off on the NAO, it should create a better oversight system that would allow the House of Representatives and the Senate to monitor the new organization and to examine how BAE, Boeing, Harris and its fellow corporations stand to profit from this unprecedented expansion of America’s domestic intelligence system.

Tim Shorrock has been writing about U.S. foreign policy and national security for nearly 30 years. His book Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence will be published in May 2008 by Simon & Schuster.